Twenty-First Century Blackface : Code Switch We have one story of how blackface was alive and well on network television in Colombia until 2015.
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Twenty-First Century Blackface

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Twenty-First Century Blackface

Twenty-First Century Blackface

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  • Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

AMARA LA NEGRA: So I am Afro-Latina. Afro-Latina means that I come from African descent, which means that I am black. Without you having to see me, if I say I'm Afro-Latina, you automatically...

GENE DEMBY, HOST:

When the Dominican-American singer Amara La Negra was on the podcast, she called out anti-blackness in the Latinx community.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

AMARA LA NEGRA: I know that nobody wants to talk about it, but we suffer a lot of racism. We suffer a lot of colorism amongst ourselves. It's just awful. Somebody needs to say something. Like, are we just going to keep hearing it and not do anything about it?

SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI, HOST:

And one thing she added that really stuck with us was that as bad as it is here, she says it's worse in Latin America. Amara used media representation to make her point.

DEMBY: Afro-Latinos make up about 25 percent of Latin America as a whole. But Amara told us that being black and trying to break into showbiz there is so much harder than it is here in the States.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

AMARA LA NEGRA: It's definitely worse. That's not even a question. That is the truth. Movies, novellas, you know, soap operas, magazine covers, commercials, whatever the case may be, you barely ever, ever see people that look like myself.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DEMBY: You're listening to CODE SWITCH. I'm Gene Demby.

MERAJI: And I'm Shereen Marisol Meraji. And on this episode, we've got a story that gets into what Amara La Negra was talking about about Afro-Latino representation in Latin America.

DEMBY: Meet Soldado Micolta, a beloved TV character in Colombia.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SABADOS FELICES")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character, speaking Spanish).

ROBERTO LOZANO: (As Soldado Micolta, vocalizing in Spanish).

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character, speaking Spanish).

LOZANO: (As Soldado Micolta, vocalizing in Spanish).

MERAJI: He's a soldier, soldado. And he's a soldier because the military is a part of everyday Colombian life. So Soldado Micolta is kind of an everyman in that way. And he's a character on this really popular comedy show in Colombia called "Sabados Felices" - "Happy Saturdays."

(SOUNDBITE OF "SABADOS FELICES" THEME SONG)

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing in Spanish).

MERAJI: "Sabados Felices" is a network TV show that's been on for decades. Watching it or at least having it on in the background is a Saturday tradition in Colombia.

DEMBY: And this character, Soldado Micolta, he's been a regular on the show for years. In the sketches, he's usually with his lieutenant commander, right? He's a soldier. And he makes fun of his commander a lot.

MERAJI: At this point, you might be thinking, Soldado Micolta sounds all right. He's this working-class guy who makes fun of his boss to his face without the boss realizing it.

DEMBY: Keep going, Shereen. Go on.

MERAJI: And not only is he a working-class dude, a soldier who thumbs his nose at authority, he's black. He's an Afro-Latino soldier.

DEMBY: Wait for it, audience. Wait for it.

MERAJI: ...An Afro-Latino soldier played by a Colombian who's not black - in blackface.

DEMBY: Damn it, Shereen.

MERAJI: I'm sorry.

DEMBY: And, y'all, if you haven't seen pictures of Soldado Micolta, it's actually worse than you're imagining. Trust me.

MERAJI: It really is.

DEMBY: Please do a Google search right now - S-O-L-D-A-D-O M-I-C-O-L-T-A. Oh, my God.

MERAJI: It's terrible. Here's the thing. It wasn't until 2015 that this even became an issue in Colombia.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

CAMILA SEGURA, BYLINE: I cannot believe it's 2015, and we are seeing blackface in Colombia. Like, how come this has been on TV for so many years?

DEMBY: That's Camila Segura. She spent a couple of years reporting on the controversy over Soldado Micolta's character. Her story aired in Spanish on the Radio Ambulante podcast a couple of months ago, where Camila is the senior editor.

MERAJI: They did a documentary-style story where you get to know the guy who plays Micolta and one of the protesters trying to put a stop to this racist caricature. It's a glimpse into just how poorly Afro-Latinos are treated in Colombia.

DEMBY: But Radio Ambulante is in Spanish, so, Shereen...

MERAJI: Yes?

DEMBY: You interviewed Camila about the story for our audience. For all you Spanish speakers out there, we still included a lot of Camila's original reporting throughout this episode, so you get a little special bonus.

MERAJI: Camila, thank you for being on CODE SWITCH, first of all.

SEGURA: Thank you for having me.

MERAJI: All right. Let's start with this guy who plays the character of Micolta. His name is Roberto Lozano. And I want to know more about him. Who is this guy?

SEGURA: So Roberto Lozano is this comedian.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

LOZANO: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: And he has been in this "Sabados Felices" show, which is like the "SNL" of Colombia, I guess - a very popular comedy show that's been on the air for more than 40 years - I think more than 14 years with this character called Soldado Micolta. And he's mestizo. I guess the strict definition is a person of mixed race, the offspring of Spaniard and indigenous descent. In the Americas, we are the inventors of the mixed race experiment.

MERAJI: So he's mestizo, but what kind of mestizo is he? I'm assuming that there's various shades of mestizo.

SEGURA: Yeah. I guess.

MERAJI: Would a white Colombian be considered mestizo, I guess, is my question?

SEGURA: I think so. That's a good question. But that is not even part of our definition.

MERAJI: OK.

SEGURA: We don't think so much about race as we should.

(LAUGHTER)

MERAJI: Which is the whole point of this story, right?

SEGURA: Exactly.

MERAJI: So Soldado Micolta, this comedic character that Roberto's playing, he's not mestizo. He's black. He's Afrocolombiano, right? Why did he create this character, and why did he make this character black when he's not black?

SEGURA: So he's from Palmira, a town that is very close to Cali, but his father worked in Buenaventura, which is the most important port of the Pacific coast in Colombia. And Buenaventura is a place where the majority of the population is Afro-Colombian because, historically, the majority of the slaves were brought to the coast, and that's where they settled after slavery was abolished. So it's kind of akin to what happened in the South in the U.S. He went to Buenaventura many times to visit his father. And he says that all of his father's friends were Afro-Colombians and their acquaintances, so he was very immersed in that culture.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

LOZANO: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: He was also very, I guess, inspired by this guy who was Afro-Colombian. His last name was Micolta.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

LOZANO: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: And he remembers this guy as being very funny because of how he spoke because he had an accent.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

LOZANO: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: So when he invented this character, he thought, oh, why not call him Micolta?

MERAJI: Got it. And then how does he bring this character to life?

SEGURA: OK. So he decided that it was going to be a soldier.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SABADOS FELICES")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Soldado Micolta.

LOZANO: (As Soldado Micolta, speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: So he dressed like a soldier. And he has a accent that, quote, unquote, "mimics the Pacific Afro-Colombian accent."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SABADOS FELICES")

LOZANO: (As Soldado Micolta, speaking Spanish).

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character, speaking Spanish).

LOZANO: (As Soldado Micolta, speaking Spanish).

(LAUGHTER)

SEGURA: It's not only about the accent.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

LOZANO: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: But it's also about the characteristics that he has.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

LOZANO: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: The soldier is lazy but also mischievous. He's a rascal.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

LOZANO: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: He's naive.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

LOZANO: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: He's childlike.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

LOZANO: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: He is very ignorant, and he mispronounces things.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SABADOS FELICES")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character, speaking Spanish).

LOZANO: (As Soldado Micolta, speaking Spanish).

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character, speaking Spanish).

LOZANO: (As Soldado Micolta, speaking Spanish).

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character, speaking Spanish).

LOZANO: (As Soldado Micolta, speaking Spanish).

(LAUGHTER)

SEGURA: And he thought that because, according to him, his eyes are very big and he has a big mouth, it would be funny to paint his face black and his lips red. So I guess the combination of the whole thing makes it funny for some people.

MERAJI: Obviously. It's been around for 14 years.

SEGURA: Yeah, it's very popular. He was one of the most popular characters.

MERAJI: Roberto doesn't see anything wrong with the character he plays?

SEGURA: Not at all.

MERAJI: How would Roberto describe what he's trying to do with Micolta?

SEGURA: Just entertainment.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

LOZANO: (Speaking Spanish).

MERAJI: Camila, can you explain to our audience what indigenous people and Afro-Colombians - how they are represented in media in Colombia?

SEGURA: Yeah. I mean, we've had a long history of just black people just being the cleaning lady or the doorman or the thief or the prostitute - very low-level positions. So it's very, very limited, the representation that they have. And indigenous people, they're almost not represented at all.

MERAJI: Oh, wow.

SEGURA: Yeah.

MERAJI: If I turn on the TV in Colombia, I'm mostly going to see these, quote, unquote, "mestizos." And then if I do see somebody who's black on TV, they're going to be the help or...

SEGURA: Exactly.

MERAJI: ...They're going to be a criminal.

SEGURA: Exactly. That's basically it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DEMBY: After the break, Camila's going to introduce us to one of the organizers who's trying to put a stop to Soldado Micolta.

MERAJI: And she tells us how the TV network pushes back, saying things like, but we make fun of everyone equally.

DEMBY: Shereen, where have we heard that before?

MERAJI: Stay with us.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DEMBY: Gene.

MERAJI: Shereen.

DEMBY: CODE SWITCH - and now back to Shereen's interview with Camila Segura about the controversy over Soldado Micolta.

MERAJI: You spoke to people who do not like his character. Tell us about Darwin Balanta.

SEGURA: So Darwin is from Cali, Colombia. And he was raised by a single mom who was a cleaning lady. They moved to this neighborhood where they were basically the only Afro-Colombian family of the neighborhood. And he experienced racism since he was a little boy. At his school, he wasn't even called Darwin. He was called awful nicknames like...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

DARWIN BALANTA: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: ...Just, like, little monkey. So that really affected him. He wanted to fit in so bad. He didn't want to identify as a black person.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BALANTA: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: So he would spend all his money, the little that he made as a caddy in a resort, buying really expensive clothes. And he would just hang out with his mestizo friends.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BALANTA: (Speaking Spanish).

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SEGURA: And then, one day, he was going to this disco. And there were some classmates who were black who were asking him to come into the reggeteca - just like reggae, hip-hop and dancehall disco. Almost everyone in the club was Afro-Colombian.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BALANTA: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: And he was kind of like no, I don't really want to go in. Why would I just hang out with a bunch of black people?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BALANTA: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: But then he got a little bit curious. And he went in. And as soon as he entered and saw everyone, he started feeling a little bit out of place because of the way he was dressed. He was trying to look like a mestizo. And the people in the reggeteca, they kind of embraced their culture and their hair, you know, and baggy clothes - very '90s (laughter).

MERAJI: Yeah 'cause this happened in the '90s.

SEGURA: Yeah, in the '90s.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SEGURA: And they look at him very funny because of the way he was dressed.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BALANTA: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: He even told me they probably thought, this black guy is lost. A stable dog has more identity than he's got.

MERAJI: A stable dog.

SEGURA: Yeah. But he really liked it. You know, after half an hour, he said to himself, please, these are my people.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BALANTA: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: That place changed him.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BALANTA: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: He was woken up by music. He started listening to hip-hop and rap and reggae. And then he started watching the videos. And he was really surprised. And he said to himself...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BALANTA: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: What are these people saying? What do you mean, black is beautiful?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BALANTA: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: Those suits are African. And why are you wearing them? And that raised fist - like, why are you even proud of that, of your hair?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BALANTA: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: So he started reading, like, Mandela and Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and the Black Panthers. And he started embracing, you know, his roots. He started dressing differently and doing his hair differently. So he started changing.

MERAJI: The black American experience is really having some sort of effect on him. And he's becoming politicized - right? - Darwin.

SEGURA: Yes, exactly. And he's the first one in his family to go to college. So that's also big. And he starts reading a lot of black history. And he started connecting with grass-roots organizations of other Afro-Colombians that are interested in human rights advocacy and things like this. So he starts to become much more of, like, an activist in that way.

So he joins his grass-roots organizations. And one of them is CADHUBEV, which is Colectivo Afrodescendiente Pro Derechos Humanos Benkos Vive. I'm not going to translate that because it's impossible.

(LAUGHTER)

SEGURA: But it's basically an organization from different universities. And one of the things in the agenda of this organization was to protest Soldado Micolta. And they wanted to go to Bogota on 2015.

MERAJI: And why Bogota?

SEGURA: Because in Bogota is the network Caracol TV - Caracol Television, which is the network that airs "Sabados Felices." So they wanted to go strictly in front of the network to protest.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFED PROTESTER: (Chanting in Spanish).

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting in Spanish).

SEGURA: And so Darwin was one of the organizers of the whole protest.

MERAJI: What exactly are they asking for?

SEGURA: They're asking, basically, for Soldado Micolta to be off the air. But they were all also, like, protesting racism in the media and lack of representation in TV shows and in telenovelas and all this.

MERAJI: How does Roberto respond to this protest? And how did the network respond to this protest?

SEGURA: Roberto was completely shocked. Like, he didn't understand - for him, was completely absurd that people were protesting a comedian and not corruption or violence.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

LOZANO: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: He believes that TV is for entertainment, not for culture. If you don't like it, you should change the channel. And the network had a similar (laughter) reaction. I mean, "Sabados Felices" has been widely accepted among Colombians for years. And they say that they portrayed the country's diverse cultural and racial expressions by way of humor. And if they get rid of representations of Afro-Colombians, they would also have to get rid of representations of people from Bojaca or Santander or Pasto or, you know, all these regions. So basically, their argument was that if these groups didn't appear on the show, that would be discrimination.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MERAJI: That sounds to me so similar to how the writers of "The Simpsons" have been defending Apu, this character that they have that, you know, runs the Kwik-E-Mart.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE SIMPSONS")

HANK AZARIA: (As Apu) Has the whole world gone crazy?

DAN CASTELLANETA: (As Homer) Nah, just our screwy country.

AZARIA: (As Apu, sighing) Your old friend Apu is a lamb being led to the slaughter.

MERAJI: Some people are saying it is just like blackface, you know? It's very similar. And "The Simpsons" were like, oh, we make fun of everyone.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE SIMPSONS")

YEARDLEY SMITH: (As Lisa) Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?

MERAJI: I mean, that's kind of what I'm hearing from this network.

SEGURA: Exactly.

MERAJI: We make fun of everyone.

SEGURA: And if we don't make fun of him, then it would be discrimination because we wouldn't have included him, you know?

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MERAJI: I'm going to deduce that, based on the response from the network and Roberto, nothing really happened after that protest to Soldado Micolta. Am I right?

SEGURA: Yeah, you're right. Completely right.

MERAJI: (Laughter).

SEGURA: They even had shows scheduled for two weeks later in Cali, which is a city with a really high population of Afro-Colombians. So Darwin and the others got really mad thinking that, you know, Micolta was going to come to their city and perform blackface.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BALANTA: (Speaking Spanish).

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting in Spanish).

SEGURA: And so they gather around the theater, and a lot of people came. I think there was, like, around 500 people protesting. And they kind of blocked the entrance and wouldn't let people buy the tickets to the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BALANTA: (Speaking Spanish).

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Si compras la boleta, tambien eres racista. Si compras...

SEGURA: Si compras la boleta, tambien eres racista. Or, if you buy your ticket, you're also being a racist.

And they canceled the show. That's when the media really paid attention to this. And that's when Roberto got a call from a journalist, and he was super upset.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

LOZANO: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: And he said, well, if this is a huge problem, I'm just going to stop doing the character. And 10 minutes later, there was a big headline saying "Soldado Micolta Canceled From Colombian TV." And so the people from the network called him. And they were like, what do you mean you're going to cancel? No, we support Soldado Micolta.

And that's when a lot of the social media kind of nastiness came out. And so there was a lot of awful, awful comments, saying things like...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: ...Blacks are the most racist people in the world...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: ...Go back to Africa, and stop the drama.

MERAJI: So the racism really was, like, right out there.

SEGURA: Exactly. No shame.

MERAJI: So all of these horrible, racist things are being said. Did Roberto finally get the clue that this is not a positive thing, this is not a positive character and there is a lot of racism that's surrounding it and a lot of racism in the fans that love the character? Did he figure that out in any way?

SEGURA: I don't think he did. I asked him that in the interview.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

LOZANO: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: The blackface thing, he understood that but nothing else. When I saw this - OK, Soldado Micolta is ending - I was like, OK, whew.

MERAJI: Yeah.

SEGURA: Reasonable people won. And then it was like, no, he didn't change. He just stopped painting his face black.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

LOZANO: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: He started painting his face with the Colombian flag or multicolor or whatever. But he's still on the air. His name's still Micolta. He's still the same character that is dumb and mispronounces things and has the heavy accent. And, you know, it's the same character except that he doesn't paint his face black.

MERAJI: So if I'm in Colombia and I'm watching your version of "SNL," as you say, "Sabados Felices" on Saturday, I can turn it on, and I can see him doing a total caricature of an Afro-Colombian - doing the accent, everything. The only thing that he doesn't do is paint his face black.

SEGURA: Black. Exactly, not much change.

MERAJI: I mean, this is three years later. Right? Like, this is three years after these huge protests and everything blew up. Has there been a bigger conversation around race since then? What has happened three years later? Has everything just kind of gone back to normal?

SEGURA: I think it has, unfortunately. I mean, I think this episode was important in the sense that, thanks to this, racism became an issue to address, like, in the public sphere, which is not something that we often discuss. Because - also, the general idea is that we are not racist, you know? The U.S. is racist. But no, here in Colombia, we all love our little black people, los negritos. We love them, you know? But that's obviously not the case.

So I think - I think it opened up a little bit the conversation. And I think, slowly, people are becoming aware that racism is an issue. It's also the question of representation of black people in the media, which is something that is not being discussed widely. A lot of people saw these jokes as harmless. And I think there is now a deeper understanding that the way in which Afro-Colombians are portrayed really matters.

MERAJI: What does Darwin think about all this? What does he think of Soldado Micolta still being on TV and the only thing different is, you know, the way he paints his face?

SEGURA: What can I say? I think he has a little bit of resignation that this is the way it's going to be. And he believes that just children shouldn't watch that because that's his main concern is, like, the effect that this has on little children. He was very adamant in saying, this character doesn't affect me because I understand my history. I understand where I come from.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BALANTA: (Speaking Spanish).

SEGURA: A lot of little kids watching that do not. And that's his biggest problem. So he's - you know, he's still trying to protest as many things as he can and changing things - and not only media but also protesting the facts. The banks, for example, in Cali don't hire people of color to work as accountants or, you know, whatever.

MERAJI: So like, no bank tellers.

SEGURA: No.

MERAJI: If I go to Colombia I won't see an Afro-Colombian bank teller.

SEGURA: Right. It is going to be not so common, yeah.

MERAJI: Well, does he want to go back to this fight about Soldado Micolta? Does he want to...

SEGURA: No.

MERAJI: Oh, really?

SEGURA: Yeah. He's really tired about it. And I think part of what he feels is at least we had a conversation about this, and at least we won in the sense that he is not painting (laughter) his face black. But beyond that, I think they - no, they're just, like, done with the subject.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MERAJI: Camila, I have to ask you - did just doing this story open up anything for you? Did it make you - did you have conversations with your family?

SEGURA: Do you want to make me cry?

MERAJI: I actually would love that 'cause you know how we love that on podcasts.

SEGURA: No, I mean - one of the reasons that this story really interested me since the beginning was because I feel that in Colombia even the most progressive people - quote, unquote, "progressive" - are very blind to these issues, you know? So there's a really interesting discussion about the limits of humor and the political correctness. Some people reject political correctness because they associate it to a culture that comes from the United States that is very, like, uptight and censorship.

And they think that things like this, like Micolta, is just overreacting. It's like, why do you care about this? You know, it's just a comedian, whatever. Just, you know, don't think much about it. I mean, my mom, who is very progressive - she's an author; she's very read in Colombia - she's one of the ones that were like, this is kind of ridiculous that they're making this huge deal about Soldado Micolta. And I was like - Mom, really? (Laughter). And I had to kind of go into these conversations with her. And now I think that with the story, she kind of changed positions. And she was like, yeah, I understand.

MERAJI: Did your mom say - oh, you know, you've been living in the States too long?

SEGURA: A version of that, yeah (laughter). And some friends, too.

MERAJI: What would they say?

SEGURA: They think I'm very American in the way I see things, some of them - that I'm just too sensitive.

MERAJI: And what do you think?

SEGURA: I do think I am. But I think that's good.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MERAJI: That's Camila Segura, the senior editor of the Radio Ambulante podcast. Check them out on NPR One, iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YO ME VOY PA' CALI")

OSCAR D'LEON: (Singing in Spanish).

MERAJI: And Gene, the song giving me life this week is from an Afro-Latino salsero Oscar D'Leon. And the song is "Yo Me Voy Pa' Cali." It's one of my favorite salsa songs. But in the case of Soldado Micolta, maybe we should change the chorus to no ire pa' Cali - I will not go to Cali - ha-ha.

DEMBY: It's like the Biggie Smalls song. I'm going, going (laughter).

MERAJI: Back, back to Cali...

DEMBY: But not that Cali.

MERAJI: No (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YO ME VOY PA' CALI")

D'LEON: (Singing in Spanish).

DEMBY: All right, y'all. That's our show. There's so many ways to get at us. Right? You can holler at us on Twitter. We're @nprcodeswitch. Our email is codeswitch@npr.org. Subscribe to the podcast, of course. And sign up for our newsletter at npr.org/newsletter/codeswitch.

MERAJI: So many slashes.

DEMBY: So many slashes.

MERAJI: This episode was produced by Maria Paz Gutierrez. It was edited by yours truly and Sami Yenigun.

DEMBY: Big shoutout to the rest of the CODE SWITCH fam - Kat Chow, Leah Donnella, Adrian Florido, Karen Grigsby Bates, Walter Ray Watson and Steve Drummond. Our intern is Angelo Bautista. I'm Gene Demby.

MERAJI: And I'm Shereen Marisol Meraji.

DEMBY: Be easy, y'all.

MERAJI: Peace.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YO ME VOY PA' CALI")

D'LEON: (Singing in Spanish).

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