I was the white teaching assistant for a class called "Writing the Urban Experience" at a majority white college, in a majority white town, within a majority white state. Students of color from one of the school's scholarship programs were required to take the class, where they became unofficial authorities on the material, educating their small-town white peers. The male students of color in the class, who adopted a bemused but blasé
In a recent story for the Atlantic, Aboubacar Ndiaye examines classroom situations like mine, pointing to a Northwestern study called "Diversify," which concludes that while adopting a "tough guy" attitude is helpful for black boys integrating into white suburban schools, the very same behavior is detrimental to their black female counterparts.
"Black boys embrace their masculinity by embracing the hood; black girls embrace their femininity by rejecting the hood," the professor teaching the class once told me. The study Ndiaye cites indicates that this is true, finding that "because of stereotypes about their supposed athleticism and 'coolness,' [minority boys] fit in better than minority girls."
White millennials may consider ourselves "post-race" because we "understand" blackness in a way preceding generations did not, but only accepting gimmicky, gendered portrayals of blackness is hardly true understanding.