J Balvin, rising Latin pop-reggae star from Medellin, Colombia, has decided to pull out of his upcoming Miss USA performance following racist comments made by the beauty pageant’s owner, Donald Trump. Balvin was slated to perform at this year’s pageant, which will take place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on July 12 and air on national television. But in light of Trump’s recent tirade against Mexican immigrants in the United States, the musician cancelled his appearance.
The Miss USA pageant was going to be Balvin’s first performance on national television, an exciting professional milestone for the young singer. But he decided that he could not go through with the spectacle without feeling wrong. He also forfeited a substantial paycheck, along with his chance to participate in this American spectacle, which is widely recognized to be exploitative of young women, in addition to other problems. “This isn’t about being punitive, but about showing leadership through social responsibility,” Balvin explained.
Trump made the controversial remarks during a public statement last week, in which he announced his intentions to run for president. “The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems,” the reality TV mogul said. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
Balvin reported feeling surprised and upset when he heard this speech. “Mexico is a Latin powerhouse,” the singer told Billboard. “And Mexicans are known as hard workers. Here in the U.S., not everybody wants to do the jobs that immigrants do. A comment like that is powerful.”
Balvin has been slowly rising as a pop icon in Colombia and Latin America ever since his 2012 album Yo Te Lo Dije (I told you) received international acclaim. He is known for his reggae beats and his creative use of Spanglish. He is especially popular in Romania, of all places, and in the United States he has worked on collaborations with Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. In short, his career will probably be just fine without the beauty pageant buzz, anyway.
Entertainers who will be moving forward with their scheduled appearances on Miss USA include rapper Flo Rida and country music singer Craig Wayne. Both performers have declined to comment, as well as MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts, who will be hosting this year’s pageant.
It is also worth noting that the current Miss USA crown holder, Nia Sanchez, is part Mexican. In her social media profiles, Sanchez praises the pageant because she was able to pursue her dreams with the money that she won.