Is Bruno Mars A Cultural Appropriator?

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Now before we get started, let me first say that Bruno is extremely talented and has an impressive resume of songs and albums that have us all on the dance floor. Bruno has been in this industry for a while now and this discussion is not questioning his skill, ability, or talent. So, this conversation really started from my favorite podcast, ‘The Grapevine’ and they had the talk about whether Bruno was a cultural appropriator or not. 

So in my personal opinion. He kind of is a cultural appropriator and let me explain why. Bruno Mars (born Peter Gene Hernandez) is of Puerto Rican, Ashkenazi Jewish, Filipino and Spanish ancestry. He was born in Hawaii in the Wakiki neighborhood (shoutout to Nicki lol). Now, I believe Bruno leans toward his Latino side more because he did an interview with Latina magazine. He said this in his interview: 

“There are a lot of people who have this mixed background that are in this gray zone,” he explained during an interview with Latina in 2017. “A lot of people think, ‘This is awesome. You’re in this gray zone, so you can pass for whatever the hell you want.’ But it’s not like that at all. It’s actually the exact opposite. What we’re trying to do is educate people to know what that feels like so they’ll never make someone feel like that ever again. Which is a hard thing to do. Because no one can see what we see and no one can grow up with what we grew up with. I hope people of color can look at me, and they know that everything they’re going through, I went through. I promise you.”

Bruno also opened up about his respect for “black music.” “When you say ‘black music,’ understand that you are talking about rock, jazz, R&B, reggae, funk, doo-wop, hip-hop, and Motown,” he said at the time. “Black people created it all. Being Puerto Rican, even salsa music stems back to the Motherland [Africa]. So, in my world, black music means everything. It’s what gives America its swag.”

“I’m a child raised in the ’90s. Pop music was heavily rooted in R&B from Whitney, Diddy, Dr. Dre, Boyz II Men, Aaliyah, TLC, Babyface, New Edition, Michael, and so much more,” he added. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for these artists who inspired me. They have brought me so much joy and created the soundtrack to my life filled with memories that I’ll never forget.”

My thing is we all know Puerto Ricans have African roots and ancestry. Why didn’t he consider himself an ‘Afro Latino’. Had he done that we wouldn’t even be having this conversation because he would be claiming his black roots like he said in his interview. I say he is a cultural appropriator because since he looks racially ambiguous, he can get away with hopping between genres. Bruno does have a black band, but I do not know if he considers himself a black man. What does he consider himself? Does he support black issues? I don’t know. I feel like it’s just easier for him to transition to different genres of music because of his look. He wouldn’t be as stifled or criticized as his darker-complexioned peers would. He did give credit to numerous black artists but when he did his interview it almost felt like he separated himself from black people. Like Bruno’s hair curls up like ours. He has a brownish tint skin tone. He does our dances. Style is definitely influenced by Prince and Michael Jackson. I don’t know guys but I really want to get a conversation started in the comments. What do y’all think is Bruno a cultural appropriator? Should we just leave him alone since he makes such good bops? Does his color help him in the music industry? Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for reading talk to you guys soon!



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