Shit Bougie Black People Love: 20. A Different World » VSB

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Shit Bougie Black People Love: 20. A Different World

(Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)


You might remember the late 80s and early 90s as a forgettable period of time where Republicans ran the White House, t-shirts had shoulder pads, and everyone cool got AIDS. This is because you’re not a Bougie Black Person. Bougie Black People hold this period especially dear, as many of their favorite memories were created in this time frame, and most of those memories have to do with TV shows.

Don’t believe me? Well, the next time you come across a Bougie Black Person shopping for Docksiders or leaving a gallery crawl, mention Claire Huxtable’s name, and listen to them speak uninterrupted for the next 45 minutes about how she’s either “everything I want to be as a woman” or “everything I want in a woman.” Or, perhaps, ask them about The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or Martin, and do not be alarmed when they admit they recently spent 36 consecutive hours on a couch watching marathons of these shows.

But nothing had/has the same transformative effect on Bougie Black People than A Different World, an HBCU-centric Cosby Show spin-off. Although it only aired six seasons, the chronicles of Dwayne, Whitley and the rest of the Hillman College population were so resonate that it set the blueprint for how an entire generation of soon-to-be Bougie Black People would live their lives.

This fact becomes especially clear once you realize there are only six types of Bougie Black people, all derived from A Different World characters.

The Denise: The upper-middle class Daddy’s girl with a rebellious streak, grown-up Denises are often found in D.C. running two member non-profits in the hood,  branding themselves as “tastemakers,” and “dating” Omari Hardwick.

The Whitley (aka “The AKA”): The upper-middle class Daddy’s girl without a rebellious streak, grown-up Whitleys are married by 27 — usually to MBA grads named “Brandon” or “Richard” — moms by 29, professional board members by 30, and functional alcoholics by 31.

The Jalessa: Can be found either dating a White guy, writing a book about dating a White guy, or writing a book about why she won’t date White guys again.

The Freddie: Is a full time graphic designer or photographer or something. Never seems to have a real job, but always seems to be able to be places. Was natural before going natural was a thing. Is now just bald, because that will be the new thing. Is effectively the Manic Pixie Black Girl.

The Lena: Has 250,000 Twitter followers, and does nothing but tweet all day and have Sunday brunch with other Lenas who tweet all day.

The Dwayne (aka “The Kappa”): Was nerdy in school, but somehow has much more social capital now. No need for more description, because he is literally the only type of Bougie Black Guy.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • The Freddie seems like a nice person to casually date. Nay for the rest of the Bougie women.

    • RewindingtonMaximus

      Before I die, I will date a Freddie. Everyone needs to experience a free spirited woman to remember why women with too many rules actually make more sense.

      • Naw I’ll take a free spirited woman over a woman with too many rules any day. Women with too many rules aren’t a good mix with me at all. I can better be nurturing to free spirited women too.

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          Free spirited woman make me extremely anal because they don’t do their part, whereas women with too many rules drive me crazy but provide some structure, albeit too much structure at times.

          I need something down the middle

          • I was raised by a man who’s father spent 30 years in the military who in turn spent 20 years in the military himself, who’s childhood summers were at military camps, was in JROTC, and briefly in ROTC. Creating, maintaining, and living in structure isn’t an issue for me. It’s not high on preferences after around 2 decades of it, but I can do it. So I’m not really invested in more (unnecessary) rules from someone else.

            I just need someone who’s going to let me be weird and strange and let me dote on them and support their strangeness as well.

            • RewindingtonMaximus

              As a weird individual myself, I totally support your cause dude.

  • RewindingtonMaximus

    You don’t think Ron was just a tad bit different than Dwayne?
    I’d like to date a Whitley, simply because I’m a masochist.

    • Sigma_Since 93

      You gotta add Ron the Hustler; every campus has a hustler.

  • RewindingtonMaximus

    Disqus got me again.
    I’m going for a Whitley. I clearly enjoy pain and being annoyed constantly.

  • eyecande

    YAASSS!!! Reminds me of my various experiences wearing my Hillman shirt. Some people ask me if I really went to Hillman. O_o Those are the definitive moments perfecting my side-eye was made for. They’ve got to do better. And then you have those that (predictably) say, “I ain’t one of the Cosbys. I ain’t go to Hillman.” thus combining TWO things Bougie Black People love: ADW and (Graduation) Kanye.

    • RewindingtonMaximus

      All you needed was a LV bookbag, you woulda been stuntin

      • tgtaggie

        Or the Dwayne Wayne backpack

        • Megan Robinson

          I have a saddle bag like that too…. And I just got a Hillman shirt!!

        • Sigma_Since 93

          I’ve searched high and low for a bag like that.

    • itsbecauseimblack

      ADW? Those three sacred letters makes you either a Spelmanite or Bison! #HBCULove S/C 03!

      • eyecande

        Haha. Oh no. I was just abbreviating A Different World. But in my mind, I’m a Bison every October because Howard Homecoming is usually around my birthday haha.

  • CottonAngel

    A Different World is the reason why I went to college. And to an HBCU at that!

    • That and Drumline, LOL.

  • Maya K. Francis

    Dwayne is not a Kappa. He is NOT. I will not hear of it. And Whitley Gilbert is the greatest. All homage. (See VSB bio.)

    Edited to add: My best friend and I are Whitley and Freddie. It’s almost a little scary. But I think that people sleep on Freddie’s graduate school ambitions. When she started sleeking back the wash and go and put on the suit? Stop dating the Shazaas of the world? LISTEN.

    • Medium Meech

      I agree, Dwyane is not a Kappa. He seems more like an Alpha or a Sigma. You need to take Champ to (what’s left) of the Philly Greek picnic to get his bearings.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        The Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. draft committee will selects Dayane Wayne. Smart and bags the finest woman on campus; yeah that sounds about right.

  • celinad6

    What about Kim?! She was my kind of bougie: smart, overachiever, hard worker, grad/professional school aspirations, able to put up with Whitley, down-to-earth, etc.

    Did you mean Kim when describing ‘The Jaleesa’ because she’s the one that dated the white guy (Freddie’s cousin)?

  • Tonja (aka Cheeks)


    • NoPlaysOff

      She wore that song OUT every chance she got lolol

    • Emily

      Hahahahahahahahahaha! That was my gyrl!

  • LaJ

    What about Kimberly Reese middle class hard working smart overachiever down the earth always but bougie when need be. After all she did pledge Alpha Delta Rho Sorority

  • Scratch off

    There are definitely more types of bougie black guys than Dwayne.

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