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Latto: From Mulatto to Big Latto




When Latto emerged first as Miss Mulatto, controversy immediately ensued. All manner of people were offended by her name choice. Some felt she was establishing a racial superiority to monoracial blacks and others felt she was invoking racist memories of the antebellum south, where miscegenation laws were the law of the land. In a tweet teasing the details of an unreleased track, Alyssa Stephens, aka Mulatto, confirmed her alter ego, back in May of this year. She and others referred to her as Big Latto, eventually dropping the Big remaining simply as, Latto.

A Racial Slur: Mulatto

A teenager referring to herself as what most would consider a racial slur shocked the world. Throughout her career, this theme would follow the rising star who is the child of a white mother and black father. She explained clearly why she chose her rap name when she was 16 years old:
“I’m passionate about my race. I’m Miss Mulatto. The term mulatto technically is a racist slur. It means someone that’s half black and half white. So it’s, like, controversial. I took that negativity from the word mulatto and now…everybody calls me Miss Mulatto. Why do I have to choose one or the other? I’m both. That’s what I want to go by.”
It is wise for monoracial African Americans not to speak for biracial blacks whose reality is most understood by themselves. They live with a certain set of consequences that monoracial blacks do not. Some say the consequences of their identity are less severe due to their proximity to whiteness. Others say the double rejection from their white side and black side simultaneously leads to unique mental anguish, that can hardly be quantified.

What is a Mulatto?

It appears that the rapper Latto, was trying to do with mulatto, what African Americans have done with the n-word. However, a movement by millions that layered the definition of the n-word was too grand of a mission to be completed by one teenaged girl. For its offensive history, Big Latto has received major criticism over the years. Historically, the term “Mulatto” is used to describe the first-generation offspring of a Black person and a white person and has a dark history that dates back to American chattel slavery. Mulatto comes from the word mule, as in the mixture of a horse and a donkey. Miscegenation or the literal mixing of genes between blacks and whites was said to be the mongrelization of the white race.

Biracial Phenotype Diversity

Often times phenotype comes into play when it comes to how biracial people feel about being biracial. While some come out looking identifiably African American, others have exotic appearances that could have them placed anywhere in South America to the Middle East as origins. The way society engages their individual appearances encourages them to either identify as black or other than. As Latto came of age she dropped a portion of her name, but zero portions of her fame.

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