This exploratory study makes a contribution to the literature on antiracism by unpacking the cultural categories through which everyday antiracism is experienced and practiced by extraordinarily successful African Americans. Using a phenomenological approach, we focus on processes of classification to analyze the criteria that members of the African American elite mobilize to compare racial groups and establish their equality. We first summarize results from earlier work on the antiracist strategies of White and African American workers. Second, drawing upon in-depth interviews with members of the Black elite, we show that demonstrating intelligence and competence, and gaining knowledge, are particularly valued strategies of equalization, while religion has a subordinate role within their antiracist repertoire. Thus, gaining cultural membership is often equated with educational and occupational attainment. Antiracist strategies that value college education and achievement by the standards of American individualism may exclude many poor and working-class African Americans from cultural membership. In this way, strategies of equalization based on educational and professional competence may prove dysfunctional for racial solidarity.
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