Last week, my life was made when I met one of my best friends in my head, Cardi B. Contrary to the amusing videos we’ve grown to love on Instagram and the hilarious persona we have fallen victim to watching on Love and Hip Hop, she presented herself professionally, bringing her A game to a panel at NYU where she sat alongside established women and discussed her perspective and experience of being a woman in the industry. As I watched her respond to the questions with her blunt and unfiltered answers, my admiration for her grew and the recurrent thought that comes to mind time and time again resurfaced once more: Cardi B is so damn relevant!!
The youngest panelist, she was no less intelligent than the women that surrounded her. Her words were equally as inspirational and all the more relatable to someone like myself who is trying to find her way in life. Venturing into the world of entertainment is a journey we have all experienced with her, but there is so much more to her than what we see. There is a reason why the individual whose Instagram page I briefly skimmed a few years ago became the same individual whose videos I couldn’t get enough of.
Initially, I gravitated towards the comedy. In true comedic style, she has the ability to make us laugh about the most uncomfortable situations. Once she had my undivided attention, I began to notice a theme behind her social media posts: Her raw and unrefined delivery exposes the real that most people attempt to conceal; she is the voice that represents the thoughts we purposely don’t express since we’re busy trying to seek societal acceptance by being too damn politically correct! But the love I had grew even more when I heard her story.
Now I’m not sure how much you all know about Cardi. It’s common knowledge that she was a stripper born and raised in the hood of the Bronx, NY. She dated DJ Self, has a boyfriend in prison, is pursuing a career in music and is a popping personality on social media. I’ve read a few blogs about her being a feminist, evident in her non tolerance for the so called double standards that may prohibit females from living as they please and she proudly uses her power as a woman to her advantage, whether it be to get some money or some men. Sure, I love all that about her but aside from all that, she is a simply a human being trying to find a means to an end and she owns every bit of it!
Cardi is the product of a biracial relationship. Her mother, of Trinidadian descent, works as a cashier while her father, who was from the Dominican Republic, makes a living as a taxi driver. Despite being discouraged by teachers who told her she would amount to nothing, she overcame those obstacles with good grades. A relationship with her puppy love would eventually affect her academic performance as she shifted her priorities from school to skipping class to spending quality time with her then beau. At just 18 years old, she was kicked out of her house, relying on her job at the Amish market to make ends meet. An inability to balance her schedule as both a student and a worker resulted in her dropping out of the Borough of Community College, after only one year. She was later terminated from her position at the supermarket for constant tardiness and giving a generous discount to her coworker, but in that same moment was offered an opportunity to put an end to her struggles. The manager of the supermarket suggested she work at New York Dolls, the strip club across the street. (Now we can discuss how problematic that is in itself but that’s a story for another day)! Though reluctant, she started dancing in white strip clubs, later transitioning to black clubs, where money was bound to be made regardless of the state of the economy. She made connections and gained a following that has gotten her to where she currently is today.
Since making that decision, Cardi B has had to face critics who have undermined her intelligence and reduced her to her past actions. At the panel, she discussed the concept of hustling, bringing into question why drug dealers responsible for turning women into crackheads are not nearly as judged as strippers whose purpose is also to make some money. Furthermore, she compared her wisdom as someone who worked 2-3 hours a day with the intent of saving money to a man who works 9-5 only to throw a days work of money away at the strip club. Upon reflection, she recalled moments of degradation and shame. She advised those who choose that lifestyle to find their way in and out and to save and invest their money in projects that could exponentially increase their income. That thought process alone requires a certain level of intellect that not everyone has. That is what she did and that is why I respect and love her so much.
Cardi B found herself in a tight position and was determined to put an end to it by any means necessary. With a goal in mind, her tunnel vision prevented her from getting lost in the game. She blocked out all negativity and sacrificed her happiness to provide a better life for her and her family. When given a way out, she took full advantage and is willing to share her story, without feeling the need to sugarcoat any details.Like it or not, many can benefit from the truth sans the polished advice those established in their careers tend to offer.
Cardi is an example of someone who doesn’t necessarily need an education to become successful. She represents someone who forms a plan and doesn’t stray from it no matter how difficult it may be. Most importantly, she is someone who remains true to herself.
Not too long ago, Amber Rose expressed her belief that there is a double standard in this industry. To defend she and Kim Kardashian’s image, she spoke of the media’s lack of reference to Channing Tatum’s humble beginnings as a stripper. For a minute, it was easy to get sucked into the comparison, but after some thinking, I have realized that it has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with what is brought to the table afterwards. Look at Nene Leakes. Once an exotic dancer, she has since capitalized on all opportunities such that her past is hardly ever mentioned. Cardi B can now be added on to this list. From the hood of the Bronx, NY and the strip club to her newfound success as a reality/social media star and rapper (love her mixtape BTW), she made her hustle and personality (she is just as sweet in person) work in her favor and it is now her time to shine. In the event that she is no longer in the spotlight, you better believe she will still be profiting off her investments.
Cardi B is a special yet unpolished gem..if she continues to exercise her mind and use her resources and networks wisely, she will definitely be making that schmoney FOREVA!!
Written By: Sweenie S.