Earlier, I referenced an essay by economist and writer Marcellus Andrews in the Black Commentator titled “No Exit in Black/ Trapped by the Economy and Politics.”
In his essay, Andrews voices the concern that “the unique solidarity between the black middle class and the black poor will soon end as the pressure of economic survival turns former allies into enemies.” He goes into detail about this:
The hard truth of our time is that the economic needs of poor black people are much closer to those of other poor Americans than they are to those of middle class blacks. Poor blacks, like all poor people in America, need an immense array of social goods and services that they cannot pay for – from health care and education to safe streets and housing. Middle class blacks, like all middle class Americans, want high quality public services balanced against low taxes in a society of self-reliant individuals.
Middle class black people support greater degrees of regulation and redistribution in economic life because they are poorer than whites and are still subject to discrimination. But the black middle class does not need or want government to the same degree as poor blacks because they are no longer trapped in the basement of the American job market. Many middle class black people are no more interested in paying taxes to support poor people than their white counterparts, not least because they see themselves as proof that hard work and perseverance in the face of white nationalism can pay off in still all-too-racist America.
Some people will say that the black middle class’s slow abandonment of the black poor is a sell out to white America, the act of selfish Uncle Toms who have forgotten what it is like to suffer as racial and class outcasts in this society. Nothing could be further from the truth or more irrelevant. Black middle class abandonment of the black poor is perfectly consistent with a strong sense of racial pride that nonetheless blames poor black people for making their bad situation worse. It is perfectly possible for middle class blacks to be angry at conservative white people and poor black people at the same time.”
Now there is evidence which bears out Andrews’ concerns. A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center last year, which is reported in “Optimism about Black Progress Declines – Blacks See Growing Values Gap Between Poor and Middle Class,” reveals income/class differences in the views of black Americans on a range of issues. The Center is a non-partisan think tank.