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Posted under: Opinion Culture

It’s Less About The Birkin Bags And More So People's Issue With Certain Black Women Flexing Their Wealth

Only when sported by Black women would someone claim the value of an accessory has depreciated.

Rapper Saweetie caused a stir earlier this month when she boldly proclaimed that one should tell their partners to keep it pushing if they aren’t purchasing them Birkin bags or paying their bills.

While many folks, namely men who are likely not even in the same tax bracket of the "Tap In" rapper, had something to say, social media’s sexism and racism quickly jumped out. One critic audaciously suggested that Black women rappers such as Cardi B and the City Girls are not only depreciating the value of the historic luxury item but sporting faux ones as well.

“Sorry idc if this comes off as anti black but it is what it is. Birkins have literally lost their value. The city girls and Cardi have got y’all convinced that these birkin bags are easy to get," an Instagram user by the name of @CelestialThug wrote. "There’’s a certain number of Birkin’s that are made per year."

“There are BILLIONAIRES who are spending months/years on a waiting list just to get one. These bags are supposed to be exclusive, and you’re supposed to be big in the fashion world and have relationships with these people to get one: that’s why rihanna has a birkin bag that was only made twice, with Beyoncé having the other one,” the user continued.

“A little rap duo from Miami who can’t even land a vogue cover or a number #1 do not have authentic birkin bags sorry."

Cardi B clapped back at the user, stating that these accusations of wearing knockoff Birkins aren’t thrown at their white celebrity counterparts and that hip-hop actually adds value to designer brands.

“Why is it that y’all asking female rappers if they can get a bag from the Hermès store,” the musician asked. “Y’all don’t do this to these white celebrities. Why is it that y’all gotta be asking us," Cardi B continued.

The rapper also went on to state that after a mere mention of Christian Louboutin shoes in "Bodak Yellow," sales of the shoes "went up by 1000%+."

While that specific number hasn't yet been verified, Cardi B was responsible for a $4.5 million increase in sales of Louboutin shoes after their shoutout in her 2017 hit song according to Billboard, and internet searches for the shoes went up 217 percent. Additionally, in 2017, a Nielsen report found that Black women are major trendsetters with an impact on American culture so colossal, that they're leading Black spending power towards $1.5 trillion by next year. Accusing a Black woman of depreciating an item by way of association with it is not only a reach, it's a blatant falsity. 

While on the surface level, suggesting these women, despite their wealth, are sporting bootlegged items could seem like trivial celeb chatter. But these accusations are riddled with misogynoir. The notions are misguided attempts to camouflage anti-Black women rhetoric by suggesting that they are undeserving of enjoying luxury even at the expense of their own labor. Capitalism has taught us to value profits over people but when those same people who have historically been trampled on rise up, all of a sudden there's a problem.

This world sorely devalues Black women to the point of expressing anger when they refuse to fall in line within the narrow constraints of mediocrity that their white counterparts so eloquently fit into. The expectation that Black women should simply enjoy the scraps that society tries to feed them is almost as ludicrous as thinking they can’t afford to purchase their own Birkin bags.

Cardi B’s debut album went on to become the eighth best-selling album of 2019 by a female artist and it was the longest-charting debut album to be released by a female rapper. The City Girls are champions of sexual liberation by way of anthems encouraging women to utilize their God-given assets to claim power and reverse societal arrangements that favor men and subordinate women.

Cardi B and the City Girls have been some of our greatest financial advisors in the past few years so any claim that asserts that they can’t afford a Birkin is comical at best. It’s alarming for one to even believe that they and other female rappers would sport fake bags when the validity of the jewelry worn by male rappers is never addressed. It’s one thing to suggest that their bags are fake but to claim that they’re depreciating the value is downright criminal and steeped in the throes of misogynoir.

via GIPHY

Since the beginning of time, it’s been proven that Black women have been the de facto leaders in spearheading the blueprint of fashion and style. Along with that, we’ve seen brands skyrocket because of Black women’s influence. When Mary J. Blige and Lil Kim, two hip-hop heavyweights, collaborated with M.A.C. Cosmetics to raise money for people afflicted with HIV and AIDS, they raised $4 million, which was the most M.A.C. had ever raised in a year’s span.

Any claim that suggests the depreciation in value on items worn by Black women is simply fallacious and rooted in anti-Black rhetoric. This attempt to humble Black women because they don’t live down to the world’s expectations must stop.

via GIPHY

Last year, quite a few folks stood in solidarity with Jermaine Dupri when he said that women rappers were “strippers rapping.” When Moesha was released on Netflix, you wrote think pieces on why the teenage fictional character was toxic. When Kamala Harris was announced as Joe Biden's Vice Presidential pick, her Blackness and qualifications were attacked. Now, by some standards, Cardi B and her Black women colleagues in hip-hop are cheapening the value of Birkin bags while simultaneously sporting fake ones.

How often do we see Kim Kardashian being peppered with questions when she wears a Birkin? When is the last time that we bore witness to Paris Hilton, hotel heiress and racist, being accused of depreciating the value of Birkins? Never. Society’s fascination with trying to humble Black women is unfortunately nothing new and has deep ties with the fabric of this country.

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A Detroit native, Kenneth 'Kenny' Williams Jr. is a self-described cultural critic and visual storyteller. While at Michigan State University, Kenneth received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and went on to obtain his Master of Arts degree in Public Relations. Kenneth's passions include pop culture, writing, and using his skill sets to actively and positively promote the narratives of Black people and Black culture. Any questions? Reach out at kenny.williams@blavity.com. Follow me on Instagram @kennyonce