I generally look for story ideas first thing in the morning, when I’m sitting on the toilet. It’s appropriate given all the sh*t that I come across on the internet. This morning I stumbled upon Jennifer Lopez in a shirt that read, “Bronx Girl Magic.”
Initially, I rolled my eyes and thought to myself, “I guess…” Clearly, this is a play on the phrase created to celebrate Black women, “Black Girl Magic.” But I thought I’m not going to invest too much energy into this. But by the time I got into the office and had more time to sit with the image—and saw how everyone else felt about it, I realized this may be a bigger deal than I thought. And really, when you think about it, J Lo. shouldn’t necessarily get a pass for that.
Not when you consider her history.
After all, J Lo is the same person who used this same Twitter to share her “All Lives Matter” message. This is the same J Lo, who was seeking to steal Amerie’s “1 Thing” out from under her feet and had to settle for “Get Right” when Amerie released it on her own. In fact, J Lo has a history of using Black artists to create songs that eventually became hits for her. This is the same J Lo who, with the co-sign of the Hip Hop community, used the N-word on her record with Ja Rule, “I’m Real.”
This is the same J Lo who unnecessarily injected herself into the Motown tribute.
Despite her desire to be close to Blackness, I can’t recall a time when J Lo used her privilege or platform to speak truth to the issues that affect Black people.
Thinking about Jennifer Lopez made me consider the anti-Black sentiments prevalent in the Latinx community. And it brought to mind the actions of another famous Latina: Gina Rodriguez.
Given the years J Lo has put into this game, I don’t consider the two to be on the same level. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered is Jennifer Lopez the original Gina Rodriguez?
Allow me to explain.
Gina, like J Lo, was given the greenlight by Black men to use the N-word.
She took that permission and used it in content that she distributed to the world with that Instagram video where she brazenly sang the N-word. Just like J Lo.
The same way J Lo used “All Lives Matter,” in the summer of 2016, when unarmed Black men were being shot and killed at an alarming rate. Not only is it tone-deaf, but it was also an attempt to decenter the people most affected by racial oppression.
Just like Gina did when she attempted to downplay the impact Yara Shahidi had on Black girls in favor of saying “all girls.”
Same script, different cast.
The only difference is that when J Lo was using the Black community to build her brand and legacy (see: “In Living Color”), she didn’t have social media to get her caught up in a trick bag. And then she had Black men like Diddy, Ja Rule and now Smokey Robinson others allowing her foolishness to flourish.
What do you think about J Lo’s shirt? Does it make you feel a way? See what other people have to say about it on the following pages.