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Being Black sample essay

For my second formal writing piece I am considering writing about Shelby Steele’s essay ? On Being Black and Middle Class. ‘ I find this piece interesting because Steele starts his piece with a contradiction his friend makes, and then he continues to unfold his view on the matter and how he started to change his mind over periods of time during his life. ?If you were black, you were just black and that was that’ (p. 687). Although I am not black, I have discovered that all of us change our views as we grow older. I love the examples Steele uses to describe his change of mind.

He comments that ? race never fully explained our situation in American society’ (p 687). Class also plays an important role on who you become in life. Steele explains that the middle-class blacks in the sixties were caught in a double-bind in life; the race which they belong to and also the class in which they were brought up in. I agree with him on this point. Class has a lot to do with who you become and where you go in life. Even now, race plays a major part as well. People still look at others differently because of the color of their skin.

Steele describes that society wants blacks to see themselves as a ? minority’ and I agree with that. I have heard many people comment on how someone performs a job using the color skin as an excuse. As a society, I believe that we are still trying to separate races and classes. Just like certain whites are looked down upon because of their living standards, the same happens to many blacks. ?The black middle class has always defined its class identity by means of positive images gleaned from middle- and upper-class white society, and by means of negative images of lower-class blacks’ (p 690).

I agree with this because many people today don’t seem to think there is such a thing as the black middle-class. Blacks are mainly thought of as lower-class citizens and whites as upper- and middle-class citizens. The people caught up in this class must make themselves known. They are their own people, not a mixture from others. Steele describes one of his professors telling him that he wasn’t really black because he wasn’t disadvantaged (p 692). This professor was classifying all blacks as disadvantaged, and if a black person happened to

make it into the world as an individual, they were supposed to drop all connections with their race and their background. Obviously this is unacceptable. You are never able to forget and ignore your past and the people you came from. They are a part of you for your entire life. Another professor describes a situation where he was unable to allow blacks to stay in his boarding house because the color of their skin might offend the other boarders. As Steele puts it, ? he could not recognize that he was asking me to betray my race in the name of my class’ (p 694).

Everyone must be able to identify with themselves as a whole person. Your race, your class and the role you play in society. If Steels had known better, he would have realized that he was actually being insulted non-directly. He is unable to change the color of his skin, but both professors were degrading the race he was a part of. This race is embedded in him and he should never forget it. Time has past and he now has come to this realization, but people need to be aware of what is being said around them.

Those comments were unacceptable. Today is a bit different because in the sixties people could get away saying those type of things. It’s harder to say things like that now. Almost anything can be taken as an insult somehow nowadays. Those are the main parts of Steele’s essay and I will be using more details in describing these matters more clearly. Race and class both play a major part in all of our lives, and we need to be aware of where we are in society.

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