J Balvin took to Instagram to respond to backlash after he was named the Afro-Latino Artist of the Year at the 2021 African Entertainment Awards USA.
The title caused plenty of confusion and frustration online after it was announced. Instagram users voiced their feelings in the comments section of a post on the organization’s account.
“Take it back. Take it back. Take it back,” one user demanded. “This is so wrong.”
“Y’all cannot be serious,” another wrote.
Others pointed out that Balvin — who is Colombian — doesn’t meet the qualifications for the award as he is not an Afro-Latino.
The Reggaeton artist has been accused of racism in the past. Earlier this year he pulled a music video from YouTube after critics said that it featured racist and sexist undertones. Social media users alluded to that controversy in the comments.
“Not only is he not black but look at all the anti-black bs he is pulled in his career,” a user wrote. “So many Afro Latinos in the industry and y’all choose him.”
Check out the post in question below:
The criticism did not go unheard. In the hours after Balvin received the award, the organization took to Instagram to comment on the backlash.
They also changed the award’s title to the more fitting Best Latin Artist of the Year.
“After listening to the concern of our audience we have decided to maintain the purpose of the award but changed the name to Best Latin Artist Of the year,” they explained.
“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,” organizers added. “This is the first year that we introduced this category to include our Latin brothers and sisters who have embraced Afrobeats music within their platforms. The winner of this category has demonstrated that and is deserving of this award based on the fans votes.”
The organization wrote that Balvin did not ask to be nominated, nor did he influence his win. They asked that critics not drag any winners and proposed a different response: “Instead of voicing dissatisfaction, let us encourage these artists to continue bridging the gap between Africa and Latin America.”
Check out their post below:
Republic World noted that Balvin also responded to the backlash online. The musician shared African Entertainment Awards USA’s post on his Instagram story and added a comment of his own in Spanish.
The publication translated his message: “I am not Afro Latino, but thank you for giving me a place in contributing to Afrobeat music and its movement.”