Why Despacito is the perfect summer song in Trump's America | John Paul Brammer

Latino culture is being embraced despite the vitriol in our political landscape. The success of the song is a reminder that America is more diverse than ever

Walk down the streets, and it can feel like the same song is blasting out of every sound system: Despacito. The catchy new reggaeton-pop mega hit from the Puerto Rican artists Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee is set to be one of the big hits of the summer. It is also the first song primarily in Spanish to top the Billboard Hot 100 since Macarena in 1996.

Having a Spanish song top the charts is no small thing for Latinos. I remember the first time I was disciplined for speaking Spanish was my senior year in high school. I was speaking with a friend of mine. Imperfectly, I might add, as I was still learning the language. My teacher approached us and said bluntly, In this country, we speak English.

I grew up Mexican American, but because I wasnt raised with the language, this was my first glimpse into what is a common occurrence for Spanish-speaking people in the United States, particularly people of color: hostility toward Espaol.

Many Latinos in the United Sates must navigate two worlds with two different languages. Thats true of Latino musical artists looking to make it in the United States as well. Major players like Shakira and Enrique Iglesias toggle back and forth from Spanish to English, and in the past, the Tejano music sensation Selena Quintanilla did the same.

Enter: Despacito. Given todays cultural and political climate, the songs moment still might seem unlikely. A boost from Justin Bieber, who added a breathy English intro to his remix of the song and sang some Spanish lyrics that he has perhaps not committed to memory, didnt hurt it on the charts.

But look harder, and Despacitos rise reveals itself to be the perfect encapsulation of our paradoxical time, one in which we Latinos have more to fear than ever, but also one in which we are enjoying an unprecedented level of cultural and demographic influence in the US.

While a drop-off in immigration and slowing birthrates have slowed the growth of the Latino population in the US, Latinos still accounted for more than half of total population growth in the country from 2000 to 2014, and the census forecasts that, among US children, minorities will be the majority by 2020.

Ambicultural Latinos, who are multilingual and savvy in navigating both Latin American and US culture, are already shaping markets. Collectively, their spending power was valued at $1.3tn in 2015.

But this analysis of Latinos in the US is not meant to suggest an outnumbering or overpowering of non-Latino demographics. That ideological framework invokes the kind of culture clash that xenophobic politicians often allude to in order to portray Latinos as belligerents in a battle for Americas soul.

No, what these statistics mean, and what the embrace of Latin culture and music means, is that, despite the often vitriolic messaging that pervades our fraught political landscape, we live in a more diverse America than ever before.

That doesnt mean we live in an equal America, or a fair America, but it does mean we have the opportunity to experience many cultures and listen to more stories, whether those stories are told in English or not.

The stigmatization of the Spanish language long predates the era of Donald Trump. In fact, it was part and parcel to the campaign he would ultimately run, where he tapped into pre-existing xenophobia and prejudices to galvanize his base.

But the history of the survival of Latino culture is richer, and while current circumstances may seem bleak, there are plenty of reasons to have hope as well.

Music has no language, Luis Fonsi wrote on Instagram in response to Despacitos worldwide success. Lets keep making history.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/10/despacito-perfect-summer-song-trumps-america