Shit Bougie Black People Love: 20. A Different World

(Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)
(Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

You might remember the late 80s and early 90s as a forgettable period of time where Republicans ran the White House, t-shirts had shoulder pads, and everyone cool got AIDS. This is because you're not a Bougie Black Person. Bougie Black People hold this period especially dear, as many of their favorite memories were created in this time frame, and most of those memories have to do with TV shows.


Don't believe me? Well, the next time you come across a Bougie Black Person shopping for Docksiders or leaving a gallery crawl, mention Claire Huxtable's name, and listen to them speak uninterrupted for the next 45 minutes about how she's either "everything I want to be as a woman" or "everything I want in a woman." Or, perhaps, ask them about The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or Martin, and do not be alarmed when they admit they recently spent 36 consecutive hours on a couch watching marathons of these shows.

But nothing had/has the same transformative effect on Bougie Black People than A Different World, an HBCU-centric Cosby Show spin-off. Although it only aired six seasons, the chronicles of Dwayne, Whitley and the rest of the Hillman College population were so resonate that it set the blueprint for how an entire generation of soon-to-be Bougie Black People would live their lives.

This fact becomes especially clear once you realize there are only six types of Bougie Black people, all derived from A Different World characters.

The Denise: The upper-middle class Daddy's girl with a rebellious streak, grown-up Denises are often found in D.C. running two member non-profits in the hood,  branding themselves as "tastemakers," and "dating" Omari Hardwick.

The Whitley (aka "The AKA"): The upper-middle class Daddy's girl without a rebellious streak, grown-up Whitleys are married by 27 — usually to MBA grads named "Brandon" or "Richard" — moms by 29, professional board members by 30, and functional alcoholics by 31.

The Jalessa: Can be found either dating a White guy, writing a book about dating a White guy, or writing a book about why she won't date White guys again.


The Freddie: Is a full time graphic designer or photographer or something. Never seems to have a real job, but always seems to be able to be places. Was natural before going natural was a thing. Is now just bald, because that will be the new thing. Is effectively the Manic Pixie Black Girl.

The Lena: Has 250,000 Twitter followers, and does nothing but tweet all day and have Sunday brunch with other Lenas who tweet all day.


The Dwayne (aka "The Kappa"): Was nerdy in school, but somehow has much more social capital now. No need for more description, because he is literally the only type of Bougie Black Guy.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



YAASSS!!! Reminds me of my various experiences wearing my Hillman shirt. Some people ask me if I really went to Hillman. O_o Those are the definitive moments perfecting my side-eye was made for. They've got to do better. And then you have those that (predictably) say, "I ain't one of the Cosbys. I ain't go to Hillman." thus combining TWO things Bougie Black People love: ADW and (Graduation) Kanye.