Shit Bougie Black People Love: 23. Thinkpieces » VSB

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Shit Bougie Black People Love: 23. Thinkpieces

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Whether they’re injecting facts to conversations (“Speaking of Obama’s speech on ISIS, did you know ‘Malia’ is a Hawaii name meaning ‘calm and peaceful‘?”), providing obscure tidbits (“I know everyone loved Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but Jason Segel’s best role was in Bye Bye Benjamin”), using smart sounding words (“That trope harkens back to a deconstructionist narrative“) or making analogies (“Ray J is the Derrick Rose of reality TV“), Bougie Black People relish opportunities to show everyone exactly how educated they are.

This is done for two reasons:

1. Education is a Bougie Black status marker, no different than an Uber account or an awkward selfie on a mountain bike trail, and proving that they’re educated allows them to self-identify. If they’re ever in a new environment and immediately need to know who the other Bougie Black People are, all they’ll have to do is notice the person who segues a conversation about pizza into an “unpacking of the racialized history behind the gluten-free movement.

2. They spent — and still owe — $750,000 for the education that enabled them to become the Assistant Deputy to the Deputy of Deputy Operations, so they still feel a need to apply everything learned in each of the seven African-American studies electives they took.

Still, Bougie Black People are aware that outward attempts to prove their knowledge can be obnoxious. Rude, even. So, they’ve embraced the thinkpiece and have allowed it to be both a vessel and a proxy for their smartness.

The thinkpiece — when a writer spends several hundred words articulating a smart-sounding angle on either a topic everyone is talking about or a topic no one has ever talked about — only ranks behind “the bottomless mimosa” and “Melissa Harris-Perry” when listing inventions most crucial to Bougie Black life, as it gives them four different ways to show everyone how smart they are. They can write one, comment on one, reference one in a regular conversation (“Did you read Coates’ piece on croissants this morning?“), and even just post one on their Facebook page under the status “Exactly!”

Also, because most Bougie Black People have “jobs” but don’t actually “do much of anything at work,” the thinkpiece and the thinkpiece farms they sprout from keep them occupied during the day. Which is great for everyone, because you can’t have a bunch of unoccupied Bougie Black People running around all day. Someone might get hurt.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com 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 damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • Which each post on this I become ever more bewildered on how any sane person could tolerate these people. Like reading world star commentary seems better worth the time.

    • Thoughts on Vonderrick’s death to St. Louis police?

    • They are actually insufferable in person.

  • i only owe $18k thankyouverymuch
    #praiseCdneducationsystemGods.

    • ChellZ

      Correction #praiseCdneducationststemBasedGods

    • Amazonian Midget

      Care to lift my $85K education up to those same gods?

      I promise to pay you in bottomless mimosas. :)

      • Adam Cisroe Pearson

        130k here : (
        I can’t promise mimosas though, lol.

        • Epsilonicus

          130k?!?! Wow!! I hope you are making a salary that makes that debt look like peanuts

          • Adam Cisroe Pearson

            Nah, but I love what I do for a living, so it’s bearable :)

            • IcePrincess

              Good luck dude, hope you always feel that way.

              • Adam Cisroe Pearson

                Thank you, thank you. I consider myself fortunate. I hope you enjoy your job?

                • IcePrincess

                  Well, I’m currently interning as a dental assistant. But I really want to be a business assistant, dealing with patients over the phone, filing insurance claims, etc. Chair side just isn’t for me, I’m too clumsy lol. So I’m realizing that the front desk is really my path, plus they earn as much or more $ than chair side assistants.

        • Amazonian Midget

          Man, 130K?! I’m praying I can stay away from 100K. That’s why I’m being particular when it comes to applying to PhD programs. I would rather be paid in magic jumping beans to go to school, than to end up owing.

          • Adam Cisroe Pearson

            Oooh, what field(s) are you looking into? Mine was a clinical doct., which means fewer grants, unfortunately.

            • Amazonian Midget

              I’m in Sociology. Many Sociology programs are tuition-free, but you receive a very modest stipend in exchange for research/teaching, and they’re extremely competitive. I wanted to let my husband get his MDiv first since I already have my MA, but I’m itching to get back in school.

              • Adam Cisroe Pearson

                Best of wishes to him and the MDiv. Quite a few of my friends have it, and it’s a beast to get through. Probably the toughest masters-level program out there, in my opinion. And good luck to you, and securing a degree that doesn’t put you in debt until the day you’re eligible for social security benefits (if that’s still around when we get older).

        • HEYZOOZ!!!

      • i like mimosas… ;)
        prayers sent up. cuz… yikes.

        • Amazonian Midget

          I appreciate it!

          *orders bottomless mimosas for the table*

  • now isn’t this some ironic isht.

    • Damon Young

      Ironic aint just a river in Egypt

      • Andrea

        Ummm sir. I notice you kind of use the word trope..a lot. Maybe you should start thinking about getting tested.

        • Damon Young

          I will not stand for that slander. I use narrative, deconstruct, unpack, and even an occasionally juxtaposition. But today was the first time I’ve ever typed trope.

          • Andrea

            Sorry. But to be safe… Please avoid infected business cards, direct skin to skin contact at day parties, and contaminated mimosa glasses

    • Thinception

  • Some thinkpieces aren’t bad. But I hate how people think every single insignificant topic deserves a thinkpiece. When I saw thinkpieces being written about Blue Ivy’s hair I wanted to jump off a bridge.

  • girlnextdoor
    • Epsilonicus

      #Hotep

  • T.A.E. Hoffman

    So is bougie code for white? Just wondering. I’d probably be considered one of those bougie black folks you’re talking about. I’m currently working towards the completion of my MA, will probably go on to get my PhD, I studied journalism in undergrad, blogged for several years (nothing as prestigious as VSB), and I write think pieces. Nah, I just write cause that’s what writers do. We think about stuff then write about it. Now I get the humor and I understand that there is a lot of poorly crafted and uninspiring writing floating around the web but this pretense about the educated being bougie is gnawing at me. I’ve been noticing that a lot lately especially on Black centered blogs and sites, this kind of collective side eye at Black folks who reach for the information they’re going into debt to acquire when trying to articulate a point or engage in debate/discussion. That dig about pulling from your AA studies reader? I’ll admit I’ve taken it there with a few people myself but on the real AA studies departments/courses save lives and the more Black people we have reading Black scholars and theorists and attempting to apply what it is they’ve learned the better. So I’m wondering if this shaming of Black intellectuals is an extension of the whole “you make good grades, you’re a whitey” schtick that used to fly in middle and high school. Like if you aspire to be well-read and knowledgable and aren’t too shy/afraid/ashamed to show it you are somehow disconnected from a more “authentic” blackness. Is that what it is or am I way off?

    • Andrea

      I am very certain it is not code for white. I think it is all harmless, fun, and playful teasing (here). Like when my best friend tells me her article is gonna be published in Nature…. I usually respond, “Oh so you the smarty art ninja huh”. And then remind her who taught her dimensional analysis. That’s Fun.

      • T.A.E. Hoffman

        I like how you hit me with that dimensional analysis though, I had to consult Prof. Google

        • Wild Cougar

          You should see if you can find the tag for this post and it should say something like bougie and read all Damon’s posts about this group of people and all the annoying habits that they think are cute

        • Andrea

          Ohhh. So they have the “I love Bougie Black Girl” t-shirts and the “Bougie Black Girl” T-shirt. I bought the “I love BBG” one. I’m kind of like Raven Symone….lol…I don’t like labeling myself. (But I am Black AND African-American). I wouldn’t call myself Bougie. But I am aware someone else might. I still don’t even know what it means. Any 1 person’s definition of bougie is certainly not a postulate.

      • SuperStrings

        (?-shit)^2 shit just got real. Thought you could appreciate this .

    • Damon Young

      You’re off. Although, if this is your first time reading one of the SBBPL series — or first time reading VSB — I can see why you’d think that way.

      But, this is just some self-directed ribbing/satire. Basically, I’m just talking about myself and alooooot of the people I know. Sh*t, just look at my avatar

      • T.A.E. Hoffman

        Oh aight I see you. I was just trying to unpack this my brother, just trying to unpack this…..

    • ” but on the real AA studies departments/courses save lives”

      yaaaaaaaaaaasssss

    • Beauty In Truth

      Noooooo!!!. You gotta do some research. Educated blacks/elite blacks (not exactly the same) ain’t never claimed or tried to be anything other than highly educated, powerful, and connected BLACK citizens. I would suggest reading “Our Kind of People” and study up on Black letter organizations. (Greek, Mason, other).

      Elite blacks (though yes they have their faults, and I definitely don’t agree with some of their posturing to whites in practice) push for excellence within the system. But they don’t deny their blackness, they embrace it. Which even though they aren’t the best at relating to the less affluent blacks. They won’t deny their blackness (Raven Simone/any other clearly brown negro who wants to claim some other ivory phenotype. And “passers” don’t count because they have to shun their blackness to get away with that lie. Much more difficult today) Just my two cents!

  • The line about Coates’ piece on croissants is CLASSIC. You are nailing the stereotype big-time. And $20 tells me he writes one in the next 6 months.

    • Based on how the French revolution affects black people in 2014

      • SuperStrings

        Well, we are commenting on a blog about the Black Bourgeoisie.

  • Wild Cougar

    think piece = book report

  • Agatha Guilluame

    Yo you’re talking about ShamSham (and Rachmo).

  • I laughed. You stooopid.

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