This week rapper and full-time hood philosopher, Plies, took to his Instagram dropping a priceless gem. In a 2-minute video he implored white people, women in particular, to stop asking Black women in upscale places what the occasion is for their presence. And the internet couldn’t have been more happy. To quote the retweet I found, “this is about to have Black women in a chokehold.” Dear reader, he’s right. While some may find its declaration unnecessary, Plies’ overture is precisely the reason it’s needed. It inspired me to drop some gems of my own on the subject because this topic is one near and dear to my heart. I think it’s about time people understood why Black women experiencing luxury is about much more than just buying designer.
We’ve seen tweets, instagram comments, and Pinterest pins about Black women wearing any and every luxury brand as they sip champagne looking like fine wine. Personally I love it, it speaks to my desire of having everything this world has to offer and then some. For those who don’t understand that or the sudden about face from Black women toward exquisite living, consider this your guide.
After generations of suffering from being overworked and underpaid for the first time the world’s per-view finally seeing Black women enjoying the fruits of their labor. It’s my thought that this is uncomfortable for so many people because it’s a change from the status quo. Typically presented as cost conscious, ghetto, and or unrefined; the expectation for and of Black women has been that they can’t afford or don’t deserve the finer things in life.
Did you cringe as you read that? Yeah, probably because you realize that it’s true.
Plies said a lot but “ballin is the occasion,” was the best part…
Listen put “Ballin is the m’fing occasion,” on a t-shirt! If I had a quarter for every time I was out during the day getting a mani/pedi, having lunch, or shopping and was asked by a stranger if I had the day off? I’d be a millionaire. The expectation people have about Black women is that we aren’t entitled to spend our time as we wish. And where do we think that derives from? I’ll give you one guess. *cue Jeopardy music* If seen out and about during what have been deemed as working hours then we must be off the clock because it isn’t possibly our lifestyle. Like Plies said, that’s offensive.
Black Women Have Earned It
The suggestion and insinuation that we haven’t the right or the time to enjoy the luxuries of life says a lot about our culture. Firstly understand that Black women of this generation are some of the most highly educated and entrepreneurial individuals living. In fact according to the Harvard Business Review, Black women are more likely to start a business than white men. Meaning times have changed, careers have shifted, and moreover we aren’t doing what we used to.
My great-grandmother who grew up on a plantation and worked as a domestic made it clear to us that education was very important to her. We were told time and time again to go to school because our intelligence would take us far in life. Thankfully I heeded her advice and it has continued to pay dividends. If anyone can or deserves to participate in the lavish parts of life – it’s us. We’ve earned it. Having given ourselves in the most vital and violent ways since our arrival in this country it’s safe to say it is our time.
outfit details: boots – Prada // knit dress – Zara \\ bag – vintage Chanel // sunnies – Prive Revaux \\ lip – NARS
We’re Not Just Made To Work
Take a look through the hashtag #BlackWomenInLuxury and you’ll find loads of aspirational content and women sharing how they are incorporating luxury into their lives. There are people who say that it is unnecessary, that the movement isn’t empowering but rather braggadocios and peak attention seeking. What’s missing from these arguments is the acknowledgement of what Black women and men have been through. Around the world and in America in particular.
When slavery was outlawed in 1865 it didn’t absolve Black people from the weight of servitude. In fact it only made laws ensuring that we continued to toil and suffer while doing so, more prominent. Consider this quote from the Economic Policy Institute, “Since the era of slavery, the dominant view of black women has been that they should be workers, a view that contributed to their devaluation as mothers with caregiving needs at home. African-American women’s unique labor market history and current occupational status reflects these beliefs and practices.” With that knowledge is it a wonder that when Black women are seen as doing something other than working or serving, people are confused?
I think about a not so distant past when ads, op-eds, and articles were written to force Black women back in the workplace while other women were told that working was for men. White women, for whom the role of homemaker and mother was enough, were viewed as the only people who deserved to care for their families. Yet in lieu of doing it themselves they hired other women to fulfill those needs. While they lunched with neighbors, shopped, and self-cared themselves to perfection. Take a look at another startling statistic according to the EPI, “Compared with other women in the United States, black women have always had the highest levels of labor market participation regardless of age, marital status, or presence of children at home.” So while we are often the mascot for lazy, welfare queens it is us who are working tirelessly for an economy that doesn’t aim to serve us.
This current generation of Black women is now pushing back against that societal norm. No longer are we taking whatever we are offered and nothing more. Instead we are creating wealth in a myriad of ways and living the life that has long been touted as being only for white people. Whether that’s going to brunch on Sundays popping endless bottles, enjoying splurge worthy vacations at the drop of a dime, or very simply loving life. We don’t need to have a reason. The reason is because we can and we want to.
Plenty working people have some discretionary income. Why is it, by and large, only Black people are questioned about how they spend theirs? Sure I love a great bag and stylish shoe as much as the next girl but what I love more – is opportunity. Far beyond a stocked accessory closet my most luxurious possession is freedom. Freedom to spend my time as I wish. Or buy what I want and when. To walk into restaurants, stores, and hotels where I am the person being served and catered to. Where are the inquiries to white people when they sit having a midday cocktail at 1pm? When other clients and customers can’t stomach my presence it’s because the propaganda spoon fed to them about who we should be and where we belong is rising to the top.
No It’s Not Just About Looking Good, But We Got That Too.
It feels minimizing to put the value of Black women in luxury solely on fashion. The reality is that luxury can apply to a variety of things. For most Black women the luxury of being able to do what they want and how, far exceeds their desire for the latest and greatest threads. However let’s go ahead and focus on the fashion piece. Why is that an issue? Once again the notion that high-end clothing should only be worn by a certain type of person aims to leave Black women out of the fold. Which is compelling considering that most trends are started and set by Black women in the first place. Thus making it clear that it is okay to take from us but it isn’t acceptable for us to participate in the actualization of the inspiration.
You can probably guess that we’ve grown weary of being left out. It’s over for us being told that we can’t have the best things in life. The gatekeeping of rich, expensive lifestyles isn’t being accepted anymore. A wise young sage once said, “I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it.” And she was most definitely speaking for me. So listen up world, stop being confused and befuddled at the presence of Black women in high places. We’re not dining at Michelin starred restaurants just because it’s someone’s birthday. We don’t have to save up for the moments. It might be Tuesday on a random day in November but guess what we’re getting everything we want because we deserve to. And that’s the Black ass bottom line.
What are your thoughts? What does luxury mean to you? Drop them in the comments, let’s talk about it!