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Peer Support for African American Male College Achievement: Beyond Internalized Racism and the Burden of “Acting White”
Journal of Men's Studies (2006)
  • Shaun R. Harper, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Theorists posit that the social reinforcement of racially oppressive assumptions eventually works its way into the psyche of African Americans and negatively shapes the way they see themselves and others within their race. Some scholars have attempted to prove and others have subsequently disputed the idea that school achievement within African American peer groups is seen as “acting White.” In this study, internalized racism and Fordham and Ogbu’s (1986) Acting White Hypothesis were explored among high-achieving African American male undergraduates at six predominantly White universities. Findings from individual interviews contradict the hypothesis and reveal ways through which peer support for leadership and achievement were negotiated within African American peer groups on the six campuses. There was no evidence of internalized racism in the domains of academic achievement and African American male leadership. Instead, the participants attributed much of their college success to the support offered by their same-race peers.

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Citation Information
Harper, S. R. (2006). Peer support for African American male college achievement: Beyond internalized racism and the burden of ‘acting White.’ Journal of Men’s Studies, 14(3), 337-358.