Friday, July 07, 2006
Is "Bourgie" a Naughty Word?
"Don't call me bourgie," the Black man said.
"But you are bourgie," I replied.
"Why," he asked, sounding hurt?
And I ticked off the parts of his life that clearly defined him as bourgie.
"You lounge around in Yves St. Laurent button-down shirts. You and your wife drive matching Mercedes. You play golf. You vacation in Europe. Often."
"But this is not an indictment against your character. These are just facts. And the fact is that you belong to an economic class that allows you to enjoy some of the finer things in life. What's more, you choose to enjoy these things and NOT, say a pimped out Hummer, clothes designed by an aging rapper, nor a trip to a Caribbean island with all your homies."
So the man thinks about this and says. "Okay. Call me bourgie then."
Ever since Black people set foot on this land we call America, there have been divisions among us. Free men vs. Slaves. House slaves vs Field slaves, The talented 10th vs. The bootstrap pullers, Good hair vs. Bad hair, Coloreds vs Negroes, Negroes vs Blacks, Blacks vs. African Americans, and Bourgie Black people vs Those who are keeping it REAL. But for some strange reason, we as a people and America as a whole, want to pretend that we are a monolithic, all for one and one for all community. When Asians talk about this, we get it. Chinese are different from Koreans. Japanese aren't the same as Thai. So don't lump all Asians together. But Black folks. We're all supposed to fit under the same rubric of hip-hop loving, Big Mama rearing, soul food eating, ghetto living, one step away from poverty, Democrat voting, ebonics talking, good dancing, gospel singing peoples.
For those of us who don't fit that mold, we question our identity. And other people question our loyalty by labeling us with terms like bourgie and Oreo. And while in my mind Oreo is a naughty word because it implies one is unhappy being Black and would rather be White, Bourgie is simply a class term defining a person's economic status. Oh and it's a term only used to describe Black people to distinguish them from "Regular" black folks. Calling White people bourgie would really just be redundant. When White people Aren't bourgie, then they get downgraded to trailer trash. It's a funny thing.
So the point of all this is simply to say that Black people should stop denying their bourgie identity. If it's who you are it's who you are. There is no shame in prosperity nor is there any reason to feel "less black" because you choose to spend your hard-earned money on things that Black people aren't supposed to understand, like opera and fine art. Denying your bourginess implies that there is only one way to Be Black (see aforementioned description) and that's just erroneous thinking. Look back through the history of our people in this country and there have always been bourgie black folks keeping it REAL. W.E.B. Dubois? Bourgie. Frederick Douglass? Bourgie. Madam C.J. Walker? Major Bourgie. If some of us can embrace the N-word until it is full of love and support, then certainly we can work with the B-word.
Think about it.