Taboo hopes that through his activism and work his children can learn more about their multicultural heritage.
The Black Eyed Peas singer — whose given name is Jaime Luis Gomez — is of Mexican and Native American descent, while his wife, Jaymie Gomez, is Filipino. Taboo is father to four children, sons Josh, Jalen and Journey and daughter Jett.
“I try to empower them to learn and really respect the fact that they’re Filipino, Native American and Mexican, and learn and educate ourselves and be part of contributing,” Taboo, 47, told TODAY at the Latin Recording Academy’s 2022 Person of the Year Gala at Michelob Ultra Arena on Nov. 16 in Las Vegas. “Whether it’s taking my son to Standing Rock or I took my oldest son to Standing Rock and stood in solidarity with the water protectors, or taking my kids to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. I always want them to be aware of my activism and also my love for our culture and what my grandmother represented to me.”
Taboo has Shoshone and Hopi heritage from his maternal side. He’s credited his grandmother for helping him learn more about his background. His father’s family comes from Sonora, Mexico.
“But it was all indigenous. And that’s why I’m representing tonight,” he added, showing off his turquoise accessories against his all-black look.
Throughout his decadeslong career, the Los Angeles native has made sure to shine a light on his culture through his music and projects he’s involved in.
“They see how passionate I am about learning, educating myself and not being afraid to ask questions and not to act like I know everything about my Mexican culture and everything about my Native culture,” he said. “I’m unapologetic about wanting to be a student of culture. I’ve dealt with my identity. That’s why I wrote a book called ‘A Kids Book About Identity,’ about understanding the beauty of both cultures and really wanting to inspire kids no matter what your identity, gender, race, faith, color, creed, background, to be proud.”
He also credits his work with Black Eyed Peas and Will.i.am and Apl.de.ap’s backgrounds, as well as his own, to inspire people of all races “to be proud of where they come from.”
“And to say, ‘Look, these kids from L.A. made it, you can make it too,'” he said. “Whatever success means to you, whatever level, we are conduits of hope and that’s our motivation and that’s what we contribute to the world, is love and hope.”
Taboo is all about championing change and raising awareness for issues that are near and dear to his heart.
Among them is seeking clemency for Native American activist Leonard Peltier. In 1977, Peltier was sentenced to two life terms in the shooting of two F.B.I. agents during a shootout on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota in 1975, per The New York Times. Those in support of the 77-year-old claim Peltier received an unfair prosecution and a flawed trial.
“We need to get Leonard Peltier out of prison, who’s been there for so many years. I’ve been really championing that on Twitter,” Taboo said. “I want the world to know that he’s been in there for too long and wrongfully accused. He’s an elder that’s an inspiration to Indigenous people. So we need to do our part.”
He added that he’s used his platform to “show my love and support and to ask for clemency from the President of the United States to let our brother Leonard Peltier, be free.”
Taboo, along with Black Eyed Peas, recently dropped their ninth studio album, “Elevation.” The LP includes an array of Latin artists including Shakira, Ozuna, Anitta, Anuel AA and more.
He calls the collaborations, “a friendship” and a “natural progression” in the group’s time together.
“We become friends first and we bring that energy. (Black Eyed Peas) we’re proud to be from East L.A. East L.A. is huge Latino population. And most of the music is in Spanish,” he said. “So growing up, even though (we grew up) loving hip-hop music, we grew up on Juan Gabriel, and Los Bukis and (Latin Grammy’s 2022 Person of the Year) Marco Antonio (Solis) and Joan Sebastian and Vicente Fernandez, knowing that it was in the back of our heads.”
“And that influence inspired us to do songs with Sergio Mendez, “Mas Que Nada,” and songs with Juanes, “La Paga,” and songs with Daddy Yankee and Paulina Rubio,” he added. “So it’s just a natural progression for us.”
Up next for Taboo includes a cameo in Netflix’s Native American children’s series “Spirit Rangers.” His son Jalen will also voice a character in a potential second season.
“Our season will come in next year in 2023, which is dope. Spoiler alert, but we put it out there. (Creator) Karissa (Valencia) is such an amazing matriarch. She’s such a great inspiration,” he said. “All the creativity and bringing an all-Native writing room, actors, actresses and empowering Indigenous representation in a mainstream platform, that’s beautiful.”
Liz Calvario is a Los Angeles-based reporter and editor for TODAY.com who covers entertainment, pop culture and trending news. She enjoys rocking a stylish outfit, a good cup of coffee, traveling and the soulful sounds of the Backstreet Boys.
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