CARDI B AND LEARNING ACCOUNTABILITY
POSTED AUGUST 12TH, 2017 | BY PALMIRA MUNIZ
If you’re a fan of Cardi B, you know her from Vh1’s and have her new single “Bodack Yellow” added to your summer playlist.
But if you’re a Cardi B stan, you knew her from way back when she was making videos on instagram, showcasing her personality and wacky sense of humor-the rapper has had a strong and loyal fanbase for years.
As many of us know, Cardi B started her career with sex work, specifically stripping, in her late teens. The Bronxite is very candid about her work history and her experiences in the stripping world, and she is proud of the person she is today and how far she’s come, but she is also honest about how difficult and “unglamourous” this journey was. Over the years, Cardi B has claimed (on video) her brand of hood feminism and commented on how mainstream feminism is too exclusive and elitist-and she is correct, especially when it comes to sex work, hood girls, and Black and Brown women.
Feminist theory surrounding sex work is...messy, for a lack of a better term, meaning many feminists have split opinions on sex work and how it fits into equal rights and sexual liberation. Sadly, any actual rhetoric about the topic has been exclusive, one sided, too far and in between, or worse: told by people who have never done sex work in their lives. Cardi B, and femmes like her in hollywood, has helped start the conversation around sex work and what space it needs within a feminist rhetoric-and it’s a much bigger space than we have allowed. It can be argued that Cardi B pioneered a sex positive movement of her own and has really inspired other Black and Brown women to gain more self agency in regards to their sexuality.
As of lately, the 24 year old has been under some fire for making racist, colorist, transphobic, and homophobic comments. Now we cannot sit back and pretend the rapper wasn’t always a problematic loud mouth. Even more so during her ig days, the artist was making comments that were all these things and also fatphobic, ableist, classist, everything-this behavior is nothing new. (Here is all the tea and a great analysis done by lovelyti2002) https://youtu.be/rhMQUzkNZ2g
What was new was Cardi’s rise to fame. With more eyes on her and access to a whole new world, we started to see her evolve and learn from her past behaviors, as she started to make more pro-women or pro-feminist content on her instagram. And then for some reason it stopped. The problematic behavior continued and what was worse was that Cardi showed no remorse or regret towards her comments, and claimed that folks, who consist of more disappointed fans than haters, were being too sensitive.
The rapper claims that there were more important things to worry about, like those who actually are physically intolerant towards trans women or darker skinned Black women, etc. While Cardi B has a point, that there are more violent ways to oppress trans folks, or other groups she has commented on, what she fails to understand is that her words and actions are still violent, and create a snowball effect. Her comments invalidate real people and their lives, all the while validating the false presumptions bigots have for marginalized groups, and then this leads to actual physical violence. And because of her celebrity, she is influencing masses of people. Cardi B was a voice for the people-she accepted this responsibility, welcomed it-until people didn't like what she was saying, and now suddenly, being a role model is too much to ask of her.
With that being said.
Cardi B does have a certain responsibility to her original and newly found fan base and that is: recognizing her problematic behavior AND THEN doing something about to change it. She is perfectly capable of improving her problematic behavior because she has done it before and knows that her experiences and her journey have inspired people, she knows her words are powerful.
As a fellow bx loud mouth afro latina, Cardi B is special to me; she represents a true rags to riches story and did not let the hood affect her hustle, but sadly she’s letting her hood mentality prevent her from reaching her potential in actually becoming a consistent heavy hitter in the rap game. I believe Cardi B wants to stay true to her Bronx roots and what she learned from the streets, and is possibly feeling paranoid that her fans or show business want to change her, and while I understand and appreciate her sentiment, she is confusing authenticity with narrow mindedness.
Now, do not misunderstand my critique of the rapper; wanting her to be held accountable for her actions is not projecting respectability politics onto her-whether she was rapping, stripping, working at Ralphs, a CEO of whatever, anything-wanting to see a fellow woman of color take action in her social education and enlightenment is not too much to ask of the rapper or of anyone. My girl Belcalis, is in fact capable of making changes, she is just simply choosing not to. For now.
My message to Cardi B is this: By denying that what she actually did was wrong, she is being prideful, a flaw in a lot of ambitious/hustler-type of women, and by doing this, not only is she doing a disservice to her fans (or frankly her coin), she is doing herself the absolute greatest disservice of refusing to learn and be the rose that grew from concrete we all know she can be.
Palmira Muniz is a CSUITEMUSIC Blogger
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