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Acting White/Acting Black: The Search for Racial Identity

The Sound of Ideas
Wednesday, October 17, 2007 at 9:00 am
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Recent research indicates that many black adolescents face accusations of "acting white" if they achieve good grades and participate in high school social activities. At the same time, many white hip-hoppers are criticized for "acting black" if they adopt so-called urban clothing and music styles. For teenagers wrestling with issues of self-identity, trying to navigate the minefield of racial identity can be a challenge. ideastream is sponsoring a special broadcast town hall meeting to explore your attitudes about racial identity. Photo: Northeast Ohio Hip-Hoppers Johnny LaRock and Mush Mouth will provide some musical reflections on "Acting White & Acting Black."

Here are some issues to consider:

  • What's it mean to you to "act white" or "act black"?
  • Have you seen someone you thought was "acting white" or "acting black"? How did it make you feel?
  • Have you been accused of "acting white"? How did you react?
  • Has the "acting white" issue been overblown? Is it really a problem?
  • How important is your racial identity to you?
  • Do white rappers have any business doing hip hop?

90.3 WCPN Moderators: Dan Moulthrop & Tasha Flournoy
Our discussion will include some nationally-known scholars:
Dr. Angela Neal-Barnett, Kent State University researcher of the "Acting White" phenomenon.
Bakari Kitwana, author of Why White Kids Love Hip Hop: Wangstas, Wiggers, Wannabes, and the New Reality of Race in America.
Jason Tanz, author of Other People's Property: A Shadow History of Hip-Hop in White America.

Plus, we'll have the music of a Northeast Ohio Mixed-Race Hip-Hop Duo Johnny La Rock & Mush Mouth -- also known as Eddie Fleisher and Aaron Donahoo. They recently spent a week on the popular Vans Warped Tour of alternative music acts.

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