When celebrities get real about racial issues, identity, and politics, we love it. We want to know where they stand on important matters in the world. Some people might not want celebrities to get too political — but in today’s world, if you don’t say something, people will assume you don’t stand for anything. It’s great to hear so many Latinx stars speaking up about what racial identity means to them, and rapper Fat Joe is getting in the mix.
During an interview with Hot 97, the Bronx native got into a deep discussion about race and identity labels with hosts Ebro Darden, Funkmaster Flex, and Laura Stylez while they were talking about his new track which features a sample from Hector Lavoe classic “Aguanile.” Fat Joe calls the song “the national anthem of Santeria” and said he got some pushback on whether or not he should use that sample because the song has roots in Santeria and some may see it as disrespectful.
Ebro took it a step further and said that the controversy isn’t just about the religious form of Santeria, but the African ancestral heritage and added that music is the connection between all of these elements. That’s when Fat Joe yelled out, “All the music is African!”
He added, “Brazillian music, Dominican music, Spanish drums. You are getting on the Afrobeat now, I’ve been in Africa, they’ve been doing that.” Then Fat Joe took the conversation even further.
“Let’s talk about Latinos not being black. Latinos are black,” Fat Joe said going into the history of migration, of Africans going to Cuba and the Dominican Republic, and other parts of the Carribean and how this group of slaves had children with natives of the island. “Latinos may even identify themselves with African and black culture more than black people.”
He ended that note by saying, “This ain’t no crazy thing. Fat Joe ain’t on crack. He know what he talking about.”
Ebro put a hold on that point by saying that the history of American slavery is starkly different from the experience of slaves from the Dominican Republic or other Carribean territories. In an attempt to align with one marginalized ancestry/race, Fat Joe basically ignores the incredible diversity that makes being Latino so incredible and effectively erases all differences between the races, which in and of itself is dangerous because even though we all know race is a societal construct used to keep certain groups in power and others powerless the very real fact is that we are treated differently based on how we “present” to the outside world.
It was quite fascinating to hear Ebro try and add a little perspective to Fat Joe’s statement.
Hear the entire interview below.
What do you think about Fat Joe’s assertion that “all Latinos are Black.” It’s especially interesting given the recent pushback against the term “Latino” in general and the connection to European and assumed “white” heritage. That’s why more people like Indya Moore are choosing to identify as Afro-Indigenous. It seems like this is going to be a new discussion around identity and language that we will be unpacking for a while. How do you identify?