Many will remember the month of January in 2020 as its own separate year. A big huge giant never ending Monday. Between the January 7th earthquakes and month long aftershocks, the Australian wildfires, Trump’s impeachment trial, the impending war with Iran (where a commercial flight fell, victim of a missile attack), Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s helicopter crash, and finding forgotten stored expired supplies in many municipalities, Puerto Ricans were overwhelmed, exhausted and enraged. The collective angst and dread led many to ring in February 1rst as if the last 31 days had been a full year. There had to be better times ahead, right? Some respite?
2020 needed to be cancelled…
A sliver of hope was sent from the heavens in the form of Super Bowl’s LIV Pepsi halftime show. Shakira, JLo, Bad Bunny and J Balvin brought the rythm, flavor and fire representative of all Latin America as a tribute to all immigrants, Boricuas and their descendants; the cultural melting pot that makes the Americas greater than the sum of its parts. The artists and accomplished musicians on stage danced and sang in Spanish, English and Arabic, extraordinary people making their mark as the world watched and celebrated “sisters doing it for themselves”.
Approximately 104 million souls gathered around their TVs and streaming devices to witness history. Two entrepreneurs, a Colombian and a “Nuyorican” aged 43 and 50 respectively, mothers, daughters of the female revolution, completing a feat of athleticism and great artistic skill rivaling the moves on the football field. The entertainment program an effusive shout out to anyone who dared to dream big. A call to get loud, to never surrender to tyranny and bigotry. People like us can make it big and leave the world a better place than we found it.
JLo pole danced, as a nod to her role in the movie Hustlers, and sang “Born in the USA” with her daughter Emme to showcase the plight of children detained in cages at the border, wrapped in a USA/Puerto Rican flag. Shakira ululated as a shout out to her Lebanese heritage. Earlier in the festivities, Demi Lovato sang the National Anthem. It was a performance Puerto Ricans will never forget because it became a learning experience, an opportunity to teach others about our flag, our mixed race heritage, and our contributions to USA pop culture and beyond. (See link below for more insights.)
Shaking your ass became officially a Latina’s battle cry.
Folks throughout the continent were aghast that a Cuban flag and Spanish were flaunted on national television. People were harassed and told to go back where they came from because the wardrobe choices of the performers were not family friendly. Ignorant people didn’t expect to be schooled so fiercely and quickly by the internet. Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, Twitter and Insta feeds were flooded with memes that addressed the confusion and chaos caused by the use of many languages and foreign concepts. The exchanges were priceless!
On Monday morning, there wasn’t a Colombian or Puerto Rican who wasn’t ready to take on the world. The haters will not win. As we walked into our offices, schools, and temples, head high, we couldn’t shake the feeling that the odds were in our favor. This too shall pass. We will overcome the hardships of being treated as second class citizens. We matter. We endure. We persevere. Resilience is part of our DNA. There’s nothing life can throw our way that we can’t handle. Pass us the adobo. We are here, and we are loud.
Get used to it!