UC Davis sociology professor Bruce Haynes’ comes from a prominent African American family: his grandfather founded the National Urban League and was a protege of W.E.B Dubois. His grandmother was a prominent social scientist and children’s author. Yet, the succeeding generations struggled. Hayne’s book, “Down the Up Staircase,” tells the story of three generations of his Harlem-based family and explores the tenuous status of middle class African Americans. Despite looking like the model black family, Haynes writes that his family was “never secure in our futures, each generation walking a tightrope, one misstep from free fall.”

Exploring the ‘Tightrope’ of African-American Upward Mobility 20 June,2017Michael Krasny

  • ES Trader

    The best laid plans of mice and men; is this a uniquely Black issue or are all groups subject to bad luck, efforts that fail etc ?

    Hasn’t Hillary, Romney and others asked themselves, “why me”….?

    Whether social economic, politics, business enterprise, artists, authors, and athletes.

    Bo Jackson was on top of the sports world as the sole two sport success ever, then a freak hip injury ended it all, How many major golf titles has Jack Nicklaus’ son won ?

    Unless one was born a Rockefeller or a Buffet and Gates today, life can be challenging, disappointing and reflective.

    • William – SF

      And then there’s the very real U. S. government redlining policy that prevented a specific group of Americans, those of African heritage, from owning homes, moving into White neighborhoods, or of buying White homes up through 1968; and include educational opportunities, …

      It is fair to say that African Americans as a class have had to endure “challenges” beyond what most other classes of Americans have had to experienced.

      • Noelle

        Wondering where “Kevin SKipper” is now. he would be all over this.

        • William – SF

          Yup. I miss his voice.

      • Bruce D. Haynes

        I agree. And in terms of urban housing across the twentieth century, those challenges have come in the form of police corruption, police brutality, redlining, fire-bombing Negro neighbors, block busting, white flight, slum lords, not to mention good old fashioned racial bigotry.

  • Curious

    “Haynes writes that his family was “never secure in our futures, each generation walking a tightrope, one misstep from free fall.”
    Newsflash: that is not a black issue.

    • Bruce D. Haynes

      I agree. Upward and downward economic mobility is certainly not simply a “black issue.” And the quote you mention does not say that it does. Down the Up Staircase does, however, describe how racial segregation hinders the transfer of black wealth across the 20th century.

  • Amanda Stupi, Forum Producer

    **Heads up** — if you want to email a question or comment to Forum regarding this show, please use kqedtalk@gmail.com. Apologies for the inconvenience and thanks for listening! -Amanda

  • Ben Rawner

    What does your guest think about the erosion of the middle class as a whole? What he think about the BLM movement and how it relates to specific middle class goals such as access to quality jobs and healthcare?

  • ES Trader

    Please bring up asset allocation and how “freedom” means the choice to study and pass, not study and fail; spend on non durable consumption vs maintaining assets like housing.

    All of us have differences, color, gender, education, wealth,personality, attractiveness etc. that will determine social interaction so what is the point of your guest ?

  • Curious

    To what do you attribute Barry’s total failure to assist the black community in any way during his 8 years in office?

    • TimDoyle

      Barry was black in skin color only. His mother was white from Kansas.

      • Curious

        Yes, but he claimed to have lived an oppressed, black life.

        • William – SF

          No, Barack Obama said:

          “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America—there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America—there’s the United States of America.”

          • Curious

            He called his grandmother, who raised him after his drunken, wife-beating, bigamist, black father deserted him a “typical white woman.”

          • Curious

            “We also know that centuries of racial discrimination, of slavery, and subjugation, and Jim Crow; they didn’t simply vanish with the law against segregation…we know that bias remains. We know it, whether you are black, or white, or Hispanic, or Asian, or native American, or of Middle Eastern descent, we have all seen this bigotry in our own lives at some point. We’ve heard it at times in our own homes….No institution is entirely immune, and that includes our police departments. We know this.” lied Barry

  • TimDoyle

    The tension between Blacks and Jews is interesting. I’ll never forget Jesse Jackson getting busted for referring to New York as “Hemi Town” back in the late 80’s or early 90s. Blacks and Jews many times have been natural allies as they both share a history of persecution. Many of the Spanish Civil War volunteers and Southern American Civil Rights workers were Jewish kids from New York.

    • Sar Wash

      Don’t forget that there are black Jews; these are not mutually exclusive categories.

  • Robert Thomas

    Recently, the California Report radio program has featured the struggle of Vanessa and Richard Bulnes of Oakland, who have suffered frustrating reversals since the mid-2000s, due initially to the Great Recession and also from conflicts with antagonistic and neglectful landlords, while trying to continue to operate their well established day care.

    In the hour or so of broadcast segments that have covered the Bulnes’s problems, I believe less than five seconds were devoted to Mrs Bulnes’s comment that in order to spur their success in restructuring the mortgage on their home (which they subsequently lost) that she and her husband had been advised “to just stop paying our mortgage” – a tack she admitted seemed later to have been unwise.

    I’d have liked to know more about this advice, and its source but it’s not been forthcoming.

  • Robert Thomas

    What exactly was the point of this “ice people, sun people” stuff?

    I missed the first part of the conversation.

    • William – SF

      Perhaps it was during his comment concerning the observation that skin color is closely tied to proximity to the equator?

  • Kepler34380

    Please stop the tribalism propaganda.

  • Sar Wash

    Interesting episode. This meant a lot to me as an upper-middle class black woman from a working-class Bayview family.

Host

Michael Krasny

Michael Krasny, PhD, has been in broadcast journalism since 1983. He was with ABC in both radio and television and migrated to public broadcasting in 1993. He has been Professor of English at San Francisco State University and also taught at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and the University of California, as well as in the Fulbright International Institutes. A veteran interviewer for the nationally broadcast City Arts and Lectures, he is the author of a number of books, including “Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life” (Stanford University Press) “Spiritual Envy” (New World); “Sound Ideas” (with M.E. Sokolik/ McGraw-Hill); “Let There Be Laughter” (Harper-Collins) as well as the twenty-four lecture series in DVD, audio and book, “Short Story Masterpieces” (The Teaching Company). He has interviewed many of the world’s leading political, cultural, literary, science and technology figures, as well as major figures from the world of entertainment. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including the S.Y. Agnon Medal for Intellectual Achievement; The Eugene Block Award for Human Rights Journalism; the James Madison Freedom of Information Award; the Excellence in Journalism Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association; Career Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and an award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He holds a B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. from Ohio University and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

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