There’s a particular way some white people talk about artists like Cardi B getting political, especially when there are no Black people around. Both liberals and conservatives. It’s condescending with a smirk, like, "Look, that former stripper from the Bronx who says ‘Okurrr’ all the time has political views! Isn’t that hilarious!" And then everyone goes around the table congratulating each other for being smart and woke.
In the middle of the government shutdown, Cardi B released a video in which she’s clearly fed up with Trump and his wall. "Now, I don’t want to hear y’all motherfuckers talking about, ‘Oh, but Obama shut down the government for 17 days,’" she says. "Yeah, bitch, for healthcare." She added: "I feel like we need to take some action. … I’m scared. This is crazy. And I really feel bad for these people that gotta go to fucking work to not get motherfucking paid."
In response, a bunch of grown-up Democratic senators actually publicly debated about whether to retweet her. Sen. Brian Schatz: "(Trying to decide whether or not to retweet the Cardi B video.)" Sen. Chris Murphy: "Omg, I had the same argument with myself 30 minutes ago!" Sen. Chuck Schumer chimed in, "Guys, I’m still holding my breath. Are you gonna RT Cardi B or not?" In the end, they decided it "wouldn’t be senatorial."
— jordan (@JordanUhl) January 16, 2019
Would these three men have had the same argument had the video been made by, say, Taylor Swift — who has had a very public political awakening recently — and not included profanity? Probably not. What’s more, instead of just not retweeting her, the senators made sure to perform an a uncertainty designed to make them look that much more educated than someone who says "motherfucker." It’s classist, elitist, and self-congratulatory.
They’re missing that for young people in 2019, "senatorial" doesn’t mean official and polite. It means "real and really willing to help people who are struggling." Compare their insecurity about even retweeting Cardi B to freshman member of Congress Rashida Tlaib saying, "Impeach the motherfucker." Whether or not you agree with her, she is the one speaking truth to power.
What Cardi B does extremely well is talk to people and not at them, in a relatable way that shows she actually cares about what’s going on. It’s the gift Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has, and it’s why she enjoys such a giant following, in real life and on Twitter. She’s adding to the conversation organically instead of making it seem carefully orchestrated like some artists, which makes her seem more trustworthy. She’s angry, just like everyone else!
While Americans generally don’t love it when celebrities get involved in politics, there’s something different to Cardi: She’s not trying to get us to vote for a particular candidate or speaking on behalf of some organization with prepared talking points. Her agenda is common sense. And that’s something our government could use more of.
Democrats are starting to notice. Just recently, the Polk County Democrats in Iowa invited Cardi to a "reception of her choice" in May, when she’ll be in Iowa performing at a festival.
"As the center of the IA Caucuses, we have been honored to host @TeamPelosi, @CecileRichards, @KamalaHarris, @SenGillibrand, @PramilaJayapal, @Grace4NY, and many powerful women leaders," the Polk County Democrats tweeted Tuesday. "It only makes sense to invite @iamcardib to a reception of her choice while she’s here in May."
It only makes sense to invite @iamcardib to a reception of her choice while she’s here in May.
— Polk Co. Democrats (@polkdems) January 29, 2019
"We are definitely serious about this," Sean Bagniewski, the Polk County Democrats chair, told the Des Moines Register. He said the group is working on reaching out to the rapper about how to work together, adding that she could speak to younger people who are just "finding their voice" in politics. "She speaks to the new activism in the Democratic Party," he said. "It’s a long shot, but a little bit of her presence would go a long way."
He’s right. Cardi’s political voice has been consistent and strong. While she was rumored to have been invited to perform at the Super Bowl this weekend, she took a solid stance and said "no thanks" in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter. She’s spoken up in favor of stronger gun restrictions. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, she tweeted about how Trump is ignoring the island. She supported the progressive Cynthia Nixon for governor of New York. She told us to "Vote for Bernie, bitch," and that "America is a scam" where only giant corporations benefit under a Republican president.
America is a scam.
On top of that, in a recent GQ interview she revealed that she has an encyclopedic knowledge of U.S. presidents and that she loves Franklin D. Roosevelt. "First of all," she said, "he helped us get over the Depression, all while he was in a wheelchair. Like, this man was suffering from polio at the time of his presidency, and yet all he was worried about was trying to make America great — make America great again for real. He’s the real ‘Make America Great Again,’ because if it wasn’t for him, old people wouldn’t even get Social Security."
Bernie backed her up when she tweeted about FDR. "Cardi B is right. If we are really going to make America great we need to strengthen Social Security so that seniors are able to retire with the dignity they deserve," he wrote.
Despite all this, right-wingers have made all sorts of disparaging comments about Cardi B’s political statements. After her video about the shutdown went viral, right-wing provocateur Tomi Lahren wrote, "Looks like @iamcardib is the latest genius political mind to endorse the Democrats. HA! Keep it up, guys! #MAGA2020."
Cardi just responded, "Leave me alone I will dogwalk you," and then followed it up with, "You’re so blinded with racism that you don’t even realize the decisions the president you root for is destroying the country you claim to love so much .You are a perfect example on no matter how educated or smart you think you are you still a SHEEP!"
You’re so blinded with racism that you don’t even realize the decisions the president you root for is destroying the country you claim to love so much .You are a perfect example on no matter how educated or smart you think you are you still a SHEEP! https://t.co/khRpoOt16B
— iamcardib (@iamcardib) January 20, 2019
Lahren’s using "genius political mind" in a backhanded way, and treating Cardi B like a pest instead of a legitimate voice, is the perfect example of how white people dismiss people of color as dumb when they don’t speak like they just came out of finishing school. It also shows the disdain with which people who haven’t been anointed to political leadership and who speak on behalf of the working class (see: Ocasio-Cortez) are treated when they bring up inconvenient truths. Why, exactly, isn’t she a genius political mind? Because she’s a rapper? Because she’s a former stripper? Because of how she talks? Because she didn’t go to college?
The ultimate celebrity who got involved in politics is Donald Trump, a reality show star who supporters insist speaks "like the people." Donald Trump has bragged about grabbing women by the genitalia, called NFL players "sons of bitches," and whole continents "shitholes," and put countless families into debt for a border wall. So why are Schatz, Murphy, and Schumer concerned about being "senatorial" in this day and age?
If this man can be president of the United States, Cardi B should be taken seriously as a political voice.
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