Editor’s note: This is part of a series that looks at regional blackness and what it’s like being black in various parts of these United States.
I know, I know, I know. If you're not from Pittsburgh, your first thought when coming across this list was probably, "Wait … there are black people in Pittsburgh?" And if you're actually from Pittsburgh and you came across this list, your first thought was probably, "Wait … black Pittsburgh is getting profiled in a national publication? Was Cleveland not answering the phone or something?"
Jokes aside, Pittsburgh has a storied black history. From Billy Eckstine and Art Blakey to August Wilson and Phyllis Hyman, the city has been home to dozens of the most prominent and influential black people in American history. Even today, recent MacArthur “genius” grant awardees Terrance Hayes and LaToya Ruby Frazier have roots in the Pittsburgh area.
But are there any commonalities unique to black Pittsburghers? Characteristics that many of us share—besides, of course, either dating a Steeler, knowing someone who dated a Steeler or dating someone who dated a Steeler? Let's see!
Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VerySmartBrothas.com. He is also a contributing editor at Ebony.com. He lives in Pittsburgh and he really likes pancakes. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. It’s Gotta Be the Shoes
You still remember the David’s Shoes commercial jingle (“I get my shoes from David’s. David’s Shoes in East Liberttttttttttttttttttty!”).
Kennywood Day Stuntin’
You spent more time, effort and money on Kennywood Day outfits than on your prom.
3. Grand Opening; Grand Closing
You can name more clubs and lounges that don’t exist anymore (Whiskey Dicks, Tequila Willie’s, Donzi’s, the Shadow Lounge, AVA, the Crawford Grill, Laga, the Firehouse Lounge, etc.) than ones that actually do. (Also, related, you base your nightlife decisions now on DJs. Basically, if Nate da Phat, Tee Jay or Selecta ain’t spinnin’, you ain’t going.)
Before friends and family from out of town visit you, you prepare them for how white Pittsburgh is, but they get here and they’re still shocked by the whiteness.
5. Strike a Pose
You’ve had your picture taken by either Ricco or Brotha Ash approximately 473,498,642 times.
6. I’m Just Sayin’ …
You have very strong feelings about Mount Ararat. Maybe good feelings and maybe bad feelings, but definitely very strong.
7. We Will Fight for Mike
You remember thinking, “There’s no way in hell the Steelers will hire a black coach,” and 10 years later, you’re still shocked that they actually did.
8. You’re Trilingual
You’re fluent in three languages: English, Yinzer and Nephs Ike.
9. You Need to Call Tyrone … at the Giant Eagle Parking Lot.
You know what a jitney is, where to catch one, how to call one and where to stand in the Giant Eagle parking lot if you need one immediately.
10. Home Sweet Home
You talk relentless s—t about how wack Pittsburgh is—at happy hour, during dinner, at work, in emails, on Facebook, at baby showers; s—t, even in your dreams—but the moment someone not from the Burgh starts talking s—t about it, too, you’re ready to fight.