From a recent analysis of data from the 1990 census springs luminous evidence of the rise of the black middle class. According to the study by sociologist Andrew Beveridge of Queens College, blacks in Queens earned a median household income of $34,314 in 1990—slightly higher than the $34,075 median for whites.

How have Queens blacks done so well? Says Beveridge: "The intact family with the husband and wife working—that's the recipe that works. They're following it." Queens blacks, many of whom are immigrants from Caribbean nations, are about 15 percent more likely to be married than blacks nationwide. Black immigrants in Queens, often skilled and typically thrifty, earned an annual median household income of $38,650 in 1990, versus $32,000 for the borough's U.S.-born blacks and $36,000 for its U.S.-born whites. For blacks nationwide, the figure is $19,758. Black households in Queens were also more likely to have two wage-earners than were white households.

Beveridge's research poses a challenge to racial arsonists quick to blame all black problems on white racism. As blacks in Queens can attest, hard work and strong families, not race, are the most important factors in realizing the American Dream.


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