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

University of New Mexico School of Law

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)

University of New Mexico School of Law ( email )

1117 Stanford, N.E.
Albuquerque, NM 87131
United States

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