Bhad Bhabie and Cardi B existing at the same time is just another example of America’s racism


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Bhad Bhabie and Cardi B existing at the same time is just another example of America’s racism

Allow me to explain

Bhad Bhabie, otherwise known as Danielle Bregoli or "cash me ousside howbowdah" girl, released her first single These Heux a few weeks ago.

And to the general disgust of most normal people, she was signed to a multi-album recording contract by Atlantic Records almost immediately after dropping her debut song.

Clothes @fashionnova ? Ruffles are bae ?

A post shared by Bhad Bhabie (@bhadbhabie) on Mar 14, 2017 at 4:54pm PDT

So, what's concerning about the existence of Bhad Bhabie beyond the fact she's a 14-year-old girl whose childhood has been victimized by the relentless entertainment industry and a set of parents who solve problems with Dr. Phil?

She's a crystal clear example of institutional racism in our entertainment industry and society en masse. Especially when you compare her rise to fame with Cardi B, hip-hop's current crown jewel.

Even if you didn't know her before Bodak Yellow, Cardi B has a complex musical history. She started her career on Shaggy's 2015 remix of Boom Boom, a song by Jamaican artist Popcaan.

In 2016, she released her first mixtape titled Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1 then released Vol. 2 in January 2017. She was signed in February 2017 by Atlantic Records, and Bodak Yellow was distributed in June. In other words, it took Cardi two years of presence in the music industry to get signed. It took Danielle Bregoli fewer than two weeks.

Throughout Cardi's career, she appeared on Love & Hip Hop: New York where she was an instant hit thanks to her huge personality and the snappy one-liners she originated on her Instagram account. Beyond that, she appeared on multiple different TV shows prior to her big break – starring in an episode of Uncommon Sense with Charlamagne in 2015 and being interviewed by Khloe Kardashian on Kocktails with Khloe in 2016.

If Cardi B had this star power, public recognition, and an actual discography, why did it take her so much longer than "Bhad Bhabie" to get a record deal? Hint: racism. Not necessarily by the record company, but by all of us.

Our collective racism created Bhad Bhabie. Think about it: In September 2016, Danielle became "cash me ousside howbowdah" girl after her appearance on Dr. Phil went viral.

She was brought on the show by her distraught mother, who looked horrified as the teen bragged about stealing cars and hitting her parents. But the only real difference the typical, sociopathic Dr. Phil patient and her viral sensation was her use of an accent meant to mimic AAVE.

Zeba Blay suggested in The Huffington Post that many of Danielle's mannerisms along with “her voice, her clothes, her long nails and hoop earrings are all specifically black markers."

Happy Mothers Day ? #MyRideOrDie #FreeKodak Grillz by @boodaddydiamonds

A post shared by Bhad Bhabie (@bhadbhabie) on May 14, 2017 at 12:02pm PDT

The performance of blackness by whites has long been rewarded in our society. In United States popular culture, black culture or the black experience is often represented as "exotic" in order to commodify "otherness" and appeal to consumers’ desire for novelty.

Black feminist thinker bell hooks explicitly expresses this argument in her book Black Looks: Race and Representation, suggesting “the commodification of Otherness has been so successful because… within commodity culture, ethnicity becomes spice, seasoning that can liven up the dull dish that is mainstream white culture."

This argument suggests commercial cultural leaders exploit cultural representations of blackness as "wild" or outside of regular society to perpetrate the sale of media or products that contain representative signs of black culture.

In the book re:Skin, Washington State sociology professor D.J. Leonard suggests “today’s popular culture, reduces race or skin color to a commodity … those who have the right clothes… the appropriate language and the overall look can be black regardless of social location."

In other words, American pop culture represents being black with specific markers, like wearing the proper clothing or using the proper language rather than by living in the everyday social location of blackness. This makes it easier for consumers to benefit from the positive representations of blackness – such as blackness as exotic or interesting – without having to live the negative aspects of being black the physical world.

The utilization of black cultural markers without being black is called performing blackness, of which Bhad Bhabie is a clear example. Her use of these markers of black culture – along with society’s representation of blackness as exotic or unique – allowed her to be seen as an interesting and humorous television subject rather than the white "norm."

And because in our white hegemonic order whiteness is valued above blackness, Danielle's "interesting" presentation and her whiteness combined to make her a valuable record deal for Atlantic Records.

Meanwhile, hard-working and talented women of color like Cardi B are often left behind because of their actual blackness. As Zeba Blay said, "On a white girl, ‘ratchet’ or ‘hood’ behavior is hilarious, even a little cute. It isn’t threatening."

But strong women like Cardi B who challenge our long-held conceptions of who has power and who should be famous are intimidating. They're changing the world – and we should help them.

We should also find some help for Danielle Bregoli – but that's a subject fit for its own article.

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