Cardi B Speaks Out After Backlash Over New Reebok Collaboration

Fans have been hype about Cardi B‘s shoe collaboration with Reebok ever since it was announced. But after she released promotional images dressed as the Hindu goddess Durga, some people were immediately disturbed and started calling Cardi B out for “mocking” their culture. Amid mounting backlash, Cardi B took to Instagram to apologize for the blunder, saying she didn’t mean any harm.

Cardi B on the red carpet
Cardi B on the red carpet at an award show in May 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Cardi B channeled Durga in a promotional image for her Reebok collaboration

Ahead of the Nov. 13 release of her collection, Cardi B posed for the cover of Footwear News, where she dressed as Durga. The Daily Mail says Durga is “a warrior woman with eight hands” carrying a variety of weapons. But instead of weapons, Cardi B held one of her shoes.

Footwear News explained the shoot on Instagram, writing: “[Cardi B] pays homage to Durga, the Hindu goddess, whose symbols of protection and inner strength resonate as much in modern times as they have through the centuries. Like Durga, Cardi B is a dominant female voice at a critical time.” But people still weren’t happy with the concept.

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The backlash to Cardi B’s photo was intense

Taking to the comment section on Footwear News’s Instagram page, one person wrote, “Not Western media culturally appropriating Hindu Religion…again.”

A second social media user wrote in part, “Oh wow cultural appropriation in the interest of selling footwear. Gonna go out on a limb and say you guys really missed the mark here. The caption makes it worse, if thats possible. Paying homage by depicting a religious icon holding a sneaker. yup, what a great way to honor a goddess.”

“We as hindus don’t even go inside temples with shoes on and you here have depicted a DEVI WITH SHOES IN HER HAND! It’s so disrespectful,” read another comment. “Also, it’s just another example of how western companies look down on asian countries and their culture just for commercialization. This is literally DISRESPECTFUL.”

“Wtf are you thinking,” another comment said in part.

Other social media users agreed that it was off-putting but argued that Cardi B would never intentionally try to disrespect anyone. “You cannot expect everyone to know everything,” one fan added.

Amid mounting criticism, Cardi B apologized for the photo

As backlash continued to roll in, Cardi B went on Instagram early on the morning of Nov. 11 to apologize.

“When I did the Reebok shoot, the creatives told me I was going to represent a Goddess, that she represents strength, femininity, and liberation, and that’s something I love and I’m all about,” she began. “And I thought it was dope, but if people think I’m offending their culture or their religion I want to say I’m sorry. That was not my intent. I do not like disrespecting nobody’s religion; I wouldn’t like it if someone offended my religion.”

“When people dress as Virgin Mary and Jesus, as long as they do it in a beautiful, graceful way, I wouldn’t feel a type of way. But I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful; maybe I should have done my research. I’m sorry, I can’t change the past but I’m gonna do more research for the future,” she concluded.

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