March 23, 2018 / 10:19 PM

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Bruno Mars Tagged As Cultural Appropriator, Twitterverse Comes To His Defense


Highlights of the 2018 Grammys: Empowering speeches, performances And political moments
Bruno Mars performs at the 59th GRAMMY Awards in California last year. The 32-year-old singer-songwriter was at the center of an online debate this week after an activist accused him of cultural appropriation. The singer was trending on Twitter by Friday.   ( Christopher Polk | Getty Images for NARAS )

Bruno Mars is at the center of an online debate this week after the "Uptown Funk" singer has been accused of appropriating black culture through his music.

On Thursday, March 8, The Grapevine on YouTube published a new episode discussing Mars' recent win at the 2018 Grammy Awards and his music, which is infused with R&B, funk, soul, reggae, and hip-hop. The web series regularly discuss issues plaguing the black community.

A clip of the conversation landed on Twitter this week and sparked an even bigger debate. By Friday morning, "Bruno Mars" was trending on Twitter with over 50,000 users sharing their thoughts about the issue.

"Bruno Mars 100 percent is a cultural appropriator," said writer and activist Seren Sensei on the web series on Thursday. "He is not black, at all, and he plays up his racial ambiguity to cross genre."

Mars was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, to a Filipino mother and a half-Puerto Rican, half-Ashkenazi Jewish father.

"What Bruno Mars does, is he takes pre-existing work and he just completely, word-for-word recreates it, extrapolates it," Sensei continued.

The "Finesse" singer's win at the Grammys this year has been rather controversial. Fellow artists such as Justin Vernon of Bon Iver criticized his triumph over Childish Gambino and Kendrick Lamar.

In Bruno Mars' Defense

Mars is still a hot topic as of this writing, and many are defending the 32-year-old singer. His fans have argued that the Grammy-winning artist has repeatedly recognized the influence of the black community to the music industry and his own music.

Some say that Mars' new sound is cultural appreciation, not appropriation.

Twitter users also pointed out that some other artists deserve to be criticized too for appropriating black culture through their music.

Others, however, think that the debate should not even exist because there are more important issues that need to be discussed.

Seren Sensei Responds To The Twitter Backlash

Despite the backlash she has received from the Twitter community, Sensei is standing by what she said about the singer. In a statement to Newsweek, she said she is glad that she got people talking about the issue.

"It's important to have the conversation outside of the usual dichotomies of Black/White racism because non-Black persons of color can also practice anti-Black racism," she said. "We need to address what that means."

Mars has not issued his own statement regarding the issue as of this writing.

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