Newbos: The Rise of America’s New Black Overclass,

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By Lee Hawkins

Wall Street Journal reporter
updated 7:24 p.m. ET, Thurs., Feb. 26, 2009
(Excerpted from Newbos: The Rise of America’s New Black Overclass, to be published Sept., 2009 by Gotham/Penguin.)


Americans have a deep penchant for classifying people, including by race and socio-economic categories. Blacks historically have not fared well in either of those schemes and young black males have been especially stigmatized.

The media portray them as uneducated dropouts, irresponsible absentee fathers, sellers or users of drugs and criminals destined for prison. And it isn’t an accident that many blacks, both male and female, fall into the lower end of the traditional low-class, middle-class and upper-class distinctions of socio-economic standing.

The lines differentiating those classes tend to blur, influenced not only by income or assets — difficult enough standards for many blacks — but also by occupation, geography and heritage, a sorting and sifting process that is, overall, unfavorable to blacks. So strong is the appeal of classifying one another that we can lose sight of tectonic shifts taking place among us. Such is the case with the rise of what I call the New Black Overclass, or Newbos.

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