The multihyphenate Bronx-born star donned a feathered Puerto Rican flag and featured what some Twitter users are interpreting as “children in cages” during her performance.
Fans are praising Jennifer Lopez and Shakira for their powerful but subtle statements on Puerto Rico and U.S. immigration policy during their Super Bowl 2020 halftime show.
Held at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, the 15-minute performance saw the co-headliners place their identity front and center while performing a medley of their most popular hits. But it’s a sequence of moments toward the end of the show that caught some viewers’ eyes.
In both a direct call to her Puerto Rican heritage and what some believe is a response to President Donald Trump’s child immigration policies, Lopez brought her daughter, Emme, out to perform a moving snippet of her single, “Let’s Get Loud.” Behind Emme were a group of children, all holding hands and dressed in white outfits featuring sparkling American flags on the tops. Behind the young singer was Shakira on drums, and around her other children, also dressed in white and sitting in what some have interpreted as “cages” of light. A moment later, Lopez draped herself in a feathered Puerto Rican flag while delivering a rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.”
Shakira and J.Lo’s performance marked the first time two Latinas ever headlined the halftime show. Singer and songwriter Shakira is a Colombian-born Latin-pop artist and the multi-genre American singer, dancer and actress Jennifer Lopez was born and raised in the Bronx by Puerto Rican parents.
Born in the USA – JLo just stuck in political statement on immigration
— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) February 3, 2020
— Tom Moore (@tom_moore_104) February 3, 2020
Replaying the halftime show, tears – JLo and Shakira brought the children in cages on stage, then JLo says “Latinos, Let’s Get loud” as Emme sings “Born in the U.S.A” with the “fence” background…POWERFUL STATEMENT. pic.twitter.com/3Un90qRoO1
— Yol-Itzma Aguirre (@YolitzmaWrites) February 3, 2020
“Two Latinas doing this at this time in this country at this time — it’s just very empowering for us,” Lopez said during the Super Bowl press conference last Thursday. “For me, I’m very proud to be able to help set and push forth that message.”
“I think it’s a very important moment for our community, for the Latino community, in this country,” singer, songwriter and dancer Shakira followed up. “And I think the Super Bowl is a very American event, as American as it can get. I think it’s very nice to see that it’s also going to be a reminder of the heritage of this country, which is one of diversity.”
The active embrace of the country’s Latino, Chicano and Hispanic communities within Sunday’s performance was a noticeable shift from last year’s event in Atlanta, which was headlined by Maroon 5. The Hollywood Reporter‘s chief TV critic Daniel Fienberg described the pyrotechnics-filled show featuring Travis Scott and Outkast rapper Big Boi as a “less interesting Super Bowl halftime” that was neither “indecent” nor “political.”
The Los Angeles-based pop band accepted the slot after several big-name artists, including Rihanna, Cardi B, Adele, Pink and Jay-Z, reportedly turned it down. Later that year, Rihanna told Vogue that she had refused the chance to perform at halftime as a show of solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.
Super Bowl 54 aired live on Fox.