Jennifer Lopez is “still your black girl from the Bronx”…so she sings in an auto-tune drenched melody. Okay, it was in Spanish…she actually said “negrita del Bronx” but the meaning is still the same.
What timeline is this? I can recall Jenny from the Block finding herself in embroiled in controversy over the use of the n-word nearly 20 years ago on her single “I’m Real” featuring Ja Rule. In it, she infamously sang the words, “Now people screaming what the deal with you and so and so/I tell them n*ggas mind their business, but they don’t hear me, though.” She also caught fire for an “#AllLivesMatter” tweet, a slogan and hashtag that is often used to silence opposition to anti-black racism four years ago.
While the Black and Latino (and Afro-Latino) community of New York City’s boroughs might have a certain kinship that finds the use of the term permissible, J.Lo has always carried a precarious bifurcated image; a dual nature, if you will.
In her cinematic appearances, and to the demographic that those films target, Lopez is depicted as a Caucasian-Adjacent girl who’s an insider to the norms and trappings of suburban and upper-middle-class America. She’s played the romantic interest to Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Sean Penn and more. In music, Lopez is also chameleon-like: a girl who can dance and rap with all of the Boogie-Down’s brothas and sistas while adorned in the customary fashion signal pieces, as well as the girl who speaks fluent Spanish and can hit a mean salsa step as a representative for the Latinx community from New York to the Andes Mountains of South America.
Jennifer Lopez turned into Jenny from The Burbs. https://t.co/vsDcmIeFCg— Yardie B (@ShenaeCurry) July 12, 2016
While some acknowledge that the difference between, the African-American, the Dominican, the Haitian, and many Cubans and Puerto Ricans (of which, Ms. Lopez is) is a boat stop, phenotypes, personification, and consistency in messaging remains a major issue. As far as her public claims on her heritage and ethnicity, J.Lo has clearly stated that she is “Puerto Rican” and a “Latina.” Fans can see the differences in appearance between her and other notable Afro-Latina women that would largely preclude an assertion of any blackness from her part.
negrita?????? J LO????? lol someone stop her https://t.co/PMs5x4ygkY— CIN (@cintaiz_) October 13, 2020
Back when she was questioned on the use of the n-word, Lopez stated, “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 [and] it was not meant to be hurtful to anybody.“
Okay? But the words are coming out of your mouth. Ja Rule would defend the use of the word in an interview with DJ Vlad saying, “All my Spanish n—as I know say ‘n-word’. “I never looked at them in any way and said ‘Yo, watch that.’ I think they were upset because they don’t see her as ‘Jenny from the block,’ Jenny from the Bronx. They see her as this global icon. Matter of fact, some people probably see her as white.”
J Lo knows she isn’t….black, right? Her past use of the n-word in songs…and in her new song “Lonely” she refers to herself as “su negrita from the Bronx.” 🤔— msg (@matts_ego) October 4, 2020
That last part, about her public perception, is perhaps more truthful than he even realized. It is crucial part of her presentation to the Hollywood media and troubling when she attempts to revert to something else, something laden with incredulity.