Do you know what Liberals, Republicans, non-profits, activists, Black people, White people, rappers and racists of all colors have in common? They use Black and poor interchangeably, especially when referring to “Blacks” receiving aid of any sort.
I first noticed this phenomenon when talking to some of my quasi-militant Black friends about gentrification. They lamented, “the White people are pushing all of the Black people out!” At first, I didn’t think too much into it – to most people that phrase is the very definition of gentrification. Then, the thought popped into my mind. Is it gentrification if high income Blacks moved lower income Blacks out of their neighborhoods? Yes, it is. Gentrification is not about Black vs White, it is about Haves vs Have-nots.
Shockingly enough, those who wish to help “Black people” often aid in spreading the negative stereotypes. According to census data, more Whites are considered to be in poverty in America than any other minority, but the media and non-profits tend to only stress the higher percentage of the minorities in poverty compared with their smaller population. [Stats of poverty by Ethnicity] The same is true for most of the other “social ills” that seem to only plague the minority community.
Why is this important? It’s important because perception has an major influence on reality. Many Blacks of varying incomes appear to have an omnipresent chip on their shoulder – feeling pressured to defy or conform to an expectation that doesn’t really exist. For some, it is a motivation to go to college, get a great job and spend lavishly on luxury to prove to the world that they “started from the bottom. Now they’re here.” For others, it is a reason to quit while they’re behind and adhere to the imaginary status quo – whatever they believe that to be. In reality, most Blacks started somewhere near the middle and they are still there. Unfortunately, the ever growing Black middle class is often as ignored as the White poor.
My adolescences was influenced by The Cosby Show (ended in 1992), A Different World (ended in 1993), and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (ended in 1996). The generation, now quickly reaching adulthood, is being influenced by _______. I’ll let you shutter as you fill in the blank.