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‘Acting White’ for White People

He's keeping it real; are you? CREATISTA/Shutterstock

I had a late dinner last night with a frequent commenter on this blog, whom I met tonight at the TAC gig (I’m not sure if he wants me to identify him here). It was a great time. We stood in the parking lot of the restaurant talking for an hour after closing, still telling stories. We exchanged tales of various family members dunning us (and others) for having gotten above themselves (ourselves), or for putting on airs, or for failing to “keep it real,” and so forth.

The reader said, “You know what this is, this keeping people in line by trying to shame them? It’s the white people version of that ‘acting white’ thing black people say to other black people. We don’t racialize it — it’s really about class — but it’s the same thing.”

I thought that was a brilliant observation: so simple and obvious, but I had never quite thought of it that way. I’ve complained in this space in the past about how hard it must be on black people having to have their accomplishments diminished by racially-charged insults from other blacks. Good thing we don’t have to deal with that, I thought.

Except as the reader pointed out, many of us do.

White people, check in here. Do you have stories of your white relatives dunning you for the Caucasian version of “acting white”? What did they accuse you of, and why? Let’s do a little crowdsourced sociology here.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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