From Publishers Weekly
Christie (Black in the White House) aspires to construct a historical account of the pejorative "acting white" and dismantle its legitimacy. He traces the roots of the phrase back to Uncle Tom's Cabin, which "planted the seeds of the idea that black inferiority is the result of blacks seeking favor with whites," but he points to the Black Power movement as the real culprit in propagating the "acting white" slur. While figures such as Homer Plessy and W.E.B. Du Bois stand out for their efforts to achieve political representation for blacks, others such as Marcus Garvey criticized those intentions as opportunities for "acting white." Christie cites Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and President Obama as examples of why "hard work, dressing well, speaking well, and ambitiously pursuing a fulfilling life is not a ˜white' thing." However, the book becomes less credible when Christie, a political analyst and former special assistant to George W. Bush, laments his own experiences of being tagged with the slur he now tries to examine. While Christie's frustration is admirable and his references well researched, the book's tone occasionally comes across as desperate and more personally motivated rather than persuasive and objective.
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Christie, a conservative accused of “acting white,” explores the historical roots of that particular insult targeted at blacks who are considered somehow racially disloyal. He goes back to Uncle Tom’s Cabin for the origins of such charges and explores the back and forth tensions between historical figures, including W. E. B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, to examine the often confused and contradictory notions of racial loyalty versus individualism. He moves on to examine the lives of black public figures whose authenticity and loyalty have been questioned—Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, Barack Obama—and examines the underlying politics of disagreement with views at odds with those of the majority of blacks. Christie argues that many blacks of heroic stature, from Homer Plessy to Rosa Parks, were “acting white” in asserting their rights. He points to the rise of black-power sentiments during the civil rights era and a growing sense of black identity that encouraged a cultural isolation that continues to this day, one that disdains the mainstream middle-class culture as “white” and, therefore, to be avoided. --Vanessa Bush
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