Birthdays, Basketball, and Breaking Bread: Negotiating with Class in Contemporary Black America

in Harlemworld

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780226389981
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226390000 | DOI:
Birthdays, Basketball, and Breaking Bread: Negotiating with Class in Contemporary Black America

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This chapter discusses that many Harlemites have social relationships that extend across class lines and concerns class-stratified relationships among family members and friends to examine just how class differences can inform and reshape important social contacts, sometimes ending friendships and straining familial ties, other times providing alternative spaces for mutually beneficial relationships to thrive despite class differences. If friendships are difficult to hold onto amid class differences, familial ties can be just as hard. Some people live fairly close to relatives of different classes or status positions and purposefully avoid them. Maybe the person who has achieved a bit of socioeconomic success does not want to feel the guilt of that success juxtaposed against other people's failure. Class-stratified interactions do not necessarily have to be substantive to be important and formative. Sometimes a fleeting moment or a brief encounter with a stranger or a series of short interactions with acquaintances can have tremendous significance in terms of how people think about class. Role models may be important, but that is not the only way class differences affect people's lives.

Keywords: Harlemites; social contacts; black America; friendships; role models; status positions

Chapter.  15370 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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