Forget Black Voices, The YBF or the sadly outmoded Black Planet. For young, upwardly-mobile people of color who are in-the-know, there's one Web site that trumps all of the above—Stuff Educated Black People Like.
Notice the qualifier, "Educated." It's so very necessary. You see, we so often have to remind others (and ourselves) that we're radically different from the other black people on the block or on TV (which could be the same place, depending on who you ask). We have degrees. We go to the spa. And we our like our chicken baked, not fried.
This site, inspired by Stuff White People Like, launched in February and has since outlined 35 things that are favorites among the young, black and educated. Among them are mega-churches (but only if they have good choirs), Barack Obama (of course) and the idea of golf. (Not the actual game. Just the idea of stuntin' with a monogrammed golf bag.) The site has attracted more than 1.3 million visits, and while some comments are critical, the author Charlee Renauld writes that the entries are "only jokes" and implores people not "take these things seriously."
I, for one, am a fan. If I could add No. 36 to the list, it would be acronyms used to describe ourselves. There's EBP (educated black people), for one. And the oft-sought after IBM (ideal black man, for the uninformed). Then I'd have to mention the one my friend, Lynnette, created to describe her snow-boarding, IT-specialist boyfriend: the NAN, or, New-Age Negro.
The site resonates with me and most of—okay, all of my friends. To the point where now, Lynnette and I decide which gatherings to attend based on whether they'll be "EBP events" or not. (Howard alumni happy hour? Of course. A club where sagging jeans and waist-long weaves are the fashion of choice? Not so much.) Yes, the site is funny, and yes, it teases us for some of our most pretentious habits (i.e. No. 20, "Correcting Others"), but really, we like the site because it lets us know it's okay to be…well… bourgie.
There. I said it. The dreaded B-word. Some wear it with a badge of honor, using it to describe themselves as educated, well-read, worldly and so-cool-that-they-don't-even-have-to-try. A number of entities have popped up to cater specifically to the UBBP (Unapologetically Bourgie Black Person—I made that acronym up myself.) Jam Donaldson (the brain behind HotGhettoMess.com) is now selling a line of T-shirts encouraging proper speech and grammar, with phrases like "Conversate is not a word" and "No Questions 'Axed.'" And a few years ago, while I was still studying at Howard, students began strutting the yard with T-shirts, hats and tote bags emblazoned with the phrase "Uppity Negro." (Never mind that the founder told the school newspaper that she didn't want her concept to be confused with the black bourgeoisie; it kinda ended up appealing to that demographic anyway.)
But for every person that's proud to be called bourgie, there's another that cringes at the very utterance, dreading the idea that others might view them as such. They don't want people to think that they think that they're better than other people. It's not that they're ashamed of their educated or upwardly mobile status (shoot, we ain't paying those student loans for nothing). They just want to be considered in-touch. Grounded. And to still be able to carry their "keeping-it-real" card—even if they do turn up their nose when a cousin lights a Black 'n Mild.
I fall somewhere in the middle. While I enjoy the posts on Stuff Black People Like, I'm also sometimes hit with a pang of uneasiness while reading, particularly when I see comments like "I guess I'm not bourgie enough to understand," or posts like No. 35, "Knowing What's Best for UEBP" (uneducated black people). Call it Black Educated Guilt, if you will. You feel like you're moving up in the world, but with every step you take, you can't help but feel like you're leaving someone behind.
Another EBP friend, Tara, says she too understands both sides. But she figures, with so many negative stereotypes associated with being black, you almost have to go out of your way to prove yourself to the world in general. And if that means touting your advanced degrees or making sure people know you watch CNN, then so be it.
Yet I can't help but wonder—between all the sites, T-shirts and self-imposed labels aimed at shattering stereotypes, could it be that we actually believe them more than we care to admit?
Veronica Miller is a writer and radio producer living in Washington, D.C.