E. Franklin Frazier’s Black Bourgeoisie was more prophetic than many realized. Frazier, who addressed the burgeoning black middle class, expressed concern about the intra class conflict vis-a-vis socioeconomic status of black folks. Frazier notes that the black middle class was in a rush by the 1960s to assimilate. During the Harlem Renaissance, even W.E.B. Du Bois “strategically included white judges on panels for their black literary competitions, in hopes that white approval would add luster to black achievements.” This shift that occurred was not a mass or universal one. The black middle class was still small and would not be catapulted until after the advent of Affirmative Action.
The debate over true liberalism among blacks still exist. I have found the upper black middle class to be far more conservative and less active towards civil rights and social policy of late. I am concerned that the black bourgeoisie is willing to shift its focus away from the liberalism that put them in their position for racial acceptance. I believe integration is vital to a liberal society as noted by my neighborhood, friends, and place of employment; however, I do not think the black middle class should play the conservative card that carries with it values, attitudes, and behaviors that do not represent progress for all minority groups. Sure 90% of blacks vote in a solid block for the Democratic Party, but that block is not as tight as it used to be.
Here are a few observations about the black middle class:
- Homophobia and anti-gay attitudes are pervasive as seen by the fact that many black Americans are anti-gay marriage
- Affirmative action policies, though it helped many ascend to middle class status, are no longer needed
- Black politicians are needed to protect the economic status of the black middle class, not to speak about social justice
- Black liberals have no focus and can no longer speak for the burgeoning black middle class
- Intra racism has long been the standard among blacks of different shades of blackness
- Academic underachievement is the result of the black home, not institutional problems such as racism dating back to Jim Crow
Saij over at Good Tithings has an interesting post on this topic.