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Cardi B has risen to the top of the music charts thanks to a charisma and swagger that is lacking in most corporate pop stars today. Her story is an inspirational one. She joined a gang at the age of sixteen. At nineteen, she became a stripper after being fired from her job at the supermarket. She says that she became a stripper to rise out of poverty and domestic violence. Cardi B said of stripping: “It really saved me from a lot of things. When I started stripping I went back to school.” Welcome to the American Dream: where students have to strip to pay for school.
Lately Cardi B has come under fire for this rather outrageous comment dug up from the twitter archives: “If my man cheat on me. I’ma get him drunk and let a tranny rape him”. A Huffington Post article scolded: “Going forward, we’ll work even harder to make sure the world (which, contrary to what we originally thought, is apparently not already sufficiently designed to guarantee and ensure your heterosexual privilege and success as non-queer people) is better suited to meeting your needs”.
Now of course the Huffington Post and others are right to be against such hateful speech, and they bring up some important statistics worth repeating. The article reminded us: “2017 was the deadliest year on record for the LGBTQ community in the U.S. with an 86 percent increase in hate violence homicides from 2016” and also: “And let’s not forget it’s still legal in 28 states to fire someone just because they identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or some other non-heterosexual orientation and in 30 states it’s legal to fire people who identify as trans or non-cisgender.” and importantly: “Trump worked to stack the courts with anti-LGBTQ judges.” And perhaps significant to Cardi B’s identity: “At least 28 transgender people (most of them transgender women of color) were murdered in 2017 ― more than any other year on record.”
But we should also acknowledge a double standard here. The blatantly misogynistic and homophobic rapper Eminem has won the Grammy for best rap album six times. He is hailed as a social justice warrior against the transphobic racist Donald Trump. When a rich white guy delivers hate speech, he is an artist, he is expressing his right to free speech. When a poor (for this was from the archives) woman of color like Cardi B says these things, she is a bigot. Here is a list of 19 times Eminem, literally the most critically acclaimed rapper in America, talked about raping or beating women in his songs.
In this politically correct post-class, post-race and post-gender society, what really is the thing we should be most outraged at? Is it that a gang member turned stripper trying to go to college once said something mean on twitter or is it that she had to go to these lengths to go to school in the first place? The same lack of perspective could be applied to Donald Trump, whose bad manners get a lot more attention than his anti-environment, anti-poor and anti-peace presidency.
So while Cardi B was getting beat by her boyfriend, stripping to make a living and trying to go to school all at once, was she supposed to do more homework on the politically correct terms of the bourgeois? If we are going to talk about gender, can we begin to talk about the way Cardi B herself has been treated? I for one, am thrilled she made it out of poverty and I find her story to be a rare feel good one in a news cycle that is increasingly depressing.
Cardi B was accused of inciting violence against the transgender community but what exactly incited the real domestic violence against her? And why is this domestic violence against poor women completely absent in our commentary despite a widespread (and long overdue) outcry over sexual violence (but mostly sexual harassment) of upper class white women? And when will violence against women, or for that matter, violence against poor people be considered a hate crime?
The violence against Cardi B was not because of a twitter gripe but because of her gender (binary, yes, but who could deny that she would have a whole new world of problems if she told her boyfriend she wanted to transition to the male gender). This violence was forgotten because of her precarious place within the class and race caste system in the United States. So I ask the elites, if the transformation of society must be cultural rather than economic, can we at least encourage class-consciousness?
Cardi B’s defense was that she needed to be educated on language within the LGBT community and that she was interested in learning more. The Huffington Post smugly dismissed this as a lazy excuse, but given the lengths Cardi B had to go to get an education, how can they deny her point? If the elites really do think it is the most important thing to live in an educated society, why don’t they make education more accessible?
There is no poorer group than transgender people, specifically transgender women of color. No group is at more risk of violence. No group has been hurt more by Donald Trump’s anti-poor agenda. Perhaps we could acknowledge once and for all that the distinct hatred of transgender people in this society could be greatly lessened by a society that provided legitimate economic and educational opportunities to the masses. To be a liberal without being a socialist is a self-serving activity. And FDR fan Cardi B, for what tweets are worth, got this shout out from the quasi-socialist Bernie Sanders: “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.”