In the wake of this new attention to what many consider to be a new “class war” amongst African-Americans, which one can quickly catch up on in the media, you’re rather hard pressed to remember those better times in which Blacks had a common cause to stand up against. It is easy to look at the situation that is occurring in older rebuilt neighborhoods in our inner cities in which middle class African-Americans have returned to neighborhoods that were once impoverished to suggest that a new influx of Blacks into the middle class which surpasses that of the percentage of those in poverty is partially responsible for this phenomenon. Everyone points to the idea that we had to survive in a world with limited opportunities, and that being lumped together was actually a good thing because it forced us to find ways to get along and created an atmosphere in which we were actually more empathetic to what others had to go through. This isn’t a totally new phenomenon though; middle class, college educated African-Americans left the ghettos for old neighborhoods in a different part of town that other races were moving out of forty years ago; they did not have to live amongst the poor then, and if anything it is the children of that generation’s children who have bought into the idea that living in a rebuilt inner-city is chic, and that this is a new way of keeping up with the Jonses. This was before many were able to leave the city altogether for suburbia. These days people want to get away from inner-suburbia and neighborhoods which now have some of the crime that plagued the inner city at the time that the suburbs were being built as poorer residents from the city are leaving some of the same re gentrified areas that African-Americans are moving to.
This is a third generation of ghetto “escapee’s” that are returning back to the inner city for all of the wrong reasons, that is completely divorced from not only inner city life, but a “Black Experience” that was typical of life as an African-American as recently as the eighties. Outside of our socioeconomic condition, and the idea that increased access to mainstream society separates us there are still plenty of cultural forces that can act as a common ground to unite us. The only thing that has really changed, is if you want to connect with African-Americans that have experienced life differently than you, or do not feel that you have as much in common as the next person, you are going to have to make more of a concerted effort to be a part of the community as the next person. Personally, there are always going to be individuals who wish to use the access to high society they can purchase with the money they have to isolate themselves away from the society they once knew, and other individuals who were never poor to begin with that are just ignorant to the next man’s struggle, this is just the way that it is.
American cities have a rich history that is appreciated by some, forgotten by others. Neighborhoods go through different stages in their existence, and it is not unusual for residents to move into an area they know nothing about, not to want to know anything about the details that contribute to the character and identity of the area in which they live. At the same time, while the Black middle class returns to some of the same neighborhoods working class individuals had built up and maintained for years over a half century ago they may learn something about the sacrifices that were made in order for them to be able to live the type of life they take for granted that they probably are not that willing to explore or that enthused about confronting. If nothing else, it shows us that the hard learned lessons of life in the city have not changed, and that the spiritual undertone that took the city through the past, will unite and move the city into the future as America’s metropolis reinvent themselves for the twenty-first century.