15-year-old Danielle Bregoli, better known as the Cash Me Outside girl or by her rap name Bhad Bhabie, is the rising star of the day and we—or at least, I— can’t seem to figure out why. She rose to fame in 2016 after she and her mother appeared on an episode of Dr. Phil, during which she threatened both him and the audience, coining the infamous phrase “cash me outside, howbowdah?”, which became an inescapable meme and was remixed into a rap song and dance challenge. Eventually Atlantic Records offered her a record deal and since then she has since released a number of songs, including her most recent “Babyface Savage” which has already accumulated more than six million views since its video release six days ago.
All this said and done, Bhad Bhabie is a symptom of exactly what’s wrong with our society. She’s essentially a performance—a walking minstrel act in the 21st century. Her role is to make a mockery of black culture and it seems like everyone (including black people) are being complacent in allowing the joke to continue. White people no longer have to paint their faces with blackface to mock us, as was done in the early 20th century. Furthermore, Washington State sociology professor David .J. Leonard writes in his book re:Skin that “today’s popular culture reduces race or skin color to a commodity…those who have the right clothes…the appropriate language and the overall look can be black regardless of social location”.
Artists like Iggy Azalea simply have to imitate black people and black culture and they are almost guaranteed to be deemed as “new”, “innovative” and “creative” while simply doing what blacks have done long before them. A lot of us are sweeping this problem under the rug and promoting artists like Bhad Bhabie, not realizing that we are contributing to our own erasure in the media. The entertainment industry no longer has to hire and sign talented black artists when they can find white artists who do the same thing and are almost guaranteed to have more success. We are guilty of lending our support to harmful performers like Bhad Bhabie while boycotting the many talented black female entertainers who deserve adoration and acclaim.