Strategic Assimilation or Creation of Symbolic Blackness: Middle-Class Blacks in Suburban Contexts

The black middle class has been the subject of a great deal of scholarly inquiry. Recently, scholars have directed their attention towards understanding how middle class blacks negotiate their racial identity. Some contend that blacks engage in strategic assimilation, working and sometimes living alongside members of the dominant group, while simultaneously maintaining social ties with members of their own racial group. To examine changes in the size and composition of the black middle class in various suburban contexts comparisons were made of selected demographic data from 1990 and 2000. The purpose of the study is to see if middle class blacks are engaging in strategic assimilation. The findings reveal that the size of the black middle class increased between 1990 and 2000 and that demographic differences exist between members of the black middle class based upon whether or not they reside inside or outside of the suburbs. The findings support the contention that middle class blacks are not engaging in strategic assimilation.