NON-FICTION: “What Happened to the African- American Middle Class” by Nathan Jones
(1) Discuss your experiences during the most recent recession. Did it feel like a recession or a depression? (2) What do you already know about the African-American experience in the U.S. from slavery to the present day? How has this shaped the economic realities for African-Americans?
Nathan A. Jones has a BA in Sociology (California State University, East Bay), an MA in Ethnic Studies, (San Francisco State University), a TESOL Certification from Oxford House College (Barcelona, Spain), an MFA in Creative Writing and English (Mills College), and a Certificate for the Teaching of Post Secondary Reading (San Francisco State University). He is a poet, essayist, spoken word artist, book publisher, musician, and the author of Revolutionary Erotica (2003), Black Man In Europe (2005, 2008), and Excerpts From My Soul: Read Without Prejudice (2010). He has published numerous articles, poems, and essays for online publications and is featured in a variety of poetry anthologies. He has taught at Skyline College since 2010.
(1) What is the author’s attitude towards the “American Dream”? Why does he feel this way? Does this dream still exist for everyone? (2) What is some of the evidence that Jones uses to support his thesis that African Americans are suffering a depression rather than a recession? Which evidence do you think is most compelling and why?
(1) If the trend described in the essay persists, what will happen if the African American middle class disappears? How would this change the African-American community? What would be the larger ramifications for our society as a whole? (2) The Langston Hughes quote of the dream deferred is referenced twice in the essay. This quote comes from the poem by the same name by Hughes. Read the poem and analyze how you feel it connects to the arguments made in the essay and the larger African- American experience: What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore-- And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over-- like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode? --Langston Hughes