Christie (Black in the White House) aspires to construct a historical account of the pejorative "acting white" and dismantle its legitimacy. He traces the roots of the phrase back to Uncle Tom's Cabin, which "planted the seeds of the idea that black inferiority is the result of blacks seeking favor with whites," but he points to the Black Power movement as the real culprit in propagating the "acting white" slur.
About the Book
In the tradition of Randall Kennedy’s Nigger and Shelby Steele’s The Content of Our Character, Acting White demonstrates how the charge that any African-American who is successful, well mannered, or well educated is “acting white,” is a slur that continues to haunt blacks. Ron Christie traces the complex history of the phrase, from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to the tensions between Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X to Bill Cosby’s controversial NAACP speech in 2004. The author also writes candidly of being challenged by black students for his “acting white,” and also of being labeled a race traitor in Congress by daring to be Republican. This lucid chronicle reveals how this prevalent put-down sets back much of the hard-earned progress for all blacks in American society. Deftly argued and determinedly controversial, this book is certain to spur thoughtful discussion for years to come.