Monday, February 4, 2013

Review of Acting White? by Carbado and Gulati

It is pretty interesting reading about circumstances that I have felt that I lived at least once in my life, if not most of my life. This novel written by Davon W. Carbado and Mitu Gulati explore what it means to act white in today's post-racial America. Growing up, I had the privelege of going to a great magnet school that seemed to be extremely diverse, if not majority white. And my single mother raised my brother and me in a small suburb of Evanston that is mostly white. I've heard from many people over the course of my life that I "talk" or "act" white. I never quite knew why it mattered why it mattered how I talk or act. I wake up each day being a black American. I go to sleep each night being a black American. There was never any difference to me.
I especially liked the prologue where it mentions what topics it will cover and what to expect to read about in the forthcoming chapters. This helps to streamline the book. The tendency to sound like a college lecture is how I would characterize the voice of this book which can get a little redundant and boring. I posted a picture of President Obama because the novel references him often and his use of "working identity". "Working Identity" is the way we want to be perceieved. We use this identity to assimilate to the majority. They gave great examples to prove their points in how President Obama has managed to be not too black or too white. He isn't in the business of alienating his base which is everyone.
The authors let the readers know that the Acting White phenomenon is not limited to blacks. The only reason why they focus on blacks in this book is because it is an issue that is most salient. Carbado and Gulati suggest that we all use a working identity to some degree to get ahead. They also mention people who don't conform and the issues they may face. The authors also point out the problems that may be faced by people who assimilate or over-compensate to dispel prejudices against their race or culture. Over all, I enjoyed reading this and all the legal precedent that was mentioned and helped to bring this novel to life. I recommend this read to people who are interested in socialology, law, or just have ever heard that they act a certain way.

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