Black Working Poor vs. Black Middle Class

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The article examines the relationships between the black working poor and the black middle class. The black middle class is defined as being fragmented, comprised of an array of incomes, professions, and educational levels. The article also states that black middle class experiences economic shifts that move back and forth between blue-collar and white-collar income levels and occupations. (Shawn A. Ginwright 2002) The black middle class experienced dramatic growth in the post civil-rights era. This growth raised questions about how social and cultural capital among the black middle class has helped the conditions of the black working poor. The author demonstrates through materialist and culturalist frames of the community how black middle class members of a small organization frame community failed to address the needs of the working poor. Materialist frames are rooted in day-to-day material conditions. They are informed by the lived reality of low wages, high rents, and or poor quality schools and focus on immediate change of concrete conditions. (Shawn A. Ginwright 2002) Culturalist frames challenge ideas and values, rather than power and people. Through a shared set of ideas and values, culturalist frames focus on symbolic meaning and abstract theories of the social world and attempt to change social meaning and personal identity. They promote specialized ideas about community and social issues and encourage expert-based social change through highly skilled, educated professionals. (Shawn A. Ginwright 2002)

His argument is that the middle class use their skills, and other forms of human capitol to define community issues, while overlooking the interests of the working poor. Then Ginwright used a case study to affirm his theory. The case study was of a middle class community’s use Afrocentric ideology to ameliorate a working class neighborhood high school; the middle class misdiagnosed an obvious problem through culturalist framing resulting in...
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