5 Reasons Why the Reina of Hip Hop is a Political Mastermind
Since she started lighting up Instagram with content about her life as a stripper four and a half years ago, the AfroLatinx, first generation American rapper born Belcalis Almánzar and known as Cardi B has become a fixture in mainstream pop culture. Whether she’s chatting on Ellen or Carpool Karaoke-ing, Cardi unapologetically rejects respectability politics with her signature booty clapping choreography and Spanglish ghetto patois. She does not use a White voice. She makes no effort to comfort bougie people of color about her visibility or sway over forty+ million followers.
But don’t let Cardi B’s hood style fool you. In her work, which includes rap songs, music videos, interviews, and social media content, she consistently articulates sharp insights about how racism, sexism, and poverty intersect to create specific obstacles for women of color. She also inspires a multitude of young voters with her savage hilarious critiques of the Trump administration and its racist supporters. Here are just five of the reasons I would thoroughly endorse Ms. Almánzar for Congress.
1. Cardi Thoroughly Enjoys Her Sexuality (With Other Women)
"This pu**sy wild, they should throw it in a cage"
Cardi appears as a featured performer in the music video for the hip hop duo City Girls’ single Twerk. This dance form has been repeatedly misappropriated by the mainstream as a a hypersexual method of pleasing the masculine gaze, since it broke through with the legendary video for “Back That Ass Up” by New Orleans rapper Juvenile in 1999. Twerk returns the dance to its African and New Orleans origins. Cardi, the City Girls, and dozens of Black women of all sizes create a festive feminist cipher in which everybody’s jelly is thoroughly celebrated.
2. She’s a rich person who thinks taxes should be used for social services.
“I will dog walk you”
During the Trump orchestrated government shutdown, White conservatives who are clearly not from the Bronx or rappers made the mistake of attacking Ms. Almánzar on Twitter for her concerns about President Trump’s leadership and obsession with building a staggeringly expensive unnecessary border wall. These conservatives made some thinly veiled racist, sexist, and classist remarks that somehow Cardi, as a citizen, was not qualified to critique Trump. She responded that the millions of dollars she will pay in taxes not only qualifies her to be outspoken but will be used to fund social services like health insurance—even for Trump supporters. Unlike many Republican one percenters, Cardi does not seek tax reductions. Instead, she supports transparency in government funding and increased public expenditures on public transportation and services for prisoners.
3. She empathizes with the struggles of women of color at work.
"Your self-esteem always goes down"
Although she was a full-time stripper for only a year, Cardi is very open about how that experience impacted her. She is rightfully unashamed of her prior career and frequently extolls the work ethic and street smarts of women who make their living on the pole. In her song, “Stripper Hoe,” she proclaims:
“Yo, some people know me as a stripper hoe
But stripper hoes get the money and blow digits though
A lot of bi***es talkin' down on me like I'm a joke
Talk sh*t, I'll f*ck your man, send him back hella broke”
However, Cardi is also candid about the challenges that strippers of color face. In a 2017 interview with DJ Vlad, she described how she earned less than White women at “White clubs,” and less than “thicker” girls with more Kardashian-like bottoms in “urban clubs.” Cardi also poignantly describes the humiliation of being subjected to the whims of male customers who were not more educated than she was and earning less than more conventionally beautiful co-workers who were not smarter or more talented than her. Of course, women of color in all professions experience colorism, bodyshaming, sexism, unequal compensation, and being judged on their looks. When she proudly stated in her international hit “Bodak Yellow,” “I don’t dance, now I make money moves,” she pointed out how women of color with smaller incomes might only overcome the steep obstacles they face at work by becoming their own bosses.
4. She does not tolerate toxic masculinity.
“We are not seeing eye to eye.”
While Cardi was touring in support of her platinum album “Invasion of Privacy,” her marriage to Offset of the grammy-nominated rap trip Migos was unraveling. During her performance at the Rolling Loud festival, where she was breaking a glass ceiling as the first female headliner of the event, Offset pulled a classic toxic masculinity stunt. He interrupted her at work with a grand gesture of flowers and a loud public statement of love and contrition. Rather than giving in to her husband’s pressure, Cardi ordered him and his flowers off stage. When her followers erupted in outrage online, she also refused to be cast as a damsel in distress.
5. She knows what she does not know.
“We need to take some type of action.”
As federal employees continue to endure weeks without pay, Cardi took to Twitter to encourage her followers to take action. When Cardi admitted she wasn’t sure exactly what kind of action she and her followers should take, “because this is not what I do,” she set an important example for all kinds of leaders. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. We don’t need all of the directions to a final destination in order to take the first step.
Her politics echo the voices of other progressive women of color working to transform Washington’s status quo, such as new Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Sharice Davids. Like Cardi, these women are also smart enough to realize that they can not be impactful alone. They are all part of a generation which thankfully does not seek permission from straight White male Baby Boomers to speak the truth or lead their communities. They feel no need to hide their hijab or hoop earrings to be taken seriously. Cardi would fit right in with this new crop of legislators who insist on being heard, speaking the truth, and fully realizing all of their power.