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Bad Bunny Speaks Out on Black Lives Matter Protests: ‘Living in a World Like This, None of Us Can Breathe’


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Bad Bunny Speaks Out on Black Lives Matter Protests: ‘Living in a World Like This, None of Us Can Breathe’

Bad Bunny went silent on May 19. The Puerto Rican artist Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, who has collaborated with stars like Cardi B, Drake and J Balvin, had just released two albums, set off a controversy by cross-dressing in a hit music video and graced the cover of Rolling Stone. After all that activity, it…

Bad Bunny Speaks Out on Black Lives Matter Protests: ‘Living in a World Like This, None of Us Can Breathe’

Bad Bunny went silent on May 19. The Puerto Rican artist Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, who has collaborated with stars like Cardi B, Drake and J Balvin, had just released two albums, set off a controversy by cross-dressing in a hit music video and graced the cover of Rolling Stone. After all that activity, it was time to disconnect, even from his cell phone.

Just a few days later, the callous killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer as three other officers looked on set off a series of protests in the U.S. that reinvigorated movements for racial justice around the world. Normally, Martínez does not shy away from politics: last year, he canceled a tour to join anti-corruption protests in Puerto Rico that ultimately led to the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. He has made no secret of his disdain for President Trump. And he has become a de facto advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, a notable development from an artist in a musical tradition that has long espoused a culture of machismo.

Now, Martínez is breaking his silence to share, exclusively with TIME, a response to the Black Lives Matter movement, in the form of a “lyrical statement” that speaks to his current headspace. “There are many simple but powerful ways of helping, such as teaching, educating your community, your family, your friends,” he told TIME in an email exchange from Puerto Rico, where he is currently self-isolating. “At the moment, we are working on where to contribute seriously, economically and humanely, using the resources we have to support and in some way be part of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.” He remains off of social media. “I simply do not have a phone,” he explains. “But I know I can contribute much more from here and from the heart, as I always do.”

Martínez is not the first non-Black celebrity to speak out in support of Black Lives Matter, nor is he the first musical artist or celebrity to release a statement reflecting on the importance of justice and equality. Pop stars like Pink and Harry Styles have been spotted marching in protests; Billie Eilish was one of many to share a long statement on social media; Chris Evans and Angelina Jolie have made donations to related funds. Fellow Latinx artists, including Ricky Martin and Camila Cabello, have also displayed solidarity for the movement. Some gestures have landed better than others.

But Martínez, whose own home of Puerto Rico has also hosted Black Lives Matter protests in recent weeks, has been absent from the conversation until now — to the dismay of some of his fans. In a recent interview with EW, comedian George Lopez criticized the silence of many Latinx celebrities in the face of global protests. Meanwhile, in some U.S. cities, Latinx communities are displaying solidarity with the mission of Black Lives Matter, calling out the fact that systemic discrimination disproportionately affects them as well. Race has long been a fraught subject in Latin American countries, where the legacy of European colonialism remains and discrimination persists against Black and indigenous people. And reggaeton music, more specifically, has been called out with allegations of anti-Blackness.

“There are artists who only upload a photo or a basic message just to calm public pressure or to look ‘good,’” Martínez told TIME. “Not me… I want to go deeper and see in what way I can serve, how I can support the fight against a systematic monster that has been [around for] centuries. It’s a problem that perhaps will not have been solved when I die, but at least I will know that I have contributed something for future generations that, with faith, will enjoy freedom and justice.”

When asked about his place in this struggle, Martínez was clear: it is an intersectional issue. “In the case of reggaeton music, we have always struggled against discrimination, and even though today it is the world’s number one Latino genre, we continue to suffer from that discrimination, both in the world for being Latino, and in the Latino community itself for being a genre that comes from the street.” Reggaeton has a Black history that is often overlooked. He also noted President Trump’s attitude towards Latinos. “The President of the United States has made it clear since the beginning of his presidency that discrimination against Latinos is more than present; he has given even more power to racism at this time.” And in this broader struggle against racism, Martínez says, both Latinos and Black people suffer the consequences.

His full statement is written like a song. “In a world like this,” he writes, “none of us can breathe.” Below, it is shared in both the original Spanish as well as an English translation.

PERDONEN

Perdonen mi silencio


pero ni estoy creyendo lo que pasa,


quizás es porque solo veo corazones mas me enseñaron en mi casa,


que todos somos iguales sin importar la raza, religión, apellido;


que a un hermano, se le abraza.

LES JURO que no me siento bien, ni bien me puedo expresar,


les juro que me duele y me duele hasta pensar.


Que hoy aun por el color de piel de alguien, ¿lo puedan matar?


EN UN MUNDO ASÍ, YO TAMPOCO PUEDO RESPIRAR

F–K DONALD TRUMP!


PRESIDENTE DEL RACISMO,


TU ODIO Y TIRANÍA,


ESO SÍ ES TERRORISMO.


QUE LA LUCHA NO PARE,


QUE NADIE BAJE SU PUÑO,


QUE SEPAN QUE ESTAMOS EN CASA,


QUE ESTE ES NUESTRO TERRUÑO.

Recuerdo; al niño que tenía “pelo malo” le decían,


igual que a mis vecinitos negros, y ellos también se lo creían.


malo? malo es aquel que piensa eso todavía,


SIN SABER QUE POR SUS VENAS CORRE LA MISMA SANGRE QUE LA MÍA.

¿Quién te enseñó a ser así?


¿Por qué no quieres cambiar?


quizás ES CULPA DE LA PRENSA POR NUNCA DECIR LA VERDAD,


O LAS CLASES DE HISTORIA QUE NO CUENTAN LA REALIDAD,


Y MUESTRAN A LOS NEGROS DE ESCLAVOS CON TANTA NORMALIDAD,


Y DESCUBRIMIENTO LE LLAMARON, A LA BRUTALIDAD.

DE ASESINAR Y DE HUMILLAR A LOS DE OTRO COLOR,


QUE 500 AÑOS DESPUÉS,


SIGUE ARRASTRANDO EL DOLOR.


EL ODIO NO MATA AL ODIO, ESO LO HACE PEOR.


PERO EN UN MUNDO ASÍ, ¿QUIÉN QUIERE DAR SU AMOR?

SI FUERA POR MÍ, NADA DE ESTO PASARA,


SI FUERA POR MÍ, NADA DE ESTO EXISTIERA.


NADIE CONOCE A NADIE POR MIRARLO A LA CARA,


NADIE CONOCE A NADIE POR COMO SE MIRA POR FUERA.

PERDONEN QUE MI FURIA HOY SEA SILENTE.


PERDÓNENME POR HOY SENTIRME IMPOTENTE,


LES JURO QUE LES AMO Y SIEMPRE ESTARÉ CON MI GENTE


PERO QUE USTEDES SIEMPRE LUCHEN ESO ES LO IMPORTANTE.

¡¡NUNCA ESPEREN POR ARTISTAS, NI POR HÉROES FICTICIOS, USTEDES SON QUIENES TIENEN EL PODER!! ENSÉÑALE A TU HIJO, A TU HIJA, A RESPETAR Y AMAR SIN IMPORTAR EL COLOR DE PIEL, EDUCA A QUIENES PARECEN NO SABER SOBRE LA HISTORIA DE SUFRIMIENTO Y LUCHA QUE HA TENIDO LA GENTE NEGRA, SOBRE LAS INJUSTICIAS CON LAS QUE CARGAMOS POR SIGLOS. TAL VEZ HOY NO CAMBIEMOS EL MUNDO, PERO MAÑANA HAREMOS LA DIFERENCIA.

#BLACKLIVESMATTER

FORGIVE ME

Forgive my silence.


But I can’t even believe this is still happening.


Maybe it’s because I’ve always seen people’s hearts and, in my house, I was always taught that we are all the same regardless of race, religion and surname; that we are all brothers/sisters.

I SWEAR I don’t feel well, and I don’t think I can express myself properly,


I swear it hurts! It hurts to know that people are still being killed because of the color of their skin.


LIVING IN A WORLD LIKE THIS, NONE OF US CAN BREATHE!

F–K DONALD TRUMP!


PRESIDENT OF RACISM!


YOUR HATE AND TYRANNY,


THAT’S TERRORISM.


DON’T STOP THE FIGHT,


DON’T LOWER YOUR FISTS,


KNOW THAT WE ARE ALL HOME,


THAT THIS IS OUR LAND.

I remember the white boy with the “bad hair,” that’s what they would say,


just like they did to my black neighbors, and they believed it too.


Bad? Bad are those who still think that way,


WITHOUT REALIZING THAT THE SAME BLOOD RUNS THROUGH OUR VEINS.

Who taught you to be this way?


Why don’t you seek change?

MAYBE THE PRESS IS TO BLAME FOR NEVER SHOWING THE TRUTH


OR HISTORY CLASSES THAT DON’T TEACH US A REAL ACCOUNT OF EVENTS


AND SHOW BLACK SLAVES WITH SUCH NORMALCY


AND WHO STILL CALL THIS BRUTALITY A “DISCOVERY.”

TO MURDER AND HUMILIATE THOSE OF ANOTHER SKIN COLOR,


THAT 500 YEARS LATER,


THAT PAIN KEEPS DRAGGING ON.


HATE DOESN’T STOP HATE,


IT JUST MAKES IT WORSE.


IN A WORLD LIKE THAT, WHO WANTS TO GIVE THEIR LOVE?

IF IT WAS UP TO ME, NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED,


IF IT WAS UP TO ME, NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE EXISTED.


YOU CAN’T KNOW SOMEONE BY SIMPLY LOOKING AT THEIR FACE,


YOU CAN’T KNOW SOMEONE BY ONLY LOOKING AT THEIR OUTER APPEARANCE.

FORGIVE ME THAT MY ANGER TODAY IS SILENT.


FORGIVE ME FOR FEELING IMPOTENT TODAY.


I SWEAR TO YOU I LOVE YOU AND I WILL ALWAYS STAND BY MY PEOPLE,


BUT WHAT’S IMPORTANT IS THAT YOU GUYS ALWAYS FIGHT FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN.

NEVER WAIT FOR ARTISTS, OR FOR FICTITIOUS HEROES, YOU ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE THE POWER!!! TEACH YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS TO RESPECT AND LOVE REGARDLESS OF SKIN COLOR. EDUCATE THOSE WHO DO NOT SEEM TO KNOW ABOUT THE HISTORY OF SUFFERING AND STRUGGLE THAT BLACK PEOPLE HAVE ENDURED, ABOUT THE INJUSTICES WE CARRIED FOR CENTURIES. MAYBE WE WON’T CHANGE THE WORLD TODAY, BUT TODAY WE CAN WORK ON MAKING A DIFFERENCE FOR TOMORROW.

#BLACKLIVESMATTER

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Write to Raisa Bruner at raisa.bruner@time.com.

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