Everyday Experience, Culture, and Acting White

Karolyn Tyson

in Integration Interrupted

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199736447
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199943951 | DOI:
Everyday Experience, Culture, and Acting White

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The topic of acting white has received a great deal of scholarly attention, but the process by which the link between race and academic achievement has developed among contemporary black youth remains very much under-examined. This chapter provides a theoretical outline of the formation of this association. It argues that students' tendency to link achievement with whiteness emerged after desegregation and is a consequence of racialized tracking. The dominant perspective regarding black students' attitudes toward school and achievement frames the issue as largely about culture and values: black youth learn to disparage school learning and academic success because they grow up in communities where a cultural orientation in opposition to mainstream (white) culture is widespread. This chapter examines the strengths and weaknesses of this popular idea. In explaining the limitations of the cultural explanation, it shows the advantages of focusing on students' in-school experiences as the most important source of their actions and ideas regarding academic achievement.

Keywords: acting white; racialized tracking; race; academic achievement; black students; whiteness; desegregation; culture; in-school experiences

Chapter.  7808 words. 

Subjects: Sociology

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