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I should know better. When it comes to important matters, the last thing I need to look to or truly be offended by is the statements of celebrities. More often than not I’m left thinking that silence would have probably been the best route for them to take if they’ve never boasted an activist or at least a militant bone in their body. And that’s fine. Such responsibilities are not for everyone.
But I must admit, this news of Jennifer Lopez (or her media team) tweeting out #AllLivesMatter while promoting her single “Love Make the World Go Round” had me in my feelings this morning. Somebody needs to say something.
I like J.Lo. Outside of being someone with impeccable style, a strong work ethic and her best body at 46, she seems to be a pretty nice person. (I mean, you have to be a positive chick if you can deal with an even bigger diva, Mariah Carey, trying to deny your existence since like the late ’90s.) But the #AllLivesMatter misstep, whomever was behind it, is all bad. It’s a slap in the face to Black folks who constantly have their experience ignored, and quite terrible coming from Lopez of all people. More than anything, it left me thinking back to the many years when Lopez thrived with the help of Black culture and Black lives.
Like the days when she garnered a bevy of street credibility by being arm in arm with Diddy — then Puff Daddy — on red carpets. All this while rocking Sean John ensembles with bandannas to match, and kicking it with his industry friends, including Jay Z, Damon Dash, Aaliyah and more.
When she became “Jenny from the Block” with the help of Jadakiss and Styles P.
When she teamed up with Fabolous to help her “Get Right.”
When she sang on the remix of “I’m Real,” and told “niggas, mind their biz” but they didn’t hear her, though. Confronted over her use of the word, Lopez actually called the harsh criticism “hateful,” saying, “For anyone to think or suggest that I’m racist is really absurd and hateful to me. The use of the word in the song — it was actually written by Ja Rule — it was not meant to be hurtful to anybody.” And when all was forgiven, and she continued to dominate and add another No. 1 to her roster.
I say all that to make the point that Lopez has greatly benefited from the help of Black songwriters, Black boyfriends (don’t forget about Wesley Snipes), Black language and Black culture as a whole, and for the most part, we’ve embraced her. So to not understand how Black lives matter and to not even feel it necessary to clear the air behind the use of the #AllLivesMatter hashtag on her social media, not once, but twice, is quite interesting. Even if she wasn’t the one who posted the message, the fact that she’s had nothing to say about these back-to-back instances of police brutality only to have #AllLivesMatter pop up on her accounts is also quite interesting.
For the umpteenth time, when people say that Black lives matter, it shouldn’t be seen as an affront because it doesn’t downplay the lives of others. We’re all well aware that every human life is precious. However, you would have to be naive and ignorant at this point to not see the disparities in how we are treated in this country, particularly when it comes to the way we are manhandled and murdered by police. There are videos to prove it for goodness sake.
Black lives indeed matter. They mattered to Lopez when she collaborated with them to make music, when she needed her first job on In Living Color, when she was featured in our magazines at the beginning of her career and when she needed street cred to top the charts. They should also matter to her now. And that’s not to say that she’s this soul-sucking cultural appropriator and the worst human being ever. No ma’am. But it is to say that even if she doesn’t have anything to say on her own about the incessant Black death we’ve seen and how Black lives matter, she needs to have something to say about the people she employs, in her camp, including her social media team, who clearly don’t get that they do — even if the person “in her camp” really is her.