In his 1997 book, Black Bourgeoisie, E. Franklin Frazier argues that those who left gained materially improved circumstances but lost their roots to the traditional black world and were never accepted by the suburban white communities they moved to, leading he says to a loss of identity.
More recently, in his 2016 Booker Prize-winning satirical novel, The Sellout, Paul Beatty lampoons this "scary subset," which he calls "wereniggers," as erudite and urbane African-Americans who get their hackles raised during tenure review and "schlep down from their ivory towers and corporate boardrooms to prowl the inner cities."
What I want to know is whether class distinctions exist within other ethnic groups or immigrant populations as well. Was it like this among Irish, Italian, and Jewish immigrants in the 20th century? I suspect the answer is yes. But in what way? When I worked for a San Francisco TV station back in the day, I once interviewed rivaling Chinese high school students who divided themselves between the ABC and the FOB. ABC stood for American-Born Chinese. FOB was a derisive term for recent Chinese immigrants, those who were "Fresh off the Boat."
I’m curious about this now because Delancey Place has reminded me of Graham’s book. But also because the news from Myanmar is dispiriting. And I wonder what you think? Are class distinctions sometimes a healthy thing? If so, what keeps it from deteriorating into horrible recurrences of “ethnic cleansing” around the globe? Is intra-racial discrimination along class lines a peculiarly American phenomenon that cuts across all racial and ethnic groups? What’s your experience with this issue?