Not Like the Other Black Girls: How Class and Family Structure Impact Young Black Women's Experiences of Competition and Alienation

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



For much of the tewntieth century the dominant image of black women in the United States has been that of the low-income single mother. Over the past several years, however, there has been significant scholarly interest in the experiences of middle class black women in America and the double burden of sexism and racism they face. While some of this research has addressed their familial experiences, the complexity of racialized family structure in the black middle class and its impact on women is often overlooked. Moreover, previous studies of the black middle class have typically assumed a backdrop of monoracial family structure. This assumption overlooks biracial and transracial families, however, who also form a core constituency of the black middle class. This paper explores the experiences of college aged middle class black women as they negotiate race, class, and gender against the backdrop of varying racialized family structures. Data is drawn from 25 in depth interviews with young middle class black women between the ages of 18 and 25 who were raised in families with two black parents (monoracial), one white and one black parent (biracial), and two white parents (transracial). Findings suggest that young middle class black women experience particularly tense relationships with poorer black women leaving them feeling “different” and isolated. Transracial adoptees and young biracial women faced unique challenges, however, whereby their connections to the white community served to further isolate them from other young black women.