Cardi B's Response To Questions About Her Use Of The N-Word Missed A Critical Point

Even our faves deserve criticism when they miss the boat in important ways.
12/18/2017 10:27 am ET Updated Dec 18, 2017
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If 2017 has taught me anything, it’s that I should be prepared to be disappointed by my fave; and when this happens, they deserve to be dragged. Now after all, your fave is human, so dragging them doesn’t tacitly disavow them as your fave (unless of course, that too is necessary); it simply means your fandom is not absent of accountability, standards, and morals.

Enter: Cardi B, the fave of many, and for good reason! Recently however, Black Twitter isn’t very pleased with her, and again, for good reason!

In an interview with DJ Vlad, when asked about her use of the n-word as a Latina, her underwhelming response led people to question whether she identifies as Black. Although Cardi identified as Latina, given the anti-Black racism in Latino (and other brown) communities, Black Twitter still ain’t here for it. After watching, and making a few comments of my own on twitter, I couldn’t help but beg a bigger question: why would anyone have to ask a Black person, “are you Black?” It’s not like we skimp on opportunities to affirm ourselves and other Black people; literally for no other reason than being Black.

Peep the video below (fast forward to the 4:03 minute mark):

I think it’s safe to say no one played James Brown’s “Say it Loud: I’m Black and I’m Proud” in Cardi’s house growing up. But take me for example: I’ve known all my life that I am a Black woman; and so has everyone else because I’ve always made it unequivocally clear. My self-awareness as it relates politically and socially to my Blackness has sharpened, and as a result, I’ve grown increasingly provincial about my Black womanhood. Naturally, this bears any number of implications…but what is Blackness without implications?

And while I want to be clear that I don’t expect all Black people to have the same lived experience, I am saying that what connects us, at the most basic level and if nothing else, is shared acknowledgement of our Blackness regardless of how it takes form in our lives.

Asking Black people to clarify if they’re Black, is just not some shit you have to ask Black people to do. Of all the annoying questions people have ever asked me and countless other Black people about our Blackness, this just ain’t one of them. Some people have put on a cape to infer that she inferred, she’s Black. And here’s why I don’t give a fuck about that:

  1. It is deeply unfortunate that Cardi centered Whiteness when she said, “they consider us minorities.” Does she realize there are minorities who, like White people, have no business saying the n-word? This was such a poor and irrelevant comparison.
  2. As someone who has one Dominican parent and one Trinidadian parent, this was a missed opportunity for Cardi to leverage the credibility of Blackness, and more specifically Afro-Latinidad, bestowed to her by the African Diaspora. This, in the eyes of many, is the only thing that makes saying the n-word slightly less contentious. And still, there are many Black Americans who object to Afro-Latinos (and Latinos in general) using the n-word because they don’t have the same historical relationship to the word.
  3. The world is full of appropriating-ass Rachel Dolezals and Shaun Kings who, if granted the same credibility, would shed their delusional shit show in an instant, to be able to say what Cardi can’t articulate. This is a damn shame!
  4. This is really simple folks. In line with my assertion that you don’t have to ask a Black person if they’re Black, here is a list of people, regardless of their mixed heritage or place in the African Diaspora, who have made their Black identity repeatedly and unequivocally clear: Celia Cruz, Nicole Ritchie, Pele, Colin Kaepernick, Zendaya, Lena Horne, Amandla Stenberg, Arturo Schomburg, Halle Berry, Tracee Ellis Ross, Paula Patton, Rashida Jones, Lalah Hathaway, Maya Rudolph, Langston Hughes, Miguel, Panama Jackson, Misty Copeland, any Creole person...I could go on. Pretending that this is more complicated than it really is, exacerbates the insult.
  5. Anyone caping for Cardi B is most likely having trouble grappling with the realization that they’ve handed out yet another regrettable cookout invitation. When compared to the conclusion to which they jumped by assigning Black identity to her, Cardi’s inability to answer this question with even an inkling of Black agency is far more telling!
  6. Let’s stop cookout invitations altogether, shall we?

There’s much to learn from this, and for that, we can thank Cardi. The next time you assume someone identifies as Black (because of their heritage), think of Cardi (and Tiger Woods). The next time you rightfully object to a Latino person saying the n-word (because can’t nobody check a Black person on how they feel about this, not even another Black person), think of Cardi. The next time you want to credit your fave with saying something far more profound than what they actually said, think of Cardi. The next time you conflate “Black people” and “people of color,” think of Cardi. The next time you consider giving someone an invitation to the cookout, think of Cardi. And the next time you ask yourself “who was shootin’ in the gym,” think of Black people! #ImRootingForEverybodyBlack 

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