Despite repeatedly being told during the global COVID-19 pandemic that “we’re all in this together”, the crisis has undeniably taken a giant spotlight and shone it on the disparities between the have and have nots.
While the wealthy have self isolated in luxury mansions, been granted access to premium healthcare and even been given special treatment in terms of travel and quarantine mandates, low income families have struggled with job loss, increased financial hardship and greater susceptibility to the virus due to higher rates of underlying health issues and limited space in which to quarantine household members who contract the illness.
These are just a few of the reasons why, when rapper Cardi B asked fans if she should drop nearly ninety-thousand dollars on a purse, the response was swift and scathing.
The Grammy-award winner posted a tweet on December 7, writing, “Should I spend 88K for this damn purse ? Omggg it’s tempting”.
Should I spend 88K for this damn purse ? Omggg it’s tempting 😩😩😩
— iamcardib (@iamcardib) December 6, 2020
The question surely would have been incendiary enough, but Cardi also rather unfortunately used three weary face emojis which, according to Emojipedia, represents being distraught to the point of giving up. Not the purse emoji. Not even the thinking face emoji which could have at least conveyed that the WAP singer was questioning not just the practicality of the purchase, but the advisability of asking her legions of fans for advice on such a splurge.
Nope, she used the weary face. Which just makes me want to face palm.
She also failed to share a picture of the bag in question, but I’m not sure that would have assuaged the backlash, to be honest.
To give some perspective, the average annual salary for a woman in the US is $44,564 (even less for Black women who earn just $38,584 on average per year), with a devastating number of women being fored to constantly make the choice between paying bills and buying gorceries.
Many responses to Cardi’s tweet reminded her of this grim fact and suggested that she donate the money to charity, read the room and try not to be so tone deaf moving forward.
After participating in a bit of back and forth and providing proof that she has, in fact, donated millions of dollars to coronavirus relief this year, Cardi invited her followers to provide proof of their charitable donations so that she could match them.
The rapper also tweeted: “Ok guys I apologize. There you happy?! I don’t see ya askin trump for a apology when he out here missing COVID meetings to play golf but ” (sic).
While the Bronx native was able to end this particular controversy with a positive outcome, it’s hardly the first time she has come under fire for being insensitive during the pandemic.
In October, Cardi was criticised for sharing photos of her outlandish birthday celebration in Las Vegas where she was seen ensconced in an anxiety-inducing crowd of people, only one of whom was wearing a mask. Videos of the event posted to the singers Instagram Stories showed a crowd of more than 100 maskless people drinking, dancing and twerking — which is definitely at odds with CDC guidelines.
Then, over Thanksgiving, Cardi was lambasted once again after revealing she had had 37 people in her home for the national holiday — again, not exactly what the CDC recommends.
The singer expressed remorse for the misstep, but her apology just further highlighted the problem. “Sorry my bad wasn’t trying to make nobody feel bad. I just had my family in my home for the first time and it felt so good & uplifted me,” she wrote. “I spent soo much money getting every1 tested but it felt worth it. I wasn’t trying to offend no1” (sic).
Rapid coronavirus tests can cost up to USD $500 per person, so it’s conceivable that Cardi spent around $18,500 in order to throw her soiree. I would argue that this figure, while less in monetary value than the purse, is far more polarising in the bigger picture.
The fact that Cardi was able to spend so much money on getting family members privately tested so they could participate in a holiday most Americans had to forgo, while millions of people are unable to access the test at all, is a stark reminder of how this pandemic has been less of a global unifier and more of a line in the sand drawn between those for whom the rules don’t apply, and everyone else.
As for Cardi? She says she’s definitely buying the bag now.