There is No Black Middle Class

The middle class is the ultimate social construct. What we in the US have been told, in regards to the middle class, is that it is the class between the working classes and the upper classes. The average person in the US has accepted that definition, a definition that is based on income. But that is only part of the definition. It is not even a necessary part of the definition. The most important characteristic of the US middle class is whiteness.

The middle-class dream in the US is that you can be not that smart, not that competitive, but somewhat competent and get a house, a car, a spouse, and 2.5 children. It is your birthright, that you should not have to fight for. It is a class of complacency and mediocrity. It is a protected class for whiteness. It is a protected buffer, that will not allow you to fail.

If you are Black or Indigenous, you will never, at least in the United States, be middle class. You will never be able to be mediocre. Neither you nor your children will ever be “protected” by a middle-class lifestyle.

You will never experience the comfort of the middle class, the comfort of watching your children do better than you. No, your children will fall out of the middle class, because of the lies you told them. That, “as long as they tried their best”, there would be a space for them. There will be no legacy for your children. No politician will have a speech to fight for you to have middle-class status, based on you having a home and the right to an education, just because you were born in the United States.

Speeches for you will be about the right for you to live on a park bench and not being murdered by the police because the truth is this you are not middle class, you’re not white.

The middle class is the code for white people, all this time we thought the working class was the wink, no, the middle class is the most important wink of all.

The middle class is not about income, no number makes you middle class. The middle class is about race and capitalism. The middle class is about white supremacy.

Why do many formerly middle-class white people who need help from the government hate that help so much? Because if you are white and doing everything you’re supposed to (breathing), it is supposed to work it out. No one but white people thinks that, and white people think this, because whiteness is supposed to protect you.

The middle class is about being able to be white, ordinary, and not failing AS LONG as you protect the institutions of oppression and capitalism. Black Lives Matter sticker, fine, dismantling the police department, not fine, the middle class’ job is to stop that conversation and to be a safety valve. The middle class was created to create division within the working class. It is a US phenomenon that exists owing to a need to control the class that is NOT bourgeois.

The middle class no longer exists in New York or Los Angeles. This is why certain white people hate those two locations because for a very long time in the US, you could just be white and go anywhere and do OK. In LA, if you didn’t make it, you could wash up in the San Fernando Valley and at least send your kids to good schools and live in a split level.

Of course, white people have privileges in LA and NY locations, but their whiteness will not protect them from failure. A white person in Los Angeles can end up homeless, it will be a slower fall than for a Black or Indigenous person, but it is something that can happen. It won’t happen in New Jersey or Wisconsin, at least not for the descendants of settlers and colonizers with mortgages and college degrees.

But that will go away for everyone soon, the United States no longer needs middle-class white people to be white supremacists, whiteness is a pretty flexible and just like people were brought into whiteness, people will soon begin to be thrown out of it

Whiteness is a made-up concept that has to do with you not being Black or Indigenous and being a buffer between the rich and the rest. It is about the middle management of capitalism. 

Middle management has a dress code in the United States, white skin or white-passing skin. 

The idea of the middle class must be dismantled. Being middle class is not something that should be a goal or desire. The middle class is not to be confused with the quality of life, because that is not what we are discussing here, we are discussing dismantling the barrier to a conversation on oppression.

The dismantling of the construct of racism that we have long discussed is locked up in the desire to be AND maintain the middle class.

More from this Writer

“To educate the masses politically does not mean, cannot mean, making a political speech. What it means is to try, relentlessly and passionately, to teach the masses that everything depends on them; that if we stagnate it is their responsibility, and that if we go forward it is due to them too, that there is no such thing as a demiurge, that there is no famous man who will take the responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people themselves and the magic hands are finally only the hands of the people.”
― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth