Shakira Defends Decision To Perform At Super Bowl LIV

Previously, artists — like Cardi B and Rihanna — have refused to perform in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.

In a new cover story with Cosmopolitan, the Colombian singer reflected on her decades-long career and how she navigates doubts and obstacles.

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The Super Bowl halftime show is often not without a little controversy, and 2019 was no different. That year, both Cardi B and Rihanna opened up about turning down a performance at the event, citing solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.

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In 2016, the 49ers player began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and bolster the Black Lives Matter movement. His decision sparked a huge reckoning within the NFL — but not before the organization’s owners banned kneeling as a form of protest. The athlete was also effectively blacklisted from the organization, and has not played with the NFL since 2016. It wasn’t until 2020 when the NFL commissioner finally apologized to Kaepernick for his mistreatment following global protests for Black Lives Matter, but for many people (and reasonably so) the admission of guilt was too little, too late.

Two days before Shakira and J.Lo took the stage on Feb. 3, Cardi B opened up about how she was made an offer, but had “mixed feelings” and ultimately chose to “stand behind” Kaepernick.

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Rihanna later told Vogue in October 2019, “I couldn’t dare do that. For what? Who gains from that? Not my people. I just couldn’t be a sellout. I couldn’t be an enabler. There’s things within [the NFL] that I do not agree with at all, and I was not about to go and be of service to them in any way.”

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But Shakira stood by her decision, saying it was “one of the highlights of my career.” Her performance with J.Lo marked the first time two Latinas led the halftime show.

“J.Lo, as a Latina born in the U.S., and me, as a Latin American woman in the U.S., had a huge responsibility and opportunity to represent all different minorities through our performance,” Shakira explained. “In my case, I also wanted to pay homage to my Middle Eastern culture.”

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“I feel that we did it. It wasn’t an easy show to put together,” the 44-year-old continued. “There was a lot of work behind it, a lot of stress. But it was one of the highlights of my career. I really thought it was a great opportunity to make a strong statement about what an important part of the American fabric the Latino community is.”

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While Shakira and J.Lo’s performance was praised for its statements about Latinx heritage, featuring a Puerto Rican flag and a political message about children in cages, it was also critiqued for the way it sidelined and failed to ally with Afro-Latinx communities. However, for Shakira, it was “an opportunity that we couldn’t miss.”

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To read Shakira’s full interview with Cosmo, click here.

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