Puerto Rico's Racial Democracy

In 2004, Reggaetón entered the mainstream music world, quickly spreading to all areas of the world. Reggaetón originated from the underground scene of Puerto Rico’s urban life, combining Puerto Rican hip hop with Jamaican dancehall. In Petra R. Rivera-Rideau’s, book Remixing Reggaetón Rivera-Rideau discusses the cultural politics of race in Puerto Rico, focusing on Reggaetón as a critique of Puerto Rico’s “racial democracy.” At the start of this book, Rivera-Rideau focuses on Puerto Rico’s underground music scene as a culmination of the African Diaspora and a political statement of the racial conditions Puerto Rico faced at the time. During a time when some Latin Americans viewed Spain as the “mother land,” Puerto Rico’s underground music …show more content…
While diaspora literally means the dispersion of a people across other lands with a connection to their place of origin, Rivera-Rideau explains how this definition actually has a negative effect on race relations in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is often depicted as a “racial democracy” where “Africa [is viewed] as a historical and static point of origin rather than an important site for the negotiation of contemporary African Diasporic identities”(Rivera-Rideau pg. 13). African ancestry was viewed as being pre-modern and something of the past; those who did not let go of this past were then seen as outsiders of modern Puerto Rican society. While most Puerto Ricans recognize the influence of Africa in their culture, some will ignore how the African Diaspora is a never ending connection of a people, influencing one another. Puerto Rican
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This is most likely why underground artists and their supporters were met with huge black lash. Many Puerto Ricans viewed the music and underground culture as being “foreign” and not apart of any real Puerto Rican identity. Those who wore dreadlocks influenced by Jamaicans or baggy clothes influenced by the United States hip hop scene were instantly stigmatized as criminals, deviants, and below white Puerto Ricans. School Drug officials in Puerto Rico listed underground music as contraband, demonstrating how the music is criminalized. Some Puerto Ricans, such as Fernando Clemente, identified “rap as a paritcularly insuferable and damaging cultural import”(Rivera-Rideau pg. 44). Underground music was simply a foreign fad whose artists and supporters were not taken seriously for a very long time. Nevertheless, underground music artists were able to embrace their black identity while gathering influences from other African diasporas to create music that music that “…continued to resonate with Puerto Rican youth who sought an outlet to express their experiences of marginalization, to contest the racism and classism that adversely affected their communities, and to articulate their affinities for blackness”(Rivera-Rideau pg.

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