Halftime show proves Latinx people won’t be erased

Latinx culture in all its glory


Courtesy to Chris Stanford / PepsiCo Design and Innovation

By Xenia Ariñez de la Vega, Spanish and German editor

On Feb. 2,  Fox and Pepsi graced worldwide audiences with what is, in my opinion, the best Superbowl halftime show in recent history. Jennifer Lopez – or J. Lo – paired with reggaeton giants Bad Bunny and J Balvin to deliver a show that will be remembered for years to come.

I got goosebumps the minute Shakira took the stage and the first chords of “She Wolf” started playing. I sang along in Spanish (because I only know the lyrics of the Spanish version), and I cheered loudly when Bad Bunny materialized out of nowhere and started singing his hit song “Callaíta.” I screamed when J Balvin started saying “¿y dónde está mi gente?” and I cried when J. Lo and her daughter did a mash-up of “Let’s Get Loud” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.”

We saw multiple costume changes, talented dancers, classic songs for both Latinxs and other ethnic groups, pole dancing, political messages. More importantly, we got a celebration of Latinx culture in all its glory.

Both J. Lo and Shakira, as well as J Balvin and Bad Bunny, represented different segments of the Latinx community. J. Lo is an New York-born Puerto Rican, Shakira is half-Colombian and half-Lebanese, J Balvin is Colombian and Bad Bunny is from Puerto Rico. Although they represent only two nationalities, they all stand for the different sectors within the Latinx community, a nuance many people fail to see.

Latinx identity is a funny thing. When we’re talking about, or residing in, our respective countries of identity, we identify as someone of that country rather than a Latinx. So, for example, if I’m talking about Bolivia, or if I’m in Bolivia, my identity is that of a Bolivian, not a Latina. And God help someone who confuses an Argentinian with a Chilean, or a Peruvian with a Bolivian, or a Venezuelan with a Colombian. Down there, we have our national identities well defined and ready to go.

But the picture changes when we go outside of our subcontinents, especially when we travel to the United States. Once we step foot into this country, this “us and them” that defines us becomes a faceless “we.” We’re stripped of our nationalities and put into a larger category: Latinxs.

I have to admit that when I was younger, I wanted all traces of my latinidad gone. I worked to erase my accent, denied that I listened to any music that wasn’t English and was an avid consumer of all things American – including the Super Bowl. It didn’t help that the President of the U.S. started using the word “immigrant” as if it were something dirty.

Then I moved here, and that part of my identity I so deeply wanted to deny became the thing that defined me the most. I loved it because it meant I wasn’t alone in my experience. I was an “other,” but I wasn’t alone in that.

And that’s why this Super Bowl halftime show meant so much to me. It showed that Latinxs in the U.S. are here and that we’re just as big a part of this country as any other American is. Plus, it’s a message that carries to all minorities, immigrant and non-immigrant alike. Whatever your journey or experience in this country is, you matter, you exist, and you deserve to do so.

Being a member of the Latinx community these days can be life threatening. We’re .” Thanks to Trump, the words “Latinx” and “immigrant” have become almost dirty, like an insult that can be thrown without consequence.

But this year’s halftime shows not only showed the history and beauty in those words, it also sent a clear message about the politics behind them. J-Lo wearing the Puerto Rican and American flag in one outfit with her daughter wearing a sweatshirt with the American flag on it showed that Puerto Rico—a U.S. territory—is just as much part of the U.S. as any state is. Children sitting on the field in cages was an allusion to the way children are kept in border detention centers.

This show told this administration loud and clear that what they’re doing is not okay – that we exist, and not matter how hard they try, they can’t erase us.

This story can be found in written in spanish here by Xenia Ariñez de la Vega.

Xenia Ariñez de la Vega is the Spanish and German editor and can be reached at [email protected]