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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Bougie 'Aint So Bad...

I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. I have since moved out of state, and when people learn that I'm from Brooklyn, they often make assumptions about who I am. They associate personality traits like boldness, rudeness, a feeling of being "better than" others, or even attributing my fashion sense to the city and state where I was born and raised. (The last one is not so bad.)

I grew up in Sheepshead Bay. Sheepshead Bay, the actual bay and surrounding neighborhood, are named after the sheepshead fish that can be found in the waters of the local bay. It is also historically a predominantly white neighborhood. 

I grew up in a two parent household with my "original parents", in a home that they owned, with 2 sisters, a cat, and a dog. As I moved through life, concepts like racism, classism, stereotypes, etc., began to reveal themselves to me. And because I was raised in Sheepshead Bay and not Bed Stuy, Brownsville, Coney Island, or other areas where there is a high concentration of Black people, and also referred to as "the 'hood", I was labeled "bougie."For those who may not know, bougie is a slang word derived from the word bourgeoisie, that refers to the middle class, and can also be associated with people who have material values and pretentious attitudes. 

Some of my friends used to call me bougie and wondered if I ate things like franks and beans and referred to my family as "The Cosbys." I remembered an incident when I was dating a guy, and he told me that I'm not "around the way" enough. (See LL Cool J's "Around the Way Girl" for reference.) There was a part of me that would feel slightly insulted by the jokes and references, but it didn't stop me from being who I was.

Fast forward to today, "bougie" seems to be aspirational. I was so excited when I learned about VSB (Very Smart Brothas) I felt like I found my people :-) They're smart, culturally aware, and seem to have an appreciation for black bougieness. They even have t-shirts and a line of products dedicated to "that life."  There's also a popular hip hop song called "Bad and Boujee by Migos. (Warning: explicit lyrics) So its seem like the tide has turned.

We are all shaped by our upbringing, levels of exposure, and the neighborhoods we grew up in. So if people consider me to be bougie, I'll take it, because bougie 'aint so bad. HoweverI recently acquired the following tee from Tees In the Trap, and can't wait to wear it. We'll see how long "bougieness" remains fashionable. 

Photo credit: Tees in the Trap

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Be Fearless. Stay Fashionable. Have Fun!