Entertainment

Shakira Is Famously Colombian-Lebanese And Her ‘Tongue Moment’ Meant A Lot For Middle Eastern Representation

Last night Shakira and Jennifer Lopez gave us one of the most iconic halftime show performances we’ve seen in a long time. Not only did they become the first Latinas to headline a Superbowl show, they also brought out the whole Latino Gang —Puerto Rican trap super star Bad Bunny, Colombian reggaeton king J Balvin, and J.Lo’s own little girl, Emme. The show was filled with subtle cultural statements —and one of them became a viral moment. Here’s what Shakira’s tongue flicking gesture actually means. 

Sunday night’s half time show was nothing short of iconic. 

Shakira and JLo performed their biggest hits, including “Waka Waka,” “Let’s get Loud,” and a few others. They brought Bad Bunny on stage to perform Cardi B’s “I Like It,” and his own hit “Callaita,” anchored by Shak. J Balvin also joined in on the spectacle with his massive hit “Mi Gente.”

The Grammy Award-winner was just launching into her hit song “Hips Don’t Lie” when the viral moment happened. 

Shakira leaned down toward one of the cameras at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fl, stuck out her tongue and let out a high-pitched, warbling cry that instantly set the internet in flames. 

Viewers were quick to ridicule the singer, and the memes started rolling out. 

Countless memes likened her to a turkey, a petulant toddler and characters from Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants”, among a host of other unflattering comparisons. But a few of Shakira’s true fans pointed out the obvious; the sound was a nod to her Lebanese heritage. 

If you’ve followed Shakira’s career since the late 90s you might remember that the artist is inspired by her Middle Eastern roots.

Born Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, to a Colombian mother and Lebanese father, the singer has drawn on her diverse cultural heritage to create her signature style —both vocally and stylistically. I mean come on, it’s her Lebanese background what inspired her belly-dancing and hip-swaying moves —duh.  

Shakira’s widely celebrated performance was full of nods to her Colombian and Lebanese heritage.

The seemingly random gesture actually carried deep cultural significance. To those familiar with Middle Eastern culture, the sound was akin to a traditional Arabic expression of joy and celebration called a zaghrouta. It was also interpreted as a reference to the world-famous Carnaval de Barranquilla, which is held in Shakira’s hometown in Colombia.

In the beginning of the 2000s Rolling Stone magazine wrote about what made Shakira stand out

“The stylistic breadth of Shakira’s music – elements of folk, Middle Eastern and traditional Latin styles over a foundation of rock and pop – gave her a degree of credibility the American teen queens lacked.” Shakira’s breakout single, which many Latinx millennials might remember from the 90s, was ‘Ojos Así’, a song heavily inspired by the middle eastern world —The Colombian even sings in Arabic. 

Her Latin sound has always been spiced with Middle Eastern elements and Colombia’s African heritage.

The salsa beats in her 2006 megahit “Hips Don’t Lie” are reggaeton-inspired, and it also has an Afrocolombian element to it. The singer she still featured a belly dancing arab-esque number in the video. The same mixture of cultures has been fed into countless of the artists biggest hits, like ‘Tortura,’ ‘Yo soy Gitana,’ ‘Whenever Wherever’, and the list goes on. Her own vocal style was also born from this melting-pot of cultures. Shakira has noted the importance of her sense of “mixed ethnicity,” saying “I am a fusion. That’s my persona. I’m a fusion between black and white, between pop and rock, between cultures – between my Lebanese father and my mother’s Spanish blood, the Colombian folklore and Arab dance…”

Shakira’s music stems from years of listening to Anglo and U.S. rock acts like Led Zeppelin, The Cure, The Beatles and Nirvana.

“I was so in love with that rock sound,” Shakira explained to BMI in 2002, “but at the same time because my father is of 100 percent Lebanese descent, I am devoted to Arabic tastes and sounds. Somehow, I’m a fusion of all of those passions and my music is a fusion of elements that I can make coexist in the same place, in one song.”

Fans praised her for including such a wide array of elements in the halftime performance. 

One person wrote, “In the melting pot that is Miami, you could not have picked a better Super Bowl act and this was a lovely touch.” Another fan tweeted: “Shakira sung in Arabic, Spanish, English. She played the guitar and the drums. She danced champeta, pop, salsa, reggaeton, son de negro, mapalé and arab dance.” The twitter user added, “And her 2-year-old songs are top 10 on USA iTunes. SHAKIRA, SHAKIRA.” 

Shakira has long been an icon for Middle Eastern Americans, especially the ones with Latinx backgrounds too.

“Shakira was all we had for the longest time,” one person tweeted. “Every Middle Eastern American, especially Lebanese, pointed to Shakira as the one entertainer with massive global appeal and popularity. To have our culture and our rhythms represented up there, even in the smallest way, is massive.”

Beyond the spectacle of glittery costumes, laser lights and high-energy dancing, the show was an impactful 15-minute-long homage to the singers’ roots. 

Shakira peppered her performance with Middle Eastern music and belly dancing while also incorporating elements of Latin American culture and traditional Afro Colombian and Latino dances. Jennifer Lopez, born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents, sang her chart-topping anthem “Jenny From the Block” and later wore the U.S. territory’s flag as a reversible cape featuring the flag of Puerto Rico on the other face of it.

The show was filled with significant, yet subtle, cultural and political statements. 

While performing a remix of “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)” and “Let’s Get Loud,” many young singers appeared on stage in circular cages—a subtle reference, but a possible nod to the thousands of children, most from Latin American countries, who have been detained at the border due to the migratory crisis and current administration’s family separation policy. The Puerto Rican flag flashed as the iconic Springsteen ‘Born In The USA’ song played, as if to remind viewers that Puerto Ricans are American citizens.

Lopez and Shakira’s performance was primarily a celebration of Latin American music and their own lengthy careers, but the subtle references to politics might serve as a guide for what the NFL will be like in the Jay Z era.

Transcripts Of George Floyd’s Death Find He Told Cops He Couldn’t Breathe More Than 20 Times: “Tell my kids I love them”

Things That Matter

Transcripts Of George Floyd’s Death Find He Told Cops He Couldn’t Breathe More Than 20 Times: “Tell my kids I love them”

Stephen Maturen / Getty

Over a month has passed since the death of George Floyd and while the aftermath of it seemed to spark a reaction that rattled those of us left behind to our cores, outrage over his death has slowed down. Likely you’re hearing less calls to end police brutality, seeing fewer signs that Black Lives Matter and most of your friends’ Instagram pages have likely returned to their usual blissfully ignorant states. Still, the fight for justice for George Floyd carries on and newly released transcripts of body camera footage show that Floyd had pled for his life and told officers at least 27 times that he couldn’t breathe before his death.

New transcripts from body camera footage of Floyd’s death have been filed in court.

Floyd (a truck driver, security guard, and father of five) told Minneapolis police officers over 27 times that he couldn’t breathe before he died. “I’m scared as fuck, man,” Floyd told the officers while they restrained them. “Tell my kids I love them. I’m dead.”

Transcripts of body camera footage show that Floyd told officers at least 27 times that he couldn’t breathe before passing out and dying.

“I can’t breathe for nothing, man,” Floyd told officers. “This is cold-blooded, man.” Ignoring Floyd’s cry for help, officer Derek Chauvin continued to pin Floyd down with his knee on his neck.

In the transcript, Chauvin can be heard saying to Floyd “Then stop talking. Stop yelling. It takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk.”

“I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe,” Floyd continued. “I’ll probably just die this way.”

The transcripts were filed by former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane in a move to have charges against him dropped.

Lane is one of four former police officers to be charged in Floyd’s death. Chauvin, Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao are also being charged. Lane, Kueng, and Thao have been charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin in Floyd’s death. Meanwhile, Chauvin faces second-degree murder charges.

According to BuzzFeed, “In the motion looking to have charges against Lane dropped, attorneys argue he was a new officer on the force and following the cues from Chauvin.” At the time of Floyd’s death, Chauvin was not Lane’s field training officer. He had however been one in Lane’s precinct and had provided the Chauvin with instructions on how to deal with calls. Attorneys have pointed out that in the transcripts Lane called paramedics to the scene and asked if they should roll Floyd on his side while he was holding onto his legs.

In the transcript, Chauvin says “No, he’s staying put where we got him.”

According to transcripts, after Chauvin passed out bystanders pointed out Floyd was unresponsive. Still, Chauvin pinned him to the ground.

Thandie Newton’s Comments About Tom Cruise’s ‘Impossible’ Zit Are Amazing But Not As Important As The Ones About Abuse And Colorism

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Thandie Newton’s Comments About Tom Cruise’s ‘Impossible’ Zit Are Amazing But Not As Important As The Ones About Abuse And Colorism

thandienewton/ Instagram

As of Wednesday, a recent Vulture interview with Thandie Newton about her experiences in the entertainment industry has been trending. In the new profile, Newton opens up about everything from being a Black woman in an industry obsessed with white blondes to sexual assault. Still, despite her poignant reflections, Newton’s comments about working alongside “Mission Impossible 2” costar Tom Cruise and his emerging face pimple trending online.

Touching on an array of topics during the interview, Newton did hilariously recall a day on set in which Tom Cruise had a quickly developing pimple.

The “Westworld” actress told a story of how she and Cruise were working on a complicated scene while filming the Mission Impossible sequence. “I don’t think it was a very well-written scene. I get angry with him. We’re frustrated with each other,” she told Vulture. When they did the scene, Cruise followed up by suggesting that they read each other’s lines. “It was the most unhelpful … I can’t think of anything less revealing. It just pushed me further into a place of terror and insecurity. It was a real shame,” said Newton. “And bless him. And I really do mean bless him, because he was trying his damnedest.”

“I remember at the beginning of the night, seeing this slight red mark on his nose, and by the end of the night, I kid you not — this is how his metabolism is so fierce — he had a big whitehead where that red dot was,” she recalled. “It would take anyone else 48 hours to manifest a zit.”

The anecdote racked up thousands of comments on Twitter and we get it. It is a pretty hilarious story, especially considering that it features one of Hollywood’s most popular and talked about actors.

Still, there are bigger takeaways from Newton’s interview.

Newton speaks candidly in the interview about the racism and sexual abuse she experienced early on and throughout her career.

She touches on various moments throughout her career that are appalling including her experiences of filming a racially-charged scene in the film Crash and the mistreatment and sexual grooming she experienced at the hands of a director as a teenager on the set of the Australian film Flirting. One incident in particular that stood out was Newton’s decision to step away from the Sony Pictures Entertainment produced film Charlie’s Angels which saw executive Amy Pascal at the helm.

According to Newton, she decided to back away from Charlie’s Angels when she met Pascal and the executive made racially insensitive comments.

“The head of the studio — I had a meeting with her, and she said, ‘Look, I don’t mean to be politically incorrect, but the character as written and you playing the role, I just feel like we’ve got to make sure that it’s believable.’ I was like, ‘What do you mean? What changes would you have to make?’ She’s like, ‘Well, you know, the character, as written, she’s been to university and is educated.’ I’m like, ‘I’ve been to university. I went to Cambridge.’ She went, ‘Yeah, but you’re different.’ She’s like, ‘Maybe there could be a scene where you’re in a bar and she gets up on a table and starts shaking her booty.’ She’s basically reeling off these stereotypes of how to be more convincing as a Black character. Everything she said, I was like, ‘Nah, I wouldn’t do that.’ She’s like, ‘Yeah, but you’re different. You’re different.’ That was Amy Pascal.”

Newton explained that she didn’t sign onto the movie as a result.