Karyn Lacy Lacy details the process of conducting and completing her ﬁ rst research project which focuses on the housing decisions of middle-class Black suburbanites. She brings to light how an inductive approach to data
No, I didn’t go into the fi eld already aware that Blacks’ identities vary according to identifi able patterns or even among diff erent groups of middle-class Blacks, although it seems obvious now that the book is done. I set out to understand how middle-class Black suburbanites made their housing decisions. How do Blacks who presumably earn enough money to live wherever they want end up in either majority Black Prince George’s County or
predominately white Fairfax County? I had read a lot of literature on residential segregation, most of which points to the coercive aspects of Blacks’ housing decisions. So, I went into the fi eld expecting to hear heartbreaking stories from infuriated Blacks about how their housing options were constrained by racial discrimination. But the Blacks in my sample didn’t think about their options the way I had anticipated they would. Th ey saw buying a home as relatively uncomplicated: choose a realtor, fi nd a house, buy it, and move in. What they really wanted to talk about was each other. Blacks in PG County drew clear distinctions between themselves and Blacks who live across the river in Fairfax County. And Blacks in Fairfax County believed the PG County Blacks were diff erent from them. Th ere was really nothing in the existing literature about this kind of internal diff erentiation within the Black middle class. Th at’s how a study that began as a story about spatial patterns turned into a book about identity, a new theoretical model for thinking about Black identity. In that sense, Blue-Chip Black is truly an example of grounded theory.