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J-Lo is under fire for calling herself a “Black girl from the Bronx.”Photo: Sony Music
J-Lo is under fire for calling herself a “Black girl from the Bronx.”Photo: Sony Music

J-Lo's newest song with Maluma and the racist ownership of the Spanish language

A new song from J-Lo is bringing to light the racist ‘endearments’ of Spanish.

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: AAPI Philly RISE

May 27th, 2022

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“Lonely,” the new song by Colombian singer Maluma and Jennifer Lopez was released ahead of their upcoming movie, Marry Me, in 2021. The heavily autotuned song has received criticism because Lopez refers to herself as ‘tu Negrita del Bronx,’ opening a Pandora’s box on the issue of racist ownership terminology in the Spanish language. 

‘Mi negrita,’ signifies ownership. The deeply-problematic term uses the possessive adjective ‘my’ before the feminine Spanish word for ‘Black.’ Translated into English it is ‘My Black Woman,’ and even typing it out sounds insulting. 

Many have taken to Twitter to call out “Jenny from the Block.”

It’s usage by J-Lo is the product of cultural appropriation — something that is often present in Latinx culture. In this case, the term of endearment is used among Black Latinos. It is used among white Latinos as well (J-Lo), but shouldn’t, considering its racist connotations of ownership.

Susan Bordo, a philosopher, further explained how such terms of ownership have plagued the history Black women in general: 

“By virtue of her sex, she represents the temptations of the flesh and the source of man’s moral downfall. By virtue of her race, she is an instinctual animal, undeserving of privacy and undemanding of respect,” she said. “The legacy of slavery has added an additional element of effacement of Black women’s humanity. For in slavery, her body is not only treated as an animal body, but is property, to be taken and used at will.”

This is not the first time J-Lo has come under fire for racist remarks. In 2001, she was criticized for using the n-word on her song ‘I’m Real,’ with Ja Rule. Lopez later said the rapper wrote the lyrics and they were not meant to hurt anyone. 

“For anyone to think or suggest that I’m racist is really absurd and hateful to me,” said Lopez in an appearance on the Today Show at the time.

One would think that during a year where there is a racial awakening for a society that celebrities would also be considerate of the same social upheavals given their platforms. 

There may be some who will say it is dramatic or a reach to take J-Lo’s words out of context and into offensive, derogatory territory, but that does not take away from someone else’s lived experience, or what they may deem offensive because of the history their ancestors lived through. 

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