What the Hell Is Uptown Bourgeois?
Bourgeois, as defined by Urban Dictionary:
Adj. When pronounced "BOO-zhee" (soft-j sound like in French) refers to a quality of (sometimes mildly) snobby-without-realizing-it, upper-middle-class sensibilities. Usually associated with upper-middle-income white people, but not necessarily.
Apparently, when you create a website that you actually want people to find, you’re supposed to pick an easy name. If I would’ve named my website Opinionated Negro or Black Guy with Attitude, people would probably have a clear idea of what this blog is about. The objective of the name is to tell the prospective reader about the content without forcing them to do any critical thinking. But I prefer the approach of the great authors of our time. When I hear the title White Teeth, I have no idea what it’s about from the title alone. At bare minimum, I have to read a summary or excerpt to determine if I’m interested. Great authors of the past and present don’t give a shit if the meaning of their work doesn’t slap you in the face. And neither do I. I want you to dig around and see if you can figure it out on your own. Not everything should be so obvious.
Whenever people tried to say the name of my website, they mispronounced it. They’d say it as “Boar-jwa” or “Boo-zhee” but never “bu̇rzh-ˌwä”. And don’t even get me started on the spelling. What was it about this word, which seemed simple enough to me, that kept tripping people up?
According to Britannica, the term bourgeois first originated in 18th century France. It was used to describe the middle class and their pursuit of influence in politics. They believed that this influence could be achieved through economic status. The bourgeoisie became an important part of Marxist theory. The bourgeois were praised for their advancements but criticized for exploiting those who didn’t have what they had.
I didn’t have the French in mind when I made the name. I was thinking more along literal lines. I’d always been told I was a bit of a snob (partially true), and at the time I founded the blog, I lived in Harlem. The name, Uptown Bourgeois, seemed like a no-brainer to me. It rolled off the tongue nicely, like a cocoa-dusted truffle or a vintage zinfandel…there’s my bourgeois taste seeping out.
I wanted to create an online space where it was cool to talk about how excited you are about the new Dirty Projectors record or how angry you are that someone scuffed up your new suede Chelsea boots or how love has changed your life. I wanted Uptown Bourgeois to be an example of a young, black, queer guy making a difference in the world—one essay at a time.
It started as an empty fashion blog, but it quickly became part of my identity. And subsequently, it was the catalyst for my new life as a freelance writer and content creator. It even serves as a digital time capsule of my growth as a writer. It was supposed to be a place where I could become an influencer. And in some roundabout way, I’ve kind of done that. Now, if only I could get people to spell and pronounce bourgeois correctly.
Think of this site as one big collection of personal essays. It’s a record of my life. It’s an experimental space where I try out new techniques and topics. It’s nothing more, nothing less. If anything, the hope is that you have a little ‘uptown bourgeois’ in you, and these posts can help bring it out, even if it’s only for a moment.
Urban Dictionary goes on to explain bourgeois even more:
“some people might do bourgeois things occasionally or do things in a bourgeois way, but some people are just bourgeois and usually don't realize it.”
Oh, I’m well aware of how bourgeois I am. That’s the whole point of this.