The Ambivalent Black Middle Class

  • Milton Vickerman
Part of the Palgrave Politics of Identity and Citizenship Series book series ( CAL)


The post-1960s expansion of the black middle class, important for many reasons, has also raised questions about the nature of race relations in American society. Like other middle classes, their rise to material prosperity is important in itself in facilitating a better quality of life, but the symbolic aspects of this rise may be even more consequential. Symbolically, because of the history of black oppression in the United States, the black middle class has come to represent African Americans’ potential for accessing the American dream. This is not to argue that attaining middle-class status is the only route through which life quality can be improved. That some less affluent blacks have created a well-trod path to upward mobility through their athletic and musical talents is well known. Dan Charnas’ The Big Payback (2010), which describes how hip hop artists and producers leveraged the genre’s popularity to become mini-moguls, is a good example of this rags-to-riches possibility.


Racial Discrimination Black Population Black People Upward Mobility Race Relation 
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Copyright information

© Milton Vickerman 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Milton Vickerman
    • 1
  1. 1.University of VirginiaUS

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