Don’t call it a comeback! The University of Southern California’s new majorette team, the Cardinal Divas of Southern California, is just getting started, and they’re making quite an appearance, granting an exclusive chat and performance to the “Jennifer Hudson Show” just weeks after backlash.
When the viral reckoning that USC had adopted its first-ever majorette team materialized, and we learned its creator was a Black woman, Twitter cried gatekeeping.
It started with a tweet where the team’s founder, 20-year-old Princess Isis Lang, professed her joy and gratitude for having the gall to historically establish a dance troupe at an predominantly-white institution. She penned the open statement shortly after the team’s successful first performance at Fresno State, on September 18, 2022, which garnered 3.1 million views, nearly 14 thousand retweets, over 100k likes, and more than 1500 comments.
Majorettes are sacredly regarded as an integral part of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities experience, and many believe they should solely exist as such. There was a great divide among Black Twitter, with some divvying out their disdain for Lang’s steadfastness to make change, and others supporting her innovation.
In an interview with Annenberg Media, Lang said her hope was to create space for Black students attending the PWI.
She said, “I am doing this for the community, and I’m doing this to be able to bring our Black magic on an even greater scale.” Lang went on to share her love, respect, and appreciation for HBCU students, along with her stance on people policing how Black students attending PWIs should show up in white spaces.
The theater major continued, “Dance is our culture, and we have the right to be able to share our culture and be able to be proud of our culture in all aspects and in all areas.”
During this clip of Jennifer Hudson’s sit-down with the Cardinal Divas of SC, they discussed why the team’s presence is controversial. The team chalks the hate to them not attending HBCUs and says they are just expressing and sharing Black art, but the comments paint a different narrative.
Many comments depict that the true confusion lies in the media’s lack of attention for majorettes that have existed on HBCU Campuses for decades.
Throughout this ordeal, Lang and her peers’ choice to attend a PWI was challenged. However, considering economic disparities between the 6.5 percent of Black people that occupy California and everyone else, attending an HBCU may not be a choice at all.
California has one medical-science-focused HBCU, Charles R. Drew University, and the next nearest HBCU is Paul Quinn College in Texas, which is 1,443.1 miles away from Los Angeles. For a plethora of reasons, Black students, particularly those native to Los Angeles, CA, do not attend HBCUs, and instead attend public colleges. Whether financial or personal reasons, choice is debatable, and is something to consider when analyzing how and where threads of Black culture are distributed.