After seeing some divisive posts on social media regarding Shakira & JLO’s performance, I needed to chime in. Here were some of my thoughts:
While scrolling through my timeline, I observed Latin-American women and men saying they loved the show. Then I observed “white” women saying how trashy it was. When I clicked on their status, comments were filled with “white” people saying how horrible, disgusting, tasteless, and trashy it was. It seems to me like there is a cultural gap. I watched the show, and no I don’t agree with pole dancing, and yes, they could have worn darker colored tights, but when has the super bowl or NFL EVER cared about your family? It’s always been about your money cloaked in disguise. EVERY decision is a money generating decision. When has JLO EVER been the model for wholesome family values. JLO has been the same person from her Diddy dating days, so why are we suddenly concerned with what her kids are seeing? Why are we so quick to place our moral standards on people (in disgust), and say this is how they should behave because this is how I behave?
I also noticed a whole lot of my culturally oblivious timeline posters repeating that they were twerking. Umm, 1) that wasn’t twerking. 2) In a conversation with my Latina and black girlfriends a few years back, we talked about how much we hate that dancing in certain spaces makes our dances appear more sexualized. African & South American women have been dancing like no other for centuries, but the minute we get in front of our lesser melanin friends, our body moving rhythmically to music is suddenly sexualized.
Another thing I’ve noticed, this type of feedback is always lashed out at the women. Whether it’s Shakira, JLO, Beyoncé, or Lady Gaga, there’s always a stiff digust filled response laced with “how dare they?” “Don’t they know better?” Then we wonder why non-christians say we’re the most judgmental people. Or we wonder why our teenagers refuse to connect with us. Or why after doing such a good job protecting them, they have no way in engaging in empathetic dialogue with the majority of the world who will have a different belief system and moral standard than they were taught at home. What I saw was who I can never be my whole self around. What I saw on my timeline saddened me & made me feel hated.
Something I’ve learned in the recent weeks in my missions class is how quickly European-Americans enter the space of another culture and immediately declare what they are witnessing as wrong. There’s no time (or very little time) taken to observe, learn, and ask questions, then observe, learn, and ask questions again, before drawing a conclusion. Obviously a few people don’t represent the majority in any culture, but let the majority in that culture tell you what’s what in their own culture.
As a person who finds freedom in dancing, and wanted to be a professional dancer as a kid, I know first hand that rhythmically moving our hips in brown & black communities are NOT sexualized. When I first became a Christian, I wasn’t in a space where people danced, and I was so close to going back to the clubs just to dance because I NEEDED to move. My Latina friends suggested Zumba, and it has been a life-changer for me. What I have noticed is that only European-Americans gaze at us through the window as if they’ve never seen such a thing. Up until European-Americans monetized our Asian/Indian, Middle-Eastern, African, and South American dancing, there was nothing sexual about these dances. (And I can say a whole lot more about this regarding trafficking and the porn industry, but I’ll save that for another time.) It’s one thing to talk about a person’s outfit choices that can be changed in 5 minutes. It’s another thing to talk about a whole lot of people group’s form of dancing and call it disgusting/trash. By having a diverse group of friends & attending Indian weddings, Puerto Rican parties, Nigerian/African parties, etc., we just might experience and learn a form of joy and freedom that we rarely get in European-American gatherings… I mean, we even dance in our joy filled church services!
My last thoughts on this. If the outfits were the biggest issue, then I hope we also boycott the upcoming olympics. Track and swimming are the 2 sports where men & women train together, travel together, and wear the least amount of clothing possible in order to be fast. And both sports are constantly shown on TV. So how far are we willing to take this? (If the hip movements were the issue, then please see my previous comments. I previously stated that I didn’t agree with the pole dancing.) I hope in all circumstances we teach boys and young men to value all bodies regardless of whether they are dancing, running or swimming.
Also, I didn’t watch the super bowl. I looked up the halftime show after seeing the divided opinions on my feed. In my little protest against the NFL for heightened human trafficking & their treatment of Kaepernick, I haven’t watched the super bowl in 2 years. Will it make a difference? Most likely, NO. But I learned a long time ago that I can only control myself, not multi-billion dollar corporations who don’t fit my moral standards.
I just had a joy filled 1 hour of hip shaking in zumba class! 😀 Thank you all for engaging in this conversation. I wish we could have had a phone or video group discussion, but… I hope no one took what I said as being mad. I was just very disappointed in how quickly many people isolated black and brown women with even realizing it.