I honestly could end this post by the headline alone, but that would leave too much room for you to deny that you’re projecting your bullshit onto Cardi B. So here we are.
Cardi B is Undeniably a Star
Cardi B is no longer a stranger to even those on the fray of Black pop culture. The social media personality turned rapper has, quite literally, had her best year yet. She’s done television, dropped an unequally yoked relationship with her ex, performed on some of the biggest musical stages in the country, and scored a number one single — a feat that hasn’t been accomplished by a solo lady rapper since Lauryn Hill. On October 27th in front of a sold out crowd at the Powerhouse concert in Philadelphia, Offset dropped to one knee and proposed to his now-fiancée Cardi B. Somehow, though, a beautiful moment brings out the worst in so many.
I’ve followed Cardi since discovering her hilarious Instagram videos. She was a refreshing voice with impeccable comedic timing coupled with straight no chaser details of her life. She’s privileged us to witness her highs and lows, fears, and doubts on her journey to her present self. I know every word to every song on Gangsta Bitch Music Vols. I and II. I treat Bodak Yellow as a devotional. I skip to her feature on every track she graces. As a longtime fan, I’m absolutely Pro-Cardi B in all things. I refuse to throw her away as irredeemable because of misguided outbursts. I see myself in her and find her success both inspirational and aspirational. Yes, me with my advanced degrees, corporate job, and ability to codify my tongue to be palatable to white ears see MYSELF in Cardi’s hustle and ambition. Unfortunately, not everyone shares these sentiments.
While we in #Bardigang are thrilled for our girl, the Bitter Betties wasted absolutely no time in demeaning Cardi once again. Cardi has never been bashful about her career in sex work as a stripper. She has spoken up about the complete spectrum of life as a dancer and been an advocate for fair treatment and compensation for women who are currently in the profession. Now her sex-positivity has been weaponized. They’ve reduced the love between two consenting adults to Kiari (Offset) marrying a hoe — an unsurprising reaction by and large.
She’s a Slut, She’s a Hoe, She’s a Freak
Black women’s refusal to remain in spaces where they’re not fully appreciated is downright unsettling for some Black men. We’ve seen it with Ciara when she left her philandering ex-fiance and found happiness with Russell Wilson. We’re seeing it again now with Cardi B and her engagement. By the logic of these men, Ciara settled for a corny guy because Russ is openly affectionate and honors her as his wife. Ciara should’ve stayed, remaining loyal to someone who disrespected her while waiting [hoping, really] for his growth and evolution. And Cardi? Well she’s just a ho who isn’t WORTHY of lifetime commitment and partnership. At some point, we need to unpack the sexual repression of men (created by men and reinforced by women) that leads to these logical fallacies. At some point we have to talk about men’s validation of their sexual prowess through lots of sexual experience. We should also look at how men are desiring inexperienced partners so that their sexual ability is never scrutinized for its lack of pleasure. One day. But not today.
While it certainly brings out the worst in some Black men, so too does it offer shelter for some Black women’s feelings of inadequacy. Some of us take these criticisms of Cardi B by Black men as validation for themselves as long as they are the antithesis of everything Cardi represents. In doing so, we often negate and deflect accountability for these men who have CREATED the Cardi B/Lauryn Hill demonization and deification. One man tweeted “Offset proposed to this, hoes always get married first while the good women get played.”
Undoubtedly, women are retweeting and favoriting the tweet. But Sis if this tweet is true, who’s the one playing good girls like you? If the hoes are getting married, doesn’t that mean that there are men who aren’t “playing” them but seeing them as worthy of loyalty and commitment? Spoiler alert: the same men who say this shit are the ones doing the playing and the marrying. Be ye not deceived. We co-sign this shit without critical thought because it validates our insecurities, but what are we really gaining from it?
As it has been said, I’m not certain some of you really want Black women to be happy. And yes, I already hear some of you chirping about “well she ain’t really Black.” The facts are that Cardi has never denied her Blackness. She’s spoken candidly about ALL facets of her Afro-Latina identity. She’s stood more boldly than some of your lukewarm blackity-black faves on issues of colorism, feminism, and the impacts of mass incarceration and wealth inequality. Certainly, she doesn’t articulate herself in the polished language of academic rhetoric — and she isn’t required to in order to be understood. But I’m getting beside myself and my original point.
Follow by Cardi B’s Example
The point is, the respectability politics that you project onto Cardi B are not a reflection of her character but of your own insecurities. It burns you up inside that someone who repeatedly gives a middle finger to respectable Blackness and performative womanhood can actually win.
Professionally, Cardi has consistently demonstrated a willingness to bet on herself. She’s embraced her authenticity, refusing to be confined to the frameworks that others designed for her. She took her lived experience, a self-proclaimed stripper hoe, and unapologetically made it make room for her financial gain. She’s demonstrated a level business acumen that far exceeds that of many of her critics. Whenever a situation — be it business or personal — no longer suited her needs, she walked away. She literally left a consistent Mona Scott Young check to pursue her music career with full force.
Her personal growth and trajectory spits in the face of all the formulas and hierarchies that you’ve bought into and are now lockstep with. Brashly sexual and highly vocal about her financial needs, Cardi has not ever bemoaned the lack of romantic suitors. While you’re planning your imaginary wedding on Pinterest, Cardi B has the 8 carat ring and fiancé to accompany it. While no woman’s ultimate value is found her ability to partner, one cannot deny that for whom marriage is important, Cardi’s proximity to the accomplishment flies in the face of how many of us have been trained to present ourselves as marriageable. And the men who lead the chorus of derision and detraction? It’s time to own that you TOO are projecting your loneliness, emptiness, and sexual repression onto others disguised as jokes.
Here’s some solid advice if what you’ve been doing so far hasn’t yielded the results you want: instead of tearing down Cardi, maybe it’s time to study her playbook and apply it to your own life.
Happiness is Yours for the Taking
I’ve been there. I’ve been the woman trapped by insecurity and repression. I’ve been the woman who projected her insecurities and loneliness onto other women that I deemed as undeserving to make myself feel better. And if you’re a long time reader, you know that I’ve told you before Hoes Ain’t Won, YOU Just Lost because of how society and faith have manipulated women’s sexuality as a reflection of her value and worth. Cardi B isn’t the only one who deserves happiness; you do too.