by Meagan FaisonYou find yourself walking into an unfamiliar area where winding roads are lined with cookie-cutter homes and nicely manicured lawns. The people you meet are varied and there’s a general pleasant feeling in the air.
This is definitely uncharted territory, but don’t be alarmed. You have just entered The Twilight Zone!….just kidding, you’re in Suburbia.
For the greater part of my young life, I was a suburbs kid. My family moved around a lot when I was younger, but it was always the same kind of thing in each place we went. We lived in community where all the houses resembled each other and our neighbors were always pretty nice...except for that one time when they were narcotic salesmen (aka drug dealers), but that was an isolated incident. There were nice schools and parks, restaurants and shopping centers.
It was kind of like living in a bubble.
Depending on where you go around Suburbia though, it’s not uncommon for the melanin to be in short supply. Growing up, I got used to holding it down as the “token black girl.” As I got older I discovered that a lot of my [black] friends had similar experiences growing up. And while being a young queen in the suburbs has it’s perks, it definitely doesn’t go without it’s struggles and stereotypes.
"OMG, you’re so bougie!"
Stuck up. Bougie. Uppidy. No stereotype has been thrown at me more in life than the Bourgeois. The black community throws this word around A LOT for people who have nice things or carry themselves in a particular way or come from what’s considered to be nice areas. Often it’s said jokingly, but even then it’s still a bit of a dig. There are some people who embrace the bougie label though, so I guess to each his own. I’m not a fan though. Don’t call me bougie.
"You’ve always had money."
A big misconception about people who grew up in middle-class or suburban areas is that we’ve always been there…not true. When I was younger I remember a period of time when I had to step out of my comfort zone, and adapt to a new way of living for a few years. I wouldn’t say we were poor, but we definitely downsized...in a major way. I remember being so curious the first time we went to a laundromat, and then not understanding why my dad was being a kill-joy. While our hard times only lasted for a while, it was enough to make me so appreciative for things, but it also showed me that I could live without them.
"Your black card is revoked."
I couldn’t even count how many times my black card has been revoked, canceled and reactivated. Growing up in a suburban area means that you have the opportunity to meet many different people and have different experiences. During the time that I was supposed to be listening to Aaliyah and B2K, I was listening to Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys (but don’t worry, I caught up). I wore more Hollister and never owned Baby Phat or Apple Bottom anything. It’s not that I was rebelling against hip hop or urban culture, I just hadn’t been introduced to yet. Of course my lack of knowledge earned me the label ‘white girl’ and ‘oreo’ for many years. Once I did go black though...you know the rest.
"You don’t really know the black struggle."
I was so excited when I got my first dashiki a couple of months ago! It was definitely a major credit on my black card btw. My family and some of my friends however were a little less enthused. As I’ve continued to learn and become a proud, black woman I’ve found it’s a little bit much to take for some people. People seem to have this mindset that if you come from money (whether it’s a lot or a little), you slowly but surely become out of touch with the condition of the African American community. As if we’re above it in some way.I’m not. I’m trying to be all up in and through it. And while there are many Suburbs kids like me who try to erase their blackness, there are just as many who want to embrace and protect it.