I have been fascinated by the history of the black elite, especially since reading “Our Kind of People” by Lawrence Otis Graham. In many ways I could not easily belong to that class of people, but for my light brown skin, I could imagine the possibility of it. And here my imagination was given a reality check. Jefferson’s book exposed the great complications and implications of being a middle-upper class negro; the demands and expectations, or, for that matter, lack of expectations, because in the greater white society, there was no desire to see these people as anything, but subversive. The bold and bleak reality is told with beautiful rhythm, with an intimate narration. She took dozens of true experiences and weaved it into an indelible story I want to return to. I digested it in a place of discomfort and awe, acknowledging my own appeal to the privilege those of Negroland possess (and maybe a little jealousy for the socio-economic status that is my surest divide from them), but then a great humility and sympathy for the struggle they had to go through. Yes, there is ease in privilege, but there is little ease in being black. A unique kind of vigilance existed in this demographic, and I found myself start to see their more complicated humanity instead of just the pristine presentation I always pictured. The “pristine presentation” was required in order to survive, and it was pursuit, of which they deserved, to thrive.
[Book of Delights pg. 203 | No.77 Ambiguous Signage Sometimes]