America can be an amazing place, especially if you're not from here. While problems are no doubt solved every day, we only hear about the ones that aren't, like certain types of race relations and structural and institutional racism in some quarters. While it may seem like America is retarded in some things, and keeps making the same bad mistakes over and over again, there has to be a sliver of progress we are not privy to. With that optimistic thought, I wonder how the Black middle class is doing? Ferguson is many things, and so is racism in general—but one big thing both share is class. I think if institutional racism is to be abated in this country, class has to be tackled with, and government has to step in as a truly social welfare state to lift all boats. When people are given economic power and opportunity, we might see institutional racism lessen. Ferguson is full of poor people. Their racism problems aren't going away. How big is the Black middle class in this country, and how much power do they have to affect change? With a major recession and other policies, are Blacks moving on up (sorry) at the same rate they once were? Have they gone down the ladder? As everyone—white, black, Hispanic, Asian, etc—who lives in America has felt forty years of Republican ideology, I think I know the answer, but I'm curious about that.

Oops, just realized I may sound like Booker T. Washington and leave responsibility of America's race problem on upwardly mobile Blacks. No, I agree with what Chris Rock said: progress has to come from whites; it's their problem how they see others who aren't like them. But I do think if Blacks were more and more entering the middle and upper classes, the power situation would change and they would have enough leverage to get their voices heard. You'd think a Black president would be a strong weapon for that, but I don't know Obama's policies and presidential history on the subject.

PPS—Of course racism in all its forms affects upward mobility and all classes. I'm basically looking for good explanatory reading material. Pooped out on current terrible news, I'm going to be reading fiction and science for a while. Then come back and go through a mini seminar of one entitled "America's Problems: What is to be done?" Or maybe I won't do that.