My Response to the Super Bowl Backlash

By now we have all hopefully have watched Shakira and JLo’s jaw-dropping performance at the Super Bowl LIV halftime show. All my friends and I — most of us coming from some sort of Hispanic background — watched in awe as those two powerful Latina women gave the performance of a lifetime. That is why when I heard that many people weren't impressed by their performance, I was confused. Then I did my research and quickly, the racism and misogyny jumped out as I found countless articles and posts about how it was too scandalous for national television and borderline “anti-American."

If the issue was oversexualized performance from these two females, where was the backlash last year when Adam Levine of Maroon 5 gave a seductive performance of "Moves Like Jagger" and was allowed to strip off his shirt with no one batting an eye, or when past performers wore just as revealing outfits as these two women? Or if we are going to be upset about the over-sexualization of females, why do we not have an issue that NFL cheerleaders wear just as revealing outfits?

As an example, parts of JLO’s performance did feature some sensual dancing, including pole dancing.  People were so quick to be disgusted with JLo for pole dancing, but in reality, she used it as the perfect marketing opportunity for her movie Hustlers. Let’s not forget that she is a 50-year-old woman who looked absolutely flawless as she sang and danced — doing things my 19-year-old body wishes it could — and boy, did she kill it.

Everyone is so quick to sexualize Hispanic women for their own pleasure, but as soon as we are finally in control of our own beauty and bodies, the world is so quick to shame us for it. Sure, we need to be respectful of the audience when putting on performances, but to say that the Super Bowl wasn’t the place for it is beyond hypocritical and just an excuse to be openly racist and misogynistic. If I were a mom, I would be honored to have let my kids watch such multi-talented women perform because, in the end, we should have been proud of these women's culture-rich performance.

Many people have complained that the performance was “anti-American.” In response to this, I say that this is a very outdated belief because our country is built on the concept of being a “melting pot.” These two Latinas — along with Bad Bunny and J Balvin — were showing tribute to their cultural roots and singing some of their most iconic Spanish songs in a city that is predominantly Hispanic. The Super Bowl took place in Miami, which is known for its lively Latin culture. Therefore, it’s no surprise that they were picked to perform and that they took advantage of their environment and diverse audience.

During JLo’s performance, the biggest issue people had with it was the display of the Puerto Rican flag. In my opinion, this was just an excuse to be openly xenophobic. JLo was reminding us that Puerto Rico is a US territory, emphasizing it by having her daughter singing “Born In the U.S.A” towards the end of the performance. Therefore, trying to try to call the show un-American completely erases the identity of millions of Puerto Ricans. Puerto Ricans are Americans too and shouldn’t have to face backlash for being Hispanic. Not to mention — if people paid attention — the other side of the flag WAS the American flag. JLo was paying tribute to her Puerto Rican AND American side and should be allowed to, regardless of the event.

As a Colombian and Lebanese woman myself, Shakira has always been a role model to me. Her performance had me in tears as every single second just continued to blow me away. Shakira as a 43-year-old woman stood on that stage and sang, danced, killed that guitar solo, and surprised us all on the drums and the only thing people want to focus on was the provocative outfit and dancing. Shakira’s performance was way more than that. She used it as the perfect opportunity to glorify her culture by inputting a variety of tributes to her Colombian and Lebanese heritage. For example, the meme of Shakira’s tongue and war cry is actually a tribute to Lebanese roots, and she was sure to include a variety of Colombian dances. If people took the time to educate themselves, they would have easily pointed out that these dances had no intention of being sensual but instead were a glimpse into her culture. Her performance reminded me how PROUD I am to be Hispanic — more specifically, Colombian

We live in a world where our own president — someone who is supposed to be a role model — has multiple allegations of rape against him and gets away with openly saying racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic and overall disgusting things on the daily. It is not the NFL’s job to have to cater to everyone’s beliefs and opinions, so how about we divert the energy that we put into shaming this performance into actual issues?