On Being Black and Middle Class

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Response to "On Being Black and Middle Class"

Shelby Steele uses a select choice of diction, word choice, and language to her advantage in order to convey "being black and middle class". A perfect example is when Steele says, "Not long ago a friend of mine said to me that the term "black middle class" was actually a contradiction in terms. Race, he insisted, blurred class distinctions among blacks. But today, when I honestly look at my life and the lives of many other middle-class blacks I know, I can see that race never fully explained our situation in American society." The author uses strong diction and tone, along with words such as contradiction and blurred to explain that American society has a problem with distinguishing classes by race. His well-built belief that being black does not automatically put you into a certain class is greatly exhibited. Another great example in which Steele uses intricate language to convey his ideas was when he said, "...Still, hate or love aside, it is fundamentally true that my middle-class identity involved a dissociation from images of lower-class black life and a corresponding identification with values and patterns of responsibility that are common to the middle class everywhere..." The complex language, through phrases like "fundamentally true" and "dissociation from images" help put across this idea that by being a middle-class black, his values are more associated with the common middle class white family and their values, instead of the stereotypical lower-class black life. Lastly, there's one more quote in which I thought Steele used diction and language to his advantage, and that was when he said, "This is a profound encumbrance today, when there is more opportunity for blacks than ever before, for it reimposes limitations that can have the same oppressive effect as those the society has only recently begun to remove." Phrases such as "profound encumbrance", "reimposes limitations", and "oppressive...
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