Jennifer Lopez is no stranger to controversy or co-opting Black culture, but after her latest questionable antics, she’s finally facing a reckoning. JLo is Puerto Rican and has never claimed Black ancestry or self-identified publicly as Afro-Latina.
She sang the N-word slur in the “I’m Real” remix with Ja Rule nearly two decades ago. She said Ja Rule wrote the lyrics which were “not meant to be hurtful to anybody.“ Lopez was ridiculed at the time and went on The Today Show in 2001 and said that “for anyone to think or suggest that I’m racist is really absurd and hateful to me.”
Fast forward to 2020 when J.Lo performed at the Super Bowl halftime show with Shakira. She was criticized as being an anti-Black move as the NFL didn’t support former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protests of kneeling during the national anthem in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Latina pop star is under fire again due to the lyrics in the newly-released song “Lonely” which is a collaboration with Colombian singer Maluma. In the song, Lopez sings, “yo siempre seré tu negrita del Bronx” (I’ll always be your Black girl from the Bronx). The song is featured in the soundtrack of the singers’ new rom-com Marry Me, which is set to be released on Valentine’s Day 2021.
The track’s lyrics have been deemed controversial as negrita is a questionable Spanish language term of endearment often used to describe people who aren’t Black. It’s a nickname that should be phased out of the Spanish language as it’s extremely insensitive to Afro-Latinx. Twitter users sounded off sharing their opinions about the lyrics.
@Alejand07350692: I still can’t believe J lo referred to herself as “negrita” that is a derogatory term and jlo is acting like her spray tan allows her to completely insult a mock a culture. Disgusting you are a grown middle aged woman with two kids. Common ma’am. Ridiculous
@MrDannyFern: @JLo calling herself “a negrita del Bronx” as in a “Black girl from the Bronx” this week of ALL WEEKS, and not one person on any team flagged it… shows how much work we need to do in the Latinx community. @maluma #colorism #lonely
@marinoglo: J-Lo’s “tu negrita del Bronx” lyric, it’s a literal slap in the face for every black women, but especially for every Afro-Latinx and Afro-Descendant person whose Latinidad and beauty gets questioned everyday due to her influence and “Latina” look.