Keepin' it Real

Keepin' it Real : Why School Success Has no Color

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Why do so many African American and Latino students perform worse than their Asian and White peers in classes and on exams? And why are they dropping out of school at higher rates? Common wisdom holds that racial stratification leads African American and Latino students to rebel against "acting white," thus dooming themselves to lower levels of scholastic, economic, and social achievement. But is this true? Do minority students reject certain practices, such as excelling in school, and thus their own mobility, because they fear that peers will accuse them of forsaking their own racial and ethnic identities? Keepin' It Real sets the record straight. Drawing on survey fieldwork and interview data from low-income Latino and African-American youth in New York City, Prudence Carter here shows that African American and Latino youth are no different than other youths in valuing education as the key to economic mobility. Rather, resistance to "acting white" indicates a rejection only of the generic American, "white," middle-class styles of interaction, speech, dress, and musical tastes.Carter further demonstrates that the most successful negotiators of our school systems are not necessarily those who assimilate into the dominant white mainstream, but rather those most adept at crossing the cultural divide. These students, which she terms multicultural navigators, do not "act white" or "act black". Rather, these culturally savvy teens harvest resources from multiple traditions--whether it be knowledge of hip hop or of classical music--to strategically negotiate different expectations and achieve their high ambitions. Capturing the diversity of African American and Latino youths' experiences, Keepin' it Real refutes facile, convenient assumptions about teenage behavior and racial difference. Carter concludes with positive steps that both teachers and students can take to help close the black-white education gap. By working together to promote cultural insight and intercultural communication, educators, parents, community leaders, and students can help ensure that school success truly has no more

Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 162.6 x 236.2 x 25.4mm | 113.4g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195168623
  • 9780195168624

About Prudence L. Carter

Prudence L. Carter is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Harvard more

Review quote

..".debunks the prevailing perspective that academic disengagement is influenced by student resistance to "acting white." "Acting White," Carter argues, is used by [African-American and Latino] students for cultural, not academic, reasons and is likely connected to student criticism of ineffectually organized schools that are blind to their social, cultural, and material realities offers educators valuable cultural insight into the role dominant and nondominant cultural repertoires play in the achievement gap. Recommended."--Choice"This thoughtful and engaging study will change the way many people think about academic disengagement among low-income African American and Latino youths. Based on data from her field research, Prudence L. Carter advances an original and compelling thesis that challenges popular explanations of why some students fail in school while others achieve. Keepin' it Real is an important book."-- William Julius Wilson, author of When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor"Those who continue to believe that Black and Latino students do not value education because they regard its pursuit as a form of racial treachery must now contend with Dr. Carter's powerful work. Through her textured and detailed ethnographic analysis of high school students, Carter shows that school success has no color, and that the desire to achieve through education has not died with this generation. For those interested in understanding the complex relationship between racial identity and school performance, this is required reading."--Pedro A. Noguera, author of City Schools and theAmerican Dream"Keepin' it Real offers fresh insight into the importance of a bicultural or multicultural approach to schooling. Carter's careful analysis of the experiences of low-income black and Latino students reveals marked diversity in their educational strategies and outcomes, and provides an important and timely counter to the oversubscribed to notion that these young people equate school success with 'acting white.' A must read for all those working to close the achievement gap."-- Margaret A. Gibson, author of Accommodation Without Assimilation"This book highlights the importance of cultural authenticity for minority students, and examines how it influences their relationship with the values they believe are privileged by the schooling system. Carter enriches our understanding of topics that have attracted enormous interest among social scientists. Her book should be widely read because it helps us make sense of how various cultural frameworks contribute to the reproduction of inequality."-- Michele Lamont, author of The Dignity of Working Men: Morality and the Boundaries of Race, Class, and Immigration"show more

Rating details

74 ratings
3.7 out of 5 stars
5 20% (15)
4 39% (29)
3 32% (24)
2 7% (5)
1 1% (1)
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