Which Comes First - Race or Class?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Karyn R. Lacy, assistant professor in the departments of sociology and the Center for Afro-American and African Studies at the University of Michigan and the author of Blue-Chip Black: Race, Class, and Status in the New Black Middle Class, talks about her study of middle class African Americans.

Blue-Chip Black is available for purchase at


Karyn R. Lacy

Comments [11]


agree w JB above

Oct. 01 2007 05:18 PM
JB from Manhattan

ab- Actually I am not 'white'/European, I am Native American, and my wife is of Hatian descent and has very dark skin; so I am not completely commenting from the sidelines here. When I said 'we' above, I just meant humans.

I'm not denying that some racism exists; I just think that race needs to be publicly addressed in a unifying way and gradually less and less, to fasciliate change.

A lot of people really USED to think that people with different skin colors were somehow inferior--I think today this same racism is only kept alive by a small groups of radicals from every race, or people trying to make money on the issue by writing books or race-infused music. The later should be very cautious; that's why I chimed in.

all the best-

Oct. 01 2007 12:51 PM

Posted again but not sure what happened to my response. My point: I surely agree that, as you say, blacks face racism in this country. All whites can do is their best to avoid such hotbeds and work to create alternative places. The place of which I spoke is one -- blacks and whites fought hard for a long time to eject bigots, and then more blacks and whites moved here to enjoy that environment. ONE RULE NO COLOR CLIQUES. Is that such a wrong vision? And if one agrees with it at least as an experiment then when do the parents let go of defensiveness/racism and invent a better future because they are empowered to? At what point?

Oct. 01 2007 12:28 PM


I understand the defensiveness but ain't buyin', sorry, not in NJ of 2007 in which 75% of those living here were, 10 years ago, living in NYC or another country.

In this town lots of whites fought hard to open this town up to other races, it was a fight indeed. The worst white bigots were run out of town 2 decades ago. Fact is other whites -- AND BLACKS -- moved here because they were sick of living segregated.

The irony is when a minority of minorities consciously or as I'm guessing is more the case, unconsciously) segregate themselves.

My specific point relates to elevation of self in relation to community, and becoming conscious of those mentioned above, black and white alike, that you are part of a community regardless of color. And deciding to lose the defensive posture and thinking of ones' kids instead of their grandparents or even themselves. When does that day come?

Oct. 01 2007 12:18 PM
ab from nyc


Blacks still face a huge amount of racism in this country (despite the fact that some whites don't like to hear it or face the fact). That most likely explains your interpretation of theit unwillingness to "integrate". That's the irony of racism.

and JB. is easy for people that don't face racism to say we shouldn't talk about race. Simple fact: race matters. If you were a person of color who faced institutionalized racism, you would know that.

It would be great if we didn't have to talk about race but the simple fact is that race matters because racism exists.

Oh, and there ARE white people who don't think there are MIDDLE-CLASS people of African descent. I'm glad you hang out with such an enlightened crowd...but that's not everyone.

Oct. 01 2007 12:00 PM
Basd from North-Central NJ


As a white parent in a FULLY mixed (30% white, 30% black, 40% Spanish speaking & Asian) town where the whites and blacks tend to be middle class and the others poorer immigrants, I have noticed that the blacks tend to have a bias toward socializing with others of the same skin color.

As we like people in this group and many of their kids, I wish they would not so readily lean toward this bias as it reduces the number of families that are part of the community as a whole, especially those with the middle class values that brought them here in the first place. This translates to rsvp'ing to birthday parties, participating in non-church community activities even if they are organized by whites, volunteering as class parents, etc.

In short: At what point are people with dark skin, who have moved to integrated towns -- obliged to make an effort to integrate?

Oct. 01 2007 11:50 AM
JB from Manhattan (org. Missouri)

I agree with Thomas and the other comments here. Talking about race is such a 20th Century topic. Reality check to the author: Millions of us grew up watching The Cosby Show--we are not racist in the slightest.


Some of the things that were said on the show today sound ridiculous to me. Of course white people know there are many wealthy people of original African descent.

Oct. 01 2007 11:47 AM
Tom from Manhattan

Why are we referring people like, a supreme court justice, or the fictional millionaire huxtable family as middle class?

Oct. 01 2007 11:43 AM
ab from nyc

I agree with Thomas' viewpoint (speaking as a person of color) and I do not define myself solely as a color (and despise anyone white or black who attempts to do so) but it is extremely unfortunate that he has taken that viewpoint to judicial extremes that are contrary and out of touch to the current reality.

Oct. 01 2007 11:37 AM
William Grother from Robbinsville, NJ

As long as we continue to hold skin color up as some Rosetta Stone to how people are and how they behave, we will continue to face racism, not only white disliking blacks, but blacks disliking whites. When will we get over this need to label each other as "this" or "that"? Clarence Thomas is to be commended for standing up and saying that he is more than just the color of his skin.

Oct. 01 2007 11:32 AM
Robert from NYC

This is a very interesting study. Thank you for having it.

Oct. 01 2007 11:31 AM

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