Monday, March 03, 2008

negro bembon




Mataron al negro bembón
Mataron al negro bembón
Hoy se llora noche y día
Porque el negrito bembón
Todo el mundo lo queria
Porque el negrito bembón
Todo el mundo lo queria

Y llegó la policia
Y arrestaron al maton
Y uno de las policias
Que tambíen era bembón
Le toco la mala suerte
De hacer la investigación
Le toco la mala suerte
De hacer la investigación

Y saben la pregunta
que le hizo al maton
Porque lo mato
Diga usted la razon
Y saben la respuesta
que le dio el maton :
yo lo mate
por ser tan bembón
El guardia escondio
la bemba y le dijo :
Eso no es razon



I was recently thinking about the ways in which race shows up in Latin music when the song "Negro Bembon" by Ismael Rivera popped into my head. The song makes me think of how Afro-Latinos in Latin America didn't really undergo US-style civil rights / Black power movement. So instead of making a loud and angry statement like NWA's "F*** tha Police" or a righteous and defiant statement like Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff", "Negro Bembon" gives us the muted and insufficient "Eso no es razon" from a Black cop who, even with a gun and badge, is still not strong or brave enough to truly challenge a racist system. Occasionally I wonder if the song's refrain is deliberately understated as way of making a powerful social critique, but most of the time I tend to think that the voice of protest is so muted because certain white supremacist assumptions are pervasive and taken for granted in Latin culture, even in the music of Afro-Latino artists like Ismael Rivera.

tego calderon: latin america needs its own civil rights movement
a rising voice: afro-latin americans

3 comments:

Abdul-Halim V. said...

I feel like adding, just so it is clear, that I'm not anti-Ismael Rivera, by any means. He's amazing and I actually really like the song. (And I'm wondering if I should put up a clip of Las Caras Lindas) But (as should be apparent from the movie clip) it comes from a different era when the position of Blacks was different from now. Perhaps that is the best way of thinking about it. It doesn't have to be a matter of slow racial progress in Latin America. In 1953 Bob Marley was barely 8 years old and none of the members of NWA were even born yet.

Kismet said...

I love this! Keep the Afro-Latinidad coming!

Also love the afrofuturistic Floetry cip a few posts ago....

Abdul-Halim V. said...

Thanks! I definitely will if I can. But you might also use the search operation at the top of the blog and plug in "afro-latino" or "black latino" or "black hispanic" and see older posts (if you haven't already.)