Blue-Chip Black: Race, Class, and Status in the New Black Middle Class

Blue-Chip Black: Race, Class, and Status in the New Black Middle Class

Blue-Chip Black: Race, Class, and Status in the New Black Middle Class

Blue-Chip Black: Race, Class, and Status in the New Black Middle Class

Synopsis

As Karyn R. Lacy's innovative work in the suburbs of Washington, DC, reveals, there is a continuum of middle-classness among blacks, ranging from lower-middle class to middle-middle class to upper-middle class. Focusing on the latter two, Lacy explores an increasingly important social and demographic group: middle-class blacks who live in middle-class suburbs where poor blacks are not present. These "blue-chip black" suburbanites earn well over fifty thousand dollars annually and work in predominantly white professional environments. Lacy examines the complicated sense of identity that individuals in these groups craft to manage their interactions with lower-class blacks, middle-class whites, and other middle-class blacks as they seek to reap the benefits of their middle-class status.

Excerpt

They’re trying to be like the whites instead of being who they are,” Andrea Creighton, a forty-three-year-old information analyst with the federal government, told me when I asked whether she believed blacks had made it in the United States or still had a long way to go. Andrea is black, and she perceives irrepressible distinctions between middleclass blacks and whites, even though many aspects of her life appear to reflect membership in the suburban middle-class mainstream. She and her husband, Greg, have two teenage children: a girl, age seventeen, and a boy, age fifteen. They have lived on a quiet street in Sherwood Park, an upper-middle-class suburb of Washington, D.C., for seven years. Their four-bedroom home is an imposing red-brick-front colonial with shiny black shutters, nestled on an acre of neatly manicured lawn. The children are active members of the local soccer team, and Greg is one of the team’s coaches. Andrea and her husband each drive midsize cars and have provided their daughter, who is old enough to drive unaccompanied by an adult, with her own car. At first blush, they seem nearly identical to their white middle-class counterparts. But unlike the nearly allwhite neighborhood that the average middle-class white family calls home, the Creightons’ upscale subdivision is predominantly black. Andrea and Greg are pleased that their children are growing up in a com-

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