'Acting white' is no myth

Stuart Buck’s Acting White gets a rave review from John McWhorter in The New Republic.

It was the demise of segregation, of all things, that helped pave the way for the “acting white” charge. With the closing of black schools after desegregation orders, black students began going to school with white students in larger numbers than ever before. White students were often openly hostile, and white teachers only somewhat less so. Black teachers and administrators from the old black schools often lost their jobs. Unsurprisingly, black students started modeling themselves against white ones as a form of self-protection. This dovetailed nicely with the new open-ended wariness of whites that was the bedrock of “Black Power” identity.

. . . The tendency to reject the “acting white” charge as a myth is based on what we might call compassionate denial. It may seem to many that the problem is so subject to misinterpretation by whites that it would be better to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Solutions? Not so easy. McWhorter points to high-quality “all-black charter schools, as well as public ones turned around by dynamic principals,” where students have no excuse for failure.

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Comments

  1. wahoofive says:

    Yeah, bring back segregation, that’ll solve all the problems.

  2. wahoofive says:

    Just to be clear, the last comment was sarcasm based on the author’s suggestion of “all-black” schools.

  3. “Yeah, bring back segregation, that’ll solve all the problems.”

    What’s this “bring back nonsense? Ever been to a high school in the Bronx, Newark, or Philly? They ARE segregated.

    If blacks choose segregation to help create a culture more amenable to life success – good for them.

  4. “This dovetailed nicely with the new open-ended wariness of whites that was the bedrock of “Black Power” identity.”

    So Blacks had no reason to mistrust Whites before those militant and proud Blacks told them to do so? Statements like that are not going to make me trust much of what the man says. That, and proposing resegregation as a solution to the “problem” of “acting white” don’t make me want to trust the man much, either. (And yes, I know many Blacks are segregated by choice or circumstance, but that’s a far cry from proposing it as a beneficial policy.)

  5. Walter_E_Wallis says:

    To the extent that “acting white” means voluntarily accepting the legal and cultural rules of society, yes, it does work.
    To the extent that voluntarily accepting the legal and cultural rules of society is acting white is a rejection of history and of the majority of non-whites through history who have demonstrated their civility.

  6. Richard Aubrey says:

    Well, it’s a free country. You can act as you wish, criminal law not included. But then the question of consequences arises.
    You acted like an authentic dude from the ‘hood”? And now you want a high-paying job?
    Are we allowed to discuss consequences?

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