Days Black People Not Re-Enslaved By Trump

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Acting White
Back in December of last year a publication came out discussing the "Burden of Acting White" which sought to disporve the notion that blacks have some cultural bias against academic performance. I had serious issues with the paper, chief of which were that no one claimed that black culture was against academic performance, but that specific portions of the black population sees academic performance as "white" or at a minimum "not cool." It was with this in mind that I found the following article in the Washington Post entitled The Price of Acting White which contained the following:

The phenomenon is one reason some social thinkers give to help explain at least a portion of the persistent black-white achievement gap in school and in later life. Popularity-conscious young blacks, afraid of being seen as acting white, steer clear of behaviors that could pay dividends in the future, including doing well in school, Fryer said. At the same time, the desire to be popular pushes many whites to excel in the classroom, enhancing their future prospects.

Certainly that's what the data suggest is happening, Fryer said. Among white teens, Fryer and Torelli found that better grades equaled greater popularity, with straight-A students having far more same-race friends than those who were B students, who in turn had more friends than C or D students. But among blacks and especially Hispanics who attend public schools with a mix of racial and ethnic groups, that pattern was reversed: The best and brightest academically were significantly less popular than classmates of their race or ethnic group with lower grade point averages.

"For blacks, higher achievement is associated with modestly higher popularity until a grade point average of 3.5 [a B+ average], then the slope turns negative," Fryer and Torelli wrote in a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. A black student who's gotten all A's has, on average, 1.5 fewer same-race friends than a straight-A white student. Among Hispanics, there is little change in popularity until a student's average rises above a C+, at which point it plummets. A Hispanic student with all A's is the least popular of all Hispanic students, and has three fewer friends than a typical white student with a 4.0 grade point average...

What I find most significant was that this particular study went down the grade scale whereas the other study appeared to concentrate on relatively high achievers where as this study shows, and I argued, there is less contact with people who may hold attitudes regarding "acting white".

The article also had this very interesting line:

Why is "acting white" absent in mostly black schools?

That's easy, said Fryer, who is African American. He recalled his own experience growing up and attending predominantly black schools in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Dallas. "We didn't act white -- we didn't know what that was," he said, stressing that he prefers data to anecdote. "There were no white kids around."

So then the question becomes what is "Acting White"? If such behaviour is 'unknown" in all black schools, then are we discussing an issue of popularity which would negate the very "acting white" concept as was argued by the previous study?

I guess we are going to be in for the battle of the research.


1 comment:

Fire Angel said...

That study actually confirms what I've been witnessing with a handful (yet a handful is still too many) of African-Americans myself. I think this is a real problem, which in my opinion has a stronger presence in predominantly black schools.