Saturday, January 17, 2015

Today's middle-class readings...

Over the years decidedly I often posted articles that in general pertained to the middle-class with a strong interest in the Black middle-class. It's only appropriate since we wanted to be the neighborhood blog for the 6th Ward as historically that area has been home of Chicago's Black middle-class.

So recently I found two articles that hopefully you'll consider at your convenience. Although we would like to see articles about Chicago's Black middle-class, often I find articles about that same demographic from other cities. In this case one out of New York City and the other out of Detroit.

In the case of New York via the Wall Street Journal written last November:
New York City’s black upper-middle class is fading, while its populations of upper-class white singles and lower-income Hispanics are booming, according to a new report that adds to concerns about a struggling middle class and growing income divide.

Between 2000 and 2010, neighborhoods dominated by the city’s black upper-middle-class residents experienced an 18.9% population decline.

Places such as Woodlawn in the Bronx and Hollis in Queens that were once affluent enclaves of upwardly mobile African-Americans saw a growth in low-income black households at their fringes. These neighborhoods have also had high rates of foreclosure.
It seems that in some of Chicago's Black communities foreclosure has been a major issue. And this has also been a major issue apparently in the Bronx & Queens in New York.

Now here's Detroit from July 2013 via The New Yorker....strangely enough. Anyway it discusses the middle-class in general there, however, they start off with a Black couple who moved into a white neighborhood 40 years ago:
In 1973, Ron and Loretta Martin and their three sons moved into the yellow-brick Colonial across the street from my childhood home, on Detroit’s west side. My father greeted them warmly, despite the fact that most of our neighbors saw them as blockbusters, part of a nefarious conspiracy by civil-rights groups to force integration and break up tight-knit white enclaves. The Martins were one of the first black families on our block. It took a lot of courage to be pioneers, those black families who crossed the city’s racial frontier. And it also took extra money. Black pioneers, as I discovered years later when I wrote a book about Detroit, were usually better off financially than the white people they moved next to. They had to be. Brokers regularly charged blacks a premium to buy or rent in what they hoped would be a safe, secure, integrated neighborhood.

Ron and Loretta were pioneers in another way. He was a police officer, she was a school teacher, and both were at the vanguard of a new generation of black Americans who vaulted into the middle class through public employment. Today, government employment, however fragile, is the mainstay of Detroit’s economy. At the beginning of 2013, the public sector directly provided more than forty thousand jobs in the city. Among Detroit’s top five employers are the city itself, the Detroit public schools, and the federal government. By contrast, the last two automakers with substantial operations in the city, Chrysler and General Motors, employ only about four thousand workers each.

It was not always this way. For most of the city’s history, there weren’t many Ron and Loretta Martins. The traditional avenue to a life of at least modest comfort for black Detroiters—at least after the Second World War, when the factory gates opened up—was the auto industry. The jobs were unionized, and they offered generous health and pension benefits. For the refugees from Jim Crow who’d come to the city, it was a big step up from the drudgery of tenant farming or cleaning houses.

But by the time the Martins moved in, those blue-collar jobs were disappearing. Beginning in the early nineteen-fifties, Detroit steadily hemorrhaged manufacturing jobs, losing them to outlying suburbs, small towns, the Sunbelt, and, over time, to Canada, Mexico, and overseas. Today, there is only one auto-assembly plant fully within the boundaries of Detroit.
What do you all think? Could these articles relate to what's going on in Chicago?

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