The Politics of Ratchetry

Cam Wade
3 min readJan 23


Rapper Ice Spice sitting on with her shoes on the counter.
Ice Spice

“Bitches not takin shit from be, but notes

“Wanna be me so she do my emotes

“And my name in her mouth, so I bet she gon choke(bitch)

“To her man, I’m the girl of his dreams”

–Ice Spice

Our queen ate with these lyrics from new EP “Like..?”

The cockiness in her flow

The unabashed desire to be her

To be ratchet

My aspiring-middle class family hates ratchetry. They always lit my ass up when I was younger about not listening to Black music, and when I finally did, tmy expressions of blackness were deemed inappropriate.

Too ghetto

Too loud

Too feminine

Or even too masculine at times

I was never winning, but honestly I didn’t want to. This was my version of blackness. For all the uproar that they made about figures like MLK and Obama, they were silent or actively hostile towards that form of racialized/gendered performance of ratchery.

Cardi B

Meg Thee Stallion

21 Savage

These were the homies. Or more like the homies for me. They were the homies because they know that when anti-blackness, white supremacy, and capitalism come together, the only response is buck the fuck up and fight back.

So, enter “trap feminism.”

Originally coined by Black feminist scholar Sesalie Bowen in her excellent book Bad Fat Black Girl:Notes From a Trap Feminist, Bowen articulates trap feminism as something that has always been around her.

Black feminist scholar Sesalie Bowens standing behind a brown desert with a brown/pink dress to match
Sesali Bowen, taken from her own Instagram.

“It’s what I learned through fistfits, sex work, queerness, and fatness,” Bowen waxes poectically in the introduction. Trap feminism acts as form, content, and strategy for Black people, but especially Black femmes, gays, and any others that choose to particpate in a structural critique against cis-hetereopatriacrhy.

Ratchetry is survival strategy against white supremacy, anti-blackness, patriarchy and cis-normativity.

You can easily look to Glorilla and Cardi B’s performance of Black gender in their music video for “Tomorrow 2”.

Flashy cars, twerking with the girlies/homies, and smoking–these are some of the first shots that introduce us to a bit of Glorilla’s world.

“Sliding with my gang and them,

Look at them like sis-sters”

Since its inception in the streets of Atlanta, trap has been about giving back the communities that you call home. Even if they are not her biological sisters, GloRilla’s bold sound takes a stand for the ratchetry that her and her girls get up to. Throughout the music video, she and her squad are seen running around the streets of New York getting up to all sorts of mischief. They’re daring to be themselves in a world that always tries to wrangle the freedom of Black people, but especially Black femmes.

Screenshot of GloRilla and Cardi B for the music video for “Tommorow 2”.
Screenshot taken from the “Tommorow 2” music video.

As the video goes on with the lively bass and layering of Black voices via the reverb and echoes, Glorilla dials up none other than then queen herself, Cardi B. Cardi takes no prisoners with lines like

“She throwing shots; that’s how I know got her triggered

I don’t speak dog, ho (woof), I don’t care what no bitch say (no)

I stay on her mind, I got condos in that bitch head (ah)”

Part of being a trap feminist is in engaging in militant self and collective defense, whether that be by spitting diss tracks at your opps or pulling up to defend your queer/trans siblings from interpersonal and structural violence. Trap feminism at its core about grounding yourself within communities of care; it’s about riding for your bitches, but also keeping them accountable.

What I love about being a trap feminist is that we have a rich and collective history to draw from. So, count me and the homies in. Because our ratchetry is survival. It’s a new form of world-making that lies just below the surface.



Cam Wade

they/them//black feminist//Gen-Z scholar💫