What Does ‘Acting White’ Really Mean? Racial Identity Formation and Academic Achievement among Black Youth

1(1) Perspectives on Urban Education

9 Pages Posted: 8 May 2018

See all articles by Vinay Harpalani

Vinay Harpalani

Savannah Law School; Drake University Law School

Date Written: 2002

Abstract

This Article critiques Fordham and Ogbu's (1986) "acting White" hypothesis of Black academic underachievement and provides a reinterpretation of the "acting White" phenomenon. After reviewing the "acting White" hypothesis, the Article considers several recent empirical refutations of Fordham and Ogbu's (1986) article. It then presents a conceptual critique of the hypothesis, employing Cross's (1971, 1991) Nigrescence framework and Spencer's (1995) Phenomenological Variant of Ecological Systems Theory. In the process, the Article reframes the issue of "acting White" from a developmental perspective; and it highlights the question of what "acting White" actually means to African American adolescents--as they engage normative developmental tasks within the context of American racism in all of its manifestations.

Keywords: Racial Identity, Academic Achievement, Black Students

Suggested Citation

Harpalani, Vinay, What Does ‘Acting White’ Really Mean? Racial Identity Formation and Academic Achievement among Black Youth (2002). 1(1) Perspectives on Urban Education. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3153173

Vinay Harpalani (Contact Author)

Savannah Law School ( email )

United States
2158734476 (Phone)

Drake University Law School ( email )

2507 University Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50311
United States

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