Black Picket Fences
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...
References: Pattillo-Mccoys, Mary. Black Picket Fences: Privilege and Peril Among the Black Middle Class.
Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1999.
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