Sophistiratchet: Reclaiming a Multifaceted Identity

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I, like many of my friends and counterparts, would consider myself a well-rounded Black person. I grew up in a working class Black neighborhood, graduated from college, constantly engage in intelligent banter, in person and with online communities, yet know when and how to turn my ratchet on. A few years ago, “Boughetto” would have been the perfect term to describe people like us, but it appears that new terminology of “sophistiratchet” is on the rise.

Boughetto has been used to explain the phenomenon of Black people incorporating trends and activities familiar to the majority while practicing many unique habits that comprise Black culture; “bougie” describing the former and “ghetto” characterizing the latter. As the term “ratchet” has entered and dominated Black vernacular, it seems only fitting that “boughetto” be rebranded and renamed to reflect the style and language of the current time.

It is true; I get my unapologetic fill of BET and VH1 reality shows, high heels and bright nail polishes. I also understand the importance of reading daily news, watching MSNBC and staying abreast of social, cultural, and political happenings in the world. It is the existence of these dichotomies that creates the amalgamation of the two opposing words of “sophisticated” and “ratchet”. While Boughetto is not necessarily viewed positively, sophistiratchet appears to be celebrated more and embraced by the Black community.

There are a few ways to cultivate the sophistiratchet lifestyle.

First, staying abreast of all social, political and cultural happenings, especially things pertaining to Black people is a must. This includes knowing the latest issues surrounding gun violence in urban communities as well as the latest drama seen on Love and Hip Hop New York. It is crucial that at a moment’s notice, you can contribute to intelligent debate or casual conversation with an educated opinion.

Shopping at thrift shops and second-hand stores is both a trend and a necessity. Mixing fabrics, colors, and different fashion pieces is stylish, and also saves you a lot of money. In these uncertain economic times, wearing all designer everything may not be a priority or necessity to your well-being. But be sure to keep it classy and pair these eccentric ensembles with a luxury item of your choosing (designer/trendy accessories, shoes, bags, etc.)

Gaining fluency in code switch is integral to all life situations. Maintaining professionalism in academic and work settings is just as important as affirming your cultural vernacular. I still type intentional grammatical errors (i.e. “Where you at?) to friends and family who are familiar with and understand my speech patterns. Depending on your environment, it wouldn't hurt to keep up with current rap/trap and pop music while enjoying a guilty pleasure genre of your choice (for me it's 90’s R&B slow jams).

Being a colorful food and drink connoisseur will expand your taste palate. It’s good to go out for sushi and weekend brunch dates at swanky restaurants as well as enjoy known Black/urban cuisine (Flamin’ hot Cheetos, peach cobbler, etc.). As with all food intake, consider your health and remember that moderation is key.

Lastly, it is very important that you nurture all aspects of your being. Sometimes it’s necessary to turn on that Travis Porter Pandora station to optimize your workout regimen. Other times you need to deactivate your Twitter or spend an evening knitting. Whatever your routine, embrace it in all of its complexity.

There are definitely many other ways to cultivate a Sophistiratchet lifestyle; things you enjoy doing may be a little different than what works for others. What’s important is that the individuality and inclusiveness of this specific Black identity are celebrated.

Precious J. is an aspiring culture writer and music enthusiast based in DC. For more on her contemplations about blackness, culture and music, email her at:

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