I am drawn to this topic, in part, because of its drama. Like male feminists or straight proponents of gay liberation, GWP will almost always encounter the agonizing problem of facing disapproval from their own privileged side while simultaneously facing resentment from those they seek to help. I am also attracted to the topic because I have been touched directly by GWP. My project is, in part, an homage to whites who have gone out of their way to open doors for me and other people of color.
Some black students in the 1990s had a derisive name for their peers who spent a lot of time studying in the library: incog-negro. The larger phenomenon is all too well-known. Many blacks—especially black young men—have come to the ruinous conclusion that academic excellence is somehow inconsistent with their racial identities, and they ridicule peers for “acting white” if they hit the books instead of the streets after school. The usual explanations for this self-destructive attitude focus on the influence of dysfunctional cultural norms in poor minority neighborhoods: macho and “cool” posturing and gangster rap. The usual prescriptions emphasize exposing poor black kids to better peer influences in integrated schools. Indeed, the implicit promise of improved attitudes through peer association accounts for much of the allure of public-school integration.