Bruno Mars on the Challenges of Being Mixed Race

Originally published on February 2, 2017

If you are of mixed race descent, then chances are you may have faced the “What are you?” question at some point or another. You may also understand how extremely annoying – and at times, dehumanizing – that question can be as well. Singer-songwriter Bruno Mars is one who can definitely understand the struggle.

Attn: recently shined a light on one part of his interview he did for the February issue of Latina Magazine, where he talked about the struggles of being mixed race. Being of Filipino, Puerto Rican, and Jewish descent and growing up in Hawaii, a lot of people often mistook him for being black and white. Living life in the “gray zone” was especially difficult when he was attempting to break out into the music industry, for music executives more often than not were unsure of how to label him.

As a mixed race person of Filipino descent myself, I definitely feel for him. Already, just as a Filipino American artist alone, I among many others are definitely awed to see someone from our community making it big in the mainstream media. But to see it from another light, to view Mars as an artist of mixed race descent, it’s even more appealing for people like me, for he’s breaking boundaries on not only how a pop artist sounds, but also what they look like. It’s really inspiring.

I’m glad he talked about this particular struggle; not only as a way of showing how the music industry, and society in general, still want to categorize everything (and everyone), but also to see how prevalent this conversation is during these uncertain times in the United States. With all the discussions of how people of color are treated with Trump and his posse in control, where do us mixed race folks come in? How are we viewed in this era we’re in now?

The fact that Mars went in depth on this subject matter makes me respect him even more.

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