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J Balvin clarified his ethnicity after being awarded the Afro-Latino Artist of The Year at the African Entertainment Awards USA.
The Colombian artist’s Dec. 26, victory was met with backlash because of his non-Afro-Latino roots, after he was crowned the winner of the category over fellow nominees: Japanese, Dubosky, Italian Somal, David L, Nacho, Sami Boy, Bad Bunny, The Ganez and Iza.
Balvin, a native of Medellín, Colombia, took to Instagram to assert that while he is not Afro-Latino, he was still humbled to receive the recognition. “I am not Afro Latino,” he wrote in an Instagram Story. “But thank you for giving me a place in the contribution of the afrobeat music and movement,” he shared in Spanish for his followers.
The African Entertainment Awards USA responded to the blowback by renaming the category as The Best Latin Artist award, sharing on social media that “The Best Latin Artist category is for any artist based in Latin America that is contributing to the African culture especially the Afro-beats sound globally. It is not based on race but more importantly based on pushing the African culture forward on the world stage.”
The organization’s president, Dominic Tamin, reiterated in a video that the category was never intended to reflect a certain race, but more so to honor an individual whose music has “contributed to the African culture.”
“I wanted to address the Afro-Latino category and why we came up with this category. This is for the people who have contributed to the African culture. Not based on your race. Based on the contribution to the African culture,” he said. “Some folks have said that one of the winners are not Black and there was major concern. I just wanted to address it. Our category is not based on color. It’s based on, again, the contributions of this artist who are contributing to the African American culture. Yes, you can be Black-Latino and be nominated and you can also be white Latino and be nominated, just like we have Black and white Africans. That’s how we see it.”
Followers still weren’t quite sold on the explanation, however, and continued calling out Tamin and the AEUSA over their messy attempt at a clean-up.
“Y’all should rethought the category name or something because this is erasure.”
“This makes no sense. This is so embarrassing.”
“Afrolatino means Black. You can’t decide that that word doesn’t relate to race. This explanation makes absolutely zero sense and it’s not the place of people who are Afrolatine to change the meaning or give Afrolatino awards to non-Black people. This is erasure and is incredibly violent. It’s okay to mess up and make amends but you’re breaking bridges with the Black diaspora by protecting J Balvin and non-African / non-Black people here.”
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