In addition, what is considered “middle” depends on the viewpoint of whoever is making the claim.
This makes the concept of the middle-class incredibly slippery.
One possible answer is that it can be relevant in a context like Colombia to help make visible the trajectories of social advancement of Afro-Colombians, given that these processes are little studied and generally excluded from official accounts of national history.
Thus, they offer alternative possible representations that contrast with the stereotypical representations of this population.
The trouble with this categorisation is that it’s apt to mislead and fails to capture the experience of being black and middle class.
For a start, the idea that the black middle class engages in consumption for its own sake needs to be unpacked.For this reason, measures of wealth or earning capacity can easily mislead, especially given the number of financial obligations members of this group take on as they attempt to overcome the past in their wider families.These demands are reflected in high debts experienced by the black middle class.This confirms that the consumption of the black middle class is strongly linked to the need to correct an historical asset deficit.The high debt that accompanies this, coupled with high rates of retrenchment and increasing unemployment, puts the new black middle class in a perilous position.And categorisation of this type buys into a history of race and knowledge production in which the experiences of blacks were fixed and flattened so as to facilitate the project of colonialism and apartheid.Unlike whites, blacks were forced to live among blacks irrespective of their class position.The experiences of those who grew up in black middle class households shows the tensions between race and class, where class positioning is not as simple as a measure of ones access to class privilege.The middle class position becomes precarious for blacks as they engage in “white spaces”, because in these spaces they are defined as the “other” middle class.This class was able to earn a social, political, and economic space despite the persistence of racial prejudice and discrimination.These processes of upward social mobility of the black population in Colombia have played out in ways specific to the particular regional, economic, social, and political contexts in which they emerged.