Fear of 'acting white' can limit black children activities, researcher says

  • Follow Education

ATHENS, Ga. -- The fear of “acting white” may keep many black people away from activities they would like, and which could help them have better lives, according to University of Georgia researcher Bantu Gross, who spoke on campus Wednesday as part of the UGA Office of Institutional Diversity lecture series.

“Acting white” can be a powerful accusation against someone who considers themselves black, Gross notes. That’s especially true for young people, such as high school students, who face significant peer pressure, said Gross. And sometimes, pressure can come even from parents, he added.

On the issue of pressure at home, Gross, a graduate student in recreation and leisure studies, cited Olympic gold-medal swimmer Cullen Jones.

Jones has become a role model now, but faced teasing and hostility growing up in New Jersey.

“You’re an alien in your own territory,” said Gross.

Other researchers have shown that black people who make high grades, score high on the SAT or read a lot may be subjected to the accusation of acting white, Gross said. Those same pressures apply to people’s choices of leisure activities, according to Gross, a New Orleans native.

Everyone thinks it’s normal for a black youth or young man to use his free time to play basketball. It’s less common, though, to see black people camping in national parks, or playing golf, despite such recent role models as golfer Tiger Woods.

There’s no single explanation for why relatively few black people participate in activities such as camping or golf or tennis, said Gross, who joined the Cub Scouts as a child because he wanted to go camping, but dropped out when he realized his pack didn’t do that.

The media is partly to blame, according to Gross, in that hunting and camping magazines don’t often show black faces in their pages. Money can also play a part, he explained, as can something as simple as the availability of recreational facilities in a person’s neighborhood.

Additionally, racial tension can steer people away from certain activities, he said. When someone tries an activity in which most participants are of another race, he or she may fear — or actually encounter — racial conflict and prejudice, according to Gross.

Also, Gross noted, public money often goes into activities which are predominantly white.

What we do when we’re not at work helps determine our enjoyment of life, and even helps shape who we are, according to Gross. And because leisure is so important, researchers and others ought to think more about role race plays in leisure choices.

“It’s been avoided in public discussion,” he said.

Comments (34) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 02/09/12 - 08:04 am
0
0
Something ELSE to blame on

Something ELSE to blame on white people. Will it NEVER end?

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 02/09/12 - 08:10 am
0
0
WHAT an excuse for failure!

WHAT an excuse for failure!

seenitB4
85264
Points
seenitB4 02/09/12 - 08:16 am
0
0
Peer pressure can be deadly

Peer pressure can be deadly but this has to stop.....Oprah Winfrey said she was accused of acting white in her early years.....but hey....she made a billion somehow....acting white ain't all bad.....some of us just need to act like we are sane..

rmwardsr
525
Points
rmwardsr 02/09/12 - 08:23 am
0
0
I have been acting white all

I have been acting white all my life and it has got me nowhere.

JRC2024
8504
Points
JRC2024 02/09/12 - 09:03 am
0
0
no comment because I might

no comment because I might offend a touchy person and get called down but I will say that I would rather be smart and well rounded instead of not so smart and not so well rounded. I will stick to what I do. It has served me well for 41 years. So I will continue to be "acting white".

georgepeters
13
Points
georgepeters 02/09/12 - 09:15 am
0
0
I would think everyone would

I would think everyone would want to act smart. White people do not own Smart! Why would anyone think so. If you do not want to act what you consider is white, why not act Asian. Then there would be less crime, and a lot more smart people.

howcanweknow
2306
Points
howcanweknow 02/09/12 - 09:28 am
0
0
I thought it was none other

I thought it was none other than Dr. ML King who said we must get to the place where where skin color doesn't matter, but personal character does?

Accusing someone of "acting white" is racist. Pure and simple. It is a derogatory put-down for a black person to be called that, obviously. Man, can you imagine the uproar if a white person told their child to stop "acting black"? We'd have Al and the NAACP here in a minute to protest such a racial insult. But no, it's OK for them to use "acting white" as a racial slur or complain about another African American as being "not black enough". When will the hypocrisy end?

You should not "act" white, black, brown, yellow, or purple-polkadotted. Act like a person with CHARACTER and INTEGRITY. Isn't that what Dr. King said? Getting an education and avoiding gangs and crime is not a "white" thing -- it's the thing for all decent people to do, regardless of color.

Sadly, as has been demonstrated many times, it is far easier to put the standards of others down than to raise up your own standards to a higher level. Misery loves company, and resents the success of others who show what can be done if you pursue a high-character lifestyle.

Austin Rhodes
2852
Points
Austin Rhodes 02/09/12 - 09:29 am
0
0
I don't believe this theory

I don't believe this theory is an EXCUSE, I believe it is meant as an explanation.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 02/09/12 - 09:43 am
0
0
I saw the title of the

I saw the title of the article and could only think about dancing and jumping, which i am sad at both.

onlynaugusta
41
Points
onlynaugusta 02/09/12 - 09:47 am
0
0
Govern yourself according

Govern yourself according regardless if you're balck or white and you will succeed. Race isn't the issue, it's the human being himself. Stop blaming others!!

burninater
9396
Points
burninater 02/09/12 - 09:48 am
0
0
"But no, it's OK for them to

"But no, it's OK for them to use "acting white" as a racial slur or complain about another African American as being "not black enough". When will the hypocrisy end?"
------------
Uhh, who's saying that this is 1) OK, and 2) not racist?

mc
141
Points
mc 02/09/12 - 10:00 am
0
0
I've been to some nascar

I've been to some nascar races, and without a black driver out there, have been seeing more and more black people there. I think this is great, that they can enjoy the sport too. It made me feel good. They were very respectful, nice people. Unlike the white drunk rednecks I encountered at darlington. I would like to see more. Its all a matter of respect. Black or white.

willie7
947
Points
willie7 02/09/12 - 11:56 am
0
0
Yes, this is true among some
Unpublished

Yes, this is true among some black young people. Especially ,among some abandoned and isolated young blacks, who are uncomfortible with mainstream culture. What we fail to realize ,that this group lives in a vacuum. I have worked with poor blacks and white young people and some live within their own created culture and their grasp of the world is television only.And what is so sad, that only a few escape this dysfunctional enviroment.Physical skill is more appreciated than brainpo wer.

Little Lamb
45280
Points
Little Lamb 02/09/12 - 10:11 am
0
0
From the article: University

From the article:

University of Georgia researcher Bantu Gross joined the Cub Scouts as a child because he wanted to go camping, but dropped out when he realized his pack didn’t do that.

The Cub Scouts is not a camping organization. The children are too young. Cub Scout packs prepare children for group camping with training in discipline, supervised group interaction, pocketknife safety, use of compass, citizenship, etc. Mr. Gross should have stayed in Cub Scouts and then, when he was old enough, joined the Boy Scouts. Then he could have enjoyed camping.

You have to crawl before you walk.

scorehouse
196
Points
scorehouse 02/09/12 - 10:35 am
0
0
first golf is expensive.
Unpublished

first golf is expensive. that's an economic issue. cub scouts is a father-son socio-economic issue. see baby-mama/ 30 % marriage rate in black community. camping is because blacks haven't been conned into believing that fighting off mosquitos, bears, snakes and drunk rednecks out in the middle of nowhere is fun and leisure. especially in a monsoon. tennis is also become expensive. in fact some will argue a dying sport. this clown gross hasn't been to a gym or cheerleading competetion lately where black participation is huge. as for swimming, most blacks were never taught by their parents. hence, "don't go near the water or you'll drown" translates into stay away from pools, rivers, clarks hill, the ocean, etc. apparently, mister gross, blacks are smart enough to figure this out? everyone knows the older you get, the harder it is to learn to swim due to fear. it's apparent, this article was written whilst relaxing at the 19th hole on a golf outing to stone mountian after a night of camping.

kmb413
533
Points
kmb413 02/09/12 - 10:47 am
0
0
I went on many camping trips

I went on many camping trips with my son. He is a Cub Scout. This weekend he gets his Arrow of Light and becomes a Boy Scout.

twolane
191
Points
twolane 02/09/12 - 10:50 am
0
0
i call this study stupidity
Unpublished

i call this study stupidity plain and simple

twolane
191
Points
twolane 02/09/12 - 10:52 am
0
0
like i said the only thing
Unpublished

like i said the only thing that ever holds anyone back is themselves...if acting white gets you a six figure job out of the streets and into college then its your own stupidity if you wanta be real then theres an empty jail cell waiting for you somewhere

Dixieman
14356
Points
Dixieman 02/09/12 - 11:03 am
0
0
It's called acting

It's called acting successful!

scorehouse
196
Points
scorehouse 02/09/12 - 11:44 am
0
0
UGA Office of Institutional
Unpublished

UGA Office of Institutional Diversity! what an oxymoron!

bdouglas
4899
Points
bdouglas 02/09/12 - 12:18 pm
0
0
Apparently making a true

Apparently making a true statement is offensive to someone, so my previous comment was deleted. So much for balanced commentary...

@twolane: There's a double-standard in the culture described in the article when it comes to dating. While "acting white", as the article describes, is looked at with ridicule in that culture, a black male dating a white female is often looked at as some sort of accomplishment. Makes no sense at all.

oldfella
620
Points
oldfella 02/09/12 - 12:23 pm
0
0
This doesn't surprise me in

This doesn't surprise me in the least. And kids that can break out out of the groupthink box might even end up voting Republican, the ultimate "selling out" white experience!

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 02/09/12 - 12:47 pm
0
0
I always wondered what

I always wondered what "acting white" really is? How about acting like decent human beings? What is wrong with that? I have heard people make that comment though.....@old fella, funny you said that, I saw on the news this week that more blacks are actually voting Republican than ever before. I would guess that they are the ones who work hard and are sick of their tax money going to pay for free rides.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 02/09/12 - 01:32 pm
0
0
I know plenty of stupid white

I know plenty of stupid white people- too many, in fact.

thewaytolite
-1
Points
thewaytolite 02/09/12 - 01:39 pm
0
0
Ignorance knows no bounds.

Ignorance knows no bounds. People who assume that every person of color should act like some criminal, undereducated, street person, and call that acting black is a drain on the limited oxygen we are allotted. I grew up in a household with both parents having an education beyond a bachelors degree. I was considered to act and talk white because i speak proper English and have hobbies that require you to either have an education or take time to learn on your own. People fail to realize I have grown up around All types of people and choose my manor of behavior by thinking of more than myself. Then again I have also always voted Republican because i vote with what will effect my money and my brothers and sisters in uniform.

TParty
6003
Points
TParty 02/09/12 - 02:43 pm
0
0
This is anecdotal- but there

This is anecdotal- but there was this young black kid that use to mow my yard, he just wanted some money. I normally just do it myself, but he was a good kid. He wasn't from this area, just visiting his aunt for the summer. He was always respectful, and talked about how he enjoyed school. One time he didn't finish the yard because he mower was broke down. Told me he would return as soon it was fixed- and my yard was done with 24 hours. Overall- really good kid.

One day he showed up, and it was clear he was beaten up the day prior. We talked some about it- and the beating came from his peers. Basically it was because he wanted to do responsible things- and he resisted running with the wrong crowd.

But this happens when you are surrounded by folks like that- regardless what color you are. Westboro Baptist Church- very few come from outside the family wanting to join, although it does happen. Same with folks who want to join hate groups- you are just surrounded by people who influence your upbringing.

Same with religion. Do Christians in America think they would still be Christians if they were born in Saudi Arabia, or did they get their religion from their family and friends? Good or bad, people tend to emulate what their pack does.

Sweet son
10050
Points
Sweet son 02/09/12 - 02:57 pm
0
0
Blacks are afraid to "act

Blacks are afraid to "act white" because others of their skin color choose to be underachievers and are insanely jealous! Then they resort to the only weapons they have ridicule and violence! To all blacks: if it takes acting white do it and I hope you are successful in all of your endeavors. I suppose that acting white is the opposite of being an "Uncle Tom." Who knows????

TNTHOMSON
2
Points
TNTHOMSON 02/09/12 - 03:10 pm
0
0
"a graduate student in

"a graduate student in recreation and leisure studies" speaking at UGA Office of Institutional Diversity lecture series.......

I bet that degree comes in real handy these days with all the unemployed folks who've given up looking for work and are focusing on some recreation and leisure to pass the time.

bjphysics
36
Points
bjphysics 02/09/12 - 03:12 pm
0
0
Acting white is probably a

Acting white is probably a good thing to do in short spurts; if you keep it up for an extended period of time your dancing skills will atrophy.

tcowan13
266
Points
tcowan13 02/09/12 - 03:19 pm
0
0
Stupid Does not Go By Any

Stupid Does not Go By Any Particular Color!!!

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs