Cardi B: the name alone evokes memories of thrilling live performances, fearless lyrics, and a humorous and provocative social media presence. However, beneath the Grammy-winning rapper and “Bodak Yellow” queen is Cardi B, the Afro-Latina, woman whose background is as deep and nuanced as her songs. So what is Cardi B’s ethnicity? It’s a question that sparks debate, as her music and background weave together a tapestry of cultures. Dive deeper and discover the rich heritage that makes Cardi B who she is.

What Is Cardi B’s Ethnicity?

Cardi B Ethnicity
Pictured: Cardi B at a show
Matt Winkelmeyer/MG22/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

Cardi B’s journey with identity hasn’t always been smooth. Some have questioned whether she can identify as both black and Latina, a misconception that highlights the complexities of race and ethnicity. Cardi B, though, has never shied away from setting the record straight. She’s a black woman who embraces her Latina heritage—a powerful example of someone who defies labels and celebrates her multifaceted background.

Where Did Cardi B Grow Up?

Cardi B was born Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar in the melting pot of New York City. Her mother brought Spanish and African characteristics to her Trinidadian heritage, while her father gave her Dominican roots. Her combination puts her squarely in the frame of the thriving Afro-Latino community, a population with a rich cultural heritage spanning the Amazon rainforest and a history as deep as the Caribbean Sea.

This is when the exciting part starts. “Latino” is commonly misinterpreted as denoting race since it evokes images of mariachi music and sandy beaches. On the other hand, Latino/Latina refers to language and ethnicity and includes people of different racial backgrounds. Specifically, Black people with a Latin American heritage identify as Afro-Latinos. The horrific realities of the slave trade, which transported Africans to the Caribbean and Latin America, had a profound impact on their history.

What Are Cardi B’s Parents?

Clara Almánzar, Cardi B’s mother, is originally from Trinidad and Tobago, an island nation in the Caribbean with a rich cultural heritage. Her lineage combines Spanish and African elements, making her an Afro-Latino.

Part of Cardi B’s ethnicity and cultural background is also her father, who is from the Dominican Republic. Despite receiving less media attention than her mother from Trinidad, Cardi B’s father surely had a big impact on her identity and upbringing. Nestled in the Caribbean, next to Haiti, the Dominican Republic is renowned for its rich history, lively culture, and multicultural populace. The Dominican Republic has its blend of customs, music, and food, influenced by African, European, and indigenous Taíno civilizations.

Due to her father’s Dominican heritage, Cardi B was raised with a diverse cultural background that included exposure to the flavors of Dominican food, the warmth of Dominican hospitality, and the rhythms of merengue and bachata. A family steeped in Dominican customs would have given Cardi B a strong sense of cultural appreciation and a link to the larger Afro-Latinx society.

Embracing Her Afro-Latina Identity

(Photo by Lionel Hahn/Getty Images)

Cardi B hasn’t held back when it comes to embracing her Afro-Latino heritage. She has confronted misunderstandings regarding her race and ethnicity head-on, dispelling the myth that Latinos cannot be Black. However, her influence goes beyond backlash on social media. By creating a haircare brand, especially for Afro-Latina hair types, she has also utilized her position to promote the beauty of this hair type. Using her influence, Cardi B celebrated the distinctive textures and styles of Afro-Latina hair while developing items that appeal to a market that was previously untapped.

Not to mention the music! The music of Cardi B is a prime illustration of how her background influences her work. Her music creates a sound bridge across civilizations by skillfully fusing American hip-hop with Latin beats. It serves as a reminder to everyone that Afro-Latinos have long been a part of the hip-hop landscape while introducing non-Latino audiences to the depth of Latin music.

Cardi B’s impact cannot be disputed. She has fought against colorism in Latino communities, given Afro-Latino perspectives a forum, and started significant discussions about representation and race. Her narrative, though, is only one part of the continuing tale of Afro-Latino identity. There is still more to be done.

Why Is This Important?

There are several reasons why Cardi B’s acceptance of her Afro-Latina identity is important. First of all, it refutes the limited understanding of Latino identity. It also gives Afro-Latinos the confidence to assert their legitimate place in the larger Latino community, where colorism can be pervasive. Furthermore, it gives young Afro-Latinos hope to witness a successful and powerful individual who resembles them.