Is Bruno Mars Black? Fans back singer amid ‘cultural appropriation’ accusations: ‘Can't Hispanic people sing R&B’

Bruno Mars' mother is Filipina and his father is Puerto Rican and Jewish, but it is a little more complicated if we dive deep into his ancestry


                            Is Bruno Mars Black? Fans back singer amid ‘cultural appropriation’ accusations: ‘Can't Hispanic people sing R&B’
Bruno Mars addressed the issue of his ethnicity in a recent interview (Getty Images)

Bruno Mars’ brand new single ‘Leave the Door Open’ with Anderson Paak along with their newly-formed band called Silk Sonic might be getting a lot of love from their ardent fans but it has also triggered the “cultural appropriation” debate once again. The multiple Grammy award-winning crooner on various occasions has been dubbed as the “Culture Vulture” after being accused of profiting off of traditionally Black music.

The 35-year-old crooner was facing the heat on the same topic again after his new song was released on Friday, March 5. Bruno Mars soon addressed the issue on The Breakfast Club interview where he went straight out on what he thinks about the debate on being a cultural thief.  According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “Cultural appropriation is the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.”
 
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(Editorial Use Only) Bruno Mars performs onstage during Bruno Mars: 24K Magic World Tour at Madison Square Garden on September 22, 2017, in New York City. (Getty Images)

 



 

‘This music comes from love’

Speaking in his recent interview, the ‘24K Magic’ hitmaker shed light on how he has always given credit to the funk, R&B, and pop artists who came before him, “You can’t look at an interview, you can’t find an interview where I’m not talking about the entertainers that’ve come before me. And the only reason why I’m here is because of James Brown, is because of Prince, Michael [Jackson]—that’s the only reason why I’m here. I’m growing up as a kid, watching Bobby Brown [and] saying, ‘OK, if that’s what it takes to make it, then I’ve got to learn how to do the running man, I’ve got to learn how to do the moonwalk.’ That’s it. And this music comes from love, and if you can’t hear that, then I don’t know what to tell you.”

He further asserted, “What is the point if us, as musicians, can’t learn from the guys that’ve come before us? What did they do?”  When asked if the criticism made him upset, Mars pointed out, “It comes with the gig. And there’s real merit to what people are saying about Black entertainers not getting their flowers, and I’m championing with that, I’m with that … I understand, but it’s just Twitter.”   

Recording artist Bruno Mars performs onstage during the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018, in New York City. (Getty Images)

What is Bruno Mars' ethnicity?

In 2018, Bruno Mars got slammed by a writer and activist named Seren Sensei when in a clip the latter had stated, “Bruno Mars 100% is a cultural appropriator. He is not Black, at all, and he plays up his racial ambiguity to cross genres. She further said, “What Bruno Mars does, is he takes pre-existing work and he just completely, word-for-word recreates it, extrapolates it. He does not create it, he does not improve upon it, he does not make it better. He's a karaoke singer, he's a wedding singer, he's the person you hire to do Michael Jackson and Prince covers. Yet Bruno Mars has an Album of the Year Grammy and Prince never won an Album of the Year Grammy.”

So, what is Bruno Mars’ ethnicity? Well, the singer’s mother is Filipina and his father is Puerto Rican and Jewish. But it is a little more complicated if we dive deep into his ancestry. Born as Peter Gene Hernandez in 1985, he was raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, by multicultural parents but later shifted to LA, California. According to the website Cheatsheet, Mars’ great-great-grandfather was born in Spain and the grandmother in the Philippines. After the passing of her husband, she then remarried a Chinese gentleman. Due to his blended heritage of multiple cultures, he identifies with several including, American, Hawaiian, Filipino, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Jewish, European, Asian, and Spanish.  

Singer Bruno Mars arrives at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images)

 



 

 

‘It's quite literally just music’

Bruno Mars, who enjoys a massive fan following across the world, might have been canceled on various occasions but his loyal fans stood firm with him as they extended their support over the recent controversy. Speaking on the same lines, one fan shared, “Bro if ur upset about bruno mars making music because of cultural appropriation you need to go touch some grass it's quite literally just music.” Another posted, “People accusing  @BrunoMars of cultural appropriation is stupid to me because all artistes have taken styles from other artistes... And this transcends race and genre. Give it a rest now nah. Gosh.”  

One user added, “The same people accusing @BrunoMars of "cultural appropriation" would have DEF-LEE had a problem with Teena Marie. "Square Biz" hatin.” The next one said, “Somebody said Bruno Mars is cultural appropriation with Anderson Paak and their new project silk sonic. Whoever thinks that please sit down and stfu. K, bye.” One fan said, “Why y’all saying Bruno Mars cultural appropriating ? Y’all don’t see that this man is Black.”  One shared a long thread and stated, “I guess some people are saying Bruno Mars uses some sort of cultural appropriation. I don't believe that. So, Google tells me he is Hispanic. Can't Hispanic people sing R&B? Right? That's a good thing right? I know he's been trying to sing like Michael Jackson or Prince for the last 5 years. But if I had the voice Mars does, then I'd be trying to sing like Jackson and Prince too. I mean he has the right influences, musically. And sometimes I hear them playing JT on R&B stations and JT is whiter than sand so I'm not sure if I totally get it.” 

Recording artist Bruno Mars, winner of the Record of the Year award for '24K Magic,' Album Of The Year award for '24K Magic,' Song of the Year award for 'That's What I Like,' Best R&B Performance award for 'That's What I Like,' and Best R&B Album album for '24K Magic,' poses in the press room during the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York City. (Getty Images)


 



 



 



 



 



 



 

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