Exerpt of 'The BAP Handbook'

Etiquette, schmediquette, some might say. But etiquette is a sign of proper breeding, as any true BAP knows. BAPs don't broadcast who they are, what they have, or how they got it … such behavior goes against their earliest etiquette lessons from maman. As she grows up, the BAP discovers that her knowledge of etiquette rivals that of Miss Manners.

A BAP without good home training is like red beans without rice. The recipe for home training calls for a pinch of domestic arts (with a little help from the housekeeper), along with a cup of civic duty, three tablespoons of common sense, and a quart of maternal admonitions. The foremost ingredient in this recipe is to uphold the family name. To do otherwise is tantamount to committing treason on the most sacred of institutions, the BAP family. On the rare occasion when the BAP "shows out" at home … she might be able to get away with it. But one false move in public and you know the rest! The BAP's goal is to leave only good thoughts in the minds of those whose paths she crosses.

I Say Potato, You Say Po-Tah-Toe …

Despite her parents' best intentions to give their child a worry-free life, the BAP is placed in the precarious position of living in two different worlds: one full of mashed potatoes, the other full of sweet potatoes. In her mashed potato world, whites are repeatedly awed and impressed by how "articulate" she is and usually fail to realize that, like them, she'd be at a loss in the heart of the projects. And unfortunately, in her sweet potato world, Blacks often view her as pretentious and elitist. No matter the choice of spud, the BAP always reigns triumphant. She refuses to allow the new potatoes of the world (or the old potatoes for that matter) to keep her eyes off the prize. Their misconceptions about the BAP only serve to intensify her focus.

The great unwashed masses' perception of the BAP is as twisted as Bob Jones University's dating policy. Simply because the BAP leads a privileged life, she is believed to be shallow and materialistic. In fact, you probably think that the only meaningful contribution a BAP can make to society is a perfectly color-coordinated, designer-label closet! Sure, a BAP loves the finer things in life?who doesn't? But the BAP is more than a "material girl," she finds time in her busy schedule to give back to her community.

The greatest misconception about BAPs is that these dynamic individuals are all alike. This belief is heresy in the High Holy Church of All Things Expensive! But for the unconverted, the sacred truth is that there are actually four different kinds of BAPs: two by birthright?the Betty and the Boho, one by ascension?the Butterfly, and one by misappropriation?the Bogus. As you read, please keep in mind that most BAPs do not fit neatly into one category.

BAP Oath

Membership is priceless. Before one becomes a platinum card-carrying BAP, she must memorize this oath and take it to heart:

I, , do solemnly swear to uphold the morals and ideals of my forebears; to have my hair done on a regular basis (special dispensation for Boho); to blaze new trails for BAPs everywhere, and to lift (those around me) as I climb (as long as no one steps on my Clegeries).

I also promise to abide by the Nine Nevers. I will:

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