No place like home

Some upwardly mobile blacks prefer their old neighborhoods


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Do the majority of members of the black middle class really flee to white suburbia at the first opportunity? Not so, suggests sociologist Mary Pattillo-McCoy in Black Picket Fences: Privilege and Peril Among the Black Middle Class.

In the book the author illustrates that although the nearly 7 million blacks employed in middle-class occupations can afford to, not all are anxious to move into otherwise homogeneous and affluent suburban centers. Instead, multigenerational black neighborhoods with strong family and friendship ties that include poor, working and middle-class residents continue to exist and coexist.

This sensitive account of a Chicago South Side neighborhood and its residents gives readers an insiders’ view of the community, bringing the issues and challenges that confront the black middle class to the forefront. Overall, it’s a good read.

Black Picket Fences: Privilege and Peril Among the Black Middle Class by Mary Pattillo-McCoy (The University of Chicago Press, $25)