Question: Do you think there is a class problem in the African-American community?
Editor’s note: This is a reprint of a Streetbeat published June 14, 2007.

Amanda Gidncy

“When it comes to African Americans and class struggles, some people would like to put people in categories without even knowing them. You can have somebody walking down the street and there can be a group or a gang that may not like whatever you’re wearing or what you might be doing. All of that just messes up what everybody has to do together. We all could really be friends if we did not have to deal with these class problems.”

Johnny Cook

 “I come from the West Side, but I use to stay on the South Side. I don’t judge other people, but when it comes down to it, I prefer the West Side because that is what I’m accustomed to. The South Side; they are a little rougher and gang bang a little too much. That is probably what they say about us on the West Side. As far as money, I look at everybody the same. I know people who are doing drugs though they come from a middle-class family. The bottom line: we don’t have time to worry about class. We need to unite and address community problems.”

Vance Ross

 “In my opinion, there is no class differential because there is poverty going on here in the U.S.A. This, for instance, is the same in Africa. I don’t understand why people are sending all of their money to Africa when there is so much to be done here. And this government here is not even in order, anyway. Personally, I think the kids are more educated in Africa than they are here. If you asked 70 percent of the kids here what they want to be in life, they’ll tell you, ‘I don’t even like school because we don’t get the proper books.’ The kids are suspended for any reason, and some of these teachers are unqualified. Also, there are staff not screened properly when hired. All of this affects the class differential.

Dionne Hawkins

“I don’t necessarily think it’s a problem. I think there have always been differences between classes and what people want in life. It is just something that happens and will always continue to be. I know I have issues sometimes when I see people not taking advantage of their education. When people are doing certain things, I might say that is somewhat ‘ghetto.’ For instance, if you’re throwing trash on the ground, swearing, yelling at children instead of trying to see what the issue is. I think that some of that has to go to the different classes and where people are. Class will always exist. It’s not something you can just erase. But we should find a way to meet in the middle.”

Robin Danielle Welch

 “I think it depends on what you think of as ‘class.’ I think there is a class problem money-wise. If you think about the Austin community, everybody is on the same pay scale. I think we could do more to help other people who we consider ‘low-class.’ Education-wise, it is definitely a class problem because the education the kids are offered here is not the same throughout the city, and definitely not in other states. I was born and raised in Michigan. The education I received in Chicago is not up to par with what I got in Ann Arbor, and that’s a huge class problem. As far as what people think about you, it’s based on image and how articulate you are. If you have an open mind, you can look pass what somebody is wearing, how much money somebody makes or what kind of education they have.”