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Will the Majority of Lower Income Blacks Ever Achieve Middle Class Status

Updated on August 31, 2014
gmwilliams profile image

Grace loves to write commentaries on psycho-cultural and sociocultural dynamics in their myriad forms.


The Remote Probability of the Majority of Lower Class Blacks Ever Achieving Middle Class Status

There are many books, forums, and discussion forums addressing the underclass and/or lower income Black. As a Black Sociology major, I am vastly interested in this topic. Opinions on this subject vary from instituting social and educational programs which economically assist lower income Blacks to live better and teaching lower income Blacks to obtain marketable educational skills in order to afford them jobs providing a middle class living to instituting mandatory workfare programs advocating that lower income Blacks use their own initiative to improve their current economic situation.

In the 1960s, there were institutional programs such as the War on Poverty and Manpower whose main purpose was to help lower income Blacks obtain middle class status. Community activists, educators, and social scientists further addressed the poor level of education in the inner city public schools. This resulted in some amends to the inner city public school systems in which teachers made the curriculum in inner city public schools "cultural relevant" and stressed the importance of reading and other marketable skills.

As a result of the institutionalization of social programs geared to the improvement of inner city communities, many lower income Blacks become middle class and a few become upper middle class and better. Also during the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was open enrollment in many colleges and universities which gave lower income Blacks access to college-level educations. This further increased the number of lower income Black people becoming middle and upper middle class.

However despite the inroads made by some lower income Blacks into the middle and upper middle class levels, why are many Blacks still at the lower income level? Let us look at the lower income Black socioecomonic environment. Many lower income Black children grow up in environments where parental involvement is either absent or minimal. Many lower income Black children come from large families where the oldest and/or older children is the substitute parent for their younger siblings.

Furthermore, plenty lower income Black socioecomonic environments have little or no intellectual stimulation. Often books are nonexistent in these homes. Many lower income Black parents do not place a high value on educational and intellectual achievement. They believe that education is not for them. Many of them believe that education is not necessary for the type of lives they lead.

Many lower income Black parents often do not see beyond their economic circumstances. Dr. Ben Carson, the noted Black neurosurgeon, who grew up in poverty and overcome those obstacles, remarked that intellectual achievement was not prized in the neighborhood he grew up in. Dr. Carson further stated that his mother was often criticized by other neighborhood mothers for stressing education for her sons.

Dr. McWhortley, noted Black professor of linguistics, stated that there is a culture of anti-intellectualism in the lower income Black community. Sociologists state that in the lower income Black community, street smarts is prized over academic education and intellectualism. In the lower income Black community, drug pushers, high level criminals, and pimps are seen as role models because they represent the upper class and are viewed as "successful" role models in a community where the majority of people eke out a living.

However, there a few lower income Black parents who exhort their children to obtain an education and achieve conventional economic success and their children respond why obtain an education when a pimp, hustler, and drug pusher can be a millionaire without an education. This is why lower income Black children, especially boys, are attracted to the hip hop/gangster lifestyle. Many hip hop "artists" come from the lower income Black community and this is reflected in their lyrics.

The average lower income Black parent is hostile to the school system. They believe that education is not for them and their children. Many times the schools are poor in the lower income Black community because parents are passive regarding being involved in improving their school environment for their children. Many times at PTA meetings in the inner city public schools, the parents are not involved, believing that the teachers are solely responsible for teaching their children. They do not believe that they should teach their children, help them with their homework, nor take them on cultural activities. The only "cultural" activities that are indulged in the lower income Black home is " watching television" and/or "playing in the streets."

Many lower income Black children equate being intellectual and educated to being bourgeoise and white. If a lower income Black child is intellectual, she/he is often derided and bullied by their classmates and sometimes their immediate families. There is a book about Black achievers written by Dr. Ben Carson which stated that a lower income Black boy was beaten by his father because he loved to read The father could not read and did not believe in reading and hated his son for loving to read. However, the child did not let this deter him so he went to the library to read.

Many lower income Blacks view racism is the main deterrent as to the reason they are not middle class and/or better. Many lower income Blacks do not obtain middle class or better income status because of their socioeconomic conditioning. Many lower income Blacks are extremely fatalistics, believing that the events of life are stacked against them. Furthermore, many lower income Blacks have more childlren than they can properly support and educate. Some lower income Blacks marry far too young and have children before they complete their education.

Many lower income Black girls indulge in sexual behavior too early and have unprotected sex. Plenty of lower income Black girls do not believe in using birth control and have children for the sake of having children. As a result of this behavior, many lower income Black girls become bitter regarding life's missed opportunities and are regelated to working at dead end jobs. This is their own doing as preventive programs have been instituted in the inner cities since the 1960s to instruct lower income teenagers and women how to prevent pregnancies and/or to have small families.

In order for lower income Blacks to become middle class and/or better, they must do the following things: (1) become more proactive regarding their children's education and intellectual achievement which means getting involved in your children's education and look for ways to improve your child's public school in order for your children to graduate with a solid educational foundation and marketable job skillsf, (2) set an example yourself by attending night school and other educational institutions to obtain a marketable skill in order to get a better job, (3) do not marry too young-obtain a marketable education and job first, (4) practice family planning-remember, small families live better which means that children from small families receive more economic, educaitonal and cultural attainments than children in large families do, and (5) realize that you own your destiny and you can achieve anything that you set your mind to. With the opportunities which abound in America, there is no excuse for people not to achieve middle income status if they truly desire to do so.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Well, I wouldn't limit it to blacks, I'd say -all- races in this group have the same problem when they prefer to 'stick to their own kind,' & want their kids to follow in their footsteps.

      Example: I know an "octomom" (8 kids)- one kid's in jail for drug dealing, she has a teenager who already has a couple of kids of her own living with her, etc. etc. Nobody tells these kids "get an education so you can have a better life."

    • gmwilliams profile imageAUTHOR

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      6 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Many people JUST DON'T CARE! They believe that their children can do the best they can, no more, no less. They also believe that they do not have to sacrifice for their children. They further contend that if THEY do not have, WHY SHOULD THEIR CHILDREN HAVE, adding that their children ARE NO BETTER THAN THEY ARE!

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 

      6 years ago from East Coast

      GMWilliams, you are so right and have written another interesting and thought-provoking hub. How is it that so many people pass this nonsense on to their children? What happened to wanting better for one's own children?

    • gmwilliams profile imageAUTHOR

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      6 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Express10, what you have said is so true. Many lower income Black people have quite a fatalistic and passive outlook on life. They maintain that education and the conventional avenues are not for them and that the only way to become wealthy is through illegal means. Many lower income Blacks either have passtive, cynically fatalistic attitude towards life or they have the poverty consciousness embedded in them. Thank you for stopping by, Express10!

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 

      6 years ago from East Coast

      I will never understand it, but it truly seems that some people like this are okay with being less smart, less financially secure, and okay to isolate or sideline themselves in America. When anyone's dream is to become a criminal or thug they don't have enough hope, education, and knowledge of what's truly out there for them. The real problem is that millions of people REFUSE to even try to see what COULD be. But, there is no legislating an open mind, hope, or even education.

    • SOBF profile image


      8 years ago from New York, NY

    • Paulette305 profile image


      8 years ago

      Hello GM Williams! I hope you're having great weather in NYC! I lived on CPW and 96th until a few years ago.

      Great hub! I use to think that lower income folks could not make the transition to middle class but I have changed my mind.

      After WWII thousands and thousands of Americans were able to make the leap because of programs put in place to lift them up.

      I just posted a hub about Income Inequality and realize that if they was less of an income gap and Americans started to see their salaries increase by let's say 3% - which was the norm between 1945 and 1975) indeed lower class folks could move up.

      If you have an interest the hub is at



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