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Our kind of people - Book Report/Review Example

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Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Our Kind of People: Book Review Our Kind of People, a book by Lawrence Otis Graham, is an ambitious look at the well-to-do African American portrait. The author is a Princeton and Harvard-educated lawyer, a college lecturer, and a commentator on politics, race, and class…
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Download file to see previous pages Using the knowledge gathered, and some bits of his autobiography, the author creates a fascinating, but sometimes unwieldy story of memoir, sociological treatise, and popular history that demonstrate the fact that prosperous African Americans are not exceptions to the rule. Instead, his narrative shows that this group is cohesive and extensive with a strong identity sense and distinct traditions. Most African Americans from privileged backgrounds may recognize the world and situations described by the author. Cultured ancestors, education, money, obsession with Caucasian features and light skin, all as indicators of their high status, define the upper class of the prosperous African Americans. The author is able to paint a world where rituals start in Jack and Jill’s playgrounds, and vacations in enclaves such as Martha Vineyard’s Oak Bluffs. The author contends, “Such was the arrogance on that island from the privileged blacks that it never occurred to them that even white people were able to have summer homes in the same place” (Graham 76). The author completes the portrait via the inclusion of upscale professional careers, with exclusive membership to such African American social groups like; the Links and Boule, and Ivy League college degrees. The existence of these African American demographic as painted by the author is an attempt to show their development enclosed by economic walls that protect them from racism at its worst, a cushioned existence. However, there is little evidence of aping Caucasian Americans or total rejection of their roots as is normally claimed. Beyond the usual pretensions and materialism covered in books of this genre, which is not any different to behavior exhibited by all groups in America on the rise, what is striking about the book is the “blackness” of the topics that the author covers. He discusses the active role played by the privileged African Americans in the civil rights movement. In addition, he also contends that this demographic has been a pioneer in the integration. The classic conflict in American society, where, for example, African Americans are torn between shunning their roots to join the mainstream and their desire to preserve their roots, tends to increase their desire to cultivate a distinct black identity. In fact, Lawrence Graham articulates of a young Washingtonian who tells him, “Despite me and my brothers attending private schools, which were unavailable for African Americans in the past, our ties to important African American institutions, black friends, and black causes allows us to connect to black culture in the same way our ancestors did” (Graham 167). It is clear from reading the book that the author, admires and loves his subjects, which could be a charm and failure of the book. While he has the ability to be ironic in his analysis of their situation, such as with regards to color snobbery in the African American circles (Graham 187), their dislike for Caucasians and more hate for poor African Americans and their pushiness, he still seems very impressed by them. He strikes an all-too-often reverent tone in describing their fancy education and fashionable homes and neighborhoods, which it seems like he has a desire to shower them with praise. The last chapter of the book is especially disappointing with what comes across as an absurd resurrection of light skinned African Americans secretly crossing the line, which seems as if it is meant to satisfy the long-held ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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