Rapper Cardi B is apologizing to the Hindu community for unintentionally being “disrespectful” for depicting the Hindu goddess Durga on the cover of Footwear News.
On the cover, the “WAP” rapper holds a sneaker from her upcoming collaboration with Reebok as eight arms stretch out around her. The shoot was intended to pay homage to the principal Hindu goddess of war, strength and protection, but it sparked backlash.
“I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful,” she said on Instagram Wednesday. “Maybe I should’ve done my research. And I’m sorry I can’t change the past but I’m gonna do more research for the future.”
Footwear News shared the controversial images on Instagram earlier this week, writing, “Like Durga, Cardi B is a dominant female voice at a critical time.” The post has since been deleted.
Fans accused Cardi B of cultural appropriation for her depiction of Durga. Others said that it was additionally inappropriate to use her likeness for a shoe advertisement since worshippers remove their shoes before entering Hindu temples.
“My religion is not yours to appropriate or even use as a promoting tool for something like shoes…its insulting the Goddess Durga,” tweeted @rayofsun28 Tuesday. “We even remove our shoes before praying seriously not done #CardiB I hope u apologise.”
User @_mixerswift_ added: “Cardi b did not pay ‘homage’ to the Hindu goddess Durga by holding a shoe in her hand, this is plain disrespect and in no way cultural appreciation.”
Others agreed. “THIS. IS. NOT. HOMAGE. IT’S. DISRESPECT,” tweeted @wotermelonsugrx, adding, “Wearing a shoe in a temple is prohibited.”
Cardi B explained on her Instagram Story that she was caught off-guard by social media backlash because she was unaware of the religious significance of Durga.
“When I did the Reebok shoot, the creative (team) was telling me, ‘You’re gonna represent a goddess,’ that she represents strength, femininity and liberation,” she said. “That’s something that I love and I’m all about and I thought it was dope.”
Cardi B added, “But if people, I’m offending their culture or their religion, I want to say I’m sorry, that was not my intent.”