When Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion dropped their video for “WAP” just days ago, we didn’t think their NSFW rhymes, outrageous fits, and absolutely savage dance routines would be overshadowed by 15 seconds of Kylie Jenner walking. But, alas, the media once again centered whiteness to talk about a Black-led project.
In covering Cardi and Meg’s song, many outlets fell into an oft-used trope of focusing on whiteness as the most important thing about the project. The headlines reflected how much importance is placed on a white woman appearing for a few seconds, versus the two Black women to whom the video belongs.
People spoke of “Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s Sexy ‘WAP’ Music Video Includes a Kylie Jenner Cameo,” while Entertainment Tonight declared that Kylie’s bit “IS EVERYTHING.” People even took the opportunity to segue into a listicle on all the times the Kardashians made “epic music video cameos.” Once again, the media was treating Black creators as the accessories in their own craft.
Since the release of the music video, a petition has been circulating calling for Jenner to be removed from the aesthetic. Cardi B then took to Twitter on Sunday to defend the cameo, although the tweets were eventually deleted.
“Why did I put Kylie on my music video?,” Cardi began. “She treated my sister and daughter so lovely at her kid bday party. Travis and Set are real close and Kris Jenner have giving me advice on certain things I ask for and her husband real cool with mine.”
“Normani is one of the best female artist that dances Like she dances her fuckin ass off!,” Cardi continued, speaking on Normani’s role in the video. “Why would she open a door? Please tell me how that would make sense? The best part of the song is the beat & hook it what makes you want to shake your ass.”
“Not everything is about race. Theres issues out here in the world that it is about race that I preach all the time about. This is not about fuckin race,” she concluded.
Cardi had previously spoken with Apple Music about the women featured in the “WAP” music video saying, “These are the girls that I personally like. That I like their music. That I really feel they are going to go mainstream.”
The focus the media placed on Kylie was not an exceptional lapse in judgment or journalistic faculty, it’s part of a much bigger problem of attaching value to whiteness and relegating Black people to the sidelines that can often be observed in media. People did this again with Zola, a Black-led film about a Black stripper, Aziah “Zola” Wells, featuring titular star Taylour Paige. People’s coverage was all about Paige’s white co-star Riley Keough.
Even in a movie primarily about the Black female lens and her authorship, the white sidekick was immediately more worth mentioning than the lead Black actress, the writer and director Janicza Bravo, or the countless other Black personalities attached to the film – including Ava DuVernay, Solange Knowles, and Jeremy O’Harris.
While the media outlet later apologized for its headline, we need more than that, we need a reset across the board. Unfortunately, the erasure of Black voices and talent extends beyond the entertainment industry. Whiteness has even been centered in coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement, with outlets amplifying the voices of white celebrities rather than Black activists who have been organizing for years.