On Sunday Giants wideout Victor Cruz celebrated the first touchdown at the Super Bowl XLVI game by showing off his Salsa moves.
His moves (which are indeed impressive) have been widely celebrated. The New York Times yesterday published a story about Cruz’s bringing “new visibility to the dance form” and at a pre-Superbowl press conference even Madonna, the Queen of pop herself, “channeled” the 25-year-old Giants star’s Salsa moves.
But as natural as Cruz seems dancing on the field his moves on the field may have started out a coach’s idea. Perhaps the same ones that brought a sombrero to a pre-Superbowl press conference.
More from David J. Leonard, Associate Professor in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender and Race Studies at Washington State University via Ebony.com.
It is no wonder that his background is so often framed around his touchdown dance. According to Terra Sports, his “now famous salsa dance celebrations have brought a great Latin flare to this season of the NFL.” Encouraged by his coaches “to do something special” as someone who is “half Puerto Rican” Cruz started his signature touchdown dance during Hispanic Heritage Month. Known as the No Fun League (see work of Herbert Simmonsand Vernon Andrews and Andrews), it is particularly instructive to think about how the Salsa gets reappropriated as evidence of the right kind of multiculturalism, the desired ethnic performance worthy of celebration.
The reduction of his background and identity to dancing, to a commodifiable practice that reaffirms stereotypesand erases the history and diversity of the community for the sake of an easily digestible cultural practice, is emblematic of contemporary multiculturalism. In packaging his identity via accepted tropes of Latinoness, in absence of any discussion of the history of colonization of Puerto Rico, in absence of any recognition of the persistent forms of state violence besieging Black and Puerto Rican communities, in absence of any recognition of his mixed-identity, the power of Blackness within the cultural landscape, and the demonization of bodies of color, the media has grabbed hold of the “Salsa” factor as part of the great American “immigrant story.”