Taking a page out of the Bad Ideas Manual, J. Lo appears to have made the kind of misstep that even a renowned diva like herself is most likely going to have to address publicly in the days to come. While promoting her new single “Love Make the World Go Round”( intended to help benefit the victims of the Orlando nightclub shootings), J. Lo tweeted-out #AllLivesMatter in the promotional tweet that featured her alongside Hamilton creator Lin Manuel Miranda. Or perhaps I should say someone tweeted-out #AllLivesMatter; I very much doubt that anyone with the weapons-grade level of diva-like behaviour that J. Lo possesses is actually managing her own twitter account, but either way, it happened. It’s out there, and it’s not pretty. Here is the original tweet, which has since been deleted.
Whether or not camp J.Lo intentionally posted this hashtag, which the Huffington Post has accurately described as “the social media movement that erases the specificity of the black experience in this country”, is really not the question. I do believe that this was likely a misstep, done by a person who is obviously completely tone deaf to the implications of this hashtag. Whomever posted this on behalf of camp J.Lo (and again, maybe it was Her Highness Lo herself, we’ll never know), clearly is ignorant to the obvious problems that stem from appropriating this hashtag. I’m sure whomever posted this meant to use the more literal interpretation of the phrase, and not as the “antidote” (for lack of a better term) for the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
I think it’s safe to say that this person was wrong, and unless it was Jenny from the Block herself, whomever posted this tweet is probably looking for a new job as I write this.
If there is one thing that can always be counted on, it’s the swift and decisive reaction of the internet. In this case, the internet responded with all of the witty one-liners and righteous indignation that one might expect. Here is a sampling of some of my favorite internet reactions to the tweet.
RIP Jennifer Lopez’s #AllLivesMatter tweet, 7/12/2016-7/12/2016 – @evepeyser
Wait, J.Lo really said #AllLivesMatter like she didn’t make at least 17 attempts to be black between 1992 – 2000? – @3rdAndMiles
Jennifer Lopez turned into Jenny from The Burbs. – @Shennessy
So why does all of this matter so much? Don’t all lives matter? Of course they do. However, you have to take context into account. The #AllLivesMatter hashtag was created as a direct response to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and is coming from a place, unconsciously or otherwise, that seeks to discredit or undermine the message of the #BlackLivesMatter campaign – it’s as simple as that. In an article for the Huffington Post, politics correspondent Julia Craven (who is also black) addressed this very issue in a very poignant and personal way.
When I say “Black lives matter,” it is because this nation has a tendency to say otherwise. Racial discrimination does affect all minorities but police brutality, at such excessive rates, does not.
African-Americans have comprised 26 percent of police shootings though we only makeup 13 percent of the U.S. population, based on data spanning from 1999 to 2011.
Race brings on individual issues for each minority group. Saying “all lives matter” causes erasure of the differing disparities each group faces. Saying “all lives matter” is nothing more than you centering and inserting yourself within a very emotional and personal situation without any empathy or respect. Saying “all lives matter” is unnecessary.
Police brutality is a BLACK issue. This is not an ill afflicting all Americans, but that does not mean you cannot stand in solidarity with us. But standing with us does not mean telling us how we should feel about our community’s marginalization. Standing with us means being with us in solidarity without being upset that this is for OUR PEOPLE — and wanting recognition for yours in this very specific context.
Telling us that all lives matter is redundant. We know that already. But, just know, police violence and brutality disproportionately affects my people. Justice is not applied equally, laws are not applied equally and neither is our outrage.
As it pertains to J.Lo and the launch of her new single, it becomes clear that she (and not just whatever lackey wrote the tweet but she herself) needs to publicly apologise for this gaffe, accidental or otherwise. As a performer who made a name for herself on In Living Color, a show written and starred-in by black people, and a performer who for years made a living as a hip-hop “B-girl”, something that is quite literally ripped straight out of the black street culture of the late 80s and 90s, she needs to meet this one head-on. She needs to own it, and most importantly, she needs to learn something from it.