Old “Bae” Becomes New Flavor For Whites » VSB

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Old “Bae” Becomes New Flavor For Whites

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In this, the 2014th Year of Our Lord, on the 23rd day of the month of July, at 6:55 p.m. EST, TIME Magazine ran a story. It’s headline read:

“This is What Bae Means.”

Yes, stupid stories happen. Stupid headlines even more frequently. But TIME Magazine, once a premier weekly magazine (the first of its kind, actually), made space for 500 words under the protection of its elite-level masthead to write about the word “bae”. And I have so many questions about how this story came about. Was it pitched? Was it assigned? I’ve asked all these questions via Twitter to the piece’s author, Katy Steinmetz. I’m awaiting a response.

Steinmetz, who also wrote the cover-story feature on Laverne Cox in May, now has a byline in TIME Magazine for writing about the word “bae.”

Why?

Really, this is Pharrell’s fault. Because that fucking “Happy” song. Because between their fascination with “Black Twitter” and the fact that Miley Cyrus won’t go quietly into the night, white folks’ predilection for minding the business of other cultures is totally aroused.

What’s perhaps most frustrating about this piece is the fact that its written as just another flash in the pan, pop culture moment, complete with know-nothing ass Google charts that are supposed to make readers believe they are part of something. It’s cool. It’s trendy. Not at all rooted in the way that people have addressed each other for generations. Bae is “slang that Pharrell likes enough to put in the titles of his songs.”

Fun!

Nevermind the fact that my parents have been calling each other “bae” since long before I was ever a thought. Or that Black southern grandmas use it to pass their love on to their grandbabies. TIME Magazine (of all places, SMH) is passing out “primers” on cool.

Black cool.

Ask any cool person and they’ll tell you that cool can’t be explained. Cool either is or it isn’t, and trying to explain it, even being asked about it aloud, makes a thing decidedly less so. ?uestlove said (in another TIME Magazine headline, no less) that “Black people have to come to grips that hip-hop is a contagious culture,” and I agree. But Blackness ain’t.

Blackness as performance sho’ is profitable, though. Internet clicks. Units, moved.

My issue isn’t with Pharrell (at least, not in this particular instance) but with journalism’s internet culture. The internet has done two things: (A) Lowered barriers to entry into professional journalism, which in turn produces a lot of terrible content masquerading as “innovative,” “interesting,” or “thought-provoking,” or “well-written” and (B); busted the door wide open for the Culture Vulture’s favorite pastime: An Inside Look At the Secret Life of Negroes.

If you’re even remotely entertaining or can turn a phrase on Twitter, you’ve experienced this first hand. My tweets have been jacked by Esquire (as the lede to somebody’s story on Brooklyn’s gentrification, no less) Buzzfeed, and some other places, with no ask made and no permission granted.

Having traveled abroad, it’s my belief that the primary export of “Black America” is cultural — music, song, dance, style, art, writing, and the list goes on. It is how we are identifiable in the world. Even traveling as far as South Africa, someone wanted to talk to me about “Jigga.”

And because our culture is our output, it should be ours to protect, to profit from — hell, to write about! There are lots of complicated (and often unproductive) conversations about the ownership of culture. Of language. Movement. Dance. Last week, TIME (gotdamnit) ran a story that responded to University of Mississippi senior Sierra Mannie’s essay about the co-opting of Black female culture.

“Black people can’t have anything,” she wrote.

Not doobie wraps. Not the Nae Nae. I am bored, people of the journalism community. Bored with these lazy-ass pieces that try to explain the idiosyncrasies of my household, my experience, and my fucking existence. Bored with the microscopic lenses that exoticize Black love and Black expression.

Meanwhile, I’m timing my watch to see how long it takes white folks to find out about the jar of cooking grease on the back of the stove.

Maya Francis

Maya K. Francis is a culture writer and communications strategy consultant. When not holding down the Black Girl Beat for VSB, she is a weekly columnist for Philadelphia Magazine's "The Philly Post" and contributes to other digital publications including xoJane, Esquire, and EBONY.com. Sometimes TV and radio producers are crazy enough to let her talk on-air, and she helped write a book once. She cites her mother and Whitley Gilbert as inspirations.

  • kadi

    I actually looked up Sierra Mannie. I love how people on a gay blog were saying you can’t appropriate culture. Saying that we can’t prevent them from mimicking our speech and behavior because it is cultural mixing, they can’t help being influenced. Also the kicker was one person saying, “So now I have to stop eating pasta and going to yoga because I am neither Italian or Asian”.

    They willfully misinterpreted what she was trying to get across, which is that pretending to be black is not an homage, is most often mockery, and usually they don’t give credit to black women. All of a sudden, it miraculously becomes “their thing”, and “no one can point to where it comes from”.

    So no, you aren’t allowed ownership of your culture, and if you dare ask for acknowledgement, you are being “bigoted” some how.

    One person dared to say: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” as if that phrase in itself is not sarcasm.

    • Val

      I wonder where Tyler Perry fits in all of this. He’s made a fortune mocking Black women.

      • Epsilonicus

        If you believe in Jesus, he gets a pass because he is doing the Lord’s work.

        • Reemo

          I love the Lord. He heard my cry. However, Tyler Perry gets no pass and no love from me.

          • Epsilonicus

            The other excuse people make is that “he is the only one making movies supporting Black people”

  • RewindingtonMaximus

    Real talk…when is the last time the White Mainstream Media ever actively took the time to understand the culture of any group they couldn’t f…k or shoot to death? Last time I checked…they never did.

    So I got an idea. Our culture will always be treated like a toy to them. So let’s stop being surprised….or better yet, lets be proactive instead of reactive. I figure if we know they are going to humiliate our culture for the umpteeth time, we can get ahead of them and soften the blow.

    • I think whats more bothersome is they don’t seem to care about “black trend X” until Hannah Montana does it.

    • Tentpole

      Then how would Leroy get paid???? The reason this happen is because some of us have no problem selling them our culture because they want Mr. Charlie to like them. Ever watch the news when it is about crime in the ghetto. Who always seems to be available for the sound bite?

      • Lord Simon

        People who don’t have jobs to go to, that’s who.

    • Let’s just start something lowkey offensive and see how long it takes the masses to steal it and use it on each other. Like roach spray with a febreeze scent.

  • nillalatte

    “Meanwhile, I’m timing my watch to see how long it takes white folks to
    find out about the jar of cooking grease on the back of the stove.”

    Girl please, you missed it! All my relatives stay with a can of cooking grease on the back of the stove. I clearly remember my grandmother’s stove with the grease can on it for years. Must be a Southern thing. Ever get the feeling folks are more alike than not?

    • LadyIbaka

      In that respect, yes. We are alike. It is not a situation of appropriating a culture or making a mockery of it.

    • Well cooking oil costs as much as liquor so i definitely get it

      • LMNOP

        Dafuq kind of cooking oil you using that costs as much as liquor?

        And here is who reuses cooking oil: People who deep fry a lot. If you’re not deep frying, your cooking oil is absorbed in your food and then you just eat it.

        • Val

          Must be that organic/ non-GMO imported from Italy olive oil in silver plated cans. Lol

          • LMNOP

            That is not for deep frying though lol

            • Sahel

              Oh,what would you use it for,do tell

              • LMNOP

                Expensive oils with strong flavors are for using in small quantities where you will get to taste the flavor, like a salad dressing maybe a sauce. Some people dip bread into olive oil. I have no idea if organic non-gmo makes a difference in anything other than price.

                Cookbooks are useful things to look through once in a while.

                • nillalatte

                  Olive oil on pita bread is heaven! You’re right, and you have to be careful with certain oils, olive oil being one, not to cook with it too hot.

                  I love tomatoes and onions sauteed in olive oil combined with eggs on pita with Dutch cheese. I know, I know… I’m spoiled by Mediterranean food culture.

                • Sahel

                  Anything that is not GMO makes a big difference. I noticed it with an american friend of mine,whenever he went back home he gained a ton of weight because of how crazy processed the food is.

                • Epsilonicus

                  See folks need to be more nuanced in their GMO hate.

                  • LMNOP

                    I don’t hate GMO lol, I don’t even know what it means.
                    I’m pretty sure it’s not in my budget though and VERY sure people will give me dirty looks if I whip out my EBT card to pay for $30 oil.

                    • Epsilonicus

                      GMO= Genetically modified.

                      There is a difference between GMO where you just adding pesticides to crops versus you made a more drought resistant strain because the climate is changing and non one will do anything about it.

                      People often hate it all no understanding that we MUST make some changes to crops because of the changes to our planet

                    • Val

                      Wow, Eps, I thought you be more informed on GMO crops. GMO crops are only about more money for companies like Monsanto. Plants have been adapting and evolving since the beginning of time. Any other changes have been accomplished through simple cross-breeding.

                      Companies like Monsanto create GMO crops that are resistant to their products like Roundup so that they can not only sell those seeds around the world but so they can also sell Roundup around the world.

                      Not only that but there have never been in significant studies proving that GMOs are safe for human consumption.

                    • Epsilonicus

                      I am very informed. I have kept up with the science

                      1. Agriculture is a form of GMO, a very crude one. Our current crops are very genetically different than their wild origins. Study the history of agriculture and you will see. For example, corn look VASTLY different than it does today. If left wild and never bothered, corn would look almost like a blade of grass.

                      2. We cannot just let plants evolved bc of human fiddling with climate. There will have to be some sort tinkering with planet genetics on the genetic level. Now there is a difference between inserting pesticides and some other items life Monsanto and our need to create drought resistant, flood resistant strains of crops.

                      3. While yes GMOs have not proven to be safe, they also have not been proven to be unsafe either. It all depends on what is done with the crops

    • LMNOP

      We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike. From one of my favorite Maya Angelou poems:

      Human Family

      I note the obvious differences
      in the human family.
      Some of us are serious,
      some thrive on comedy.

      Some declare their lives are lived
      as true profundity,
      and others claim they really live
      the real reality.

      The variety of our skin tones
      can confuse, bemuse, delight,
      brown and pink and beige and purple,
      tan and blue and white.

      I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
      and stopped in every land.
      I’ve seen the wonders of the world,
      not yet one common man.

      I know ten thousand women
      called Jane and Mary Jane,
      but I’ve not seen any two
      who really were the same.

      Mirror twins are different
      although their features jibe,
      and lovers think quite different thoughts
      while lying side by side.

      We love and lose in China,
      we weep on England’s moors,
      and laugh and moan in Guinea,
      and thrive on Spanish shores.

      We seek success in Finland,
      are born and die in Maine.
      In minor ways we differ,
      in major we’re the same.

      I note the obvious differences
      between each sort and type,
      but we are more alike, my friends
      than we are unalike.

      We are more alike, my friends,
      than we are unalike.

      We are more alike, my friends,
      than we are unalike.

  • PaddyfotePrincess

    “and the fact that Miley Cyrus won’t go quietly into the night,”

    Therein lies the problem.

    • LadyIbaka

      so long as Miley’s tongue stays intact, she ain’t going nowhere.

      • Its like as much as black and white people collectively said “bye Miley” she still sold 1 million, so there’s that

        • And keeping it real, since records aren’t really selling like that no mo’ that’s like 2.5 million in sales in 1995 numbers. LOL

      • Boo Radley

        That’s what he said.

        • Val

          Or she. ;-)

          • LadyIbaka

            hehehehehe!!

            *waving*!!! heYyyyy, Val!!! :)

            • Val

              Hiya, AM!

              *waves*

          • Boo Radley

            Right, right. I must learn to be more inclusive in my scarcasm.

  • Sahel

    After reading the Sierra essay,am reminded of something that Bunni wrote about Beyonce and her use of terms from the LGBT community. The culture stealing convo is more difficult than the fan dance. One will point out to the fact that the US is a melting pot of cultures and that black people copy as well. This is a crazy catch 22 man

    • Beyonce’s entire existence was taken off the LGBT cutting room floor. *drops mic*

      • Even the Destiny’s Child era?

        • Beyonce is so far from Destiny’s Child era, I don’t even think that part of her career correlates to her current success.

      • I have no way of knowing this lol. How so?

        • for as long as I’ve known, shes had an entourage completely comprised of LGBT folk. Her stylist, her MUA, her choreographer, creative execs on her tour…..errthang. Her disciples have long since been LGBT (and im sure someone could argue that her biggest fans are also LGBT) so it has always rubbed a bit wrong that she attempts to own an image that THEY created for her.
          But hey, Im sure shes not the first diva do to that (i see you Diana), so *shrugs* lol

          • ?

            Real question: does gay, black, male culture come from the black women that raised them?

            • We had this convo a few posts ago and i am NOT poking that hornet’s nest again lol

            • menajeanmaehightower

              I would say it starts there (so yes) but then gets made into their own.

              • ?

                Makes sense. Thanks.

              • every round goes higher and higher.

          • Maya K. Francis

            I love Diana shade.

          • gracias! I know very little about Beyonce, own know albums, know no dances, so that was enlightening.

            • Im here to school the world, one gay story at a time lol <3

          • Val

            Madonna too.

      • Guest

        It is why I find it interesting when people say that gay men are just mimicking Beyonce. I laugh and use my Clay Davis voice to say sh***********t, She copied them.

        What do I know. This tea tastes delicious

        • Epsilonicus

          How I become a guest on my own post lol

          • nillalatte

            Disqus is racist mane. I been telling y’all. LOL

            Nah, I’ve noticed it throws you out if you refresh the screen so you have to sign back in (click on “D”) again to get your avi back, and then you’re not a guest anymore.

        • PhlyyPhree

          But this really is one of my favorite types of tea. This and the white peach mango. That is all

          • Epsilonicus

            Ima have to try the white peach mango. I wish Lipton made a loose leaf version of it.

        • This tea tastes delicious?!!? lol

          • Epsilonicus

            It sure does. I keep a box in my desk everyday

            • PhlyyPhree

              This is my tea drawer. It keeps me from killing people. Everyday. Ev. ry. day.

              • Epsilonicus

                I need to get my tea game up.

                However, do you have one of these on your desk

              • Epsilonicus

                You have one of these:

                • miss t-lee

                  I almost bought on of these. How do you like it?

                  • Epsilonicus

                    It is a whooooooole different tea drinking experience. I love it.

                    • miss t-lee

                      Hmmm. Good deal.

                    • Epsilonicus

                      Sometimes the tea is so flavorful you do not need anything to sweeten it.

                      Sometimes loose leaf tea is bit more expensive though. But the taste is head and heels above bagged tea.

                    • miss t-lee

                      Gotcha. That’s good to know.
                      I don’t know jack squat about tea…lol

                    • Epsilonicus

                      I drink tea because while I love the smell of coffee, I do not like the taste.

                    • miss t-lee

                      See I LOVE coffee. I really only drink green tea on occassion, but sweet tea daily.

                    • Rawtid

                      this!

                    • KKay

                      Yes, it is. Loose tea just always smells so good.

                    • Epsilonicus

                      Yes indeed. It is the best.

                    • KKay

                      One of my sister former co-workers called bagged tea “the scraps left on the floor” He is English, so tea is a very big deal.

                    • Epsilonicus

                      Hahaahaha!!! I love that saying!!

                    • miss t-lee

                      LMAO

                • PhlyyPhree

                  I don’t. I need. Teavana had some on sale like two weeks ago and I cried inside silently because I left my card at home. How do you like it?

                  • Epsilonicus

                    Oh I LOOOOOOOVE it. Tea is so much more flavorful.

                    Dont make the mistake I made and tried to use bagged tea in it. That was a rookie mistake. Buy loose leaf tea.

                    • PhlyyPhree

                      Oh really? * takes notes* I was wavering but I think I’m def going to go back and get one now.

                    • Epsilonicus

                      Definitely. You could even get a used cast iron one. That means its been seasoned and provides even more flavor.

                      If you get one, never use soap. Just hot water.

                • Rawtid

                  is it some kind of special tea pot?

                  • Epsilonicus

                    You use it to brew loose leaf tea. It is cast iron.

                    • Rawtid

                      ahh ok

                    • Boo Radley

                      want.

                    • Epsilonicus

                      This thing is the best self-birthday gift ever.

                    • Boo Radley

                      Not waiting until Dec, though.

                  • Sahel

                    Thats what she said

              • miss t-lee

                Impressive tea drawer!

                • PhlyyPhree

                  Why thank you

                  • miss t-lee

                    I’m only drink green tea from time to time, becuz I love coffee…lol

                    • LadyIbaka

                      coffee, all day erryday. the bomb.

                    • miss t-lee

                      YASSSSS.

                    • PhlyyPhree

                      I’m sorry but coffee tastes like sweaty balls and smells even worse. I simply cannot with tea. The few times I’ve tried to drink it, I genearlly end up drinking coffee flavored creamer and sugar, that’s how badly I have to doctor it.

                    • miss t-lee

                      “I’m sorry but coffee tastes like sweaty balls and smells even worse.”

                      no.

              • i’d be at ya desk every morning

                • PhlyyPhree

                  You can come on over morning, lunch, afternoon….by about 3 I start spiking my tea with my flask anyway

              • Val

                Do you drink Celestial Seasonings?

                • PhlyyPhree

                  I do. Those are in the back of the drawer and in the second tea drawer (yes there are two). I mostly get the seasonal flavors for those.

              • Boo Radley

                Ma’am. Madame. Have you been to Teavana? Go there. Get the Youthberry blend. It will eradicate your tea drawer. Thank me later.

                • PhlyyPhree

                  I got a giftcard to there that I’ve never used. That’s where I was going a few weeks ago to get my kettle. I wanted to try some of their blends but that was hella overwhelming and I only had a short time to browse

                  • Boo Radley

                    I just discovered that I can use this Starbucks gift card for them, too. But you need to go in with some time. Be sure to try the samples, too. That’s how I discovered the Youthberry Blend; it’s not something I’d ever have tried on my own.

              • mylesfast

                You should try Runa Tea

              • LMNOP

                Oh. My. God. I have such tea envy right now.

              • afronica

                Yogi Ginger tea is strongly flavored but delicious. Your tea game is proper.

        • nillalatte

          I used to drink this: http://peacevalleyltd.co.uk/shop/swan-tea-loose/ but I switched to black tea (Earl Grey) a long time ago. No jokes! It is smoother. *patiently awaits Sahel’s interpretation, ’cause I know it’s coming. :P

          • Epsilonicus

            Hahahaha!

  • LadyIbaka

    Here’s why bae is on Time’s Magazine.

    Editor (during a staff meeting): Our core demographic is white, male 40-60 years old in corporate Amerrucah. I’m interested in expanding beyond our target demogrpahic. You guys understand what I’m getting at, right?

    Katy Stu-something (eagerly nods her head and answers for everyone): Yes. You want to reach out to blacks.

    Editor: Yap, exactly

    Katy Stu-something (she is secretly aiming for the editorial position at Time Magazine, and wants to appear astute in diversity matters, when asking for the promotion so she goes ahead and pitches this idea): There’s is this new thing they have started using and I think Miley Cyrus is on it too, you know she is dating a black boy. I hear it’s called ‘bae’. There is a lot of mystery surrounding that term and proper usage of it, let me go ahead and do an investigative piece on it. I guarantee, they will all be on it like white on rice, retweeting it and what have you. Have you heard of black twitter?

    Editor: Black twitter? There is such a thing, oh my God! Eureka! If they are able to afford Jordans, they can surely spare some change for a bae piece, right?

    Katy Stu-something (grins widely): They sure can.

    Editor: Alright, go ahead and investigate! Seems like the rest of ya’ll have nothing to add……

    Rest of them (glance to Katy Stu-something for assurance)

    • Maya K. Francis

      I would love to be a fly on the wall in editorial meetings when these things come up. Or to see how the pitch emails read.

      I also would love to see how these pitches are received should a black writer decided to…

    • Tentpole

      It’s easier than that. In the staff meeting someone ask the question what is “BAE”? After the silence came “Where did you here that?” Reply: “I was in Harlem” reply: “MMMMMMMMMM we need to look in to that” and a story was born

  • Val

    Why are you doing me like this, Maya?! Are you really going to make me give Time a click to find out what “Bae” means? Anybody? Bueller?

    • Sahel

      Bae,wassup

    • Maya K. Francis

      Lol. Sorry, boo. I didn’t want to suffer alone.

  • TheOtherJerome

    Incredible that TIME took the time to write an article one “Bae”. Seriously, it’s just short for Baby or Babe. Why in the ever lovin cabbage patch f*** would you need to pen an article on an obvious slang word?! Does TIME think their audience is stupid?

    //announcer voice: Next week in TIME magazine, the entomology of the word “fosho”. What does it mean? And what does it mean for America? ://announcer voice

  • menajeanmaehightower

    Time is looking for page clicks. I do not understand how they would publish an “article” from a child in college. Now, they are focusing on the term Bae. Never heard of this term until recently and i was born and raised in the south. I thought it was from a rap song.

    • Timer magazine has been terrible for well over a decade. Their relevancy today it’s based entirely on legacy rather than reputable journalism.

      • menajeanmaehightower

        Have to agree.

    • Boo Radley

      It’s not even a “term.” It’s not a word– it’s a syllable. The shortened form of “baby.” That’s how my mama used it, that’s how it goes. Why is this a thing?

  • All these outlets are making a killing by basically explaining social media to middle aged white people.

    • LMNOP

      That’s what I was thinking, I seem to see older white people confused about the things “the kids these days” say on facebook pretty regularly. And by “the kids these days” they mean grown azz parents in their 20s and 30s.

      I imagine these same older white people still read physical magazines, because they go to doctors offices more frequently, and I think that is where 90% of America’s physical magazines are stored these days.

    • miss t-lee

      and that’s exactly what it is.

    • nillalatte

      Hey, hey, hey… what do you consider middle aged? I, for one, think I’m pretty damn hip with pop culture. Umph. You know when I was 30 I was labeled middle aged by some news reporter. I was like damn! How old are you? 15?!

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