Book Review | Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class by Lawrence Otis Graham

I stumbled upon Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class, an intriguing novel by Lawrence Otis Graham, after doing a Yahoo! search for “black affluent neighborhoods.” I was trying to find out what neighborhoods in America the black elite live in.

Well, I did not find a website containing that particular information, but I did discover Our Kind of People. After reading an excerpt of the book on Amazon, I went right out and bought it at the bookstore, deciding not to wait for a cheaper copy to come in the mail. I was shocked and amazed that there was a book out there that talked about the Black Elite in such great detail and from an insider perspective. I must say that I was not disappointed.

Graham covers everything from childhood to organizations, accomplishments, and secret social societies of the black, educated, and wealthy in America. This book is a must-read for people like myself who have been taught a black history that covers the struggle, but not the affluence.

The book reads like a who’s who of American society, while covering important issues such as skin color-consciousness, classicism within the black race, higher education, and the discrimination that even the richest and most accomplished blacks faced.

My main criticism of the book is the way in which sororities and fraternities are covered. As a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, I disagreed with the assumption that there are only two black sororities that “count,” considering that mine wasn’t one of them and the fact the that conception of these sororities does not reflect the complete history of the organizations. Nevertheless, this is a small glitch in an overall excellent history. Since a decade has passed since the publication of the book, an updated version from the publisher would be a good idea to reflect the many changes that black society has undergone, new achievers, changes within organizations, as well as the addition of updates on the organizations that are covered in such great detail.