Renowned American rapper Cardi B released an apology on November 12 after being called out on cultural appropriation and disrespecting Hindusim in a magazine cover shoot she did for Footwear News.

The WAP rapper was accused of hurting the sentiments of the followers of goddess Durga. In Hinduism, the goddess Durga is perceived as the war goddess. She defines protection, strength and possesses several arms which is one of the details quite evident in the shoot that got Cardi B in trouble.

Cardi B did the photo shoot as an announcement of her latest Reebok range of shoes, all set to launch on November 13.

[Image Description: Cardi B posing like goddess Durga for Reebok] via Footwear News
In the cover, the Grammy winner is holding a pair of bright red sneakers where she can be seen maneuvering her arms into eight different positions, much like the goddess Durga. She has stretched out her arms in different directions to be able to form a cross over her head, close to the famous position of the Hindu goddess.

Following the backlash, Cardi B took to her Instagram stories to issue an apology by stating that she did not mean to hurt anyone’s sentiments or target a particular religion.

During her apology video, Cardi B said, ”When I did the shoot, the creator told me you are going to represent strength, femininity, liberation and that’s something I love and I’m all about it. And I thought it was dope. If people think I’m offending their culture or their religion, I want to say it was not my intent. I do not like offending anyone’s religion. I wouldn’t like it if someone did it to my religion.”

In the controversial cover shoot, Cardi B was supposed to portray the aesthetics of the goddess Durga and pay homage to the religious figure. Despite her good intentions, the star offended many followers of Hinduism.

While promising to do more research in the future, the music sensation said, “Causing offence was not my intent.”

The 28 year old singer went on to say, “If people think I offended their culture or religion I want to say I’m sorry – that was not my intent. I would not want anyone to disrespect my religion, with people dressed as the Virgin Mary or Jesus, as long as they do it in a beautiful and graceful way.”

Followers of the faith were quick to bring into the music star’s attention that wearing a shoe near idols or gods when coming into the Temple is considered disrespectful as in the case of many other religions, when visiting the place of worship.

One Twitter user specifically started a thread condemning the shoot and explaining everything that hints at cultural appropriation in the cover image.

“What she is doing is cultural appropriation and there is no one that can tell me otherwise. The fact that Cardi thinks that she compares to or even has any remote similarity to our goddess makes me sick,” he wrote.

I feel celebrities have to be more sensitive when choosing to discuss topics such as religion. In this case, Cardi B should have looked up goddess Durga and researched a bit before choosing to portray the fearless goddess through a shoe advertisement, ultimately hurting the sentiments of her followers from the Hindu community.

I also do believe that all of us learn from our mistakes and people deserve another chance if they genuinely take responsibility for the unintentional harm that their actions might have caused another human being. In the case in point, Cardi B should also be given a chance to learn from this photoshoot and be more careful in the future as she has promised to.

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Haddiqua Siddiqui

By Haddiqua Siddiqui

Editorial Fellow