Culture

Cardi B Reminds Us That Latinos Have A Complicated Relationship To The N-Word

For those who have been hiding under a rock over the past few months, Bronx native and proud Dominicana, Cardi B, has taken the world by storm with her hit single, “Bodak Yellow.”

We’ve all heard the song at this point (even our moms and tias) and as a result, it’s reached the number two spot on the Billboard music charts. Why do we love it so much? Because it celebrates an unapologetic brand of feminism, the hustling mentality that many of us were raised on, and it reminds us that stunting on your haters is sometimes the only way they’ll ever get the point.

But while Cardi B continues to compile accolades and rep her Dominican and Trinidadian heritage, some internet blogs have recently questioned her for responses related to a question about using the N-word in a recent interview with DJ Vlad for VLAD TV.

Credit: Cardi B/Instagram

What does the N-word have to do with Latinos you might ask? The short answer: A lot.

If you live on the East Coast, then you’re probably aware that Latinos can be of African descent. From the Caribbean to South America, Afro-Latinos of various nationalities have made their imprint on New York for centuries. But in cities like Los Angeles, there are far more Latinos of indigenous and mestizo descent than Afro-Latinos or Blaxicans (Black-Mexicans) like myself.

For some, Cardi’s use of the N-word comes with no surprise, especially for those who grew up using the word around African Americans and other people of African descent.

“And I’m quick, cut a n***** hustle, Don’t get comfortable,” she recites throughout “Bodak Yellow.”

“N***** hatin’ on me, really be upset,” she raps in another song, titled, “Red Barz.”

While the conversation around the word now involves Cardi B, she is, however, not the first Latina to be publicly questioned (read: dragged) for using the N-word in a song.

Jennifer Lopez (J.Lo) holds that title.

In 2001, J.Lo was publicly scrutinized for using the word on “I’m Real,” before rapper Ja Rule (everyone’s favorite summer-of-2001 rapper) came to her defense, claiming there was an “unwritten rule” that allows Puerto Ricans to say the word because African Americans and Puerto Ricans “are all kinda in the same family.”

Credit: Kevin Mazur, Getty.

Other prominent Latino artists like Latino rapper Fat Joe – whose racial background has been debated in the past – has consistently used (and defended) the word throughout his career.

Still, while J.Lo and Fat Joe may have defended themselves, there are a large majority of people in the U.S. who rightfully feel like the word has no place in Latino communities and outside of them.

So where does Cardi B fall under the complicated history of Latinos and the N-word? As a self-identified black woman of Caribbean descent and someone who has openly spoken about the racial discrimination that she has faced in her life, it almost seems like Cardi B has “rightfully” earned the right to use the word.

“… because at the end of the day, there are also Latinos (many of whom exist in our families) who use the N-word in social settings and are openly anti-black.”

But Cardi B’s response to DJ VLAD’s question revealed that she has her own hang ups about the word’s loaded history.

“It’s just something that like, is a lingo, like even I want to stop saying it,” she explained. “I really can’t stop saying it, I’m sorry.”

“It seems like something that is so normal, which is bad, but it is what it is,” she continued.

We’re introduced to her own racial background moments later when she claims that she and all Latinos come from diverse backgrounds.

Credit: Cardi B/Facebook

“My parents, my father’s side, we’re Spanish, were Hispanic, and everything. But it’s like where do them Spanish people come from? Where do them Latino people come from? They’re mixed people, we’re mixed with African, European… What is it? Mulatic?”

It’s safe to assume that Cardi B probably didn’t mean to say Mulatic. I’m guessing she was looking for the word Mulatto or Mestizo — both represent different forms of racial mixture, but we can never be too sure. Mulatic may, in fact, be the group of undiscovered people in the Caribbean that white scientists and anthropologists are dying to “discover” next.

But Cardi B was far from finished.

She concludes the interview by explaining that, according to white people, there is no difference between Latinos and African-Americans. “And at the end of the day,” she says, “like Latinos and Hispanics they are considered a minority, like you think white folks see Hispanic and Black people, like oh yeah they are Hispanic and they’re black, no, we are all considered the same to them.”

Cardi B raises an interesting point and something that some non-black Latinos who use the N-word have often alluded to: African-Americans and Latinos are both victims of racial discrimination, which makes it OK for Latinos to use the N-word.

(Another point often used by Latinos who use the N-word: African-Americans and Latinos often grow up in the same neighborhoods, listen to the same music, adopt the same fashion trends, which also makes it OK to use the word.)

We’ve all heard these arguments before. And while they may occasionally ring true, they can easily downward spiral because at the end of the day there are also Latinos (many of whom exist in our families) who use the N-word in social settings and are openly anti-black.

Credit: Facebook

Last year, the popular television show, “Black-ish,” created by Kenya Barris, took up the ongoing debate in an episode, titled, “The Word.” During one of the scenes, Curtis (Allen Maldonado) and Charlie (Deon Cole), used a dry erase board to stage an informative session at their workplace in hopes of educating their white coworkers about which Latino groups could and couldn’t use the n-word.

One of their white coworkers ask, “Mexicans can’t say the N-word, but Dominicans are OK?” To which Charlie explains, “Puerto Ricans are cool too unless you’re a J.Lo (Jennifer Lopez) Puerto Rican.”

Other people in this group, according to Charlie, include actress, Rosie Perez, deceased rapper, Big Pun, and Fat Joe. Marc Anthony and Ricky Martin, however, were, “no bueno,” and not allowed to say it under any circumstances.

“See basically the whole terror squad can say it, but not Menudo,” both men add.

While the scene was filled with comedic moments intended to diffuse such a loaded topic, it also raised an important point about the question of geography with regards to Latinos and the N-word.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Dmitry Rogozhin; CC0 Public Domain, George Hodan

Do Latinos on the west coast and east coast use the word in different ways? 

DJ Sour Milk, a Latino Los Angeles-based DJ and radio show host at POWER 106 FM, believes that there are differences between the West and East coast Latino’s relationship to the word.

“I think there’s always been tension between the Mexican and the Black community in L.A.,” he explained to me over the phone. “There were always race riots in my high school between blacks and Mexicans.”

“But the N-word was something that my African American friends and I often used as a term of endearment and love even if black and brown people were beefing around us. I don’t think New York has all of that; I feel like it’s all love out there between African-Americans and Latinos,” he continued.

“Do Latinos on the west coast and east coast use the word in different ways? Should one group be allowed to have more access to it?”

DJ Sour Milk’s attempt to differentiate between Latinos on the east and west coast shows that there may be a regional difference with regards to the word. Particularly, if there are more Latinos of African descent on the east coast then there are on the west coast.

Perhaps the racial lines are often blurred between African-Americans and Latinos on the east coast in a way that they are not on the west coast where, in contrast, there are less Afro-Latinos according to the censusStill, a continued examination of the word’s existence in the Latino community will certainly prompt differing views, but what will also continue to transpire is the reality that African-American and Latino experiences are undeniably woven by a thread that, as our current political and racial climate shows, has the potential to create bridges.

That said, Latinos of non-African descent must also acknowledge that before these threads can be woven, the anti-black sentiments that are deeply ingrained in our communities must be addressed, while simultaneously realizing that being part of a discriminated group doesn’t exempt one from confronting their own racial prejudices.

The differing viewpoints that continue to revolve around the word reveal another glaring detail: Cardi B shows us that the Latino relationship to the N-word is part of the unresolved legacy of racism and mistreatment of people of African descent both in the U.S. and throughout Latin America.

Should Latinos be allowed to use the word? The debate will continue long after you finish reading this story. But if you’re a Latino who continues to use it, you should also remind yourself that for people of African descent in this country, the word means more than just a term of endearment amongst friends. It can also be a vivid (and sometimes haunting) reminder that being black in this country means that you are part of a group that continues to be disprorportionately impacted by the unrelenting legacy of white supremacy and police killings. 

READ: 9 Things That Happened While I Dated Outside My Race

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ICE Is Taking Advantage Of Migrants Who Can’t Read Or Write In Their Court Proceedings

Things That Matter

ICE Is Taking Advantage Of Migrants Who Can’t Read Or Write In Their Court Proceedings

Sandy Huffaker / Sandy Huffaker

Last summer, images of undocumented immigrant children went viral. These images didn’t show them crying, or being taken away from their parents. These children were pictured alone in court. The nameless children had no one by their side, no one to represent them, and had no clue what was going on, despite the fact that they were there trying to seek asylum. In some cases, these children wore headphones as a means to translate what the judge was saying. However, given that they were just children, the translation was almost useless. Reports are now servicing that immigration officials are using the language barrier as a means to keep them out of the U.S. 

An op-ed, written by a volunteer at the border, states that asylum-seeking immigrants cannot read or write in English or in their native tongue and immigration officials are taking advantage of that.

Emily Reed, a recent grad student from Barnard University, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post that stated she witnessed this manipulation from immigration officials against illiterate undocumented people. Reed was at the border in Texas volunteering with classmates at the South Texas Family Residential Center volunteering with the Dilley Pro Bono Project when she witnessed this manipulation. 

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection often conveniently exploit asylum seekers who cannot read. Along with an unfamiliarity with our deliberately complex immigration system, the illiteracy of Central American migrants, especially women, facilitates the deportation of parents and separation of families,” Reed wrote. She added, “By manipulating illiterate refugees who often unwittingly sign away their rights, the U.S. government is violating the basic tenets of the internationally recognized and protected right to seek asylum.” 

Reed added that her volunteer program with the legal center provided Spanish documents to the migrant families, but they couldn’t under that either.

“Simple translation is not enough,” she wrote. “The Dilley Pro Bono Project provides documents in Spanish, but even this paperwork was difficult for many migrant women to understand. Many women I helped to fill out paperwork struggled simply to write their children’s birth dates.”

The migrant families are being rushed within the court and legal process, which in turn, is causing deportation to happen a lot faster.

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reported that the haste paperwork at the border made it possible for immigration officials to rush and deport undocumented immigrants. The ACLU stated this process should not be rushed because people need to take their time and understand what is going on and what it is that they’re signing. 

“This waiting period is crucial to ensure that parents have an opportunity to make an informed decision about whether to fight their own removal cases, leave their children (who may have their own asylum claims) behind in the United States, or make some other decision,” the ACLU stated lasted year. “In short, families will be making life-altering decisions after months of traumatic separation — and the fact that the government is trying to shortchange them a matter of days to do so is galling.”

A New York Times report showed that 58,000 asylum seekers are currently stuck in Mexico under Trump’s policy because they’re awaiting asylum hearings.

The backlog for these asylum hearings is up to six to eight months, and when they’re ready for their hearing the majority of them won’t understand what needs to be done. This is why they need proper representation, and a patient legal system so they comprehend what is being asked of them and what the next steps are. 

What makes this matter even worse is that there’s not enough legal representation for each family unit, or individual, at the border. 

Last year, it was very apparent that there were not enough lawyers or legal help for undocumented immigrants at the border, and this year there’s even more undocumented people awaiting help and attempting to seek asylum. There people like Reed who want to help asylum seekers, but it’s not as easy as they might think. 

“People see the crisis happening, and they want to do something right now, which is great. But when we explain that this is a long-term fight, and we need your long-term commitment. That’s when people sort of back off.” Zenén Jaimes Pérez, the communications director at the Texas Civil Rights Project, told Huffington Post last year. 

If, however, you are willing to put in the time, or you’re interested in learning more about how you can provide legal help, or assist legal teams at the border, please reach out to: the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (“ProBAR”); the Immigration Justice Project (“IJP”); the ACLU of Texas; and RAICES.

READ: Selena Gomez Announces New Netflix Series ‘Living Undocumented’

She Went Viral For Insulting The Food In A Mexican Migrant Shelther, Now Lady Frijoles Is A Celebrity Back In Honduras

Entertainment

She Went Viral For Insulting The Food In A Mexican Migrant Shelther, Now Lady Frijoles Is A Celebrity Back In Honduras

Qhubo TV / Facebook

On November 2018, Miriam Zelaya became a viral sensation after she criticized the food she was given while waiting for asylum in Mexico. Zelaya was nicknamed Lady Frijoles after making comments about the beans served to her, claiming that it was food for pigs. Embarrassed, she later apologized publicly to the Mexican public for the statements she made. 

The story of Lady Frijoles has taken an interesting turn. 

On March 2019, Zelaya was detained with her sister, Mirna Zelaya, for a violent altercation that occured between them and Alba Escobar, the woman they were living with. The fight took place after Escobar blamed Zelaya and Mirna for the loss of her job. The two sisters were accused of assaulting Escobar with a the butt of a knife and chair; they were detained that same night. 

After being held in jail for almost four months, Zelaya pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in court. As a result, she received four years of probation and was deported to her home country of Honduras. 

While Zelaya was in jail, her daughters were cared for by close friends and family. 

This week, Lady Frijoles was welcomed back in Honduras like a celebrity.

With only three days of being back in Honduras, Zelaya has been greeted by the media with style; she was even invited to appear on television. 

On the Honduran channel, Q’huboTV, Zelaya gives her version of the night she and her sister got arrested. According to most American media outlets, the dispute was only between the Zelaya sisters and Escobar. However, Zelaya tells a very different story that involves Escobar’s husband Mirna’s son. 

In her interview, Zelaya states that the reason the argument became physical was because Escobar pushed Mirna’s son. She affirms that neither she or her sister grabbed a chair to hurt Escobar, as most news publications have reported, saying that “I can lie to you all, but I will never lie to God.” Instead, it was Escobar who threw the chair at Mirna, which bounced back when Mirna lifted her arms to shield herself, causing Escobar to begin to bleed due to the impact. 

Zelaya refutes every word said about her on other sources, saying that there wasn’t a knife involved in the argument. Rather, Escobar gave the police the knife from her cabinet and claimed that she was assaulted with it. Miriam also clarifies that she was not as involved in the physical fight as the media claims she was. The only reason she got wrapped up in the situation was because Escobar was jealous of Miriam.

“I declared myself guilty more so for my daughters. I was scared that the state was going to take them away and I was going to lose them.”

After being able to meet with a judge to discuss her deportation, the judge let Zelaya know that she was able to fight for her stay in the country, if she could provide herself with a lawyer and the money to post bail. Zelaya responded that she did not have the money to cover the costs because of her lack of resources. The judge then offered to waive the cost of bail, but she must still find a lawyer to defend her. In the end, Miriam accepted her deportation because of her insufficient funds. 

During the programming, Q’huboTV opened up the line for calls directed to Lady Frijoles. Miriam received a lot of mixed reactions. For instance, one caller asked why Miriam would put the lives of her daughters at risk during the long journey from Honduras to the United States. Others tried to debunk all the statements Miriam had said about her case against Escobar. However, many welcomed Miriam back to Honduras and wished her good luck on her journey moving forward. 

On Q’huboTV, Miriam received plenty of support from the network.

For example, the opportunity to provide her daughter with glasses at no cost. Moreover, on live television the general manager of QhuboTV, Mario “Chano” Rivera, officially announced Miriam as a new host of show called “Las Doñas.”

To end the show, Miriam expressed how her fame helped her, but also impacted her negatively, “I never expected to have a job or help for my daughter.”

During a later episode, many viewers were upset about the fact that Miriam received a job offer with Q’huboTV due to her lack of experience and education in the field of media and communications. Both Alicia and Alejandra, Q’huboTV announcers, came to the defense of Miriam and stated that people should not be envious of Miriam or try to not tear her down. They invited Miriam because she is a star due to her fame. 

Either way, Miriam is incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be part of the QhuboTV family.