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deb ball
Eleanor Welty
Lawrence Otis Graham
Bourgeois blues
Class is a very uncomfortable topic for all Americans and I think it's especially uncomfortable for black Americans. I think it's offensive to some people to think that there is a class structure in black America. I think that's probably rooted in the fact that minorities who have been oppressed in America do not ever want to be perceived as oppressive.
—Carlotta Miles, psychiatrist

Although often unnoticed by the media and by a large portion of both white and black society, the number of African Americans who can be labeled middle-class (either because of income or education) has risen to more than 50%. Largely invisible or condescended to by whites, and deemed "bourgie" (for bourgeois) and inauthentic by many working-class blacks, middle class African Americans navigate a particularly complicated web of race and class relations, torn between their aspirational instincts and the reality that skin color still rules in America. Against the backdrop of the Delta Cotillion in Charlotte NC, where aspiring young women are "presented" to the African American community, we hear about what it means to be middle class and black, including novelist Benilde Little ("My white boss said to me, 'Oh, I know, you're Cosby Show black'"), graduate student Daria Smith ("I don't think I've ever dated anyone who wasn't in the Ivy League...well, maybe one or two") and banker Valerie Beal ("Every other group is encouraged to strive. Why should we be any different?")


Wasp lessons
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