Stuart Buck thinks so, an idea that John McWhorter endorses. According to them, the phenomenon of socially punishing students who “act white”–i.e. focus on grades–is something that happens mostly in mixed-race schools, where black students are trying to maintain a distinct identity. When all the kids are black, getting good grades is just . . . getting good grades.
Buck does not mean that the notoriously lousy all-black inner-city schools should be our model for success. But in the increasing numbers of all-black charter schools, as well as public ones turned around by dynamic principals, students calling one another “white” for liking schools is as unheard of as it was in the black schools of yesteryear. Our visceral recoil today at any conception of an all-black school as reminiscent of shabby one-room schoolhouses in the segregated Deep South must be discontinued.
[John McWhorter’s review of Stuart Buck’s book Acting White: The Ironic Legacy of Desegregation can be read here.]