“Bougie” and Never Being Black Enough

Recently, my job started serving Pepsi products instead of Coke products, which none of us were too happy about. I only drink diet pops, and I prefer diet Coke. We still have diet Cokes for our guests, but only in cans, not from the fountains. One morning, our barista brought me diet coke in one of our to-go cups. The next day, I asked my coworker if we still had diet Coke in the fountains, and she told me we didn’t. “Oh, I thought we did because [barista] brought it to me in a cup yesterday.”

“He probably did because you’re bougie like that.”

“I didn’t ask for it in a cup. I wanted the can.”

This isn’t the first time she’s referred to me as bougie, and honestly, I’m not even sure she knows what it means, nor where it comes from. I have another coworker that calls me bougie for everything I like or dislike. I’ve only been in Dallas for a year and a half, and since my parents lived in the Uptown area, that’s the only area I know. Uptown is affluent, so if I talk about going anywhere, bougie is the name I’m given. If I say I don’t like something, it’s perceived as me being too good for it. “You wouldn’t go there, that’s in the ‘hood.” Or “you’re too good to leave Uptown?” I always feel disconnected with my own people for no apparent reason.

I speak differently than most of my friends and family. It isn’t on purpose, and I wouldn’t want to change it. But I’m surrounded by people that have a problem with it. I went through school with classmates telling me I talk like a white girl. I’ve even worked with people, in professional settings, that told me I didn’t act black. I’ve always viewed it as racism, coming from white people. I’m not surprised when some of them are surprised with how I speak and act. However, how am I supposed to view it coming from black people?

There are now rumors circulating that Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is viewed as not black enough by his teammates, and the question I have is, what does that mean? What is black enough? There are jokes about his hair, his ex wife, and his barber commercial. Maybe he doesn’t talk the way he’s supposed to, or maybe he doesn’t carry himself a certain way, but who is saying he isn’t black enough?

Of course, we’ll never know which player feels that way, or if the rumors are even true, but as someone that has been called not black enough, I would like an explanation. We complain when the media and the news portray us a certain way. They view us as animals and a threat, like the protestors in Ferguson, for example, and we all have a problem with it. However, we have our own people telling us we aren’t enough. We’re too dark for one side, and we aren’t black enough for the other.

Where the hell do we belong?


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