The real issue with Victoria's Secret Angels singing the N word along with Cardi B

Victoria’s Secret Angels dancing and singing Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow.” (Photo: Twitter/Pop Crave)

Cardi B’s hit ‘Bodak Yellow’ anthem has been nominated for two Grammys this year, and among its fans, apparently, are this year’s Victoria’s Secret Angels. The Angels, backstage at the recent runway show, can be seen singing along with the lyrics — including the N word — in a controversial video that surfaced online. And the scene has many people ready to “cancel” the Angels altogether.

The part that has people outraged is when the smiling women (mostly white) in pink robes belt out, “And I’m quick, cut a n***** off so don’t get comfortable.” After Pop Crave shared the 11-second video on Twitter, more than 600 comments emerged, many critical. “They said the N word so their canceled,” noted one, while and another shared, “Nah. That N word was too loud and clear for there only to be one black girl in this room.”

While all the Angels seem to be in unison, many people were able to point out that model Devon Windsor avoided the word and applauded her for it, as the look on her face showed she may have been aware of the potential damage of singing along. Her mouth was closed, and she picked the song back up after that part of it was over.

The word n***** is a derogatory term that’s been used to describe people of color since as early as the 18th century, and while it’s largely been reclaimed by people of color as a term of endearment or in rap lyrics — similar to the way queer has been reclaimed by some LGBTQ folks — many people find it highly offensive and especially troubling when used outside the black community.

Plus, Victoria’s Secret has been slammed before for racist allegations. Rewinding to 2012, the brand left a lot of people uneasy when it sent two black models down the runway with tribal wear, followed by Karlie Kloss in a Native American-style headdress. In 2016, the annual show was accused of cultural appropriation for featuring Chinese and Mexican traditional clothing, and this year, the brand was faulted for another uncomfortable headdress moment during its “Nomadic Adventures” portion of the show.

Further, the fashion industry as a whole has been criticized on many occasions for the lack of diverse models included in runway shows and ad campaigns, and contentious incidents such as this one are seen as adding fuel to the fire.

Just two months before this Cardi B clip outcry, there was an outpouring of criticism about a similar video from a New Hampshire sorority that belted out, “She ain’t messing with no broke n*****” to Kanye West’s popular “Gold Digger” song. The girls featured in the video did not face any disciplinary action, but reactions acted as living examples of the negative implications of nonblack people using the racial slur.

Regarding the current controversy, some spoke up to say that it’s a song everyone should be able to freely sing along with. As Wwhiteje shared on Twitter, “If ‘N*****’ is in a song everyone has every right to say it y’all weird you just want us to skip that part of the song? Y’all make things too deep.”


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