Why everyone is debating anti-Blackness, Cardi B and Birkin bags

Moya Lothian McLean
Tuesday 27 October 2020 07:00
news
(Instagram/cardib/saweetie)

2020 has been the year of debating Birkin bags.

But up until now, the conversation hasn’t involved A List celebrities.

Now though, the great Birkin debate has really popped off – and it’s all thanks to a slew of stars from the rap world including Cardi B, Saweetie and their partners.

The conversation has several tangents to it, some of them conflicting so read on for the breakdown of exactly why Birkin bags are breaking the internet.

How did the Birkin bag debate begin?

It’s not new, but the latest chapter of the Birkin bag debate kicked off over the weekend.

Two things acted as a catalyst; one was a viral tweet that accused certain celebrities, with Cardi B named as one, as causing Birkins to ‘lose their value’.

The tweet showed an image of an Instagram post, discussing the luxury item.

“Idc if this comes off anti-Black but it is what it is,” read the beginning of the caption, posted under the account handle @celestialthug.

They continued:

The City Girls [a rap duo] and Cardi have got y’all convinced that these Birkin bags are easy to get. There’s a certain number of Birkins that are made per year. There are BILLIONAIRES who are pending 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. 

A little rap duo from Miami who can’t even land a Vogue cover or a number one do not have authentic Birkin bags, sorry. 

Ouch.

The second event that sparked Birkin-discourse was rapper Saweetie and her boyfriend, Quavo – bandmate of Cardi B’s husband, Offset – who posted a video on Instagram where Saweetie said that if a man can’t buy his partner Birkins, they should dump him.

What happened next?

Essentially, two different debates opened up in parallel around the Birkin bag.

The first saw people debating whether the ‘value’ of Birkin bags really had been depreciated by it becoming a more mainstream cultural status symbol.

Many thought that the original post was anti-Black, as it cited three Black women as examples of owners who were causing the brand value to decrease.

It was seen as an egregious example of “gatekeeping”.

And sparked some pretty strong pushback.

The second part of the Birkin discourse saw people debating whether men should be expected to fund luxury lifestyles for their partners.

Opinion was pretty split.

Some said Saweetie’s expectation that men should foot the bills was “trash”.

Others said she was using Birkins as a metaphor for pairing up with someone on the same financial level.

Saweetie seemed unbothered; she posted a spoof Harry Potter skit on Instagram, replacing the Sorting Hat with different types of Birkins.

The tangled threads of both debates led to ‘Birkin’ becoming a Twitter trending topic, where it caught the eye of Cardi B.

What has Cardi B said?

Cardi B has responded to the viral tweet, mentioning her as someone decreasing the ‘value’ of luxury items like Birkins.

First she and husband Offset went on a shopping spree, with the Migos rapper posting a receipt showing that he’d purchased his wife four Birkin bags for $128,000.

In the caption accompanying the image, Offset wrote;

Stop letting people on the internet tell ya’ll who can get a Birkin at the store, and how many Birkins you can get. 

Black people having access to luxury shouldn’t be a debate… by the way hip hop starts the trends !

Cardi also uploaded a three minute video in which she addressed the issue.

“Why is it that y’all are asking female rappers if they can get an Hermès bag from the Hermès store?” she asked, continuing:

Y’all don’t do this to these white celebrities, so why is it that you gotta be asking us, like what the f**k?” 

Why when a Black girl or a Hispanic girl has a bag, y’all have to question whether ‘oh is it fake?’ or ‘she’s a scammer’, or ‘she’s f**king (someone) for it’ Actually, there’s a lot of boss ass b***hes out here.

She also noted that “When brands get mentioned in hip hop, [their value] goes up,” and cited mentions of Christian Louboutin and Balenciaga in her own music, which led to increases in sales for the brand (and lucrative contracts for Cardi herself).

What are people saying now?

Following Cardi’s intervention, the debate has simmered on without much resolution.

There is one question routinely popping up though – why the rest of us care?

If we can’t afford Birkins… should we be expending the energy caring about them? Maybe.

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