Sold-out blankets that retail at $250 each. A $30,000 minimum fee for guest appearances. Piano lessons from a Grammy Award-winning producer. A reality show in pre-production. 8.8 million Instagram subscribers. Who needs a college degree when you can be on track to become a 15-year-old millionaire just by appropriating the stereotype of a “ghetto chick” on a controversial episode of Dr. Phil?
Danielle Bregoli, also known as the “Cash Me Ousside How Bow Dah” girl, skyrocketed to viral fame and fortune last September after appearing on Dr. Phil as a reckless, 13-year-old guest. Her foul language, weird accent from “the streets,” and obnoxious antics have taken the Internet by storm. Her iconic catchphrase can be heard on nearly every part of the globe. Even on Albany Road.
Bregoli is not the originator of her outrageous persona. Her head rolling, lip smacking, hair-flipping ways have been executed by thousands of Black women before Bregoli’s appearance on Dr. Phil. These behaviors emerged out of Black urban culture and for the most part are demonized by mainstream media whenever Black women engage in them. For many Black girls, the street accent and ghetto behavior that Bregoli uses as a costume to hyperbolize her persona is their authentic reality, and for them, it wasn’t by choice. Yet, she is the one that social media has chosen to elevate to a viral celebrity status while the originators of her antics are left in the dust and rarely achieve a fraction of the fame that Bregoli has managed to obtain. Instead, they are ridiculed and labeled as “ratchet” menaces to society while being forced to watch people from other races who engage in the same manner be celebrated. Dozens of “out of control” Black teenagers that have appeared on television talk shows similar to Dr. Phil and engaged in behavior and speech similar to Bregoli’s have yet to be given the opportunity to own their own clothing lines and appear in a music video with Kodak Black.
Bregoli’s mother called Dr. Phil as a desperate attempt to reform her White daughter’s criminal behavior as well as correct her “street” accent. Yet, an urban Black girl speaking in Ebonics (African-American Vernacular English) and smacking her lips would rarely cause enough alarm for her mother to beg Dr. Phil for help. That’s because this behavior and language is a key aspect of Black urban culture that is foreign to and unacceptable in the White dominant society.
Now, I am not insinuating that all Black people inherently engage in Danielle Bregoli’s “ghetto” and “ratchet” behavior and speech. Nor am I suggesting that Bregoli is only supposed to behave and speak in a pristine manner solely because she is White. But her rise to fame is not an example of cultural exchange nor can it be attributed to teenage quirks. The “Cash Me Ousside” phenomena should remind all of us that there is a thin line between appreciation and appropriation. Just as students are expected to cite their sources in an essay in order to give credit to the originators of their ideas, so should the media when choosing who should be labeled as the next outrageous viral celebrity.