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On a typical laundry day on the island, my neighbors’ teenage daughter-in-law can be heard blasting Karol G’s “Bichota” from her loudspeakers as she line-dries linens in the sun. She is usually quiet and demure, but when this song comes on, she gains sass and control. When she isn’t regurgitating the Colombian hitmaker’s song word-for-word, she plays homegrown artists like Tokischa and, her new favorite, Yailin La Más Viral. In the Dominican Republic, the latter is a dembow star on the rise; in the rest of the world, she’s the alleged homewrecker who took Anuel AA away from Karol G.
Suspicions that the Puerto Rican and Dominican performers were dating were confirmed on January 19, when Anuel commented “Mine” on a video Yailin posted on Instagram of her receiving teddy bears and flowers. Since then, the pair has shared several intimate moments of themselves singing romantic songs to each other on social media. But not everyone is enjoying the honeymoon phase as much as they are. From Instagram to Twitter, commenters have called Yailin, a Black woman, “fast,” “ugly,” and a “witch” who cast a spell on Anuel (speculation of brujería is often used to insult Black women whose partners are enamored and loyal to them). In this love triangle, where Anuel chose to date Yailin rather than get back with Karol G, Yailin is cast as the siren, the seductress who stole a grown man away. But the real villain isn’t Yailin—it’s Latinidad’s misogynoir.
Coined by queer Black feminist Moya Bailey, misogynoir describes the dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against Black women. It looks at how both sexism and anti-Blackness shape the treatment and ideas people develop about Black women. Although Yailin is a light-skinned Black woman from the island who has had much privilege due to her complexion, thinness, and phenotype, there is an obvious misogynoir that she is experiencing given the current hate-filled comments circulating online around her new relationship with Anuel. Some comments reveal users’ inherent texturism, a preference for hair with straighter or looser texture. Several commenters, for instance, have demanded Yailin to take off her wig so they can see her afro. Others have created memes that poke fun at her for growing up in a low-income barrio. One of the memes shows a rat showering as a way to symbolize their perception of Yailin as a “hoodrat” who doesn’t deserve to be showered with love and luxury. However, most of the language used to criticize Yailin have long been used against Black women globally, words like “ghetto,” “dirty,” “ugly,” “perra,” “sapo,” and “gorilla,” among many more dehumanizing insults.
The real villain isn’t Yailin—it’s Latinidad’s misogynoir.
Some commentators have also accused Yailin of being a gold-digger, an opportunist who is using Anuel, an established artist in one of the biggest genres of our generation, to gain fame and a gold chain. But just because the rest of Latin America only heard of Yailin because of her headline-making rumored engagement to the reggaetón rapper doesn’t mean she isn’t a talented artist deserving of the spotlight. Yailin has long built a following on the island for her dembow music and collaborations with some of the top rappers from the Dominican Republic. For instance, when Yailin, Tokischa, and La Perversa came out with their dembow hit, “Yo No Me Voy Acostar,” in 2020, there seemed to be a change in the conversation about the genre on the island. Here were three young women taking up space in a male-dominated genre and people were loving it. Yailin’s most viral single, “Quien Me Atraca A Mi,” has garnered more than 11 million views. It’s true that millions of more eyes will be waiting to see what she will do next due to her new relationship, but her talent and platform were built on her own.
Even still, Yailin wouldn’t be the first artist to pop off after collaborating or dating someone more established in the industry. In fact, ex-girlfriend Karol G indiscreetly used Anuel’s bad-boy lifestyle to build her own street cred. It’s through collaborations with Anuel that she was able to retire her good-girl-next door image and be taken seriously while singing about secret romances in “Secreto” and cheating on partners in “Culpables.” Without Anuel, the pop star also would have never been able to release a song called “Bichota,” Puerto Rican slang for a woman who runs a drug business. As he did with Karol, Anuel is yet again using his platform to elevate the career of his latest love interest. The difference: she’s a Black woman from a Caribbean ‘hood.
This is a scenario where someone is choosing to love a Black woman loudly and unapologetically, and folks are mad about it.
While Karol G hasn’t directly said anything about Yailin, her white tears have fortified her fans to bully the Dominican singer. During a January concert, Karol revealed to her audience that her man was “stolen from her,” which left fans around the globe to conclude that Yailin is a homewrecker. Not long after, Anuel set the record straight, saying on TikTok that he was the one who made the first move on Yailin, not the other way around. For her part, Karol G has a track record of side-stepping accountability as a white woman with power and privilege in the music industry. In the summer of 2020, at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests against racialized police violence, Karol G tweeted a photo of her dog with black and white spots along with the caption, “The perfect example that black and white together look beautiful. #BlackLivesMatter.” Moreover, throughout her career, the singer has blatantly copied Black women’s aesthetics, wearing durags and African appropriative braids, and attempted a Caribbean persona, donning a caribeña accent and misusing colloquial terms. She’s not alone. Spanish-performing singers like Nathy Peluso and Rosalia are celebrated for attempting to embody a Black aesthetic and sound while Black women, such as Yailin, are penalized for that same bravado and look. In many ways, these women benefit from the misogynoir that harms Black women.
Unlike Yailin, Anuel, the alleged heartbreaker, has carried on with minimal backlash. In the tens of thousands, and sometimes hundreds of thousands, of comments under Anuel’s posts of him and Yailin, most question his decision-making and his happiness. “You could tell he was into Karol more,” reads one. “It had to have been witchcraft,” reads another. “What’s wrong with you,” questions one more. The foundation of Latinidad is patriarchy and, as in most scenarios, it protects men and discards women. As Zahira Kelly-Cabrera concisely tweets on the societal hierarchies that center men, and benefit white women but punish Black women, “In Latin America, getting with a white mestiza is seen as an upgrade. It elevates your status. While getting with a Black woman lowers it. Yailin is living proof right now.” Whichever way the dice is rolled, Yailin is left unprotected and most harmed by the very function of Latinidad and its cultural obsession with misogynoir.
Black women deserve our flowers while we are still here, and we deserve to have partners who celebrate and support us.
But this is also a scenario where someone is choosing to love a Black woman loudly and unapologetically, and folks are mad about it. In the Americas, as with most of the world, Black women are easily fetishized and exotified but not romanticized enough. Depictions of Black women being loved are seldom seen on television, in magazines, or in music. Instead, they are easily categorized through body parts, sex appeal, and whatever labor they can provide for a man. So as the display of misogynoir around Yailin unfolded from my cell phone screen, my friends and I discussed how lovely it is to see a Black woman from a DR barrio being showered with expensive things and empowered with everything her heart desires to continue making music. But we also wondered what the response would have been like if Yailin didn’t come from a ‘hood, if she wasn’t racialized as a Black woman, or if she had the same access to major record labels and was able to enter the industry with the same amount of respectability as Karol G.
The reality is that even within her own culture, Yailin is perceived as whatever stereotype and caricature people have in their minds of Black caribeñas. That’s how misogynoir works. But if we begin to question patriarchy and white fragility, we can start addressing why a Black woman being showered with luxury is bothersome to so many. Black women deserve our flowers while we are still here, and we deserve to have partners who celebrate and support us. As a culture and community, we have to move past internalized misogynoir so that Black women have a chance to thrive. These are my hopes for Yailin and all the negras of the world.
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