While in Chicago recently for business ethics, marketing, and management conferences, I bought Mary Pattillo's book on the black middle class in North Kenmore-Oakland, a neighborhood in Chicago north of South Kenmore (home of Barack Obama) and Hyde Park. There's lots of good stuff in the book--for example, she makes the correct point that middle-class blacks like Bill Cosby who criticize the behavior of poor blacks are showing their engagement with the idea of a black community. Inspired by the book, I took the South Shore train to Hyde Park and walked to Kenmore. I wasn't allowed to walk down Obama's block, which had barricades and police cars at both ends--no problem, though a middle-way approach like turning in all your stuff at a kiosk and then getting it back after completing the stroll down the block and back might better accommodate tourist interests as well as neighborhood and security interests. Anyway, a few blocks away from chez Obama, North Kenmore, with plenty of vacant lots along with some beautiful old homes like Mary Pattillo's (although she'd moved, as I found out when I rang the bell) and some snazzy condos, was open for strollers. I bought a decent taco at a decent price from a deli, Atlantic Foods, which I saw from the pictures on the wall--Malcolm X, other black luminaries, owner with aldermen and other politicians, community service recognition awards--was owned by a Sam Joudeh, who appeared to be from the Middle East. That led me to think about how important or not the strong sense of racial identification/obligation by black middle class members that Pattillo discusses, and the different but also powerful sense of racial identification by poor blacks, are in encouraging or discouraging middle class blacks' from involvement in business in black neighborhoods. My sense is that it's an important factor in deterring black-owned businesses in places like North Kenwood. As a member of the black middle class running a deli in the ghetto, I believe you are externally and also internally or psychically vulnerable to poor blacks, like the young men standing around in front of the deli or the woman on Drexel Boulevard who told me she'd just failed a drug test and asked me to look after her stuff for a minute, asking you or hitting you up for money for good or bad reasons in a way that a non-black like Mr. Joudeh is not.