Is there a viable black British middle class in Britain? Do they have the same opportunities as their white counterparts? What challenges do they face compared to their working class pairs when educating their children?
These are some of the questions race expert Dr Nicola Rollock along with fellow authors Professors David Gillborn, Carol Vincent and Stephen Ball aim to answer in the new book ‘The Colour of Class: The Educational Strategies of the Black middle classes‘.
The book focuses on the experiences and accounts from black Caribbean professionals as they strive to raise their children in a society where racism persists, in spite of how much they earned.
At the book launch for the event hosted by the Thomson Reuters black employee network in February, Dr Rollock told The Voice newspaper,
“Our main research is looking at education, but what people responded wasn’t limited to that.”
“One of the things that worried parents where girls were concerned was tackling the question of, can you be both smart and still be desirable to black men. The stereotypes that are perpetuated through MTV show this hyper-sexualised femininity. Some mothers were concerned about whether they could raise a child that recognises there are other ways to be a black woman besides what is perpetuated on MTV. Relating to that was the question, can you be a black female and intelligent because that is not a version of black femininity that you often see.”
The book highlights concerns of most Black British parents about policing, particularly stop and search and the fear of their kids being lured into joining gangs as being top on the list while bringing up their kids. Respondents were also apparently reluctant to label themselves as ‘middle class’ given that most affluent black British professionals come from working class backgrounds, but Dr Rollock who is the Deputy Director of Birmingham University’s Centre for Race and Education said there is no need to be ashamed of this achievement.
She explained, “Some felt reluctant because there was not a big enough group to align themselves to, others felt that to call yourself middle class was something of a misnomer given that if we looked at the white middle classes they have a greater economic power. There was a sense that those things aren’t as strong for us as a group and comparisons were made with African American middle classes in terms of stability and size.
Watch out for a review of ‘The Colour of Class: The educational strategies of black middle classes” coming up soon on Naija Living.