In a recent interview, Fat Joe dropped some historical context regarding Latinx people and countries. While referencing past and present music, Joe insists that, “All the music is African—Brazilian music, Dominican music, Spanish drums—all the music is African music.” This is in reference to enslaved Africans throughout Latinx (and Portuguese) countries, and the music and traditions that have passed down and weaved into mainstream culture so seamlessly that it takes music enthusiasts such as Fat Joe and Jidenna to recognize the similarity in these themes.
This lesson in history is important, particularly during Hispanic Heritage Month. During the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Africans of various ethnicities and nationalities were captured against their will by European colonizers and enslaved in Latin American countries such as the Dominican Republic, Suriname, Cuba, Venezuela, and Colombia to name a few. It should be noted that the African diaspora is multifaceted and there were many large emigrations from African nations prior to the Transatlantic Slave Trade. This is important to note because many education systems teach that the first Africans of many nations outside of Africa arrived via slave trading, which is false.
Though Joe’s statements about African influence in Latin American and Caribbean countries is timely, it should be noted that he does not account for European admixture, specifically colonizers from Spain who settled on Native peoples’ land in Latinx countries. After generations of simultaneous segregation and consensual and non-consensual relations—many people of Latinx countries have admixture of various races. However, not everyone is black. There are Afro-Latinx people who are able to trace their ancestry to enslaved Africans, and there are white Latinx people who are able to trace their ancestry to Spanish colonizers and enslavers. In this sense, not everyone is black, which is also an assertion Fat Joe made. Just as everyone in the U.S. doesn’t identify as a single race, it stands to reason that people of Latinx countries may not identify as a single race as well. It is often tempting to make blanket statements about entire nations, particularly if you have ties to certain cultures, such as Fat Joe’s ties with Afro-Latinx cultures. However, statements like these can be damaging as they do not portray these regions how they actually are and only purport stereotypes.
Tap the video below to listen to Joe’s take.