Our Kind of People : Inside America's Black Upper Class

Our Kind of People : Inside America's Black Upper Class

3.8 48
by Lawrence Otis Graham
     
 

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Debutante cotillions. Million-dollar homes. Summers in Martha's Vineyard. Membership in the Links, Jack & Jill, Deltas, Boule, and AKAs. An obsession with the right schools, families, social clubs, and skin complexion. This is the world of the black upper class and the focus of the first book written about the black elite by a member of this hard-to-penetrate

Overview

Debutante cotillions. Million-dollar homes. Summers in Martha's Vineyard. Membership in the Links, Jack & Jill, Deltas, Boule, and AKAs. An obsession with the right schools, families, social clubs, and skin complexion. This is the world of the black upper class and the focus of the first book written about the black elite by a member of this hard-to-penetrate group.

Author and TV commentator Lawrence Otis Graham, one of the nation's most prominent spokesmen on race and class, spent six years interviewing the wealthiest black families in America. He includes historical photos of a people that made their first millions in the 1870s. Graham tells who's in and who's not in the group today with separate chapters on the elite in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nashville, and New Orleans. A new Introduction explains the controversy that the book elicited from both the black and white communities.

Editorial Reviews

New York Post
“A provocative and important study of the world of priviliged African Americans.”
Los Angeles Magazine
“Captivating...From debutante cotillions and the right vacation spots to who’s in and who’s not.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060984380
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/01/2000
Series:
Harper Perennial
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
448
Sales rank:
199,961
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.03(d)

Meet the Author

The author of fourteen books, including the New York Times bestseller Our Kind of People, and a contributing editor for Reader's Digest, Lawrence Otis Graham's work has also appeared in the New York Times, Essence, and The Best American Essays. He lives with his wife in Manhattan and Chappaqua, New York.

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Our Kind of People : Inside America's Black Upper Class 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While Graham's account of the black elite might have upset many African Americans because it shows the divisiveness of our people instead of the solidarity, the book does shed light on an area of Black history many were obviously unaware. Graham exudes a fondness for some of the people in the book with whom he is familiar however, it is no different than a 'non-elite' would feel for his or her 'big mama' or 'madea.' Some of these are the people with whom he grew up and who he grew to love. Well-deserved respect and admiration should be expected, if not desired. People who are upset with the book may well be because in reading it, they realize their exclusion. While not apart of the elite, I found it fascinating and was proud to know people of African decent were doing so well during times when others 'found it kinda hard.' Fascination continues as I am able to drive through Mississippi and see the exit for the Piney Woods School and imagine the rich history and culture that must adorn the halls. While I am not apart of the black elite and with my milk chocoalate skin will never be, I am neither discouraged nor saddened not to be apart of the group. The reader must not fail to remember the essence of a good book -- to be able to transfer you to a world you might not otherwise have been able to explore. Only if the reader keeps that in mind can Graham's book truly be appreciated.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am quite upset that I spent my money on this trash! I find the "elite" people in this book to be very wordly, materialistic, and superficial. I would not want to be associated with these people nor have my kids around these people children. Furthermore, I find it very hard to believe that these people give to back to the black community at all since they do not want any association with the average working class black person. Eventhough I am a graduate of one of the elite colleges mentioned in the book (and am currently pursuing a graduate degree), I still would find it very hard to relate to any of these people in the book. A professional is not someone who has a college degree, but a professional is someone who has the right attitude. It is an attitude of excellence in whatever work he/she is called to do. Furthermore, a real elite is someone who surrendered their life to God and committed to doing His will, a person that is confident yet not cocky, a person that can relate to men of both high and low status, and lastly, he/she is a person that understands that the true worth of a person is not the car he/she drives or amount of money he/she has in the bank account, but the size of their heart. New Orleans,La.
godpsent More than 1 year ago
I am thinking maybe this book was written for those are not middle class, Black Americans. If you are not a Black American and interested in Black American culture, then this book will be great for you. Of if you are a member of the Black American elite and would like a neat, little journal of your collective experiences, then this book might be for you. I was not very impressed only because as a middle class Black American I am all too familiar with the information in this book. And the information is not presented with any particular critique or opinion. I was quite bored and wish I had not purchased this book. Caveat: the author presents the information rather unsentimentally and without judgment. It is more or less a "just the facts" type of memoir.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is very informative and inspiring. The stories inside this book are great American stories of triumph over tall odds. All too often the success stories of African Americans not involved in athletics or entertainment are overlooked. The book "Our Kind Of People" reveals the many success stories of African Americans who utilized their intellects to achieve success in America.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really didn't like this book at all. The author, throughout the book, lists titles and acolades for every person that he quoted and I thought that was completely unneccesary. He also gave too many details about vacations, status (in terms of various professions), and socioeconomic elitism that made the book a chore to read. I would not recommend this book to anyone unless you want a surface perspective of the life of 'our kind of people'. I prefer a description and history of this group of so called elite black people and how there exlcusion of lower-class black people henders the progress of the black community rather help it. I am a professional and I am not in any of the groups described in the book nor would I ever choose to be.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First, let me say I am proud and happy to read and learn about the black upper class, when the history books would have all believe blacks were poor slummers and coutry bumpkins. But what I cannot stand, is the outright discrimination upper class blacks imposed upon all other blacks. Really, what made them any different than whites. Both groups thought they were better than and snubbed their noses at a majority of blacks. What is the point of having an upper class of blacks, if they do not elevate the race, the whole race? Many people would believe these old fashioned prejudices and slights do not exist anymore but I know they do. I applaud the book for showing a side of blacks people rarely see but it is also devastating to realize with so much power and money, litte to none was done to help other struggling blacks
Guest More than 1 year ago
Informative; not too biased for or aginst the upper class. I appreciate this book. More people need to know all aspects of the black community.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Finally a book has been written about the Black Upper Class. A class some people don't even think exists. I did enjoy the book but at times it did portray the black upper class in a negative light.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Refuge More than 1 year ago
I found the book to be disturbing. It was about people whom call themselves elitist. They are full of pride, all about the money, job titles, social club titles, snobs, and hold lots of intraracist thoughts. To that I say, if anyone dies today please be reminded none of these things you can take with you. We are judged by what's in our hearts and not by all the things that these people find to be so greatly esteemed. I would not recommend this book for purchase for the aforementioned reasons. There's a lot of positive other reads out there. I am grateful that God doesn't have a heart like these people or the masses would surely be sentenced to damnation.
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Graham did an excellent job of going in depth of the mysterious life of the Black elite class. He drops a lot of names in the book, some individuals I didn't care to know. Overall, the book was a good read.
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