Reader Submission: Why Cardi B’s Engagement Is Important
By Ashley Nkadi
There are more than a few falsehoods floating around about Black women and marriage. The first is that Black women aren’t getting married period, which is derived from contorted reports and statistics that insist that the mass incarceration of Black men, inclination of some Black men to date outside of their race, and a disparity in education/income attainment between Black women and Black men have fatally combined to create a deficit of marriageable Black men. And alluding to the idea that a Black woman’s quest to get a ring would be more difficult than Frodo’s quest to destroy one. The second myth is that Black love can only be achieved through the pairing of one Black man and one Black woman. When one thinks of Black Love, visions of the Obamas and Kings and Queens are conjured rather than Black queer love, or even self-love. And last, is the delusion that being a single Black woman is the worst thing that someone can be on this planet.
These myths have led to the narrative that for a Black woman to get married she must carry herself a certain way. She must be soft, docile, hold her man down, cook and clean on demand, and do it all with a smile. She must be perfectly balanced; strong enough to endure, but not so strong that she is a threat to a man’s masculinity. She must be intelligent enough to innovate methods to protect her household from society’s slings and arrows, but not too clever, else she undermines the man’s intelligence. She must be willing to kneel and take a man in her mouth, but not overly embrace her sexuality, because then she’s a slut – and sluts don’t get rings.
We internalize this misogyny and follow this recipe to a “T” so that we may be so lucky as to one day say “I do.” We bend our reflections. We learn to radiate just a little less sunshine so as not to offend others. We learn to be a little less sure of ourselves, so as not to seem cocky. To stand up and speak out less, for fear of coming off as aggressive. To tone down our talents so we do not usurp our men. To always give and to never get. To feed society from our own bosom, remaining un-thanked and unnoticed. To slowly, but surely become nothing and no one as we magnify those around us, all in the hopes that someone will choose us.
But not Cardi B. Cardi refused to be slut-shamed, restricted to the confines of femininity, or policed by respectability politics. She instead reclaimed her sexuality and body, galvanizing it into power for a dynamic form a feminism. Her powerful voice has risen, unfiltered into mainstream. Her brazen lyrics have been sung, played, and streamed by all types of people. She changed for no one, remaining unapologetically herself, and this authenticity was worth its weight in gold. This year alone, she signed to Atlantic Records, partnered with huge brands at New York Fashion Week, and made history by topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In the past few weeks alone, Cardi featured in Migo’s “Motor Sport” alongside Nicki Minaj, hinted at an upcoming single with Beyonce, landed on the cover of Rolling Stone and New York Magazine, and got engaged to Offset.
It is for this reason exactly that Cardi B’s success is so important. Her success connotes that you can climb the ranks without altering yourself. Her engagement shatters the lie that a woman must do all of the aforementioned things to be worthy of a loving spouse. This illustrates that Black women can win, and we do, every day.
I’m Ashley Nkadi. I love God, my mama, being Bliggity Black, Gucci Mane, cheese, potatoes, and eyebrow maintenance. In that order. Feel free to read more about me at www.ashleynkadi.com