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Acting White / Not Black Enough?

[1:07:20 to 1:16:42]

Black Is... brings us people who claim they were regarded as "not black enough" because of how they spoke, the schools they attended, the clothes they wore, where they lived or the money they made. But can there be a standard for measuring blackness?

  1. How many different speech types can you identify among black people you know?
  2. Michele Wallace claims the words "You're acting white" is a charge that can always be leveled against any black person. Has the fear of "acting white" ever prevented you from doing something you wanted? Which behaviors and types are held in high regard among your peers and which are not? Why?
  3. Do you agree with Essex Hemphill that the lifestyles of ghetto teen-agers have become the standard or definition of blackness? What are the ideal characteristics of masculinity as portrayed by rap and "street" culture? What about "punk"? How have these models influenced your behavior? Why do you think so many men adopt a tough, or macho pose?
  4. What do you think about successful African Americans living in the suburbs? What pressures do they face? Should they move to the inner cities?
  5. How did you react when the 13 or 14 year old gang members said it's too late for them but they must teach the "next generation" not to follow in their footsteps? Is there anything our community can do to help inner city youth take a different path?

Discussion Questions
Black Is . . . Black Ain't

Introduction: Fighting Words|Black Power = Male Power?|Black Music / Black History / Afrocentrism|Sexism, Patriarchy and Homophobia|Family|Acting White / Not Black Enough?|Multiple Identities and New Forms of Community

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