Essays

Cardi B. : A Bronx Shero

Photo via FashionBombDaily

It’s strange who we, as women, are told to idolize. While we have the ability to discern, we almost always sold women who are unlike most women. They are perfect, in each and every way and thus, impossible to replicate. Whether they are bombshells or bookworms, we as women are expected to choose our empowerment from what seems like two piles. If we do get a woman that is more complex with a more checkered past, there is often a scrubbing of that past in an attempt to further remove her from the everyday woman. That is until recently. The ubiquity and easy access of internet made it possible to find facts and allowed women (past and present) to be more open about their lives. Legends and newcomers alike were open to show the reality of what being a woman meant. It expanded horizons and allowed women to be more openly multidimensional. Our heros or sheros were more… like us… But even now there is a stigma around who women herald.

When you think shero, who do you think of? Femmes who defy the odds? Activists? Businesswomen, perhaps? Well, I want to nominate someone for consideration. She’s funny, intelligent, resilient and probably already clawed her way into your heart. People on Tumblr have already given her title of a great sociologist, able to see and assess the world accurately and concisely. Only 24, she’s already staked her claim and gone after it. That’s right, I’m talking about Belicalis Almanzar of the Bronx, NY, AKA, the one and only Cardi B. My shero.

Here’s a disclaimer before we continue. I am not saying Cardi is perfect, far from. In fact, I think she has a lot to unlearn, in the same way I did. But I can critique and admire her at the same time.

Let her tell it, she’s just “a regular, degular, schmegular girl from the Bronx” who started stripping to earn some money, which she used to escape poverty and domestic violence. She just wanted the money to start a business, buy properties and possibly go back to school one day. “But luckily, God had other plans for me,” she said in one of her infamous Instagram videos. She started posting on social media, a way to express and subsequently promote herself. But soon, people weren’t coming to her Instagram just to know the move of the night. They were coming just for her.

The videos that garnered the most attention and helped catapult her to all the popular pages? To get women to act like men. Men who never hesitate to ask for what they want. To use men to get ahead. Get men to pay your rent, to pay your bills and buy up your wishlist. Cardi encouraged women to ask for what they wanted and not to stop until they got it.

Stop being a Pussy ass Bitch and ask for what you want a CLOSE MOUTH DONT GET FED

A video posted by Cardi B Official IG (@iamcardib) on Jul 26, 2014 at 2:02pm PDT

The message resonated with lots of girls, ESPECIALLY after she went on Love and Hip Hop and parroted it back to infamous Peter Gunz after he knocked up his former girlfriend and wife at the same time.

But if we focused on just this message (no matter how it stirs my spirit), we would be selling Cardi short. Her IG profile shows Cardi is way more multifaceted than people give her credit for. Between the videos of club promoting, Cardi always touches on pertinent issues, from politics to racism, poverty, discriminatory sentencing, colorism and sex positivity. Don’t believe me? Here’s her going off on Ronald Reagan for planting crack in the black community, for proof.

She’s not really a historian though. She’s more of a sociologist. At BMCC, she studied liberal arts so her observations are never far off base. For instance, when the Olympic gymnasts were being teased because of their hair being “sweated” out, she posted this video chastising  Black and Latina women for their criticism of the Final Five’s hair.

 

Ignore the cordones in getting then shits handle on Monday ..a Bihh been under some stress

 

A video posted by Cardi B Official IG (@iamcardib) on Aug 14, 2016 at 12:19am PDT

 

There are many more videos of her just like this, ranting about the state of antiblackness, racism and observations about hood life as an Afro Caribbean. A recent video (which I couldn’t find by the time I wanted to publish this) touched on how she and her other castmates were being blamed for the way black people are portrayed in media which they also blamed on how black people were treated in public. She promptly responded many of the castmates could be doing amazing things but the white power structure’s agenda will only show one thing, thus how the fundamental attribution error factors into racism. But she’s said more than that on the subject. Here is a video of her refusing to let critics blame black culture for violence.

But w.e

A video posted by Cardi B Official IG (@iamcardib) on Apr 1, 2015 at 9:40am PDT

 

You can disagree with this endorsement for whatever reason you please. And there will be many reasons that will be valid. However, if the issue is with her tone/diction/vocabulary/vernacular, that’s an automatic disqualification. Yes, the fact of the matter is that many people find themselves disagreeing with her not because of what she says, but rather because of the way she says it. If you need me to couch that in a bit of jargon, Cardi B isn’t disagreed with because of the content of her videos, rather because she doesn’t let the white power structure dictate her tone. Because she doesn’t use the grammar of Audre Lord or bell hooks, her opinions are discounted in a way one would never discount Maya Angelou. Thankfully, she doesn’t give fuck about y’all. She remains close to the tone she has used for the entirety of her life and refuses to change it, a trait my code switching ass finds admirable. Your respectability politics doesn’t faze her. She’s said so herself. So long as her check clears, who cares?

This is, again, not excusing her shortcomings. But as someone from the same place as Cardi, I understand she has unlearning to do, the same way I did.

But I guess this is the beauty in Cardi. She is always authentic, bringing the best and worst of her. Wonder Woman did the same. It’s not about you accepting her or even liking her. Cardi is all about accepting herself by being herself and learning how to live the life in her truth and making a name for herself as such. A shero, indeed.

You can see Cardi B’s genius on her Instagram @iamcardib any time or on Love and Hip Hop NY Monday Nights on VH1 at 8/7c.

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