Unless you have been intentionally avoiding the internet for the last month and a half, you have probably heard of Danielle Bregoli. For those of you who are unaware of Bregoli’s online omnipresence, you may know her better by her catch phrase “Cash me outside how bout dat” ― an expression that became Bregoli’s claim to fame during her contentious appearance on Dr. Phil. Her appearance was a hot mess, but the subsequent song remixes and dance challenges catapulted Bregoli into temporary internet stardom (or so we thought).
As the remixes lost their novelty and the memes faded, Bregoli proved to possess unexpected staying power. She gained a principal role in a Kodak Black music video, landed copious advertising deals, and is reportedly fielding multiple reality show offers. Bregoli now has 7 million Instagram followers and counting. Noting her Instagram following is paramount to understanding the magnitude of her reach, because, as the youth at my job always remind me “Ciarra you are so old for using Facebook; Instagram is the future.”
Bregoli is a child, just thirteen years old, and she is ― for the most part ― treated as such. While we socially persecute and legally prosecute Black youth as adults, we give boundless passes to white bad behavior. White youth are allowed to fail under the grace of adolescence. This understanding follows them well into adulthood. The poor decisions of white men are excused under the guise of “boys will be boys”, whereas white women are protected under the assumption that they are acting out due to a negative outside influence. White women are always, always, always victims.
I say this with the searing pain of understanding that Black children in the public eye are rarely afforded this privilege. I cannot help but reflect on Trayvon Martin’s murder and the way in which the media demonized Martin as if he was an adult career criminal and not a scared child who was victimized by a racist, malicious, insidious attacker.
Unlike Martin, Danielle Bregoli has in fact been a part of multiple criminal acts. On Dr. Phil, she openly admitted to stealing cars, she recently physical attacked a woman on a plane, and was also involved in a fight outside of a bar. Instead of being placed under the narrative of “worthless thug,” Bregoli’s brand grows stronger with every bad decision she makes.
More often than not, her bad behavior is blamed on Black culture. This is exemplified during Bregoli’s plane-fight, when her opponent yells (skip to 1:10 in the video to hear), “You’re trying to be Black you f**king b**ch!” In that moment Bregoli’s aggression was attributed to Blackness (I could write an entire dissertation on this, but I don’t have the time). There was simply no way that Bregoli, a young white woman, could act that confrontational of her own accord. She must be a young white woman who has fallen victim to Black influence.
By saying Bregoli is “acting Black,” her combatant positions Bregoli as “savable” and “redeemable” even within the throws of a heated altercation (the woman also revealed that she is helllla racist for associating Black people with violence). Bregoli’s own father reinforced this narrative when he started a gofundme entitled “Save Danielle” (cue the largest eye you have ever seen in your life).
The idea that white women are victims of Blackness has deep historical roots, particularly with respect to the unfounded narrative that Black men are inherently predatory and predisposed to commit crime. It has not escaped my probing that Bregoli has many high-profile friendships with Black men. These relationships allow Bregoli to prop up her image of “bad ass white girl,” resulting in her financial gain, without actually having to navigate the social complexities (and fears) that come with being a Black person.
Bregoli can steal a car, fight, cuss, and promote violence, without fearing state-sanctioned brutality and murder. Eric Garner was killed for selling cigarettes, Tamir Rice was shot for carrying a toy gun, and Laquan McDonald was shot for simply walking down the street. Colin Kaepernick was sent death threats for taking a knee during the anthem, Black Lives Matter is continuously scrutinized and disavowed as a hate group for seeking the right to assert that YES, Black people’s lives are inherently valuable. Yet, Bregoli is cashing in (pun intended) on performing stereotypical Blackness.
Bregoli benefits from the tropes of Blackness, and particularly the tropes of Black women. She is loud, abrasive, poorly educated, wears long nails, and is, much to my concern, overtly hyper-sexualized. A Black woman utilizing these stereotypes to get ahead would be deemed a “welfare queen” or “jezebel.” Bregoli’s whiteness allows her to subvert these critiques. She may be abrasive, but she is white, and whiteness will always be redeemable and, as a result, highly marketable.
**Note: The video quality on the video is not the greatest, she may also be saying “You ought to be Black...” which is a different conversation, but still highly problematic.