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Southern Spaces
A journal about real and imagined spaces and places of the US South and their global connections

Negotiating Black Identities

University of Michigan
Published May 3, 2005


Dr. Karyn Lacy presented "Constructing Racial Identities" at Emory University on March 2, 2005. In excerpts from her lecture, Prof. Lacy advances the idea of strategic assimilation as an way of understanding how contemporary middle-class Blacks are managing their lives in suburban spaces. She draws from her research in two counties near Washington, D. C.: Prince George's County, Maryland (a majority-Black county) and Fairfax County, Virginia (predominately White).



Part 2: Dr. Lacy outlines her sources, methods, and sites of analysis in Prince George's County, MD and Fairfax County, VA

Part 3: Dr. Lacy explores the construction of racial identities in the suburbs through interracial marriage and college attendance

Part 4: Dr. Lacy discusses the relevance of Black spaces and places to middle-class suburban Blacks

Part 5: Dr. Lacy compares the everyday experiences of Blacks in two suburban communities, highlighting Black social organizations

Part 6: Dr. Lacy highlights the changing mission of an elite Black social organization in the suburbs, Jack and Jill

Part 7: Dr. Lacy compares a "spatial community" with an "imagined community" to show how the two suburbs approach race relations

Maps Referenced:
map of Fairfax County and Prince George's County

About the Speaker

Karyn Lacy is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan. Her areas of research include race and ethnicity, the sociology of culture, suburban sociology, and stratification. Prof. Lacy's book, Negotiating Black Identities (forthcoming from the University of California Press), examines how the Black middle class defines itself in relation to Whites, to the middle class, and to Blacks from other classes. Her current work explores the impact of an elite social organizations on the construciton and reproduction of class-based identities among middle-class Blacks.

Prof. Lacy's lecture was sponsored by the Emory American Studies Program and the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts.