A couple of months ago I talked about a theory suggesting that African American youth equate academic success with “acting white”
Now, we’ve all heard the term “acting white” tossed around in our community, and may even remember when a younger Chris Rock took Bryant Gumbel to task for allegedly acting ‘too white” or when Eddie Murphy literally turned white in a famous Saturday Night Live skit and got crazy hookups!
Well there’s a fascinating new book out by law professor Devon Carbado that offers a fresh perspective on this theory, arguing that ‘acting white’ is more than just skin deep.
In Acting White?: Rethinking Race in “Post-Racial” America, Carbado contends that racial judgments are not just based on skin color, but on how a person conforms to behaviors or stereotypes associated with a certain race.
In other words, they’re based on how people of any color “perform” their race as suggested by their clothing; their hairstyle; their acquaintances; the organizations they join; their racial politics; where they live, or how they speak and walk.
One example would be how some African Americans have an ‘in the community’ demeanor and a ‘at the workplace’ demeanor.
For black men in particular―because of the fear people in our society so often have of them―their ‘at the workplace’ demeanor, in many instances, is designed to be non-threatening, mild or ‘approachable’.
But don’t get it twisted folks. In most cases, this is not a sign of weakness on the brothers’ part but rather a sign of cultural fluency, meaning they’re playing the game enough to pay their bills.
And most are strong enough to know that adopting that workplace demeanor does not define them… Another more common example for African Americans is how we often shift our speech patterns say for a job interview.
The point, for Carbado, is not to push some notion of racial authenticity but to acknowledge “acting” is something many people commonly do, whether its acting white, acting black, or even “acting male,”.
But while Carbado contends that this process goes deeper than skin color, he also acknowledges the socially imposed pressures on African Americans in particular to act in certain ways in order to more smoothly navigate both their professional and personal landscapes.
Again the name of the book is Acting White?: Rethinking Race in “Post-Racial” America, you should definitely get a copy and I’d like to hear from you do you feel any pressure to act in certain ways in certain environments.
I’ll close with these words from Carbado himself:
“We judge African Americans based not only on whether we perceive them to be black, but also on how black we perceive them to be.”
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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