‘Acting White’ Is Old School

Economist Roland Fryer has done research on “acting white,” i.e. the phenomenon by which black children who excel academically are stigmatized by their peers.

Recently, he was in a New York City school and asked some of the seventh graders he was talking to whether they had ever heard the phrase “acting white.”

The kids laughed at him and said, “Of course, but that’s old school. Now it’s called ‘acting Asian.'”


The Notorious H.A.M.

I was amused to find out that Asian kids (in Asia, at least - I'm not sure about here in the States) call locals who "act white" bananas. When I asked why it was explained like this: "Yellow on the outside, white on the inside."

Anne

This is to continue the discussion from Banks and Troi.

I am a Scandinavian studying in Sydney (postgrad). In my country, we have problematic groups of muslim immigrants (refugees), who make up most of the total immigrant population of approx. 10-12 % (incl. second, third and forth generation). I have not noticed Asian immigrants, there are some but they are kind of invisible in society, staying out of any types of statistics but, I think, they enjoy some respect due to compatibility on some Scandinavian core cultural values (ei, consideration for others, focus on long term sustainability, societal welfare and overall balance more important than individualist drive).

Anyway, it was a great culture shock to begin studies here in Sydney and discover that the overwhelming majority of fellow students were Asian - either from Asia, or Asian Australians (PR). Walking down the university, at a glance at least 80 - 90 % of the faces are Asian - the same in University libraries, exams, all the shops nearby, the bus to the city, and so on... initially I felt so alienated with my blond hair in this ocean of Asian students. I was told that it is the same story in all the major universities in Sydney, and a friend who is school teacher told me that all elite schools for kids have practically only Asian students. In Sydney CBD, also the majority of the population appear to be Asian.

However, my study implied 1-3 team projects in every course. Since I was one out of a tiny pool of non-Asians in most classes and not all of these were particularly bright, I gave up any racial judgement i might have had in the beginning. Now after 3 semesters, I have come to the conclusion that in general, Asian Australians (=Oz permanent residency and some years here)are the easiest to work with. I know that this is stereotyping and there are of course exceptions on all sides, but in general, these people tend to be team players, quite sharp, creative, and reliable ... I also felt there is less cultural distance between the work ethic of Asian Australians (immigrants) and the work ethic and work style of my culture, relative to the work ethic of Australians (born).

This remind me of Troi's thoughts of Americans, and also of my own country. I would say, compared to my impression of both Australians and Americans (though I have not been in the US so that is from media and word of mouth), people back home are in general more competitive, hard working (well ... WHEN we are working), team playing, and risk taking/willing to use opportunities. But still, confirming the impression by one of the earlier commenter s, I am quite impressed by the talent and drive I have encountered working with Asian/Australian students here in my Sydney university.

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Pearl

And in Asia, being an ignorant idiot is "Acting White."

Funny how that works.

Ying

Sorry, I am not here to response this topic.

I read this book, Feakonomics, It is interesting, some of the opinions I would like to say something.

1. Was it the money won people the votes, or was appeal that won the votes and the money?
I don't think that is so easy to say money win the vote, acctucally, it is markeint behaviour,let's suppose there are two products A and B, Like coca, if you don't tell people what is in the cup, no one can really tell which is which brand, but when you tell them what they are drinking, they would tell you a lot difference bewteen them, why? does the money on marketing make the difference? NO, money is about how much you can do, but how you promote it also very important. even when A and B are total different, first of all you have to spend money to tell people they are difference, second of all, you must let people beleive you are the better one.

2. how much parents could effect children's future.
I always think everybody's destiny are decided when we they were born, notthing about fatalistic. but when you are born, your perents are determinate, which means your IQ is determinate, the way you would be raised is determinate,the place you live is determinate, the people around you determinate, somehow, your personality is determinate. it is dynamic determinate, but nothing you could change.

So,give a rough data, let see life is 100, then 60% percent is fixed, there is 40% pecent depend on yourself, another words.no power, to be continue...

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coolrepublica

That was hilarious. "Acting Asian." How do kids come up with these things? Back in my day it was called being an "Oreo Cookie," but now they probably call them "Reese's Pieces."

Seth

Well at least we have someone attempting to conduct research on this "term" as opposed to a few pundits passing it off as the gospel among all youths who happen to be Black....

oddTodd

The big problem is that racist stereotypes are funny to these children. If a group of white children criticized another white classmate for "acting black" when he ate watermelon and fried chicken for lunch, this would be a national scandal; parents would be called in for talks, and teachers and principals would be reprimanded. It would be Al Sharpton's cause of the week. Appalling double standard.

Dr. Troy Camplin

It switched when whites stopped achieving anything in schools. Soon they'll have to switch it to "acting immigrant," as it's only immigrants who care about education. We should all be thankful for immigrants, because it is they who are keeping the economy going for the lazy, irresponsible, ignorant people born in the U.S.

Josh

Dr. Camplin,

Relax.

Its not as bad as you think... Older people have always thought that the younger generation was more lazy and irresponsible than the preceding one... You can find this stated by ancient Chinese, Roman, Japanese, or Persian texts all written, no doubt, by middle aged scholars who were tired of dealing with their "lazy" pupils.

For the record, I've taught in Asia, and I've seen some serious deficiencies in their learning culture as well... A big one is that the parents push their children way too hard, leading to an apathetic, force-fed mentality when it comes to independent problem solving. There was also generally a lack of abstract understanding of a subject even when they have indepth rote knowledge. Of course, thats a generality. Bottom line, if you could combine the intellectual independence and "courage to question" of many American-born students with the discipline and love of learning of Asian-born ... you'd have the perfect students...

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Kent

Notorious (#7): An alternate term for a lot of Asian Americans is "Twinkies" -- for the same reason.

And in many colleges, Caucasian students who develop an undue fascination with Asian culture, including dating Asians/Asian Americans and seeking to live an Asian lifestyle in the U.S., are jokingly called "Eggs" by amused Asian American observers.

oddTodd: Agreed. Incidentally, I understand that African Americans find the fried chicken/watermelon stereotype to be hurtful. But personally, as someone who isn't black, I think eating fried chicken every day is a good thing; if my wife would let me, I'd do so happily.

anonymous

from asian friends I know in N.A, they call themselves "twinkies" - again meaning yellow on the outside, white on the inside. but this pertains to their assimilation into N.A. culture, not geared to academic attitudes.

Ferdinand Banks

I worked at universities in Singapore and Hong Kong, and I NEVER heard an 'expatriate' teacher say anything good about their students. In Singapore, for instance, I was not just surprised but amazed at the inability of some of my economics students to do mathematics. I also talked to people who have taught in Japan and Korea, and they were very disappointed.

But in Australia, where I taught at four or five universities, the Asian students were taking no prisoners. They were absolutely determined to show the locals just what they could do. I wouldn't be surprised therefore if Dr. Camplin had a point.

I must admit though that I was very pleased by my students at the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok. If they 'lift their game' the way the Asian students in Australia did, the locals can forget about a sweet ride into or close to the executive suite.

Ferdinand E. Banks (Professor)

frankenduf

I'm down with coolrepublica- Colin Powell is an oreo- and white people who act white are called nerds

Mani

coolrepublica (#3):

Oh, "oreo" is still alive and well; white people are just no longer the standard for intelligence: the black captain of the chess team is "channelling the Chinaman"; and the black kid who listens to Blink-182 and Good Charlotte is the "oreo."

I lent a friend of mine my Blink-182 hoodie one day, he took two steps outside and then had to run back in and change when he realized what he looked like.

xiaoying

speaking as a 17 year old, I find it in equal parts amusing and annoying to see my peers act like Asians are innately superior in most ways. if you play a good game of ping pong or you're good at math, you're Asian.

legaleaglet

6 & 8: AHHHHH!!! I had a Filipino friend growing up who was of Asian descent I used to call Twinkie....because he ATE so darn many of them. I never thought I might be calling him something off-color or offensive!

Dr. Troy Camplin

Actually, I am a college lecturer, and it is as bad as I think. It's worse, in fact, than I suggest it is. This isn't to say that there aren't those who are knowlegeable, hardworking, etc. I am familiar with the argument that "well, in the past people said things were getting bad, but in fact . . ." People point to PLato saying these things and dismiss it, but ignore the fact that he was saying it during a time when Athens was in fact in serious decay and was well on the way to collapse. To discount such things because others have said them in the past is to ignore the fact that oftentimes these things were said precisely at times when collapse of the society they were writing in was immanent. When I am told that the smartest students simply have to live with the fact that they are going to be bored so that we can "reach" those who could care less about learning anything and only act to stand in the way of those who do want to learn, our educational system is in trouble. And here I'm talking about the universities. I know this is a waste of my time, that nobody is going to listen to me or people like me, because of the above attitude -- so we will just head toward collapse with nobody bothering to do a thing about it. It's a shame, too, because I'm quite fond of American culture in many ways. But so long as we cater to the worst people and le thtem run the show, don't be surprised when the outcome is one history has shown us over and over and over and over when this happens. We should not be sprprised when the New Rome goes the way of the Roman Empire.

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Crash

It seems strange that a generation of children would deliberately build their racial identity around ignorance, illiteracy, and underachievement.

In response to the above posters concerned for the decline of American civilization as a result, I present the comforting thought that American society has historically been based on a cycle of enterprising, capable immigrants arriving to outcompete the complacent natives. We've established a system that lets the ambitious eat the lazy: it leads to a lot of upheaval, but it's what's kept our nation vibrant.

Interesting Dude

I think it's important to note that while second-generation immigrants do tend to excel academically, it is not because they are inherently superior. The first-generation immigrants have to fulfill two criteria to come over. They must have a reason to come to America. They probably have experienced extreme hunger or persecution. Second, they must be determined enough to work to come over. Both of these things cause the immigrants to pass on to their children the importance of education, as well as the ramifications of little or no education

Dr. Troy Camplin

That's exactly it: Ameircans have no problems, we're spoiled rotten, supported by nanny mom, nanny state, or outright nannies, and we end up as nothing but a bunch of whiny ninnies. The influx of immigrants has worked in the past, but how many immigrants are we going to need to support the rest? I honestly don't think that we can go on for much longer with so many people acting like their helpless, and who get their way by whining instead of hard work.