bourgie

Bourgie. It’s a word with which the black community is fairly familiar. But depending on your attitude toward it, you may feel a little comfortable owning it as an identifier. Is “bourgie” a pejorative, a badge of honor, or something in the middle? For the purposes of this fun little self-assessment, let’s give it the most charitable definition possible. Today, for our Clutch quiz, bourgie will mean ironically hifalutin or playfully snooty, perhaps a little given to putting on pretentious airs but also rather aware of what you’re doing.

Hopefully that takes the edge off, for those who score as bourgie here, even though they’ve always considered that term to be a jab.

Answer the following questions, see how you fair, and post your results in our comments section:

1. If given the choice, where would you suggest meeting a group of six friends for a meal?

a. The brunch spot that was recently featured in your city’s Sunday Style section as the new “It Spot” for young, minority professionals.
b. A trendy tapas bar, where wine flows in abundance, and the music is a mellow mix of Robin Thicke, Kem, and Maxwell.
c. An inexpensive low-end spot like TGI Friday’s or Red Robin where everyone’s appetizers will be cheap and plentiful and some big game will be blaring from an overhead TV.

2. Your younger cousin is applying to colleges. What type of school would you suggest?

a. An Ivy League or Big Ten university. If you’ve got the grades and extracurriculars, it’s the only way to go.
b. An HBCU, of course — but you’d push Howard, Hampton, Morehouse, or Spelman, especially.
c. Whichever place has the best program for her selected major, with the most attractive financial aid package or the most affordable tuition price tag.

3. When “questionable” portrayals of blacks crop up in the media (as in the case of Shawty Lo’s now-defunct reality show), you respond in the following way:

a. Petition, boycott, express moral outrage! These reality shows are a reflection on our whole community and you, for one, do not take kindly at seeing your own debased for the entertainment of others.
b. Shake your head and say it’s a real shame that there can’t be more news reports and reality shows about black folks doing positive things.
c. Understand the offense of your community takes to the portrayal as legitimate, but decide to sit most of these moral outrage movements out.

4. When Bill Cosby first gave his now infamous “pound cake speech,” you:

a. Co-signed to the fullest! Pull up your pants, young man.
b. Wondered if he might be oversimplifying the multifaceted issues that contribute to decreased achievement stats in urban communities.
c. Longed for the bearded Bill Cosby of the ’70s.

5. When you heard about the imminent release of Tarantino’s Django Unchained, you:

a. scoffed at the idea and immediately cited Tarantino’s love affair with the N-word and fetishization of black culture as reason enough to boycott.
b. decided you have to see it for yourself, but only to have an intelligent conversation about the many levels on which it would probably fail.
c. knew immediately that you’d be there on opening night! Come on, who can resist a slavery era spaghetti Western?!

6. On Thursdays at 10 pm, you:

a. log out of Twitter read a book. Scandal is not for you. You just don’t see what people see in it.
b. host an in-home Scandal party with your closest friends, complete with large glasses of wine, and a running commentary on the perfection of Kerry Washington’s wardrobe.
c. live-tweet, chuckle, and accept how implausible it all is while enjoying its addictive merits.

7. Which of the following would disqualify a guy from a second date with you?

a. He didn’t attend a four-year college, and he drives a used, economy car.
b. He wore jeans on a non-jean occasion and he drank one too many beers.
c. You just weren’t compatible. It isn’t going anywhere.

Results:

Mostly a’s: Oh, you’re bourgie, all right. You have a great deal of drive and are committed to the highest achievement possible. You expect the same commitment and drive from others. You fully engage in the politics of respectability–and why shouldn’t you? You think black folks could use a bit more self-respect across the board, and you find positive portrayals of blacks in the media to be a personal ego boost for you. Your belief that we’re all a reflection on one another can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it means you’re often accused of being preachy and judgmental, but on the other hand, your willingness to take responsibility for others can be inspirational. Remember that your perspective is different from — not superior to — others, and ensure that your tone skirts condescension as often as possible, especially with family and friends.

Mostly b.’s: You’re a little bourgie. You like high-end things and proximity to “respectable,” “positive” endeavors (and the people who initiate them). You’re upwardly mobile and may occasionally refer to certain behaviors in distancing ways: “ghetto,” “hood,” or “ratchet.” You would never do anything that could be classified in those ways (except maybe listen to some misogynistic hip-hop). But you’re not necessarily a pearl-clutcher, either. You enjoy a good episode of black reality TV, where wig-snatching and drink tossing is likely to occur. You don’t like your significant other to be *too* straight-laced. And you don’t see the actions of all black folks as a reflection on you. This balance is usually a good thing. You’re open to differences of opinion and perspective, even as you hold your own values and morals in pretty high esteem.

Mostly c’s: No one’s gonna mistake you for bourgie. You’re very “live and let live” with yours. You believe everyone’s an individual, we’re only accountable ourselves and (on occasion) those we love, and you’re a little sad for Shawty Lo’s exes and children because the cancellation of their Oxygen show means a loss of some potential income. You don’t like being critical of other people’s life choices, especially people you don’t know. And what’s so wrong with Red Lobster or TGI Friday’s?! Are you going to the restaurant to spot celebs and be photographed or just to hang with your friends, drink cocktails, and eat on the cheap? (There’s nothing wrong with the former, of course, but you’re happier in the latter’s more relaxed settings.) Beware trying to convince a bourgie friend to abandon her ideals; it makes you just as judgmental as you’re always claiming she is.

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  • Chillyroad

    I’m uncomfortable with that word. Growing up I heard it used in the American context but I also heard it used in the Hatian context which wasn’t as benign as it is being depicted here. In Haiti there was an actual bourgeoisie that ruled Haiti for most of its history even after the French disposal. In Haiti there were real social political economic and racial implications to the word. A real life caste system. It didn’t just mean people with money and expensive tastes. It was the descendants of French colonialist many of whom were mulatto.

    • Nic

      You’d think that people who spent centuries being oppressed would not be so eager to adopt the traits of oppressors but we se the caste system you describe all over Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa. It seems as if once the colonizers left, there were locals who were all too happy to step on the backs of people who looked like them to live the good life.

      But the obsession that Black Americans have with this word is problematic because to me it points to a focus on materialism and the superficial trappings of wealth, but not the substance that allows people to actually accumulate long term wealth and permanently move up the socioeconomic ladder.

      So there are lot of people who think that VIP sections in clubs, overpriced alcohol, designer clothes, and other ridiculous symbols actually prove that they are part of the upper class, when in reality a lot of people who spend their money on those things can barely afford them.

    • Joy

      Nic: Love your lst paragraph. Another example is people riding around in a Benz in the hood. Doesn’t impress me at all. If they (reall)y had some money they wouldn’t still be riding around in the hood. All it mostly proves is that you were stupid enough to spend lots of money on a car that in reality you can’t afford.

    • Joy

      Nic I meant love your last paragraph.

  • Dinosaurs and Spaceships

    OMG I’m so Bourgie! LOL

  • http://gravatar.com/qlittlestar13 The Mighty Quinn

    It’s funny, I got mostly C’s but the examples indicated are the few things I take issue with. The reason this word rubs me the wrong way is that is how I was described, without getting to know me whatsoever, because I spoke proper English and knew about things like sailing or SCUBA. To be Bourgeois is about exclusivity and I am not nor never been about that, plus I always say my people too country for that.

    I have said after being called Bourgie, one too many times. “there is going to be a time when we will be divided between those blacks that have and have not and that know and know not.” This word is the first wedge.

  • http://BeyondBlackWhite.com/ Jamila

    This was such a cute quiz! I was A’s and B’s, but mostly B’s. I’m a little bougie–but I hate rap and have NEVER watched an entire episode of any “reality” where black women act a fool.

  • omfg

    i think this type of thing is emblematic of some of what’s wrong with black american folk.

    the inference drawn here is that the core or constant of blackness is defined as being low class, uneducated and lacking sophistication and worldliness. to deviate from that is to be bourgie.

    this just shows how backwoods a lot of our thinking continues to be.

    this is along the same lines as speaking english means you’re talking white or going to school means you are acting white.

    get a clue. there are black people in this world for whom being educated, sophisticated, etc. is the norm.

    when will this silly, sophomoric way of characterizing black people and blackness end?

    we still have a lot of maturing to do.

    • http://gravatar.com/gennatay gennatay

      I was just thinking the same thing. I’ve been called bourgie or stuck up because of my education, places I eat and my love of wine above tequila or gin. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized these things were OK and that they didnt affect my “blackness”

    • i.mean.really

      +1000!!! Our bodies have been free for a 150 years but our minds have a long way to go.

    • Nic

      The other unfortunate thing is that a lot of people are only obsessed with superficial, fake markers of success. So the same people eager to be called this are still not putting their energy into education or trying to expand their minds.

    • GlowBelle

      Agree with you 1000%! Even though I know this quiz is just for fun, I have been called or thought of as ‘bougie’ simply by things I like/things I’ve done, and even because of the circles my family operates in…and it irritates me as I’m not defined by those things. I’m tired of the labels, and wish that we all could step out of that limiting ‘box’ that we still try to put ourselves into.

    • Liz

      I was prepared to tell you to lighten up, but this:

      the inference drawn here is that the core or constant of blackness is defined as being low class, uneducated and lacking sophistication and worldliness. to deviate from that is to be bourgie.

      I appreciated.

      I’d like to add, though, that the C response weren’t tailored to indicate low brow tastes, lack of education/sophistication/worldliness. The C, non-bougie, women are just cool… not concerned with putting on airs, keeping up with the Joneses, just really chill. I’m not really sure if the opposite of bougie is everything you described or if it’s really the “C” answers in the quiz, which really is just a lack of pretension.

      Definitely something to think about.

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