Super Bowl LIV provided America with a rare sporting moment: “nothing to hate” unless you’re from Northern California or Missouri. Both teams are jammed packed with young superstars who play hard ball. Plus, let’s all be honest, Andy Reid deserves that ring, he’s one of the greatest coaches of all time.
The National Anthem was flawless, for once. The Halftime Show was spectacular. Two beautiful strong Latina women, one hugely talented daughter, Bad Bunny and J Balvin gave us a show that could only be rivaled by Prince in modern Super Bowl history. The major media sites and the NFL were overwhelmingly positive, and we all stopped for a moment to marvel at a 50 year old woman performing with athletic prowess that most of us only dreamed of in our 20’s.
Then came the next morning…
The comment sections of every major media report, the hate filled racist and hyper sexualized vile posts on social media bloomed in the thousands if not millions. Predominantly White Americans were triggered and saying the most outlandish and disturbing things. The true rotten core of America woke up and threw up all over the good graces of the rest of us.
From the dawn of our republic, institutional racism in America has meant that black and brown women have been hyper-sexualized, fetishized and degraded in a manner that white women never will be. The heritage of Shakira and J.Lo is as American as yours is, yet so many speak of them as interlopers.
Colombia is part of the Americas. Puerto Rico is an American Commonwealth. Both women are American Citizens. They are the beauty, the grace, and the songs of our complex and rich salad that is the Americas. That was tossed aside this morning.
The performers stunning and their theme appropriate attire was what all modern pop singers wear today. Mirroring what the public regularly sees on any number of family friendly shows such as Dancing with the Stars and The Grammys. Your daughter’s who are in Dance Crew, Pageants and cheerleading wear very similar outfits.
However, now we see that because two Latina women were unabashedly sensual, and yes sexy, they are being accused of encouraging or promoting pedophilia, prostitution and human trafficking. This ignorant false equivalency would have us believe that Latina Pop Singers should somehow be viewed through a different, more sexualized and culpable lens then Adam Levine was just the year before when he ripped his shirt off and sang topless, or Lady Gaga was in her fabulous and outrageous costumes in her equally sensual act in 2017.
The “othering” of two Latina women happens when J.Lo is shamed for her pole work, and Shakira’s nod to her Lebanese father with an ululation, a common Arabic call of celebration. Women of color are not allowed to be sensual or sexy without being equated to sex workers or harlots.
Yet, women across our country are signing up by the thousands for “Pole Work” classes, sex toy parties and the like. They are not suddenly becoming sex workers nor sex slaves, their daughters (and sons) are not being trafficked.
The issue here is a deep dark fear of our brown and black sisters and queens that has been a part of our national discourse from the moment African women were blamed for ”making” white sharecroppers rape them. The modern assumptions that black and brown girsl are prostitutes and not victims, whereas their white sisters are immediately viewed as victims of sex trafficking, is prevalent today in the anti trafficking discourse and criminal justice system. Women of color are often viewed as 5-10 years older than they are, and as such fetishized at a much younger age than is legal or acceptable. This is not their fault, it’s wholly the viewers responsibility.
Lastly, overt sexuality in any form is not what creates the demand for human trafficking. A hugely talented Latina Pop Sensation and her daughter will not create the demand for underage sex and sex trafficking. Shakira seamlessly singing and dancing in multiple traditional forms, all at once, will not cause your daughters (or sons) to be lured into the life. The demand for young or underage sex lays squarely at the feet of your fathers, brothers, and husbands who seek it out and pay for it. The overwhelming percentage of Johns are White Middle Aged Males.
Our problem is not our women of color performing during the Super Bowl, the issue is the men who attend the game and will pay for and use underage and young people to play out their fantasies.