Racial Authenticity, “Acting Black,” and Cultural Consumption

Natasha K. Warikoo

in Balancing Acts

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780520262102
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947795 | DOI:
Racial Authenticity, “Acting Black,” and Cultural Consumption

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This chapter discusses how the drawing of symbolic boundaries between ethnic and racial groups and peer expectations of racial authenticity affect teens' taste preferences, focusing on the subtle differences in taste preferences between the Indian, Afro-Caribbean, Indo-Caribbean, and white students in the schools. Hip-hop's association with African Americans has elevated black racial identity to high status among peers. Non-black students are sometimes chastised for acting black or inauthentic consumption of black popular culture. Hence, ethnic groups have found ways of engaging with hip-hop that connected with their particular ethnicity. Afro-Caribbean youth are equipped with the most authentic claim to hip-hop because of hip-hop's black roots. South Asian youth engage in hybrid bhangra–hip-hop and Hindi-hip-hop styles because they cannot easily boundary-cross in their consumption without being seen as racially inauthentic. The white youth in London choose from myriad cultural styles. Hence, although popular youth culture and status considerations exist in all social contexts, regardless of race and class, their manifestations differ by race and ethnicity.

Keywords: racial authenticity; ethnicity; hip-hop; racial identity; youth culture

Chapter.  11213 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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