I know she exists. I know she lives uptown like Carrie and has a life insurance policy's worth of Manolo's in her closet. I know she vacations in the Hamptons or maybe Sag Harbor. And I know she has brown-skinned friends who live the same way.
This weekend I went to see Michael Patrick King's Sex and the City movie. I laughed, I cried, and I drooled over shoes, dresses and handbags—the kind you have to make appointments to see and need a credit check and two references to buy.
Every scene made me think of one of my best girlfriends or one of my ex-boyfriends, and how thankful I was for the experiences I've had and the people they have brought me closer to. I related to all of it. Well, most of it. Okay, some of it—namely, the race-transcending moral lessons and cathartic events. But then I thought about these four fictional icons of mine and realized that for the last 10 years I had been content to dream about the lives of the white elite. It wasn't until I saw them on the big screen and fell in love all over again that I thought, "Where are the black women who live like this, in environments like this, surrounded by more of their own?" And I'm not talking just about entertainers; I'm referring to modern-day moguls, heiresses, women who walk our streets without getting mobbed for autographs.
Now I am well aware that there are black women in very powerful and influential positions across the country; I always assumed, however, that once they got to the top they'd be hard pressed to find whole groups of individuals who looked like them and shared their clout (and their extensive portfolios). How naive was I to think that the black elite—the top tenth of The Talented Tenth—would have difficulty filling their Rolodexes with fellow minorities?
In my searching, I came across the blog The Black Socialite. After I read about some of the happenings with the black elite, I spent another hour searching for information on the individuals this blogger has listed as "Super Black Socialites" on her page. Their resumes were impressive, to say the least, and many of them also had equally impressive family trees. The list included our versions of Charlotte and Miranda, and I'm pretty sure most of the women on this list could make a crisp white blazer look just as good as Samantha did in SATC. But these are real women—not fictional heroines whose pictures line my DVD shelf.
And the icing on the cake? They belong to organizations like Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the Links, The Girlfriends and other groups who, while esoteric to varying degrees, all focus on staying connected to the black community and empowering other black women. Sorry, Michael Patrick King, but I've just acquired a new set of role models.
And there aren't just four, or five or even 100 black women out there living large. This fall, Lawrence Otis Graham will release his book, The Our Kind of People 800 Register, in which he will list the "800 richest and most socially elite blacks in America." Eight hundred out of how many thousands, I wonder? And by the time the book hits print in November, how many more of my sisters (and brothers) will be celebrating their rise from middle class to cream of the crop? Our ranks continue to increase and grow, and we continue to penetrate classes and circles and levels of society that were previously impossible for us to enter as colleagues.
Maybe I will be fortunate enough to join their ranks one day; according to Stuff Educated Black People Like, at age 27, with two degrees, a well-paying job and membership in a black Greek letter organization, I'm well on my way. But, sadly, my closet remains filled with mostly J.Crew and Express clothes, and the closest I get to the Hamptons is the Hampton Inn. Nonetheless, my drive for success and personal enrichment has been renewed by the placement of hundreds of beautiful black faces at the top of my imaginary ladder.
Jordyn White is a writer based in Washington, D.C.