The rapper Cardi B won’t be playing the Super Bowl halftime show with Maroon 5 today. She turned down an offer to perform, she told the Associated Press, to stand by football quarterback Colin Kaepernick and support his advocacy against racial injustice.
In a stance that has been praised by many and reviled by many others, Kaepernick’s protest involved “taking a knee” instead of standing during the national anthem played ahead of NFL games, and many others followed suit as his protest spread. Kaepernick has explained that he refused to ”show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Kaepernick left his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, becoming a free agent, and has gone unsigned despite his solid performance as a quarterback, and is currently in a lawsuit against the NFL, accused of colluding so that he didn’t get signed.
This is why Cardi B decided not to perform, she told the AP, despite having “mixed feelings” because of the substantial paycheck she had to turn down. “I got to sacrifice a lot of money to perform,” said the rapper. “But there’s a man who sacrificed his job for us, so we got to stand behind him.”
Cardi B did perform at two pre-game events on Friday and Saturday, but she said she’s not going to watch the Super Bowl. “I think I got so many events, I’m not gonna have [time],” she told Page Six.
Kaepernick has received the support of many prominent figures, including civil rights activist Angela Davis and basketball player LeBron James, who both recently wore shirts with the number 7, Kaepernick jersey number, and the hashtag #IMWITHKAP, part of a line that Nike produced in a campaign paying homage to the athlete’s protest.
Cardi B may not have the stature of Davis when it comes to activism, but she has built some substantial political capital lately, using her famously no-nonsense approach to discuss important social issues. In a GQ profile, she casually mentioned her admiration for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his creation of social security, and criticized Donald Trump’s suggestion that teachers should be armed to prevent mass shootings. And when she took the stage at the Global Citizen concert, she talked about global poverty and reminded the young crowd of the importance of voting.
Most recently, in video posted on Instagram, the rapper discussed the government shutdown, the fact that federal workers had been summoned back to work without pay, and addressed criticism that Barack Obama, too, had shut down the government (“yeah bitch, for healthcare! So your grandma can check her blood pressure!”). The video became so popular that it was turned into a song, and the comedian Stephen Colbert started a joking petition to get Cardi B to give the rebuttal to Trump’s State of the Union speech.