The Curious History of a Racial Slur
By Ron Christie
Thomas Dunne Books, Hardcover, 9780312599461, 304pp.
Publication Date: October 12, 2010
In the tradition of Randall Kennedy’s Nigger and Shelby Steele’s The Content of Our Character, Acting White demonstrates how the charge that any African-American who is successful, well mannered, or well educated is “acting white,” is a slur that continues to haunt blacks. Ron Christie traces the complex history of the phrase, from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to the tensions between Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X to Bill Cosby’s controversial NAACP speech in 2004. The author also writes candidly of being challenged by black students for his “acting white,” and also of being labeled a race traitor in Congress by daring to be Republican. This lucid chronicle reveals how this prevalent put-down sets back much of the hard-earned progress for all blacks in American society. Deftly argued and determinedly controversial, this book is certain to spur thoughtful discussion for years to come.