Represent: Art and Identity Among the Black Upper-Middle Class (Routledge Research in Race and Ethnicity)

Patricia A. Banks traverses the New York and Atlanta art worlds to uncover how black identities are cultivated through black art patronage. Drawing on over 100 in-depth interviews, observations at arts events, and photographs of art displayed in homes, Banks elaborates a racial identity theory of consumption that highlights how upper-middle class blacks forge black identities for themselves and their children through the consumption of black visual art. She not only challenges common assumptions about elite cultural participation, but also contributes to the heated debate about the significance of race for elite blacks, and illuminates recent art world developments. In doing so, Banks documents how the salience of race extends into the cultural life of even the most socioeconomically successful blacks.