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The Reggaeton Historian talked about all the controversy surrounding J-Lo’s new song Photo: Katelina Eccleston
The Reggaeton Historian talked about all the controversy surrounding J-Lo’s new song Photo: Katelina Eccleston

Katelina Eccleston, AKA Reggaeton Con La Gata on J-Lo and racist endearments

La Gata, a reggaeton historian shares her take on Lopez's new song.

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The recent Jennifer Lopez line ‘siempre sere tu Negrita del Bronx,’ has drawn a lot of criticism from both J-Lo stans as well as those that work in and study the Latinx genre born from Black Latino artists. 

Katelina Eccleston is a reggeaton specialist with digital platforms that cover that genre from its ignored history to its influence on the music world. In an interview with AL DÍA, Eccleston shares she’s no longer shocked when things like J-Lo’s line happen anymore.

“Latinidad is branded in this way to give the illusion that we’re all a united front, we’re all a Raza, but essentially you know, that is obviously not true,” she said. “So how did I feel? Like whatever.” 

However, when it comes to white Latinos using the alleged term of endearment, Eccleston said she’s heard it in two terms — as an alleged term of endearment — but finds it more insulting when white Latinos use ‘Negrita’ to refer to themselves.

Eccleston says she doesn’t blame people for not grasping the phenomenon of not using racial language. Instead, she explains it as the continued gaslighting of Black Latinas. 

“In our experience, if we’re going back to colonial times, Black women were called ‘la negra’ in a derogatory way,” said Eccleston.“The gaslighting of ‘Negras’ is so embedded into the Latinidad and el Mestizaje to the point where people do not question things, and of course, if it doesn’t affect the majority, why think about it at all?”

The music industry, moreover the media industry, is no stranger to systemic racism and little representation. Latinx artists in the United States have fought tooth and nail to get crossover status here, but that small percentage is almost invisible for Black Latinos. 

While Jennifer Lopez was the one who performed the line in the song, Eccleston also acknowledged that there were others in the room that heard the lyric and approved it before its publication — a prime example of the bigger picture issue within the Latinx community.

“I don’t even put all of the blame on her. There is too much zooming in on the artist,” she said. “I would rather point the finger at the team. Somebody wrote that song, someone heard it, someone presented it to her, she heard it, they recorded it, someone produced it, someone mastered it, presented it to a boardroom, got the greenlight for the video, the director heard it, the dancers heard it.”

The bigger picture on the entertainment side of things is a question of representation.

“There was no Black people in these rooms, clearly to raise a hand and ask why some phrase like that should be incorporated, how can they substitute that line, or why was that line written at all,” said Eccleston. “Who found it necessary to incorporate that line? Why?”

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