Critics of the Black middle class have long chastised its members for abandoning urban communities for more affluent suburbs, leaving working class and poor Blacks with few advocates and little political clout to transcend the conditions of the “ghetto.”
The Black middle class says otherwise.
According to its members, this particular segment of Blacks is not only scapegoated, but when conditions do improve, the credit for its efforts is given to white gentrification.
Blame transportation policies that built great big highways to take striving families right out of the city. Point to the decline of high-paying industry jobs. Take a look at “business innovations” such as crack, which filled the power vacuum in inner cities and made them dangerous places to live.
But if I were looking for a culprit in a racial group, the Black middle class is the very last place that I’d be sniffing around. The Black middle class is the bridge between the peril and privilege in our society, as Mary Pattillo-McCoy wrote in her classic book, Black Picket Fences.