February 8, 2018


Yes, Cardi B Is Black & Proud of It: Why the Rapper's Afro-Latina Heritage Shouldn't Be Erased

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NARAS
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NARAS

Cardi B was already destined for fame, even when she was a young stripper trying to make ends meet in the Bronx and when she was a cast member of Love & Hip-Hop: New York. Now, with a few (and impressive) No. 1 singles under her belt, the rapper is projected to rise even higher. But as with many people of color, her success has come with the erasure of her ethnicity.

As the "Bodak Yellow" starlet's celebrity presence became more mainstream, people have either been quick to criticize her for not explicitly stating her blackness or simply disregard her roots. But as Cardi B will tell you, she is Black and displays a confident assurance when it comes to being Afro-Latina. "One thing that always bothers me is that people know so little about my culture. We are Caribbean people. And a lot of people be attacking me because they feel like I don’t be saying that I’m black." she explained to Zendaya in a recent interview with CR Fashion Book. "Some people want to decide if you’re black or not, depending on your skin complexion, because they don’t understand Caribbean people or our culture."

"I feel like people need to understand or get a passport and travel. I don’t got to tell you that I’m black. I expect you to know it. When my father taught me about Caribbean countries, he told me that these Europeans took over our lands. That’s why we all speak different languages. I expect people to understand that just because we’re not African American, we are still black," Cardi continues. "It’s still in our culture. Just like everybody else, we came over here the same fucking way. I hate when people try to take my roots from me. Because we know that there’s African roots inside of us. I really just want people to understand that the color that I have and features that I have are not from two white people fucking."

The rapper's father is Dominican while her mother is Trinidadian, and has come under fire for seemingly expressing her Latinx side and shunning her Black side due to her Instagram videos of singing Reggaeton and appearing on tracks like Ozuna's "La Modelo." Yet if you're a longtime fan, you would know Cardi loves to jam out to the likes of J Balvin just as much as she does with dancehall artists like Alkaline or soca artists like Alison Hinds. She's attended Jamaica's Dream Weekend in 2016 and Toronto's Caribana last summer. In fact, she is in Trinidad for their carnival festivities right now as you're reading this article. She has never once tried to bury her Blackness or shove it aside to make way for her Latina roots. But despite whether you think she embraces one part of her heritage more than the other, she is still a proud Afro-Latina who is aware of the way the music industry (and the rest of America) treats people of color. Yes, she may be a star. Yet her struggles are still different when compared to her pop counterparts. Cardi candidly told i-D in a new interview:

“Of course the success of people like me scares people, that’s why they belittle us. If you’re a little scrawny man raised in a trailer in Alabama somewhere, of course you’re scared right now. That’s why they own guns! They’re scared of the intelligence of the minority. They scared of that shit. We have broken these rules a lot of times. In America, I always look at the charts. Hip-hop is always there. We are controlling the music industry. We control the fashion world. I don’t give a fuck if the fashion comes from a runway or if a Caucasian woman is walking it, once a coloured person wears something, that’s when everybody wants to wear it. We always influence. When you see the Olympics, who always wins? Coloured folks. We win everything. We are a big influence and people want to take that shit away. People like Donald Trump, they’re always going to make us feel like we’re less. But it’s okay, because a bitch like me knows the truth. It don’t matter if the government and the Republicans try to make us feel like we’re not, cos we is. I know the truth.” 

So regardless of your thoughts about Cardi B, she is aware of both sides of her heritage and isn't afraid to make them shine equally. On the other hand, she relates to the struggles Afro-Latinas and other women of color face in a society that tries to silence them. And for that, Cardi will continue to win.

Below, watch fellow rapper Young M.A, along with MILCK and everyday women, speak out about solidarity, empowerment and being fearless: