For Latinas, Super Bowl 2020 Was A Night Of Triumph—And Debate

    But for Veralucia Mendoza, a 26-year-old university employee in Toledo, who is Afro-Latina and was formerly an undocumented immigrant, the supposed show of representation was a let down.

    “I’m disappointed that Latinxs choose to ignore the call for boycotts by Black activists,” she says, pointing out that the show didn’t include a single Afro-Latinx performer. (Adams, who opened the game, isn’t Latina.) “Some of the worst colorism I’ve ever faced was back in South America, in my home country,” Mendoza says. She’s part of Mijente, a group that bills itself as “a political home for Latinx and Chicanx organizing,” and shared thoughtful criticism throughout the show. “I don’t know what Latinx pride means without collective liberation and solidarity across the board,” Mendoza says. “If that’s the price to pay for Latinx representation, then I don’t want it. I don’t want a white-washed version of us.” She chose not to watch the show in protest.

    Luz Chavez, a 42-year-old Latina from Chicago, pointed out that critics like Mendoza aren’t being demanding—they’re just calling for authentic advocacy. Solidarity, in addition to sequins. “What kind of Latina you wanna be this year?” she asks. “One like Cardi B, who refused to perform for the Super Bowl halftime show in solidarity with Kaepernick and Black communities? Or one like J.Lo and Shakira?” She goes on, “The halftime show was being touted as ‘the most Hispanic Super Bowl ever.’ This was a moment powerhouse Latinxs had the world in their hands and the power to flip the script and show Black-Latinx solidarity, which would have been earth-shattering to Trump and his white supremacist base.”

    But Carla Gonzalez, a 36-year-old in Phoenix, loved the halftime show. “I liked J.Lo’s attempt to bring a political message with the cages and the children,” she says, praising both women’s performances. But she adds, “I believe Black Lives Matter, and I think that they could have done a bigger push of bringing that narrative into their performance and exemplify Black and Brown solidarity.” Melissa Carmona, a 28-year-old Colombian-American mental health counselor who goes by “The Spanglish Therapist” on Instagram, wrote “part of what impacted the way I saw myself when I moved to the US was not seeing and hearing more people like me be represented on TV in ways that did not involve drugs (among many other stereotypes).” Seeing the women perform, as well as J. Balvin, whom she pointed out has been open about his mental health struggles, was “freakin’ cool.” The complexity of the performance is leading to “great and important conversations,” she says.

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