'Acting white'

The Liberal Order links to a fascinating study on the Cost of “Acting White” by Roland Fryer and Paul Torelli.

Among whites, higher grades yield higher popularity. For blacks, higher achievement is associated with modestly higher popularity until a grade point average of 3.5, when the slope turns negative. A black student with a 4.0 has, on average, 1.5 fewer same-race friends than a white student with a 4.0. Among Hispanics, there is little change in popularity from a grade point average of 1 through 2.5. After 2.5, the gradient turns sharply negative. A Hispanic student with a 4.0 grade point average is the least popular of all Hispanic students, and has 3 fewer friends than a typical white student with a 4.0 grade point average.

“Acting white” isn’t an issue for blacks in predominantly black schools or in private schools, the researchers say.

Via Marginal Revolution, which links to a Washington Post story about the study.

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Comments

  1. BadaBing says:

    And I’ll bet there’s the opposite effect the more black a white or hispanic student acts. Or the more hispanic a white student acts. Let’s face it. Being white is not cool unless your Michael Jackson.

  2. The truth is, being yourself is never cool. Nobody will ever achieve true self-realization until he/she escape from the herd, or tribe, or “community”. Public schools never allow this; they insist on taking the tribe along to help keep the individual in his place. So they are powerless to prevent students from following tribal standards of “street cred” rather than academic scholarship. Any attempt to separate a student from her tribe is considered racist.

    Most of the high-achieving minority students do so outside of the public system. In these cases, the students, and parents, are ones who have already broken away from the herd, and hence already “acting white”.

    Even white and Asian tribalism reward talent only up to a certain point. I know, I’ve been there. You’re cool if you get good grades, are clean-cut, defer to authority but be a tyrant to those below you, and most of all make the school look good and let the school take the credit. Giftedness, uneven development, “psychosis”, and “obsessional” interests are never cool.

    Beeman, always acting Indigo.

  3. I can see how a statement like “sorry guys, I can’t do the drive-by tonight ’cause I have too much homework” might lead to popularity problems. But acting white?

    After skimming through the report, I have reached the following conclusions:

    1. Segregation is good.
    2. You don’t have to be white to be a racist.

    Read it for yourself and see what you think.

    AK

  4. Lester Spence says:

    First:

    1. The definition of “acting white” is a very very very narrow one in the Fryer and Torelli article. They acknowledge as much. “Acting white” has come to take on a media meaning that includes “being smart” but in black spaces usually it means “acting without style.” Now in as much as that can sometimes INCLUDE “being smart” the measure is an ok one.

    2. It isn’t tribalism that is the problem here. And it isn’t public schools either. All black schools don’t have this phenomenon. Private schools don’t have this phenomenon either. It’s a very specific type of public school–one in which black or Latino students are numerically small compared to whites. As such there are larger political problems that come to mind–but these problems are ones that Fryer and Torelli can’t deal with given their dataset.

    3. A couple of the comments above indicate that folks have to a certain extent already drunk the koolaid. Smart black kids have always been lauded in black spaces. Smart black kids who act snobbish in their intelligence have not. Black kids didn’t invent the term “nerd” by the way.

  5. Steve LaBonne says:

    “It’s a very specific type of public school–one in which black or Latino students are numerically small compared to whites” Would that were true, but it’s not. Shaker Heights High, for example (the subject of the alte John Ogbu’s much-discussed study) is 55% black and only 43% white. And I have certsinly heards credible accounts that this is a major problem at all-black schools as well. Alas, wishing inconvenient problems away just doesn’t work.

  6. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    Until intellectual curiosity and academic achievement are no longer seen as ‘acting white’, but seen as a UNIVERSAL positive value, will the achievement gap begin to close. Asian-Americans don’t seem to feel that school success and a strong work ethic are ‘acting white’—certain blacks and Hispanics should stop playing the race/ethnicity card and look from within to make progress in school and life.

  7. “Acting white” has come to take on a media meaning that includes “being smart” but in black spaces usually it means “acting without style.”

    And what is this “style” supposed to be?

    If I was a poor black slum-dweller, the last thing I need would be some fascist gang-leader-type dictating to me about “style”. I’d be more concerned about food and rent, for one.

    Now in as much as that can sometimes INCLUDE “being smart” the measure is an ok one.

    How is this supposed to be OK?

  8. BadaBing says:

    In today’s multicultural wonderland, “acting white” surely cannot be as bad as being white.