Just as Rihanna’s eponymous girlness-as-image brushes against but never touches affective white girlishness, she functions just outside of the womanish labor so often determining blackness. Her girlness shapes her relationship to cash. Black girls, we get that the necessity of survival casts a pallor on #BBHMM’s gruff staccato delivery, but we are relieved that she never rightly mentions the labor. This is our treasured kind of liberation, concurrent with the struggle critics and listeners alike have strangely wholly ascribed to Kendrick’s mode of self-reflexivity.
There is an anxiety for the image of propertied black women in general, of black women recouping historical debts. The interlocking machines of mainstream pop, rap music, and America are very much contingent on their devaluation. Anxiety mounts when the kind of property is pure cash money. Black girls with money are financially independent and visually, confrontationally untethered to men or to goods. It’s filtered through varying inflections of allegedly bygone puritanism: The black girl flaunting money is ratchet, the black girl with money bankrolled her way there through sex, therefore the black girl with money does not properly own it. Since the racist and the sexist are also by definition prudes, this black girl of their fantasy, no matter how tall her money, can never signify wealth, a sort of class ascendance that has as much to do with politesse in gender roles as it does one’s stock profile.