Keeping it real is keeping people down, according to this Washington Post piece by Thomas Chatterton Williams, a grad student in the Cultural Reporting and Criticism program at New York University. The idea that black and/or urban youth grow up with a sense of embarrasment in relation to their educational success is not new. Remember Chris Rock’s stand up routine about folks talking ‘correctly’ verus folks talking ‘white’? Also reminds me of Nietzsche’s theme of Slave Morality, more commonly associated with early Christianity. I guess the weak do become the strong, and vice versa. Link (via)

Sociologists have a term for this pathological facet of black life. It’s called “cool-pose culture.” Whatever the nomenclature, “cool pose” or keeping it real or something else entirely, this peculiar aspect of the contemporary black experience — the inverted-pyramid hierarchy of values stemming from the glorification of lower-class reality in the hip-hop era — has quietly taken the place of white racism as the most formidable obstacle to success and equality in the black middle classes.

A 2005 study by Roland G. Fryer of Harvard University crystallizes the point: While there is scarce dissimilarity in popularity levels among low-achieving students, black or white, Fryer finds that “when a student achieves a 2.5 GPA, clear differences start to emerge.” At 3.5 and above, black students “tend to have fewer and fewer friends,” even as their high-achieving white peers “are at the top of the popularity pyramid.” With such pressure to be real, to not “act white,” is it any wonder that the African American high school graduation rate has stagnated at 70 percent for the past three decades?