Posted by & filed under SOC 119 - Voices from the Classroom.

Here’s a great Washington Post article by Roxanne Roberts and Krissah Thompson on black integration in the “A list” world of Washington, DC.

D.C.’s High-Level Social Scene Now Mingles Black and White

Here’s what stands out to me. There is a national assumption that black Americans are, as a collective group, on average, poorer than white people. Not that every black American is poor–but when people think “black” they’d be much more inclined to connect it to the word “poor” rather than the words “middle class” or “rich.” This is damaging to our collective psyche in general and race relations in particular because it means that other groups, especially white people, don’t naturally feel as though they have something in common with large blocks of black Americans. But the truth of the matters is that half of all black Americans are middle class — which means that those in the other half are either rich or poor. And as middle class Americans, fifty percent of blacks have all of the same struggles as all other members of the middle class–including all of the mundane and often boring concerns such as whether using the coupon to purchase a toaster at Wal*Mart is a smarter option than sending in the rebate that Target offers.

Granted, a disproportionately larger number of black Americans are poor when compared with white and Asian Americans, and racism continues to affect the life chances of people with dark skin who live in America, but the focus of this article is wealthy black Americans. That is to say, RRRRRRICH black people whose powerful and privileged lives would be so alien to most white Americans that the latter would not even have a longing to be like them. This has absolutely nothing to do with affirmative action, by the way, and everything to do with using connections to make more connections and cashing in privilege to gain more privilege. And while these black men and women might feel some unease walking the halls of power given the history of “their people,” one likely would not know it by listening in on their conversations. Moreover, these black A-listers probably care about black people in need just about as much as white A-listers care about white people in need. You can decide for yourself if you think that both groups care “a great deal” or “not much at all.”

And keep in mind that this article could well have been written about the privileged strata of Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans because the elites of each of these groups have also carved out lives that by and large remain mysteries to many tens of millions of white people.

So how does this article stack up against how you think of black Americans and, if you have time to listen to his shtick, what might you say to Chris Rock? When you think about “white privilege,” how do you integrate these African American (and Latino, Asian, American Indian) “A-Listers” in to your thinking?

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