Black American Princess (BAP): a pejorative term used to describe a young woman or girl born into a middle-class or upper-middle-class family of Black descent who possesses (or is perceived to possess) a spoiled or materialistic attitude.
The definition above alludes to the idea that being a BAP is a negative thing. This is because one associates “a spoiled or materialistic attitude” with the likes of a Dionne from Clueless. In other words, the general perception of a BAP is a stuck-up and privileged young Black woman.
I believe we should change that perception. First, we should extend it to include men and boys. Men and boys, much like women, are not immune to the effects of their family’s privilege. Generally, privilege isn’t discussed enough among or about Black people. BAPs are proof of this. If we assess the methods propelling Black society from its current financially disadvantaged state, the privilege BAPs possess could progressively improve the state of Black America.
Compared to those most exposed and vulnerable to prejudice and stereotypes in the Black community, BAPs live a reality often distant from the toxic assumptions of Black people. As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie states, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.” Current stereotypes of Black people and Black communities are a monolith that stands in the way of constructive progress. Even worse, they perpetuate and even catalyze the often unfortunate fate of Black people in Western societies. The realities are far more complex. Nevertheless, making the chances for advancement very slim.
BAPs, for instance – contrary to stereotypes of Black people – are often raised in what many consider “stable” households. Born into either middle- or upper-middle-class homes, opportunities are more readily accessible. Because their parents can provide and support their growth, BAPs often grow up with more autonomy to be who they want to be, and with fewer hindrances to get them there. When attending college, for example, BAPs are better capable of focusing on their studies, without the loud distractions of providing food, housing or books for themselves. They simply have more by means of financial support, as we all should. We should want our children to have these privileges.
Too often we view privilege as a negative thing – likely because it’s been used for centuries in America among the white and wealthy to dismantle opportunities for Black communities. But when used wisely, especially from within our own community, the tools from and access to privilege can unlock the future we always believed in.
In a recent interview with NPR, Carol’s Daughter founder Lisa Price discusses how she handled the backlash she received for selling her company to L’Oreal. “I used the opportunity, and still use it, to educate as best as possible, because it’s going to take us time to build that generational wealth and perhaps be in a place where we have the luxury of not having to sell. Because we were able to build it on our own. Or we were able to build it with mom and dad’s help and we can stay privately owned. But it’s going to take some time to get there.”
Too often we view privilege as a negative thing – likely because it’s been used for centuries in America among the white and wealthy to dismantle opportunities for Black communities. But when used wisely, especially from within our own community, the tools from and access to privilege can unlock the future we always believed in. Black kids are going to need the financial support of a privileged upbringing to combat the active dismantling of their communities. They are going to need to have the audacity to go after whatever they want.