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“Acting White”: The Most Insidious Myth About Black Kids And Achievement

You’ve probably heard it before: too many black students don’t do well in school because they think being smart means “acting white.”

It’s a popular thing to say, but it’s not true. At best, it’s a very creative interpretation of inadequate research and anecdotal evidence. At worst, it’s a messy attempt to transform the near-universal stigma attached to adolescent nerdiness into an indictment of black culture, while often ignoring the systemic inequality that contributes to the country’s racial achievement gap.