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.