This past weekend, Cardi B should have been celebrating one of the biggest moments of her career: She's the first woman ever to headline Rolling Loud, the largest hip-hop festival in the world.
Instead, her estranged husband, Offset, crashed her performance and begged her to take him back in front of thousands of people—but this literal public display of affection did not go well. Cardi was clearly uncomfortable in the moment, and later posted on social media to make it clear that she needs time and privacy. (Something Offset did not respect, FWIW.)
It was an understandable response given their relationship has been plagued by rumors of his infidelity since before the couple even married. And yet, rappers like T.I., 21 Savage, 50 Cent, and The Game have all taken it upon themselves to chime in on Cardi and Offset's relationship, telling Cardi she should forgive her husband.
"Now, I don't know all the dynamics between you two nor does anyone else on the Internet, but what I do know is you guys look great together," The Game said on Instagram, according to Rolling Stone. "It’s only right you guys reunite immediately for the good of you guys family unit."
"Take Offset back Cardi B," T.I. wrote on social media. "Ain’t nobody perfect." 50 Cent commented on a post of Cardi's, telling her to go "home" to her ex. "No Divorce," he added. "Ok chill out."
Offset was the one who broke his vows, but somehow it's up to Cardi to do the emotional labor of putting it back together? I call bullshit. His appearance at Rolling Loud was both unjustified and unwelcomed—and I'd go so far as to call it manipulative and toxic. By trying to publicly pressure Cardi into forgiveness, Offset's shifted the focus from how he cheated to the extremes he'll go to win back her love. But not only is this unfair to Cardi—the responsibility of their future now rests squarely on her shoulders—it's potentially harmful to her career. After all, who will remember Cardi's Rolling Loud performance as a historic moment for black women now?
I take issue with the (male) celebrities' support for Offset because it speaks to how black women are often treated in relationships, and it reinforces the belief that we have to suffer if we want to be loved. The "ride or die" trope, which posits that women are supposed to stick by their significant other regardless of their behavior, has been prevalent in our culture for decades. Black women are never afforded to be anything but loyal in romantic relationships, while black men's cheating is often considered a minor indiscretion or growing pain. Just look at Jay Z and Beyoncé: Lemonade is a powerful album about her anger over his infidelity, but she ultimately stands by her man; meanwhile, on 4:44 Jay Z offers up lyrics like, "I apologize, often womanize. Took for my child to be born [to] see through a woman's eyes."
Our entire existence is constantly being assessed by our proximity to men. When we wear too much makeup, we're trying too hard to attract a partner. But if we don’t wear enough, we’ll never get one. When we want our partner to be ambitious, we're a gold digger. When we distance ourselves from an unhealthy relationship, we're selfish and destroying our family. This pattern is not just frustrating—it's potentially dangerous. Take singer-songwriter Kehlani, who was accused of cheating on her boyfriend Kyrie Irving last year; the subsequent flood of social media was so horrible that she was hospitalized after a suicide attempt. In the U.S., black women face higher rates of domestic violence than white women.
The point is, whatever Cardi decides—whether it's to leave Offset or to reconcile with him—that's a decision she needs to make alone. She can't pacify the court of public opinion, but she can declare her worth as a black woman.
Candace McDuffie is Boston-based writer with bylines in Entertainment Weekly, Vice, Forbes, Glamour, Vibe, and more.
Published at Mon, 17 Dec 2018 23:01:02 +0000