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.

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Twitter’s AIs Prefer Ted Cruz With Boobs And White Skin Over Black

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Twitter’s AIs Prefer Ted Cruz With Boobs And White Skin Over Black

Ever notice how on some social platforms like Twitter or Instagram that you yourself are mysteriously unable to crop your display images on your own? That’s because Twitter prefers to let their algorithms make the decision. Over the weekend users on Twitter discovered the surprising dangers of letting algorithms crop your own images.

Education tech researcher Colin Madland drew attention to the issue while speaking out about how the video-calling program Zoom, often crops the head out of his black person coworker while on calls.

It didn’t take long for Madland and other users to discover that Twitter’s AIs use discriminatory equations to prioritize certain faces as well. In short, the social platform’s AIs prefer white faces over Black ones.

In response to the discoveries, a Twitter spokesperson acknowledged that the company was looking into the issue “Our team did test for bias before shipping the model and did not find evidence of racial or gender bias in our testing. But it’s clear from these examples that we’ve got more analysis to do. We’re looking into this and will continue to share what we learn and what actions we take,” they stated.

Of course, Madland’s discovery is nothing new. In 2019, test results from the National Institute of Standards and Technology revealed that some of the strongest algorithms online were much more likely to confuse the faces of Black women than those of white women, or Black or white men. “The NIST test challenged algorithms to verify that two photos showed the same face, similar to how a border agent would check passports,” Wired points out. “At sensitivity settings where Idemia’s algorithms falsely matched different white women’s faces at a rate of one in 10,000, it falsely matched black women’s faces about once in 1,000—10 times more frequently. A one in 10,000 false match rate is often used to evaluate facial recognition systems.”

Still, it didn’t take long for users on the platform to ask what other physical preferences Twitter has.

Turns out the AIs prefer Ted Cruz with large anime breasts over a normal-looking Ted Cruz.

(To better understand this Tweet, click the link above)

The user who tested the image of Cruz, found that Twitter’s algorithm on the back end selected what part of the picture it would showcase in the preview and ultimately chose both images of Cruz with a large anime chest.

It’s nothing new that Twitter has its massive problems.

For a platform that so controls and oversees so much of what we consume and how we now operate, it’s scary to know how Twitter chooses to display people with different skin tones. The round of jokes and Twitter experiments by users has only revived concerns on how “learning” computer algorithms fuel real-world biases like racism and sexism.

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Study Says 95% Of Women Don’t Regret Having Abortions

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Study Says 95% Of Women Don’t Regret Having Abortions

Mario Tama / Getty Images

Across the country, many states require a woman seeking an abortion to undergo waiting periods and counseling. The assumption behind the regulation is that ultimately women looking to have an abortion will regret their decision in the long term. A study published this past January in Social Science & Medicine, however, found that over 95 percent of the women who took place in a UC San Francisco study revealed that they had no regrets about their decision five years later.

The finding not only completely debunks the notion that most women who have abortions suffer from regret and guilt over their decision even if the decision was a hard one to make.

Out of interest, we researched online forums like Reddit to see what women had to say about their decision to terminate their pregnancies.

“I’ve had… more than one abortion. It was never a thought. Immediately after finding out I was pregnant, I bee-lined to the clinic. BEST decision I have ever made. No regrets at ALL! I’ve been called names, “baby killer”, etc. but I laugh at these people. I’m open about it, not that I had the choice because my ex SIL went around town telling everyone (thanks, stupid fuckhead ex-husband). The people that give me a hard time about it are parents themselves and are probably just bitter and jealous, anyways.” – Reddit user

“I had one when I was 21 (almost 39 now). Not once, for a single second, have I ever regretted that decision. I was dating a complete shitshow of an excuse for a human being (a heroin dealer, which I didn’t find out until later) who was abusive and promiscuous, and I knew the second I found out I was pregnant that I wasn’t keeping it. In addition to already knowing I was childfree for life, there was no way would I have brought an unwanted child into that kind of situation. So my very supportive mom took me to the PP appointment, where the staff was wonderful and only gave me a brief counseling session in which they made sure I was making the right decision for myself. The rest was pretty cloudy for me, because they gave me a Valium beforehand, but I do remember that when they did the ultrasound, they couldn’t find a heartbeat but still wanted to do the procedure because the pregnancy test was positive. After that, mom drove me back home, and the guy I was dating didn’t even seem to care about much of anything. We broke up just over a year later, and I heard through the grapevine that he was in jail for grand theft auto a few months after that. Today, I’m super well-adjusted and in a happy relationship with a really awesome guy who is as childfree as I am!” –Shanashy

“I’ve told people when it has come up in conversation.”

“I had an abortion recently. Mid-20s, stable relationship and good income. IUD failure. I’ve told people when it has come up in conversation. We don’t want children so we won’t have one. No regrets here.” –meinkampfyjumper

“When I was 17, I had an abortion. I’m 30, and have never once regretted it, nor ever felt guilty either. I knew, even after telling my parents and grandma about it I was certain. The guy was a nice guy, we talked about keeping it (because he was almost aborted himself when his mom got pregnant with him), but in the end he was already in the process of joining the Army. I would have been alone, a senior in high school, with my family’s help. That was not how i wanted it to happen, if at all, amd neither did he. He helped pay for half the procedure and when he took me home, my mom was supportive. I was scared yes, but relieved. She was amazing (still is). My grandma called me cold hearted for not thinking of the baby, when in my head(and heart), thats all I was doing. I learned later that my mom, grandma and great grandma had all had an abortion, but still had kids later. And its been great for them. Im on my second IUD now and have no plans for kids. Every so often I would get back in contact with the guy, and every time he brings up the kid we could have had (I was the one that got away). I would have had a 12 year old by now. And I breath a sigh of releif every time that I dont. I can barely take care of myself, hanging on by a thread and know I’m happier and better off. To some it may be cold, but I did the best thing for me, and made sure it never happened again, but also know i have the option and support in whatever i decide. And when i go for a check up or any Drs visit and its asked, i have no shame, no guilt, no regret in my decision. (Bracing myself each time for backlash, tho it never comes, true pros). Im happy other women have the same relief. There should be no negativity for our choices, but when it comes, bottom line, we know we did the right thing. And its not up to them for shaming us. Edit: my dad even told my brother and I years later ‘thank you for not making me a grandpa before I was 45.’ And gave me a pointed look. It was a small weight lifted I didnt know I carried. Especially after his reaction after i told him I was pregnant. (Explosive).” –bubblymayden

“I would have an 8 year old son right now if I hadn’t gotten an abortion. The thought of having a kid, a son, creeps me out. I have 0 regrets.” –Jens0485

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