What I learned From White Girls: Black Women on the “Bougie”/”Ratchet” Continuum

In the video I posted about a year ago and in the blog post http://verysmartbrothas.com/shit-bougie-black-girls-say/ this idea that middle class black women feel the need to distinguish themselves from other black women who are ghetto or “ratchet” is made plain. The very smart brothers joke that the way you know that someone is definitely not “ratchet” is that they insist that they are “ratchet.” This suggests that anytime someone knows that a performance is occurring around race, it automatically renders that representation suspect. Issa Rae in her Awkward Black Girl and her Ratchetpiece Theatre explores the notion of black performance of gendered and raced stereotypes comedically. Rae suggests in her collapse of high and low art that perhaps the line between”bougieness” and “ratchetness” is so thin as to not exist. It is easy in this way to challenge what makes some black women “ghetto” or “ratchet” and what makes others “bougie” or firmly placed in the middle class. However, the idea that there is such a polarity, any sort of binary, is a fiction. In fact, more telling is why we consider “bougieness” an insult in the first place.

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