Black women are often pitted against one another. It’s as if every facet of our being revolves around some sort of competition where only one of us can survive. It’s the perpetual crab-pot mentality and only one of us can make it to the top, but in the process, we’re pulling each other down and no one really ever succeeds because we’re too concerned about what the other person is doing. It has become a societal tactic to prevent any of us from really prospering. Instead, we nitpick, send negative energy, spread falsehoods of our alleged competition out of jealousy, and we throw jabs just to keep them from getting one step ahead of us.
Sometimes, those jabs are more literal than metaphorical.
The fall New York Fashion Week really kicked off this past weekend. It’s an event spread into about 10 days, where indie, mainstream, luxe, and couture designers present their collections for the following season. It’s a great way for fashion enthusiasts to come together and network, models expand their portfolios, designers and stylists grab a larger clientele, and the rest of us get to see what we should expect in retailers in the spring and summer of 2019. (February “spring” fashion shows showcase fall and winter lines.)
Nonetheless, Harper’s Bazaar’s Friday event featured more than just a fashion show. Cardi B. and Nicki Minaj finally squared up after the public has marked them against one another for nearly a year. There are a few speculations as to what happened. Allegedly, Cardi threw a shoe at who appeared to be Nicki. Rah Ali, a friend of Nicki Minaj and a castmember on Love & Hip Hop: New York, supposedly tried to fight Cardi in return. Cardi either got elbowed by a security officer or by Rah and was escorted away from the group as Nicki posed for the cameras as if nothing happened.
Of course, no one knows fully as to how the fight started or the true animosity built up between this growing beef between Cardi and Nicki. However, over the past year, Nicki has mentioned how Cardi has never really paid any homage to her or gave her any genuine respect. But the two kept saying that they had no issue with one another. They even did the song Motorsport together with Migos. Granted, there was some controversy that stemmed from that as well in regards to lyrics and Nicki changing her verse once she found out that Cardi was on the song. However, the two have been seen chumming it up together at different events over the past few months, but things really started to take a turn for the worst before and at MTV’s Video Music Awards when Cardi and Nicki went back and forth about their success and for Nicki allegedly saying something about Cardi’s daughter. (And let’s be real: Nicki does have a history of coming after other celebrities’ infant children.)
After Friday’s fashion show altercation, both Cardi and Nicki took to Instagram, Nicki being more cryptic than her opponent. However, Nicki later said how she was not going to press charges against Cardi for the fight.
Got all of that?
Personal opinions aside, I do find it ridiculous that two black women (“black” meaning people with African ancestry) have to be pitted against one another for the smallest traces of similarities. Yes, they do resemble one another with their physicalities, how they dress and style their hair. (Both have had a little more than enough surgeries.) But their music really is different. And it’s a shame that as such a diverse community that we cannot see that. We can see it with men: We won’t compare Kendrick to Andre 3000 (which I do think would actually be a fair assessment). And we don’t do it with white women: We wouldn’t think of saying that Taylor Swift and Britney Spears are one in the same. But black women, only one can survive. It’s as if only one black woman can make it out if there was a zombie apocalypse. (To be honest, I’d put all of my money on Nicki to win that. Not that she’s more apt to be resourceful and minimalist — nowhere near, but she would definitely leave somebody to die during a supplies run if a swarm of zombies came crawling around the corner. She’d definitely run off and tell the rest of the group that she saw the person get bit — even though she didn’t — like Shane did in The Walking Dead.)
Personal opinions intact: I think that there was a bit of jealousy involved in the situation because of the media and community perpetuating a rivalry between Cardi and Nicki. Hands down, I do think that Nicki is a better lyricist (if she actually applies herself, which isn’t often), but I do think that she has a bit of low self-esteem and is inconsistent with the image she wants to portray. She prospered when no other female rappers were in the game, mostly due to incarceration (Remy Ma, Li’l Kim) or health issues (Missy Elliott). Other female rappers also started to leave the game in other ventures (Eve). At the time of her mainstream birth, there really was no other force of competition for Nicki. With that being said, I don’t think that she really knows how to adapt to healthy competition. So, in turn, she has the tendency to bully anyone who seems to be a threat to her image.
Cardi, on the other hand, though not the best lyricist, appeals very heavily with the masses. She’s down-to-Earth, relatable, and though she’s very rough around the edges, she speaks truth and she’s smarter than what people want to give her credit. She’s funny and personable. People feel as if they’re really getting HER when they speak to her. She has a persona and a brand that is consistent with who she is. Because she is so likable, I think people are more readily to work with and be around her. Though she may not be the best rapper, her songs are still hits across a wide variety of audiences.
At this point, I’m not totally sure how to move on from the situation that has blown up between Cardi and Nicki. Social media has made something so small grow into something larger than it should’ve ever been within the past year. And now, these two women who are really at the height of their careers have to always keep an eye open in case the other wants to strike, without realizing that there are other people more willing to destroy their images as successful black women. It’s a shame, but it’s the reality that every black woman endures along her professional path: We can make it to the top with mainstream acceptance if we’re willing to throw a sister under the bus along the way because only one of us can make it. But we can only truly triumph if we change the game to work for all of us. Otherwise, we will always be pawns at the hands of someone else’s entertainment.
But in the meantime, Nicki might want to watch out. The Bardi Gang really isn’t about to let her say anybody else is her “son.” And I’m all for it — don’t talk about anybody’s baby.