Our Kind of People: Inside Americas Black Upper Class

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Here, briefly, are five takeaways: 1.

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Popular on Variety. Close Menu. Variety Intelligence Platform. It also includes a group that is focussed on skin color and family lineage as some of them exclude blacks with "new money. I'm curious about why Mr. Graham wrote the book. Though I find the subject interesting and necessary, I find it hard to find books and other forms of literature on the subject. Lawrence Otis Graham: In many cases the black upper class is invisible to the white community and equally invisible to the middle class or working class black community.

Also it is a subject that makes many black people feel uncomfortable since some would like to believe that class structure does not exist among blacks. Question from twostar: I read your book and I wanted to let everyone know that is magnificent. I am the webmaster at meetgreeks. We've had numerous discussions about your book.

Can you tell me and others, what methods you used to do your research? Lawrence Otis Graham: Since you understand the Greek system, you would appreciate hearing that I interviewed over members of the black upper class who belong to such fraternities as the AKA's, the Deltas, the Alphas, the Kappas, and the Omegas.

Question from spooky: Why would any one make such an ignorant assumption. Jack and Jill is a perfect example of dividing the haves from the have nots. Lawrence Otis Graham: spooky, regarding Jack and Jill, having grown up in the organization and having interviewed many black young people who participated in it today, it is clear that the purpose is not to divide, but to help young black people learn more about their black identity, particularly when they are living in mostly white settings.

Chat Moderator: What kind of response has the book received?

Black upper class

Lawrence Otis Graham: The book has, in addition to being a best seller on the NY Times list, the LA Times list and Blackboard list, there has been negative feedback from some members of the black upper class who are disturbed because THEY are not personally mentioned in the book. There has also been controversy because some black elite families believe that I am telling new money blacks how they can break into this class structure. Question from Dane: Where is the highest concentration of wealthy black people?

Chat Moderator: Did the book elicited controversy from the white elite? Lawrence Otis Graham: The book did not elicit controversy from the white elite, but it did surprise many whites when I published the book's photos which included mansions of black millionaires from the s and early s. Why did you concentrate on these cities? Lawrence Otis Graham: I selected cities based upon the number of black elite organizations and colleges and black businesses that had been founded, at least 2 to 3 generations earlier.

Question from aped: Who is the most influential black family today? Lawrence Otis Graham: It is difficult to point out one family that is more influential than any other. However, the family history, which is probably most intriguing is the family of Madame C. Walker, who was the first woman millionaire in America.

An obsession with the right schools, families, social clubs, and skin complexion. This is the world of the black upper class and the focus of the first book written about the black elite by a member of this hard-to-penetrate group. Author and TV commentator Lawrence Otis Graham, one of the nation's most prominent spokesmen on race and class, spent six years interviewing the wealthiest black families in America.

He includes historical photos of a people that made their first millions in the s. A new Introduction explains the controversy that the book elicited from both the black and white communities. He lives with his wife in Manhattan and Chappaqua, New York. Graham, an African-American attorney, went undercover as a busboy at an all-white Connecticut country club and wrote about the experience first in New York magazine and then in Member of the Club, his book of essays.


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Now, he switches his attention from the white to the black elite. Graham spent six years researching the history of the African-American upper crust and this book is both a thorough work of social history and a thoughtful appraisal of his own place in the black social hierarchy. Graham makes clear that the black elite has always been strongly shaped by the peculiarly intertwined American preoccupations with color and class, noting that, in the past, most members of the black elite felt they were "superior to other blacks?

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Our Kind of People: Inside America's Black Upper Class by Lawrence Otis Graham | LibraryThing

Graham stops short of offering an apology for behavior that is hard to characterize as anything other than snobbish he himself had a nose job when he was 26 so that he would have a less "Negroid" look. But he does bemoan a dwindling interest in tradition, and he suggests that it wasn't such a bad thing to grow up in the s and '70s without the "sense of anger and dissatisfaction the rest of black America" expressed in those years.

Graham has produced a book that casts an unblinking eye on America's black elite, cataloguing its achievements while critically analyzing its shortcomings. It is a must read for anyone interested in African-American history and the impact of ideas about social class on our society. BOMC main selection; first serial to U. News and World Report; author tour. Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.

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