How Cardi B Inspired The Lessons I'll Take With Me Into 2018
This year I finally understood the impact of seeing someone from my home make it big. My home, if you didn't know, is the Bronx, popularly known as The Boogie Down. Only recently I learned to appreciate it as much as I appreciate the fearlessness and compassion it taught me. Countless times I've hesitated to tell people where I am from-- I'd stick to the generic and more impressive, "I'm from New York" response. I'd always hope that curiosity never drove the, "Where in NY?" question. If it did, the words, "The Bronx" would fall off of my tongue like a strenuous weight that crushed my image. Why was I so hesitant, you might be wondering. Well, I had seen way too many tourists avoid the Bronx part of the NYC map-- I'd see them point to the Bronx on a train map and shake their heads in fear and disapproval; I'd also been told "Mika, when you told me you were from the Bronx I thought you'd be a bi*ch." Straight up. I remember being told in high school that I needed to behave differently wen I got to college. That if I wanted to avoid judgment I needed to speak and behave differently in order to fit in. I thought this was great advice. Little did I know the damage it would do to my psyche.
Upon graduating from a PWI (predominantly white institution), returning back home to my roots, and reading a myriad of bell hooks' writing, I embarked on a journey that was less about fitting in and more about just being. About accepting myself and worrying less about others accepting me.
All of this brings me to why you probably clicked on my post in the first place, Ms. Cardi B-- a symbol of the lessons I've learned in 2017, and the lessons I want to take with me and spread in 2018.
1. Be yourself
If you follow Cardi, you know how herself she can be. Photos and videos on Instagram with no make-up, ratchet sounds (aaaaaoooooow, ahhhhh, glttttt, etc.), and a Bronx girl accent that ain't never gonna change. She throws it back to her hustler days, she speaks on her highs and her lows, she laughs at those who laughed at her and keeps the money moving (haha see what I did there??).
I used to do all of the above up until high school. And, if there is anything I regret in my life, it's believing that my Latina accent and my Bronx girl slang made me less than. It's once allowing myself to believe that those things that were naturally a part of who I was were not good enough.
As bell hooks says in her book Salvation, "Expressing our full range of emotions is healing to the spirt and engages us in practice of self-acceptance, which is so essential to self-love." To not do so is dehumanizing. Remember that: to repress any emotion and any part of who you are, is dehumanizing.
2018: I will continue being my most natural self in all settings-- especially in the workplace. I will stop bending backwards to comfort others (specifically, whiteness). I will continue to decolonize my mind. I will continue to explore and find the parts of myself that I lost along the way.
2. Shop Cheap
I know Cardi isn't the only celebrity who shops cheap, but she is one of the few I have seen not only promote items from fashionnova and Steven Madden, but also wear them on special occasions (concerts, award shows, etc.).
This year I spent too much $$ on clothes and accessories. If we have millionaires in the world walking around in shorts and polos and living in tiny as heck apartments, why in my right mind am I, a teacher, spending so much money on name brands? It's time I take a hint haha. It's time I invest my money elsewhere and worry less about brands. I've been using apps such as Robinhood and Acorn to learn more about investing in stocks if any of you are interested in where I'll be investing some of my money.
2018: This year I'm doing more smart shopping. That includes more thrifting and shopping back at the places that I used to when I was growing up-- Mystique Boutique, Pretty Girls, Rainbows, and of course H&M and Forever21 are still on the list.
3. Celebrate your successes
Whether it's online, at an airport, in private, just remember to do it! Pat yourself on the back, take yourself out, have a drink (if that's your thing). SHOW OFF! If you don't do it for yourself first, who will?
This year I did not post early as much as I would have liked to. But did I post? Did people read my posts? Did I receive great feedback? Yes, yes AND yes. And something as small as that, I have to remember is worth celebrating.
2018: I have so much more in store for myself and I promise to celebrate my successes, to be my greatest cheerleader along the way.
4. Be kind to others
Cardi has a lot of beautiful things to say and a lot of REAL and RAW things to say, and sometimes both all at once. One thing I love about her is the amount of love she shows to her loved ones and those who support her. It's like Rupi Kaur wrote in her last Instagram post:
"for if we can't learn to be kinder to each other how will we ever learn to be kinder to the most desperate parts of ourselves."
2018: Communication is important. I will communicate better with the people I love and the people who have supported me. I will let them know I love them, I value them, and I appreciate them (via email, texts, phone calls, coffee dates, etc.) That I will do.
5. You can be Black AND Latina
The other day my mom heard "La Modela" by Ozuna ft. Cardi B.
"What?? Cardi B is singing in Spanish??" she screamed from the kitchen.
"Yeah!! She's mad Dominican, Ma, you didn't know that?" I yelled back.
"No! I thought she was Black!"
"Yes, Ma, she is Black. I'm Black," I reminded her.
"I mean, I thought she was African American."
Nah, mom, it's a little more complicated than that. She's mixed with African ancestry. Nah society. Nah to this false construction of Blackness that has been spread around. I'm sorry I'm only recently understanding my Blackness, others's Blackness. Thank you to my one friend (you know who you are) for being patient with me. For watching me learn, grow and understand myself. I am better and stronger because of you.
2018: I am an educator, and as I continue reading books by my people and about my people, as I continue engaging in conversations about Blackness and my Afro-Latina identity, I will continue educating those around me, especially my 8th grade students who are predominantly Latino and 100% students of color. I cannot, and will not, allow for them to live a false sense of self like I did at their age.
And those, folks, are five of the most important lessons and takeaways I have from 2017. I will bring them all with me into 2018 along with some of the following goals and resolutions:
1. Getting into my dream graduate school
2. Traveling more
3. Climbing out of debt
4. Submitting my writing to blogs and eventually publishers :)
What are YOUR 2017 takeaways?? What are some of the lessons YOU learned?? Please share and comment below!!! Click the little heart below if you enjoyed this post.
Lots of love. Thank you for following me on this journey, thank you for your love and support. I love you. Happy New Year!!