The 2020 Superbowl hosted a series of historical milestones. But, as we celebrate our champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, it is worth remembering that not all of this season’s wins took place on the field.
This year, the Superbowl was a trailblazer in Latinx representation; by featuring Shakira and Jennifer Lopez as halftime show stars, this was the first year two Latina pop artists were represented so prominently. The performers were widely received with positive acclamation, and have gone viral with a flood of memes about Lopez’s timelessness and Shakira’s tongue trills.
Some, rather prudishly, criticized the sexiness of the performances, but many rushed to praise the performers for their empowering artistry.
Shakira opened the halftime performance with a series of her iconic hit singles, adorned in a red belly-dancing set and supported by a diverse dance crew. Lopez then joined in a display that wasn’t short of sex appeal, featuring bondage-worthy outfits, pole dancing sequences, and twerking.
Though the entire 15 minute performance was jawdropping, the moment thatmost stood out as an overtly politically empowering statement was when Lopez joined the featured children’s choir in Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA.’
Wearing a feathery American flag as a cape, Lopez shouted “Latinos!” followed by the song’s iconic chorus “Born in the USA…” She then flipped her cape to reveal a Puerto Rican flag.
The display of solidarity and pride for Latin-American culture came at a time of significant political and social discourse surrounding Latinx and/or Hispanic identity. Webster Univerisity Geneva student, Isabella Salom, is Colombian and spoke highly of the diverse representation.
She said, “With the exponential rise of nationalism and populism, seeing Shakira represent the Latinx culture in the Super Bowl was exhilarating. Not only did she render tribute to my country Colombia, where Pablo Escobar, drugs and corruption are constant topics of discussion, but she also allowed us to forget that despite our cultural discrepancies, we all share the treasure that is humanity.”
Salom also added, “It may seem trivial, but Shakira’s presentation gives hope to a community that has been continuously shamed, neglected and marginalized from the political environment, for a prospective social integration. After all, with knowledge comes increasing understanding and acceptance.”
With reports of hate crime against Latinx and Hispanic people rising as seen by FBI hate-crime statistics last pulled in 2018, highly controversial immigration policy, and jarring ICE raids, there doesn’t seem to be a better time to remind the United States community that Latinx and Hispanic identities should be embraced and celebrated.