Author: Margo Jefferson
“…Negro privilege had to be circumspect: impeccable but not arrogant; confident yet obliging; dignified not intrusive.”
I personally find vintage lives of the Black bourgeoisie – inside “the bubble” fascinating. Even if you don’t, this book is more than that. The juxtaposition of wealthy, educated Blacks still being regarded as less than in most circumstances is something that was, and continues to be very real. In the past, you weren’t fully accepted into White
society but you weren’t fully accepted into the Black folds of those who couldn’t enjoy the same luxuries you did. It seems to have been like being on a Black bourgeoisie island. It’s interesting to peek into the world of this often-unknown area of Black life.
What it must have been like to have the same, if not more, wealth and education as your white counterparts and still be viewed as second class citizens. Wealth did not necessarily serve as protector from the harsh realities of racism. It doesn’t seem like much has changed in that sense.
I would imagine it to be mentally exhausting to exist in this bubble of privilege, yet outside of it you have white people who resented your success, and less privileged Blacks who found you “socially inept due to an excess of white-derived manners and interests.” Life inside the bubble wasn’t necessarily easier either. You had to deal with evaluations of your skin shade, physical features, and hair texture which were all important markers in upper class Black society.
For me, this book was an insightful look into different worlds and the journey to navigate the two as well as have them live side by side. Margo offers her personal experiences in context with what was happening in society during that time. It was thought-provoking, and I thank Margo for sharing her memoir with us.