Entertainment

Spain Has Colonized The 2019 Latin Grammys And Latino Twitter Has Some Serious Thoughts

The Latin Recording Academy continued to dismiss valid criticism from the Latinx community by nominating Spanish artists Alejandro Sanz and Rosalia. The two European artists received the most nominations, in the most prestigious categories of the bunch, while urbano artists were shut out our relegated to niche categories. 

“The Latin Recording Academy is privileged to see so many talented and diverse artists join the milestone 20th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards season,” writes Gabriel Abaroa Jr., President and CEO of The Latin Recording Academy. 

“Since our inception, our international membership continues to be our driving force in the pursuit of excellence. Whether they are a sound engineer, a performer, a songwriter, or a music arranger — regardless of their gender, age, national identity, or musical genre — the nominees are the product of a voting process where every vote counts. Latin music continues to grow internationally and we’re excited to celebrate the music that unites us all.”

Justifying whitewashing by calling it diversity is really something.

Rosalia and Alejandro Sanz: the conquistadors of music.

Two white Europeans from Spain, Alejandro Sanz and Rosalia, have swept the Latin Grammys. Sanz received the most nominations of anyone with eight nods, while Rosalia received five. 

Sans was nominated for Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Pop Album for #ELDISCO. He and Rosalia were both nominated for Song and Record of the Year. Many artists and actual Latinxs are fuming.

What makes these artists Latinx other than that they descended from the folks that colonized the Americas, raped and ethnically cleansed indigenous people, initiated that Trans-Atlantic Slave route, created the casta system, then subjugated the resulting multi-ethnic communities they denied self-determination from for centuries? That is a rhetorical question. 

This is like white people saying they’re African American because both groups speak English and share some cultural elements while ignoring why that cultural diffusion occurred (slavery and oppression). 

Rosalia feels 100 percent Latina

Earlier this year, Billboard featured Rosalia in their “Growing Up Latino” series where she says she feels a hundred percent Latina and that she is at home visiting countries like Panama and Mexico. Except Rosalia is from Barcelona. 

This is cultural appropriation: a member of the dominant culture (Spain) is stealing elements of the oppressed culture for profit. In this case, it is her use of Colombian rhythms, guajira, and rumba — which no one was even really upset about until Rosalia began identifying as Latina. The United States census would not identify Rosalia as anything but white or European so why should Latinxs? 

Rosalia says she is representing her culture

Rosalia courted controversy by stepping into Latinx spaces again when she won a Best Latin VMA this year. She further alienated Latinxs by accepting the award but also saying she was representing her culture when the reality is she is appropriating ours. 

“I come from Barcelona. I’m so happy to be here representing where I come from, and representing my culture,” she said in her speech.  

Artists call out the conquistadors 

Artists like Nicky Jam, Karol G, and J Balvin have posted a photo reading “Sin reggaeton, no hay Latin Grammy,” to call out the nominations and disregard for reggaeton and urbano artists. Artists like Bad Bunny, Ozuna, Daddy Yankee, Sech and De La Ghetto received nominations but they are standing in solidarity with real Latinxs. 

“Despite being nominated, I don’t agree with the way they treated the genre and a lot of my colleagues. Remember one very important thing: Their platform was not the one that created this movement. This goes beyond a prize. This is culture, credibility, relevance, and RESPECT,” Daddy Yankee wrote on Instagram. 

Maluma was also upset that he did not receive a single Latin Grammy nomination for this album 11:11.  

Credit: nickyjampr / Instagram

“It is a disappointment to not even have one Latin Grammys nomination. So much effort, the best album I’ve ever made in my LIFE,” Maluma said. 

The Latin Grammys now must justify why they have excluded real Latinxs while including white Europeans. Urbano music is basically some of the most popular on the entire planet, artists like Bad Bunny, Ozuna, and J Balvin have had explosive chart numbers and broken world records yet they were relegated to Urban categories. 

This is not unusual in the Grammys either — Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar have both had culturally monumental albums snubbed from major categories. It is clear Grammy voters have their own caste system where white people deserve the highest recognition. One where black and brown people are consistently sent the message they should “stay in their lane” and that their music cannot speak to universal themes (despite the numbers indicating otherwise). 

If Macklemore can win Best Rap Album, then, of course, they will justify Spanish artists winning Latin Grammys. This is what colonizers do. 

There’s An Indigenous Fashion Week In Canada And OMG It Looks Incredible

Fierce

There’s An Indigenous Fashion Week In Canada And OMG It Looks Incredible

VancouverIndigenousFashionWeek / Instagram

A fashion week is a fashion industry event — pretty self-explanatory, we know. The event, as the name says it, lasts approximately one week. And it’s a platform where fashion designers, brands or “houses” display their latest collections in runway shows to buyers and the media.

These events influence trends for the current and upcoming seasons and they’re pretty notorious for being somewhat elitist, lacking in representation and inclusivity. Indigenous Fashion Week decided to take matters into their own hands and they’ve been hosting an event that presents the most progressive fashion, textiles and crafts by Indigenous artists.

At the intersection of art, fashion and culture, Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto, features works by Native Canadian women.

IFW presents Indigenous-made fashion, textiles and craft, and it’s committed to exploring the connections between mainstream fashion, Indigenous art and traditional practice through presentations for broad audiences and industries.

IFW is bold, inclusive and accessible.

This fashion week challenges perceptions of, and celebrates Indigenous people and their culture with integrity, innovation and excellence. Founder and producer Joleen Mitton says the event is about far more than just celebrating Indigenous clothing designers.

Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week kicked off with a red dress gala in honour of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

The red dress has become a symbol of resilience for many, and Mitton says that during IFW it will be featured to raise awareness about ongoing violence against Indigenous women. “That’s why the red dress event still exists,” she says. “I wish it didn’t have to, but it’s something that we keep on needing to talk about. If we can somehow tackle any issue with fashion, that’s what we’re going to do.”

The former model says she hopes the event can help create deeper connections between Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

Mitton has spent years mentoring Indigenous girls who grew up in foster care in Canada and never knew much about their culture. She’s recruited some of them to be the face of the fashion show, and helped them reclaim their First Nations heritage through fashion.

The event encourages Indigenous people to openly celebrate their culture which has a long history of being subjugated in Canada.

For decades, the Canadian government banned First Nations potlatch — a traditional ceremony that included gift-giving, feasting and dancing. Today, Indigenous Fashion Week in Vancouver brings traditional regalia —from traditional patterns of blankets to capes displaying family animal crests— to the runway for all to see.

Mitton wants this Fashion Week to inspire young people and help them be proud of their culture and traditions.

“Indigenous fashion isn’t just about looking good, it’s about reclaiming parts of who we are,” said Mandy Nahanee, a First Nations storyteller and educator. “We can show our young people this is how beautiful, and amazing, and talented we are, that you should be walking down runways and standing tall with your chin up, being proud of who you are. We need everyone in the world to know that we’re still here.”

People Are Celebrating Mexico’s Planned Bill To Fine Companies That Copy Indigenous Designs

Culture

People Are Celebrating Mexico’s Planned Bill To Fine Companies That Copy Indigenous Designs

MasdeMx.com

Much has been said and written about the material pillaging that indigenous communities in what is now the Americas have been subject to since Christopher Columbus “discovered” the continent. Mineral resources, agricultural knowledge and dignity: they were all taken in the name of “civilization”. These processes of abuse towards the original owners of a land that was never willingly ceded have continued well into today. 

Some goods are immaterial, which means that more than objects or places, they are cultural goods such as knowledge, practices and methods of doing things.

Credit: secadero_uno / Instagram

 Such an immaterial good are the designs that indigenous communities imprint on clothes, pottery and art. However, because there is no single author for these, creations are nor protected under intellectual property, which is how companies and designers take advantage and basically steal designs. These are not homages, but direct acts of plagiarism! 

But there have been people that have been profiting from traditional designs

Credit: Mexico News Daily

Zara, the massive Spanish retailer, has been accused of stealing designs both from indigenous communities and from independent designers. Indigenous groups from the Mexican state of Chiapas, for example, have said that the copycat designs affect their livelihood because potential customers, including tourists, can just go to the shops and get them.

As reported by Mexico Daily News, there is a discrepancy in the hours of labor that indigenous artisans invest in each garment and what they get paid, compared to the profit made by brands like Zara. as artisans “dedicate more than 50 hours to making each embroidered garment, selling them for 200 pesos (US $10). In contrast, Zara manufactures the same garment and sells it at 599 pesos ($32.)”

And let’s not forget that Zara and other international companies have been found to use abusive and exploitative production methods in other countries such as Bangladesh. Consumers are also to blame, as a representative for the advocacy group Impacto told Mexico Daily News: “There’s also a contradiction, because they pay high prices at a store but then don’t want to spend in an indigenous community.”

So if you visit Mexico or another developing country and you want to take the price down, regatear as they say in Spanish, when buying from a local artisan, well, then shame on you! 

And if we think a bit further, international brands like Zara sometimes profit from a global network of abuse and injustice.

Let’s not forget that six years ago a fatal collapse in Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza building, where brands such as H&M and Zara outsourced clothes manufacturing, caused deaths and revealed the industry malpractices that do not guarantee workers’ safety. Since then international brands have looked into their production processes, but problems remain. Needless to say, what Global South workers get is a minuscule amount compared to what US or Spanish workers would demand, so the profit on each piece is huge. All in the name of money, right? So the chain of mistreatment sometimes start with stealing designs and continues with paying super low wages to people that cannot afford not to be employed, even if it is under very precarious conditions. 

So the motion that is being considered in the Mexican Senate makes a ton of sense.

Credit: masdemx.com

The Mexican Senate is considering imposing a hefty fine to those who copy indigenous designs, which are de facto intellectual and cultural property that can make money, so there is a monetary value attached to them.

As reported by Mexico Daily News, “The proposal being discussed by the Senate culture commission would penalize the theft of indigenous cultural elements with fines up to 4.2 million pesos (US $218,000.)”

The proposal includes a legal framework through which indigenous communities can denounce cases in which they feel like their creative and cultural property has been stolen. The Senate’s cultural commission has focused on indigenous affairs since MORENA, the incumbent president’s party, got into power earlier this year. For all its controversial decisions, the current government has in fact done more to protect indigenous communities than previous administrations.

In some cases the copycat models are blatantly direct: such is the case of a chinanteco design copied by the brand Intropia and sold in over 170 euros. Other brands that have appropriated designs from indigenous communities from Chiapas, Oaxaca and other states such as Hidalgo are  Carolina Herrera, Dior, Isabel Marant, Nestlé, Madewell, Mango and Desigual. The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has found at least 39 cases of this type of theft. If the proposal goes through, a database of designs of indigenous and Afro-Mexican designs will be created.