Magazine October 4, 2010, Issue

Moot Causes

Photograph of a Farmville High School classroom used as Plaintiff’s Exhibit No. 2 in the landmark Civil Rights case Dorothy E. Davis, et al. v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, et al. (National Archives)
Acting White: The Ironic Legacy of Desegregation, by Stuart Buck (Yale, 272 pp., $27.50)

Where did the idea come from that, if a black student studies hard in school, he is “acting white”? Stuart Buck — a Harvard Law graduate who is currently a doctoral fellow in the education-reform department at the University of Arkansas — has written a thoughtful and provocative book in answer to this question.

Acting White is straightforward and jargon-free. It first reviews the solid empirical evidence on the existence of the “acting white” accusation, and on the real harm it does to students. Then it provides a fascinating historical narrative: what segregated schools were like for blacks; how desegregation frequently

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After all those years promoting rainbows, Jesse Jackson has settled on a color he really likes: green.

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