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Critics say entertainer Bruno Mars is the wrong type of person of color to sing 'black' music
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Critics say entertainer Bruno Mars is the wrong type of person of color to sing 'black' music

Grammy award-winning entertainer Bruno Mars has been accused of cultural appropriation, and it's all because he's the wrong variety of person of color to perform "black" music.

Hernandez's father is Puerto Rican and Jewish, while the entertainer's mother is Filipino. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii.

What are the details?

The comments were made during a recent airing of YouTube series, "The Grapevine" — a social justice web show dedicated to examining social issues in popular African-American culture.

Panelist Seren Sensei Aishitemasu said the entertainer (real name Peter Gene Bayot Hernandez) was nothing more than a "cultural appropriator."

"He is racially ambiguous," she says. "He is not black, at all, and he plays up his racial ambiguity ... to cross genres."

Aishitemasu went on to call Mars a "karaoke singer" and noted that he is not an original artist in the sense that she believes Michael Jackson or Prince was for their times.

"Prince never won an Album of the Year Grammy ... Bruno Mars got that Grammy 'cause white people love him," she stated, noting that if Jackson were on today's music scene, he would not be nearly as successful as he was during his heyday because "people have realized that they prefer their black music and their black culture from a non-black face."

Ironically, Jackson discussed racial inequality in 1991's "Black or White," when he sang, "I'm not going to spend my life being a color."

You can see a clip from the show featuring the castigation of Hernandez below, and watch the full episode here.

Anything else?

After many came to Mars' defense on social media, Newsweek reached out to Aishitemasu for a follow-up comment on the viral story.

Aishitemasu said she stood by her remarks and felt happiness at being able to spark such a conversation.

"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," Aishitemasu's statement read. "We need to address what that means."

She added, "Bruno is someone who, in my opinion, is willingly benefiting from his racial ambiguity in order to utilize the system of white supremacy to get ahead. That makes him an agent of white supremacy, and that makes this a BIG FISH."

Mars has yet to address the viral controversy.

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