Despite their diversity, Black Americans have long been studied as a uniformly disadvantaged group. Drawing from a representative sample of over a thousand Black students and in-depth interviews and focus groups with over one hundred more, Young, Gifted and Diverse highlights diversity among the new educated Black elite—those graduating from America’s selective colleges and universities in the early twenty-first century.
Differences in childhood experiences shape this generation, including their racial and other social identities and attitudes, and beliefs about and interactions with one another. While those in the new Black elite come from myriad backgrounds and have varied views on American racism, as they progress through college and toward the Black professional class they develop a shared worldview and group consciousness. They graduate with optimism about their own futures, but remain guarded about racial equality more broadly. This internal diversity alongside political consensus among the elite complicates assumptions about both a monolithic Black experience and the future of Black political solidarity.
Camille Z. Charles is the Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Social Sciences and professor of sociology and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Rory Kramer is associate professor of sociology and criminology at Villanova University. Douglas S. Massey is the Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Kimberly C. Torres is an affiliated faculty member in organizational dynamics and the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
"Young, Gifted and Diverse is empirically rich, deeply moving, and absolutely needed. Through careful weaving of survey data and student voices, it forces us to question what we take for granted about what it means to be a Black student today. It is a must-read for college presidents and deans who aim to recruit diverse classes."—Anthony Abraham Jack, author of The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students
“The African American elite is no monolithic group. Within that cadre are individuals who reflect vast differences in racial identity, immigrant status, skin color, gender orientation, and general life experience. In providing a critical examination of intraracial diversity among high-achieving African American youth, Young, Gifted and Diverse reveals many hidden complexities embedded in the experiences and outlooks of young people on the cusp of becoming the modern Black elite. As such, it is essential reading for those desiring to understand race, social possibility, and the fate of African Americans in the twenty-first century.”—Alford Young, Jr., author of From the Edge of the Ghetto: African Americans and the World of Work