Living with Racism: The Black Middle-Class Experience
“One step from suicide” was the first response to Joe Feagin and Mel Sikes’ question about how it feels to be middle-class and African-American. Despite the prevalent white view that racism is diminishing, this groundbreaking study exposes the depth and relentlessness of the racism that middle-class Black Americans face every day. From the supermarket to the office, the authors show, African Americans are routinely subjected to subtle humiliations and overt hostility across white America.
Based on the sometimes harrowing testimony of more than 200 Black respondents, Living with Racism shows how discrimination targets middle-class African Americans, impeding their economic and social progress, and wearying their spirit. A man is refused service in a restaurant. A woman is harassed while shopping. A little girl is taunted in a public pool by white children. These are everyday incidents encountered by millions of African Americans. But beyond presenting a litany of abuse, the authors argue that racism is deeply imbedded in American institutions and that the cumulative effect of these episodes is profoundly damaging. They argue that discrimination is experienced by their interviewees not as separate incidents, but as a process demanding their constant vigilance and shaping their personal, professional, and psychological lives.
With powerful insight into the daily workings of discrimination, this important study can help all Americans confront the racism of our institutions and our culture.
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