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  1. Middle-class African American English

    Weldon, Tracey L.
    Cambridge, United Kingdom ; New York, NY : Cambridge University Press, 2021

    African American English (AAE) is a major area of research in linguistics, but until now, work has primarily been focused on AAE as it is spoken amongst the working classes. From its historical development to its contemporary context, this is the first full-length overview of the use and evaluation of AAE by middle class speakers, giving voice to this relatively neglected segment of the African American speech community. Weldon offers a unique first-person account of middle class AAE, and highlights distinguishing elements such as codeswitching, camouflaged feature usage, Standard AAE, and talking/sounding 'Black' vs. 'Proper'. Readers can hear authentic excerpts and audio prompts of the language described through a wide range of audio files, which can be accessed directly from the book's page using QR technology or through the book's online Resource Tab. Engaging and accessible, it will help students and researchers gain a broader understanding of both the African American speech community and the AAE continuum.

    Online Cambridge University Press

  2. Moving up, moving out : the rise of the black middle class in Chicago

    Cooley, Will
    DeKalb, IL : NIU Press, [2018]

    In Moving Up, Moving Out, Will Cooley discusses the damage racism and discrimination have exacted on black Chicagoans in the twentieth century, while accentuating the resilience of upwardly-mobile African Americans. Cooley examines how class differences created fissures in the black community and produced quandaries for black Chicagoans interested in racial welfare. While black Chicagoans engaged in collective struggles, they also used individualistic means to secure the American Dream. Black Chicagoans demonstrated their talent and ambitions, but they entered through the narrow gate, and whites denied them equal opportunities in the educational institutions, workplaces, and neighborhoods that produced the middle class. African Americans resisted these restrictions at nearly every turn by moving up into better careers and moving out into higher-quality neighborhoods, but their continued marginalization helped create a deeply dysfunctional city. African Americans settled in Chicago for decades, inspired by the gains their forerunners were making in the city. Though faith in Chicago as a land of promise wavered, the progress of the black middle class kept the city from completely falling apart. In this important study, Cooley shows how Chicago, in all of its glory and faults, was held together by black dreams of advancement. Moving Up, Moving Out will appeal to urban historians and sociologists, scholars of African American studies, and general readers interested in Chicago and urban history.

    Online EBSCO University Press

  3. Fight like a tiger : Conway Barbour and the challenges of the black middle class in nineteenth-century America

    Harrison, Victoria L.
    Carbondale, IL : Southern Illinois University Press, [2018]

    Focusing on the life of ambitious former slave Conway Barbour, Victoria L. Harrison argues that the idea of a black middle class traced its origins to the free black population of the mid-nineteenth century and developed alongside the idea of a white middle class. Although slavery and racism meant that the definition of middle class was not identical for white people and free people of color, they shared similar desires for advancement. Born a slave in western Virginia about 1815, Barbour was a free man by the late 1840s. His adventurous life took him through Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky; Cleveland, Ohio; Alton, Illinois; and Little Rock and Lake Village, Arkansas. In search of upward mobility, he worked as a steamboat steward, tried his hand at several commercial ventures, and entered politics. He sought, but was denied, a Civil War military appointment that would have provided financial stability. Blessed with intelligence, competence, and energy, Barbour was quick to identify opportunities as they appeared in personal relationships-he was simultaneously married to two women-business, and politics. Despite an unconventional life, Barbour found in each place he lived that he was one of many free black people who fought to better themselves alongside their white countrymen. Harrison's argument about black class formation reframes the customary narrative of downtrodden free African Americans in the mid-nineteenth century and engages current discussions of black inclusion, the concept of "otherness, " and the breaking down of societal barriers. Demonstrating that careful research can reveal the stories of people who have been invisible to history, Fight Like a Tiger complicates our understanding of the intersection of race and class in the Civil War era.


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