Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

The Root Takes on the “Acting White” Phenomenon

July 20th, 2010 by Ajuan Mance


Kudos to writer Latoya Peterson for an article that cuts through the much of the hype and spin around the “acting white” phenomenon that supposedly plagues America’s Black youth.

Peterson draws on important research and analysis by Roland J. Fryer to complicate and question the generalization that all Black and Latin American young people engage in the self-sabotaging behavior of labeling high academic achievers as traitors to their respective races.

Peterson argues that the emphasis on the myth that all Black and Latino/a youth believe that good grades and academic excellence constitute “acting white” has drawn valuable energy and resources away from addressing the issues that truly impact the achievement of marginalized youth.

You can find her article, “The Myth of ‘Acting White’ and the Achievement Gap,” at THIS LINK.

Posted by Ajuan Mance

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2 Responses

  1. alisa jones

    I just finished reading this article. Currently, I am working on a research study focusing on factors and services to aide in the educational success of African American males attending community colleges. In conducting my literature review, I have come across quite a few articles addressing this particular topic and how this label prohibits these students from educational achievement. The fears of being labeled or accused of “acting white” often haunt these students, and implies that being educated, well spoken, and focused is not the norm for African Americans. What this term implies is indeed negative, not because of an individual’s behavior, but more so due to the idea that certain attributes and normal life progressions are reserved for white people only. I would love to see this phrase disappear from the African American community.

  2. desta@israel

    omg, i can not belive that colour of skin can affect academic excellence. i study in israel, we have lots of students from ethiopia in our school-i dont see any real difference between them and other groups of students.