The Bougie Black Person’s Guide To The Perfect Level Of Blackness » VSB

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The Bougie Black Person’s Guide To The Perfect Level Of Blackness

"Don't let the $195 tie fool you. It's not a game with my Blackness."

“Don’t let the $195 tie fool you. It’s not a game with my Blackness.”

So, after a day’s worth of thinking, writing, and talking about what makes a name “Black,” if there’s a right and wrong degree of Blackness for a name, the etymology of Barkevious, and fried chicken, I spent the evening wondering how the demographic most hyper conscious of and sensitive to race—Bougie Black People (BBP)—manages to find the perfect level of Blackness with everything else they care about.

Actually, this is a lie. I spent no time “wondering” about anything. As an admitted BBP—and expert arbiter of BBP best practices—I know exactly how to find the sweet spot between “not Black enough” and “a tad bit too Black.” And, while this determination is dependent on a complex labyrinth of experience, observation, education, and proximity to Black Girls Run, I’ve decided to hide most of the work for you all today and just show a few of the results.

Woman with Perfect Level of Blackness


Despite having absolutely no idea who this woman is, where she’s from, what she does for a living, and whether she “dated” Stevie J, a quick glance at a few context clues in this picture lets us know she’s perfectly Black.

She’s brown-skinned, a perfect complexion for a Bougie Black Man who doesn’t want to catch heat for being colorstruck but also doesn’t want his girl to break up with him because he didn’t think Dark Girls was all that good. She has creatively natural hair, a style signaling “I love Zumba and Thai food!!!” Her earrings let you know that while she shops at, she’s not above rocking something copped from a vendor outside of a GoGo in Silver Spring. And, she’s wearing a scarf on what looks to be a 60 degree night. A not Black enough Black girl would have gone for a windbreaker there, and it would be too cold for a bit too Black girl to even be outside.

Show with perfect level of Blackness

Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell

Bell’s show manages to be smart and Black enough to impress other Black people when they learn you’re a fan, but not so Black that the content either goes over non-Black people’s heads or scares the f*ck out of them. Both The Melissa Harris Perry Show and Key & Peele would seem to have a perfect level of Blackness as well, but Totally Biased stands alone for two reasons.

1. It’s not as popular as those other two shows. This makes it more exclusive, and nothing says perfect level of Blackness better than arbitrary exclusivity.

2. W. Kamau Bell isn’t light skinned.

Food with perfect level of Blackness

Shrimp and Grits

Grits add character. And, by “character” I mean “Blackness.” Adding shrimp to the grits instead of ox tail or pig burps, though, let’s everyone know you’re making a conscious choice to eat “better” while also letting everyone know you’re still Black enough to consider eating seafood to actually be a sign of eating “better.”

Rapper with perfect level of Blackness

Phonte Coleman

Phonte, displaying a perfectly Black sideeye

Phonte, displaying a perfectly Black sideeye

The former Little Brother frontman/current Foreign Exchange frontman is authentically Black and produces authentically Black content with realistically Black themes–which makes him too Black for not Black enough people. He’s also a uber-talented rapper who doesn’t rap on his albums anymore—which makes him perfectly Black for those seeking that perfect level of Blackness.

Sporting activity with perfect level of Blackness

Co-ed Kickball

BBP striving to find the perfect level of Blackness need to stay in relatively good shape. Form fitting clothes make it easier for cops to see you’re not carrying any weapons, but it’s hard to comfortably wear form fitting clothes with a beer belly. And while cross fit and insanity may do the trick, it can be awkward always having your cat lick your thighs while doing ab workouts.

So, you need to do something outdoors. The special shoes only purchased at special stores needed to compete in marathons and rock climbing contests make them not quite Black enough, though, and any sport that Blacks with names like Lebron and TayShawn are able to play professionally is far too Black.

Co-ed kickball, however, finds the perfectly Black sweet spot. The sport contains a ball—making it a bit too Black for the not Black enough—but you have to buy a special Kickball ball that seems to only be sold at Target and select Rite-Aids—making it not Black enough for the bit too Black.

White person with perfect level of Blackness

Tina Fey

Finds the perfectly Black sweet spot for two reasons

1. Not quite Black enough Blacks won’t appreciate her relationship with Tracy Morgan—lieutenant jester of the bit too Black Blacks.

2. Bit too Black Blacks just don’t think 30 Rock is that funny.

City with perfect level of Blackness

Washington, D.C.

For years, Atlanta has battled D.C. for the perfect level of Blackness moniker, but Atlanta has worms (and by “worms” I mean “Momma Dee”), so D.C. wins by default.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

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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.

  • I do want to know who did this flat twist style on this woman though. *clicks save as for future reference*

    • Pierre

      I saved it too

    • mb

      Her name is Laila-Jean. She has a youtube channel called “Fusion of Cultures” #backtoLurkdom.

      • Pierre

        Thank you!!!

        • Melanie Stitt

          thanks! i’ve been looking for this hair forever!!!

      • Bless you

      • MsSula


      • Janelfelice

        Thank you! That picture is on my Pinterest. I’ve been trying to find her for the longest!

      • Aces1art

        whomever she is (hope I said that right) .. she is a star in my book!

    • Rachmo

      It’s saved in my “Future Wedding Hair For When I Get Chose” folder.

      • phillybrowngirl

        love that—“when I get chose” lol

    • Shamira

      That is just….too much work. If it ain’t wash and go, I just cannot do it. lol. Beautiful styling though.

      • Oshun

        girrrrl, you and I, you and I!!!

    • StillSuga

      I did that too! And I love Zumba and Thai, so there is that…

  • knkytht

    I don’t have any scarves, but I have 8 vintage Nike/L.A. Gear/Golden Girlsesque windbreakers for the season. I’ve already lost, haven’t I?

    • IcePrincess

      Lol! He said LA gear. Don’t forget fila.

      • BreezyX2

        ICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I miss you mama :)

      • knkytht

        I can’t find a FILA one with that particular… je ne sais qoui that I’m looking for… yet…

    • WIP

      I tried to start wearing scarves. They look so cool on other people. It didn’t work out. I’m in the South; I got to have my neck out.

  • AsBougieAsSheWannaBe

    Wait here Eye is!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Pierre

    My level of blackness decline about everyday.. hope this guide will help

    • The Champ

      You need to get on that

      • Pierre

        Working on it

  • SweetSass

    I know this struggle is real.

    • Yoles

      every day we struggling… we’re still standing, still strong

  • Carameleclair

    I chuckled during this whole article ????

  • kidvideo

    In the 70s, detroit was the city blk ppl flocked to…good thing dc or alt dont make ford cars.

    • Sahel

      Detroit..i saw a documentary on how it is at the moment. Man

      • Epsilonicus


        • Sahel


      • Obsidian Files

        Keep in mind, please, that Motown has been under “Black leadership” – continuously – for the better part of a half century.

        Just sayin…


        • Sahel

          All it reminded me of was Mad Max. That City is a mess.

          • Obsidian Files

            Indeed, it is; but the fact I have noted above, as unpleasant as it may be, simply cannot be overlooked, either. Other cities around the nation – my hometown of Philly included – share this similar trait of “Black leadership” – with similar results and outcomes. In fact, there is now open speculation among both local and national Chatterers, questioning whether Philly will indeed go the way of Detroit.

            We have to grapple forthrightly, with the failure, of “Black leadership”.


            • Sahel

              Leadership is a reflection of the people. So are you saying blacks have failed in Detroit and Philly

            • Does Atlanta count in this failure of black leadership? Economics, school crises, housing boom?

              • Obsidian Files

                Ms. D:
                RIchard Florida has a series of maps of the major American cities available for viewing over at the Atlantic; among them, he includes Philly, Washington DC, NYC and ATL. In ALL of them, the income divide couldn’t be more stark.

                When it comes to ATL, what is perhaps better to say, is that for SOME Blacks, life couldn’t be better – but in other parts of ATL – Bankhead, East Point – it might as well be the Third World. Celebrated writer and journalist Tom Wolfe has written an excellent novel about all this some two decades ago, that I think you will like, called “A Man in Full”.


        • SuperStrings

          bougie “Black Leadership”

        • h.h.h.

          “Keep in mind, please, that Motown has been under “Black leadership” – continuously – for the better part of a half century.”

          please define “black leadership”

          • Tentpole

            Motown was sold in 1988. It may have Black leadership but the company answers to a higher organization.

  • babybear293

    The woman in the photo is from this youtube channel

    this is the video tutorial of the style depicted in the photo above

    • The Champ

      she radiates bougie black girl. I like her.

  • babybear293

    should have read the comments… oh well

  • I Am Your People

    Cocoa butter is at the perfect level of Blackness. Makes Black skin glow AND you smell like chocolate (this is why it defeats shea butter. West Indians can make a case for coconut oil

    • Nic_Mac

      Shea butter seems to absorb into my skin better, so my perfect level of blackness has me ordering bulk quantities of shea and cocoa butter offline and mixing them together so that I can get that great glow and the chocolate smell too. #winner

      • Geneva Girl

        I started making my own body butter with both of those ingredients, plus some sweet almond oil and some essential oils, it is too die for. Do I now have the perfect level of blackness?

        • Kema

          Doing all that mixing is moving you into granola country. Congrats!

        • SuperStrings

          Do you sell that?

    • Manny

      My Polish friend has black tendencies and when she ever pulled out some coacoa butter it just solidified it for me. And it wasn’t Palmer’s it was that hard stuff you have to break a piece off and rub your hands together.

      • Todd

        Those Palmer’s ads with the McCourty twins get to me. It’s obvious they shot it on campus at Rutgers Stadium, but they blatantly photoshopped all the Rutgers references out. Grr…

    • team cocoa butter

    • Epsilonicus

      I know old folks who use Vaseline. Is that too Black?

      • BreezyX2

        Yes, it is and it doesn’t absorb well. #TeamCocoabutter

    • The Champ

      I like it when Black women smell like Snickers bars

    • WIP

      Cocoa butter won’t even absorb into my skin. It just lays there. I can’t be rubbing lotion for 10 minutes.

      • LMNOP

        Interesting, maybe your skin is naturally well moisturized already? Or maybe your using too much?

        • WIP

          LOL, I guess I’m just an oily, greasy mf.

          • LMNOP

            “glowing” I believe is the word your looking for. Maybe lustrous? (I’m not 100% sure what that means though.

    • Sigma_Since 93

      You gotta use Palmer’s. All other brands are like Tito and Jermaine.

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