If you talk to enough BBP in your travels, you’ll soon find they tend to share a hyper-awareness about two things.
Told their entire lives that they’re a little smarter, a little funnier, and a little cooler than their peers—basically, that they’re uniquely special motherfuckers—much of a Bougie Black Person’s existence is predicated on the idea that merely existing isn’t enough. Being a cog in the system or a worker bee won’t cut it. They’re destined for bigger and better things. Not only do they have to matter, they’re supposed to.
There are no other types of Black people more in tune with, aware of, and (surprisingly) in love with the concept of Blackness than Bougie Black People. Not regular Blacks. Not militant Blacks. Not Black scholars. And not even Blacks from Memphis. They are conscious of what “Blackness” means, the arbitrary variables often used to craft that definition, and the fact that this definition needs constant assessing and recalibration. Although they’re often comfortable navigating non-Black worlds, they’re intentionally, almost painstakingly cognizant of how Black people are perceived by non-Blacks. If one ever needed to know the “level of Blackness” of any person, place, or citrus fruit, a BBP would be the best person to ask.
This consciousness largely stems from the fact that BBP’s inherent self-consciousness about being a BBP puts them in perpetual thought about their own Blackness. By extension, this leads to frequent thought about everyone’s and everything else’s Blackness. (Even certain White people’s level of Blackness is a popular topic of conversation among BBP¹)
When you combine this need to matter with an obsession with Blackness, you’re prone to find some very peculiar behavior. One such behavior occurs whenever Bougie Black People go out to eat at a restaurant.
At first glance, their behavior doesn’t seem any different than any other people eating crab-stuffed curry grape leaves at the city’s trendiest Greek/Jamaican fusion tapas hookah lounge. They sit, drink water with lemons, order and eat their food, and have conversations about Willow Smith, yoga mats, and gentrification.
All normalcy changes when the check comes, though. While most other demographics tend to tip between 10% and 20%, BBP trend a bit higher, regularly tipping somewhere between 25% and 40%. This increase also has nothing to do with the service. Short of squatting and shitting in a Bougie Black Person’s salad, there’s not much a server can do to fall below the 25% baseline.
Now, overtipping has obvious benefits—better service, better karma, better chance of impressing Bougie Black Girls enough to earn the elusive Bougie Black Girl head, etc—but the BBP’s primary motivation for partaking in this practice has nothing to do with any of that.
Black people are generally regarded as terrible tippers. Whether this perception is actually true is irrelevant.² Also irrelevant is the chicken/egg argument of which came first: Blacks receiving shittier service (and becoming shitty tippers as a result) or Blacks tipping shittily (and receiving shitty service as a result). What is relevant is that this perception follows Black people everywhere. Bougie Black People—already hypersensitive to all things Black—are very aware of this, so they overtip to send four separate but somewhat overlapping messages to the (usually White) server.
1. “Yeah, you thought you were getting $7, didn’t you, racist motherfucker? Well, here’s $11. How do you like them apples?”
2. “Don’t worry. I’m not like the rest of them. Here’s proof.”
3. “So what if the bill was $40 more than I expected it to be. I was recently promoted from Mid-Atlantic New Media Practices Diversity Initiator for Exxon Mobile to Mid-Atlantic New Media Practices Diversity Manager for Exxon Mobile. I can afford both it and the 35% tip. Bitch.”
The last message, though, is most important.
4. “I know how you probably feel about Blacks and tipping. This will reverse it.”
The Bougie Black Person’s belief in mattering is so steadfast that they believe a 30% tip left by one of them will be enough to neutralize every thought his server has ever had about Blacks being poor tippers. And, if this particular server has never possessed that thought, the overtipping serves as a preemptive measure to counteract any future thoughts.
Unfortunately, doing this could lead to another unfortunate thought: Black people can’t do math.
¹Unfortunately, this is limited to White men (who just have to be romantically linked to a Black woman to be considered more “Black.”). A White women, however, can be mayor of Detroit and sleep with the entire Wu-Tang Clan and still not earn any Black points.
²It is true, though. Irrelevant, but true.
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)