Middle Class Blacks’ Burden
Today in America there are many who assume that racism does not exist as
it did in the forties, fifties, and sixties. Racism today is not as dangerous
as it once was, but that does not mean that it does not hurt people just as much.
There are many who think we have solved our racial problems and that African
Americans live freely. However, there are many African Americans who work
extremely hard to benefit society and all some people still see is their skin
color. Malcolm X once said, “If you’re born in America with a black skin, you’
re born in a prison.” From reading Lenita McClain’s “The Middle Class Black’s
Burden” and Shelby Steele’s “On Being Black and Middle Class” the reader
concludes that middle class blacks are judged unfairly by whites and other
blacks through an examination of: 1)white people thinking blacks cannot do an
adequate job, 2)lower class blacks who criticize middle and upper class blacks,
Racism today exists in many different forms. There are many people who,
all their lives, were brought up to believe that black people are of a lesser
standard. It is no wonder that many people think African Americans perform
inadequately even though these African Americans produce a high quality
satisfaction. The people that doubt the work of an African American can
obviously be seeing only the skin color. Lenita McClain states, “I am burdened
daily with showing whites that blacks are people.” Shelby Steele asks, “After
all, since when had white Americans taken note of anything but color when it
came it blacks?” Our nation, which is supposed to preserve equal rights to
everyone, is weakened when certain Americans feel they are judged on a day to
day basis by their skin color. Some might argue that blacks and whites are
equal, but it is obvious through these essays that this is not so.
If being stereotyped by some white people is not enough, many middle
class blacks are ridiculed by many lower class blacks. It seems that some
financially unstable African Americans consider middle and upper class African
Americans to be ignorant of black culture. Discussing this issue, McClain says
that some lower class blacks think, “We have forsaken the revolution, we are
told, we have sold out.” Being treated in such a way must surely aggravate or
maybe depress an African American who has worked tirelessly for their status.
Steele says that many think, “that the purest black was the poorest black.”
Perhaps some lower class blacks have been taught, all their lives, that African
Americans were supposed to be on the bottom of the financial scale, and now when
they see their colleagues cracking that barrier, they become jealous and stoop
to ridicule. Financial matters should not take precedence over culture. Just
because one person is richer than another does not mean that the latter is any
less culturally diverse. Everyone needs to stand together, be it white and
black, black and black, or white and white. A person should not judged because
of skin color or financial standing. A person should be judged on the content
of his or her inner morals and character.
Victimization has caused much sorrow in the lives of many African
Americans. Many blacks are made to feel that there is no place of serenity.
Many whites make them feel uncomfortable for earning money while at the same
time many blacks make them feel the same way. Steele says, “when it came to
race we were now being asked to identify with images of lower class blacks and
to see whites, middle class or other otherwise, as victimizers.”McClain adds,
“I am a member of the black middle class who has had it with being patted on the
head by white hands and slapped in the face by black hands for my success.”
Many blacks today still fight for their rights, one of which is the right not to
Much to often blacks are judged unfairly by whites and other blacks.
Sadly enough, many middle class blacks are forced to walk that fine line between
wanting to succeed and being ridiculed for not remembering their heritage. In
today’s society there needs to be less victimizing and more accepting. America
is made up of different languages and cultures, and though we are different in
heritage we need to unite as a country.