Assimilation Blues: Black Families in a White Community

By Beverly Daniel Tatum | Go to book overview

2
Welcome to Sun Beach

Every town has something special, and Sun Beach is no exception. In fact, Sun Beach may have more "specialness" than most. With a population of approximately 75,000, it is a town large enough to call itself a city, yet is without the congestion, smog, or crime rate often associated with cities. The seat of Sun Beach County, this West Coast city boasts many cultural as well as physical attractions. Nestled between the ocean and the mountains, and connected by a major highway to two major cities, Sun Beach attracts thousands of visitors every year because of its natural beauty and easy accessibility.

Tourism is central to the Sun Beach economy. In addition, in the adjoining unincorporated area of Island View, nonpolluting, high-tech research and development firms blessed with government contracts, and a university with approximately 18,000 students contribute to the economic health of the area. There are also two other smaller institutions for higher learning, as well as a technical school. Agriculture, in the outlying areas of the county, is another important revenue source.

All of these features, as well as the mild year-round climate and palm tree-lined streets, make Sun Beach not just a nice place to visit, but also to live. It is not uncommon to hear someone refer to Sun Beach as "Paradise." On the other hand, an unmarried black woman once described it to me as "an ideal place only for newlyweds and nearly deads." From her point of view, the city was sadly lacking in eligible black men, late night entertainment and cultural diversity in general. While not everyone seeks these qualities, there is no question that they are missing.

Though there is a significant Chicano population, a smaller black population (2.4 percent), and a recent influx of Southeast Asian refugees, the community is predominantly white, and generally affluent. The largest "minority" group is not defined by race but by age. Roughly 20 percent of the population is over the age of 65, many of whom are quite wealthy and find Sun Beach to be a desirable retirement environment.

Families with children also see Sun Beach as a desirable environment, but unless a family has the resources to buy housing in a real estate market where prices start at well over $100,000, it is both difficult and expensive to find adequate

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Assimilation Blues: Black Families in a White Community
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Afro-American and African Studies Series Advisers: John W. Blassingame and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. *
  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • 1 - Invisible Families and Black Family Research 1
  • 2 - Welcome to Sun Beach 17
  • 3 - A Long Way from Home 33
  • 4 - Troubled in Paradise? 51
  • 5 - Nowhere to Run -- 75
  • 6 - Making Choices 89
  • Bibliography 105
  • Index 111
  • About the Author 113
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