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While I agree with William Frey's general analysis of the progress that blacks have made in America (“Revival,� October 2003), his view that one-third of African Americans have made it into the “middle class� defined by income, should include a note of considerable caution.

A more recent census report indicates that for 2002, the median income for black families was $29,026, or a substantial decline of $2,259 from Frey's figure of $31,285 based on Census 2000 data.

The point is that the economic definition of “class� includes more than income and also takes wealth into consideration. Wealth is important because it inhibits the wild shifts of a group — and the persons in it — from one class to another. Thus, while many of those in the tech bust were able to cushion their fall with the money they made, or with other financial resources, disproportionately, blacks fell right through the middle-class income floor back into the lower class by experiencing long bouts of unemployment and lowered wages.

So, while applauding the momentary achievement of the great economy of the late 1990s, the recent economic decline devalues much of Frey's analysis.


Dept. of Government and Politics

University of Maryland


Pretty cool stuff on living alone in your November issue's “A Place for One� and “Hitch Switch� articles. Nice stats. However, I can see why Matthew's last name is Grimm (Democritic, page 34). He seems to think everyone that is married or religious is out to get the single person.

The fact is, being single is cool, fun, adventurous and can be very rewarding and they should have all the rights the rest of us do. I, for one, am glad that kids are waiting longer before they get married … better established in life and they can make more informative decisions on whether to live a single life or not. Most religious folks (myself included) think it's cool if you want to be single.

As far as businesses wanting people to be married, so the population will grow and consumer spending will rise, I am sure there are many business people that think that way. But for the average person, like my wife and myself, who populated the earth with three kids, not to help out any industry, but because we wanted children … the heck with what the Fortune 500 says.

Matthew's little jab that cohabitation is on the rise and how he tries to justify that this is a good thing sounds like he is cohabiting like the rest of the 4.1 million Americans. I guess that's OK, but it sounds like he is trying to convince his parents: “It's OK mom and dad, everybody lives together before marriage nowadays.� I can hear mom and dad in the background saying, “It don't make it right, son.�

In my vocation, I get to be with all sorts of families, from singles to single moms, deadbeat dads, blended families, adopted families, cohabiting families and traditional families. In our local setting, it is those who are married who seem to have a better grip on life as far as being gracious, joyful, happy, content and they are not as selfish. Maybe it is because they are brave enough to have a covenant between them selves that says they will love and honor each other for the rest of their lives. The most well-adjusted kids, in my experience, are those whose mom and dad love each other, are a family of faith and bring their kids up in that faith. There will always be single people, there will always be married people, why can't we just say, “Cool,� and respect one another and be neighbors?

Matthew, for heaven sakes “lighten up� and go have some fun. But, two good questions might help you along the road: 1) Would God approve? 2)Would your mother approve? If you can honestly answer yes to both questions then go for it!



North Canton, Ohio


  • In the November 2003 issue on page 31 in “The Grid,â€? there was a typographical error which led to an incorrect label for one of the PopUpdates. A PopUpdate that should have been labeled Denver County, Colo., was inaccurately identified as Douglas County, Colo. The chart did include the correct number of households, 239,235; the percent of households with one person, 39 percent; and the growth in the single-person population, 27 percent. We regret the error.

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