Monday, November 27, 2006

La Bruja and "Mi Gatita Negra"

Last Tuesday in the class I am teaching at Columbia University, we watched two segments of The Chosen Few, El Documental (Part I): Sex & Reggaeton and Women in Latin Hip Hop / Reggaeton.

La Bruja is featured in both, speaking her sharp mind.

In the discussion that followed, many students expressed that for them La Bruja had been the main voice of reason in those sections, particularly because of the way she criticized the portrayal of women in popular music as one-dimensional objects of lust.

It occurred to me that showing La Bruja's risqué Mi Gatita Negra video might provide some counterpoint to the discussion, since lust is very prominent in that video's imagery.

One of the students had her laptop, so she searched for the video on youtube and we all crowded around her screen to watch.

Posted By:LA BRUJA

Get this video and more at

The ensuing debate was fascinating. Some argued La Bruja was contradicting herself by producing the usual kind of images that exploit female bodies as bait. Others said the images were innovative because the video's milkman was being equally exploited. Others argued that maybe La Bruja was just showing her sexy side; she may be righteous and socially-conscious but that does NOT and should NOT cancel out her sensual existence. Others speculated maybe the video was just a promotional ploy to hook viewers; once they became La Bruja fans, she would have them captive to receive the knowledge she can drop.

One of the students, who goes by Poet Warrior in myspace, had the fine idea to try to contact La Bruja and get answers straight from the source. And get answers she did! You can read their exchange in La Bruja's latest myspace blog titled How Could You Bruja?

Much respect to La Bruja. And to Poet Warrior.


raquelzrivera said...

As usual, myspace's blog gets more comments than this one. So here I share some gems from myspace.


Hi Raquel,

Interesting topic to chew on in a classroom setting. Public Schools ought to have discussions such as these in their classroom. But that's another topic in itself.

I think people tend to forget that Sex and projecting any body of work that has a sexual nature, be it poetry, acting, music, etc., is drawing from the realities of life. If you look at La Gatita Negra and compare it to a 50 Cent or Nelly music video, it's the difference between night and day. La Bruja is embracing her sexuality and showing it with pride and a smile. On the flipside, how often do you even get to see a video vixen's actual face before the closeups zero in on their thong in most of the misogynistic imagery that appear on mainstream television? Emitting sexyness can be, and is, a beautiful thing.

The imagery on La Gatita Negra wasn't marginalized to a body part. No $$$ was being thrown at her by anyone in the video as if she were a cupie doll for sale or a stripper working for her pan de cada dia.

If people really look into the past, they'll realize that La Bruja (whether she even realizes it or not) is part of a lineage of artists who is continuing a legacy of including what is called 'doble sentido' in popular music. Back in the 1920s, the great puerto rican composer Rafael Hernandez caused an uproar amongst the 'elite' in the Dominican Republic when his Trio performed what would become a mega hit entitled "Menealo Que Se Empelota." Translated to english its: "Shake it, It's hardening."

Now...we're all adults and we all know what that could potentially be referring to. (And if not, then......cono!?) But that's the beauty of it. You don't know.... for sure. Obviously, the intent of the title and lyrics was to create a play on words that literally means one thing, but can symbolize another. It was Rafael's way of touching upon a subject without necessarily having to be graphic about it and spit it out directly in so many words. La Gatita Negra was done in the same spirit.

I think before people reach certain conclusions about an artist, it's important to study and focus on their body of work and compare it to others who do use misogyny and the exploitation of females for the sake of profit on a consistent basis. Rafael Hernandez was no pervert. He was a poet who used music as his ultimate form of expression. His body of work would indicate that he was someone who went far and beyond the simplifying of sex or sensuality. If one is familiar with La Bruja's body of work as a poet and activist, one can clearly see that La Gatita Negra is simply a part of who she is as both a woman and an artist. It is one part of a much greater whole.

Hopefully, fans of her music will be able to keep that in mind and grasp the fact that projecting sensuality is not contradicting one's social and ethical responsibilities as an activist or as a human being who espouses equality and respect for all.

Luz y Progreso...

Posted by NuJackRican on Thursday, November 30, 2006 at 3:23 AM
[Reply to this]


Como siempre, felicitaciones en tus temas y ya quisiera yo haber tenido esos debates en la universidad.

Creo que las mujeres feministas y de conciencia no se nos permite expresar nuestra sensualidad se manera abierta, ya sea por estereotipos machistas o por que nosotras mismas nos ponemos trabas, ropas y corazas que nos encierran en una sola forma de ser mujer.

Yo creo que esta super bien k la bruja rete ese estereotipo, que las mujeres nos apropiemos de nuestros cuerpos de las formas que nos den la gana. Si la mujer se siente hermosa que brille!!! Si se quiere tirar 20 macchos k lo haga!!! Si quiere desnudarse para una revista o pelicula, pues k goce!! PERO todo esto siempre y cuando ella sepa porque lo hace y se respete a si misma.

Siempre seremos criticadas, tanto por hombres como mujeres. No importa lo que una mujerota haga, siempre habra criticas porque hay una gran presion tras ella. Hay un mundo que nos mira, quiere que las mujeres seamos mas fuerza pero lo quiere recelosamente.. Nos temen, tenemos las de ganar y eso asusta. Pero si a mi me preguntas, por esa misma versatilidad de sensualidad, honestidad, fuerza, respeto y sentimiento somos quien pone el mundo a lante!!!

Como usted Raquel . Saludos.

Posted by Poet-3 on Tuesday, December 05, 2006 at 8:43 AM
[Reply to this]

Miguel said...

she sold her self for money -_-

loyola said...

I was taking a class at Brown University called Latina Popular Culture and the instructor also used this video in class. Most of the students got the sexual implications, while others did not think too much of it. For that class, we also read "New York Ricans From the Hip Hop Zone" chapter 3: Latin@s get hot and ghetto-tropical.

raquelzrivera said...

Thanks for that comment. Good to know where that kind of dialogue is happening. Who's the professor? I went to Brown as an undergrad.