The Cardinal Divas were formed out of desire for a safe space for young Black women at the predominantly white University of Southern California. USC junior Princess Isis Lang told The Huffington Post that she had been dancing on majorette teams since middle school and that she wanted to bring some of those experiences into her college life.
“I didn’t see a space for Black women, so I created one,” Lang said. “Black people deserve to be seen any and everywhere. They also deserve to take their culture everywhere.”
However, when Lang posted a video clip of the team performing at the USC vs. Fresno football game last month—she was not prepared for the backlash.
The post quickly went viral with some people sharing their support and others blasted the group which featured dance rooted in HBCU culture. One of those criticisms was how The Cardinal Divas has gotten extensive media attention including an appearance on The Jennifer Hudson Show.
However, Lang told the Huffington Post, “Honestly, the backlash hasn’t affected me because I know they can’t take away my joy and my gratitude for what I and this team have done,” she said. “In terms of support, it’s just amazing to see how making one little group became this big thing!”
The Cardinal Divas are not the first predominately Black dance group at USC—the USC Fly Girls were founded in 1998, but hadn’t performed since 2008. The university is currently 5.8% Black according to the 2021-2022 school year. Members of the group say that the group has been a “truly amazing and a wonderful thing.”
Lang added, “Being a part of this team makes me feel invincible, like nobody can really tell me or my teammates anything. We really came in with force, power and dedication. Speaking on my behalf, being the founder, captain and president of the organization, it really just goes to prove Black women are amazing.”