Jan 30

Editor’s Note: While family members and self-conscious losers will throw out the word bougie in order to make themselves feel better about putting us down, many people ARE bougie, and more than earn the label due to their elitist behavior.

What Does It All Mean?

I was reading an article recently where the author was lamenting the fact that she had been called bougie (black slang for bourgeois, which essentially means an elitist faker). From reading the commentary and people sharing their stories of receiving this label from family members and the like, I realized that I had the same things going as those who had been called bougie in the past. You know… education, a love for food and wine, reading, going places where people don’t normally go… etc. etc.

The difference however is that I have never been given the label; sure I’ve been called weird, nerd or even derogatory terms, but bougie is a label that was never thrown at me. It made me wonder why – so I took a look internally at what differentiated me from people who got the label and finally it dawned on me, I am not an elitist.

If you get called bougie by a stranger, chances are you were out of line somewhere and being a douche in the general sense. You were giving people judgmental glances (lots of women do this), speaking French loudly in a place where you knew people wouldn’t understand you, or being a wine Nazi of the worst kind.

Women Are Called Bougie, Men Are Called Something Else

Men are rarely called bougie, if you are a black man that has been called this by another man I will say that the name caller is either picking at you playfully or you are a second away from an ass whipping.

No, we men get called a number of other things, names like high siddity, brand new, uppity negro, Tom, Carlton Banks, the list goes on. Sure I’ve gotten the stares of wonderment from the city mouse and the country mouse alike as to what side of the fence I sat on (I’m undeniably black but cleaner than a bar of soap – if you get my drift), but never have I been labeled any of these things even though I love to partake in the finer, worldly things in life.

Do you know why I have never been labeled Bougie?

1. I don’t have loud bougie conversations in public places – Even I hate people who do this. Keep your conversations private like they are meant to be and don’t sit in a crowded room speaking a romance language (French, Spanish or Italian) loudly as if you want others to be impressed.

“Look honey that negro is speaking something other than negro!”

I swear that bougie is the black variation of the word douchebag because many of the offenders share the same traits. Keep it low and private, nobody is impressed that you took 6 years of Italian, trust me.

2. I know that nobody cares about my education – I have a 4-year degree, I’ve held a solid career and I’ve done many things that people would deem “successful”, and this sentence is one of the only times I have admitted to this. When you proclaim your accolades as if the world owes you a cookie, you are likely to piss someone off because nobody cares, nobody wants to hear it and it really isn’t that impressive. Tell you what, cure Cancer and you can brag about that forever – people will at least respect that even if you talk about it all the time.

3. I do not correct people’s language or lack of culture – The other day I ran into friends at the birthday party of a man of honor that I know. One of the women in attendance is of Chinese descent and approached me about a movie I had posted about in the past and we got to talking. When I mentioned one of the movies I mispronounced the Chinese title and she quickly corrected me in a very condescending tone. A few nights before this I saw another girl laugh at a guy for ordering red wine with his chicken – these examples earned them the label “bougie” because it really isn’t that serious to people. I never asked for the pronunciation and dude wanted red wine.

How to stay clear of the bougie label

Trust me, I cringe at people’s spelling, pronunciation and lack of culture but I was not put on this earth to “civilize the savage”, so I make sure that I am straight and I keep it moving. People appreciate that. I dress clean like a prep, love the hell out of a sports coat and can appreciate a $60 plate of food but the people who take it a step further to assume that this makes them “a step above” are the ones that people dislike as a whole.

Being labeled bougie puts you on par with the dude who got a $1500 check back from an accident, buys a used Mercedes and drives it slowly through the neighborhood bumping Watch The Throne on high so that everybody sees him. Nobody likes a faker, a loudmouth or a snob. It isn’t the world’s lack of culture that got you the label so don’t go playing innocent when it gets thrown at you, chances are you earned it in one facet of the way or the other. Let’s keep it classy.

See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.

    I agree with you sir but only to a point. I am a successful old black man with autism hence the screen name AUTISTIC WEREWOLF. Now it took me like forever to become successful. I did not even have a stable job till I was 41 years old. Now I have a killer awesome job in IT making slightly north of six figures. Having 13 disabilities and autism yet having a great paying job was a challenge but I was a Wolf on a mission to prove nay sayers wrong.

    I have a different take on what it means to be “Bougie!” I am Bougie and I am enjoying the heck out of it. I think being Bougie means aspiring to and having achieved the trappings, tastes and mannerisms that denote a degree of success usually attributed to members of the majority mainstream US culture.

    When a black minority like me achieves mainstream success it can go either way. One can become a douche bag by thinking success makes them “Better” than all who have not equalled or bettered your achievement. However Bougie can also have a fun meaning. Bougie defines a person like myself who has enjoyed imersing myself in this odd and rarified world of opportunities that are simply not available to those without money, education and insights into the arts finer things in life.

    I’m no better as a person than the gentleman doing the simpliest job imaginable this will always be true. Being Bougie is about society conferring opportunities to people it deems successful that are not otherwise accessible to those deemed “common!” I gave a dinner party not too long ago and the types of people there were people I could network with and increase my wealth and other options to help others living with autism.

    Knowing the right people lets me help parents and adults people living with autism who are poor. Often poor people are unaware certain avenues for help exist for their autistic kids because; rich folk don’t advertise their willingness to help. In the bougie world so many resources are traded by word of mouth. I say this because; I’m often called “Bougie” when I find funding to help the families of poor autistic minority kids. When I offer help I don’t get all uppity. I just say let me get back to you I know a few people. Just knowing how to access resources poor folk can’t can and does get me labeled Bougie but the families mean it in a good way I think given they smile and are happy when saying it.

    I dress like a regular working stiff because; I don’t need to wear thousand dollar suits. I have two leather suitcases that cost $1000 each that I purchased just because I like them. I have bronze wolves that cost $3000 each. I have spaceship models that I spent $800 on again because I like them. Oh if I like something and want it I often buy it. While I dress dead common my home looks like a art studio with many fine things on display. Oh I am not rich but, I can afford art, culture and the like and anyone who has seen my house calls me bougie. I not only collect art but I know a lot about every item in my various collections. I’ve always been a book worm, a nerd and a geek proud of it too.

    So yes I am Bougie, I am a foodie, I know about and love fine wines, I love books and reading. I dabble in writing, I’ve been on TV in a film about people with autism called Neurotypical. I’m easy to spot since I am the black guy the only one in the whole movie. I’ve done many things in life as an autistic black man no one felt I would ever do. As a black autistic man I had to learn how to survive in a Euro-centric neurotypical culture which made black folk suggest I “act white” so at times I’m called Bougie in the negative sense. I’m often called retard too because; many social situations still confuse me.

    I stopped caring long ago about people who label me retarded and I have learned to love that label too. Yeah I’m retarded if you think so because; I still have learned to get paid well and live well. I am also Bougie because; yes I love the finer things, yes I use big words when I want to not to make others feel small but sometimes if a big word expresses my feelings I use them. As for correcting others on what wine to order with what that’s stupid. You order the wine you like with the food you like anything else is just plain dumb. If you have money and go against convention you are considered excentric anyway so it does not matter. Correcting someone in a bad way just shows you are insecure in quality company. People comfortable in their own skins have no need or desire to make others feel small. For me being Bougie is a fun joy I love sharing with ALL my friends.
    Bougie is bad only when it makes you feel superior to others and aloof in your social dealings. When being Bougie is fun and inclusive of all your friends then it is an invitation to learn about finer things offered from a caring friendly heart. That’s how I will always define Bougie