Black Picket Fences: Lives of Middle-Class African Americans

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Black Picket Fences 1
Patrycia Kochmanski
Black Picket Fences

Middle-class African Americans have occupied a position within society as being the

buffer between the poor blacks and upper middle-class whites. Mary Pattillo-Mccoy establishes

this condition in her book Black Picket Fences by studying the lives of middle-class African

Americans in Groveland and shining the spotlight at issues that circulate upward mobility. This

can be seen in neighborhoods that still emphasize racism loosely and continually deny children of

middle class African American parents in pursuing better success because of easy money that can

be found through drug trade and crime.

Laissez Faire has always held up an ideal that if one works hard towards a goal, success

will follow. Middle-class African Americans who hold this ideal sacred find themselves dealing

with segregation, deteriorating social status, and boundaries that are set by middle-class whites to

separate and neglect blacks from certain successes. These restraining laws help keep separation

between white middle class and black middle class possible as well as penalizing blacks for their

racial makeup and blaming them for not succeeding due to their race. Segregation has driven

middle-class blacks to be placed in certain areas of living due to “banks, insurance companies,

and urban planners” (Mccoy 1999) making the ideal laissez faire success limited. This is due to

racial inequalities that cement these boundaries and demand that African Americans stay in their

black neighborhoods and go as far as immobilizing an upward advancement for blacks and

continually scrutinize them for not working hard enough to reach wealth and power.

African American middle-class youth can be swallowed into a world of pop culture,

music, and social class which can generate a lifestyle filled with compulsion, criminal gains, and Black Picket Fences...
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