#RoleModels

6 months ago Wynter Bond Comments Off on #RoleModels

Columnist Wynter Bond examines portrayals of women of color in popular culture.

There has been so much going on lately. With conversations laden with heavy material such as gun control and pointless American Idol drivel, it seems as though lighthearted antics can be hard to come by. When it comes down to it, we all need role models to guide us through the murky waters of life. Which is why there are no better role models than Cardi B and Tiffany Haddish.

Now, these two women have been bogged down by haters as America promoting ratchetness and boisterous behavior as suitable for the masses. But I don’t see their lack of “professional polish” as a flaw. I see it as real. Don’t get me wrong, I love our people of color in Hollywood. They are all (not including Stacey Dash) amazing, giving people. But it’s been a while since we have had a person of color unabashed and unrelenting in how they choose to portray themselves, especially when it’s not exactly the status quo.

Let’s start with Tiffany Haddish. While most people know her from the critically acclaimed 2017 film “Girls Trip,” I remember her from Kevin Hart’s show Real Husbands of Hollywood. The comedienne and actress has also appeared on OWN’s “If Loving You is Wrong” and “The Carmichael Show” before her casting of Dina in the NAACP Image Award-winning smash hit. Her character can easily be seen as more “ratchet” than the other three best friends in the group: she’s loud, provocative, says the first thing that comes to mind, and uses expletives and innuendos like no one’s business. Imagine everyone’s surprise when she turned out to be that way in real life, too. I find it refreshing.

I feel as though I can connect to her more solely because she acts like someone I’d actually want to be friends within life. She is smart, funny, and doesn’t care what other people think of her.

Back when she was promoting “Girls Trip,” Haddish went and bought an $4,000 Alexander McQueen dress. She then again wore it when she made history later in 2017 as the first black female comedian to host “Saturday Night Live.” There, she commented on how the dress cost her “more than [her] mortgage” and how she was going to wear it for special occasions. Haddish showed up in the white McQueen gown again when she presented an award at the 2018 Oscars. She’s so down to earth and has not forgotten where she has come from. That’s an admirable quality in a role model these days.

We all know Cardi B, AKA Belcalis Almanzar (Side note: okay, I still expect some kind of magic to happen whenever I say homegirl’s full name. It sounds like a forbidden Harry Potter spell and I feel like someone’s supposed to turn into an evil anthropomorphic garden hose or something). We all had “Bodak Yellow” downloaded and blasting in our cars with the windows down last summer. Something about that song makes me automatically hype and just ready. Cardi also just dropped her debut album “Invasion of Privacy” earlier this month. What I admire about Cardi is how she is unashamed of her past and is actually serving as an inspiration for those in her previous situation.

Before breaking into the celebrity atmosphere as 2015 is a reality star on “Love & Hip Hop: New York,” Cardi B was an exotic dancer. When asked about it in interviews, she claims that it was actually positive for her and how she was able to escape poverty and domestic violence because of it. But she also speaks of how she never lost her dream of being in music because she knew that she could do better than what she was doing. Cardi is a role model because she shows what perseverance looks like, even in what can seem like the very bottom of a negative situation. Cardi B shows that anything can be possible, even for women who are doing something that society can permanently put you in a box and think nothing of you.

It’s hard out here right now, especially for women of color. There are so many positive people in our world, but these two women appeal to the younger generation. I think that they could teach the older generations some things as well. We can’t take life too seriously.

Wynter Bond
wcbond@vwu.edu