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Historically, conventional scholars in the field of education have asserted that underachievement by Black students may be attributed to cultural deprivation and/or genetic deficiencies. Hypotheses like these have led to the proliferation of theories that Black students are inferior when compared to their White counterparts. But despite such assertions, some Blacks have been able to succeed academically. Commonly expressed themes in recent literature suggest that intelligent Black students must cross cultural and racial boundaries to be successful academically. Consequently, Black students who experience academic success are often perceived as "acting White."
Using participation in an honors curriculum as a symbol of explicitly recognized intelligence at the collegiate level, Whited Out explores the identities of several Black collegiate honors students, focusing in particular on how they think about race, achievement, and social engagement. The book sheds new light on why some Black students experience academic success and some do not. Perhaps most importantly, the book illustrates why "acting White" should not be among the rationales upon which many scholars predicate their arguments for the existing disparity between Black and White students' academic performance.
Ch. 1 Looking Back: Tall Tales about Black Student Underachievement 1
Ch. 2 Moving Forward: The Truth of the Matter 25
Ch. 3 Defining Colors 47
Ch. 4 Keeping Company 71
Ch. 5 The Fierce Urgency of Now 93
Ch. 6 Closing Arguments: A Message for Educators, Honors Program Affiliates, and Higher Education Officials 137
Ch. 7 Where Do We Go from Here? 169
Ch. 8 Conclusions: The Ties that Bind 201
Posted May 16, 2010
Whited Out is a book that documents research that was conducted by Dr. Anthony Pittman. The book tells of personal stories and situations of minority, African American students and their success' and failures in the honors programs at the university level. It delves into various personal academic, social, and political issues that have affected the students that participated in the study. It is the goal of Dr. Pittman to use "this book to serve as a valuable resource for those who wish to help Black students and all students of color who may struggle with balancing their academic selves and their peer relationships."
Dr. Pittman attended the University of Connecticut, Storrs. He earned his Ph.D. in
curriculum and instruction with cognates in gifted education, educational studies, and English education. Dr. Pittman is currently an Assistant Professor of Instruction and Curriculum at Kean University. He is a former teacher in the South Carolina Public Schools, and former director of the "Call Me MISTER" program at Claflin University. I am fortunate enough to have had Dr. Pittman as a professor and his passion and desire to educate and pass along his knowledge is abundantly clear.
From my perspective Dr. Pittman truly uses this book to give these students a platform and a voice to be heard. University honors programs are not something that a typical person would investigate. As Dr. Pittman states himself, "I believe that it becomes necessary to attend to the voices of the victims...hoping that what these students have to say about their experiences will not fall on deaf ears. Their cries of foul play need to be heard, their stories deserve to be told, and action needs to be taken, especially because much of the culpability is outside of their realm of control." By allowing these students to tell of their experiences, both good and bad, it enlightens and educates the readers about what really happens in some college programs, not just the brochure type limerick to paint pretty pictures in our minds that we are all too familiar with.
The author really focuses on the term in which the book is titled after, 'whited out.' From reading the book there is great fear that there are many minority students in the United States that are afraid to be prestigious, highly regarded students. This seemingly occurs out of fear by these African American students that they will be ostracized and ridiculed by their ethnic peers. In essence many of these African American students interviewed in Whited Out are given added pressures of succeeding. It basically boils down to having to make the decision to pursue their academic success at the expense of their African American friends.
Reading Whited Out will definitely open up your mind about the inequalities that still exist today, not only in collegiate honors programs, but in our school systems around the country. No matter what prejudices or biases a reader might have before reading this book, if you read with an open mind, those biases will change. I recommend this book to educators in any level of schooling, in any community. I also recommend it to parents of students, as well as upper class high school and college students themselves.
Posted May 12, 2010
On the surface Whited Out appears to be a book covering soloy the unequal treatment of blacks in higher education. However if you are willing to stick with the book to really pour oneself into it, you will find it applies to the inadequacies of higher learning for everyone. Yes the book does have its faults, you will find at times the author is quite long winded and there is much, much repetition but he does get his point across. The conception of education as open and equal to everyone is false, the belief that professors possess the same expectations for all their students regardless of race and of appearance is also false. (It is also quite fascinating, the historical perspective on why Blacks underachieve) More than just point out blame, Whited Out goes further in giving solutions to the issues plaguing education.
Over the course of the book one will be introduced to black students within the honor program at "X" university, you will meet students who are succeeding as well as students who were kicked out of the program. The issues the students face both their own personal crises and what the university brings are described in great detail, you will hear not only from the author's point of view but honest opinions from the students as well. I must add the unedited, word for word recall of what the students say to the author during the many interviews are quite fascinating and really draw the reader in.
Whited Out does have a very clear message, a call to action but it is not overly preachy. Ultimately it is up the reader to decide where we are in higher education, have we plateaued, can we go further, are we going in the right direction? Whited Out is a great starting point for discussion regarding higher learning and if that is your interest and I do recommend giving this book a read.
-Sean Alfred Juillerat
Posted May 12, 2010
After reading Whited Out: Unique Perspectives on Black Identity and Honors Achievement, this entire book really opened my eyes on what is really going on in most school settings out there in our great country. If you look at the title of "Whited Out", you would not think that this book would be about different perspectives of colored students in a specific setting. Dr. Anthony A. Pittman, the author of this book, is a simple man who teaches at Kean University, that wanted to show everyone out in the world, mainly in the school settings, in depth, what is really going on when it comes to students and race.
This book has taught me not to judge a book by its cover. If we shouldn't judge books by their covers, why should we judge people by theirs? Whited Out makes any reader's eyes open up and see that we, as individuals, are exactly the same. We should not look at other people as a different color or race. That is the main problem that the people in this country have in my eyes. Some perspectives from students in this book simply amazed me to the point that I would never judge anyone again by stereotype, race, religion, gender, etc.
Before reading this book, I felt that this book (by just reading the title) would just be a one sided propagandist piece written by a black man talking about how white people are doing wrong in the world. After reading Whited Out, I must say, I have learned never to judge anyone by anything except human. This book is a total life changer. I feel this book should be implemented and be mandatory in the school system as a undergraduate level to make students see the reality of what is going on between them and that all students/individuals are equal. I feel Anthony A. Pittman achieved what he was going for in this book as well as change lives. The only thing I would really state that this book needs is quite the opposite of this book. There are white students out there that act differently and could be considered as being "blacked out". Maybe Dr. Pittman or someone one day will write something like that because I feel if the black perspective can change the world, I feel all perspectives can. All we need to do is listen.
Posted May 11, 2010
Why do some Black students achieve in school while others fail? Historically, underachievement has been blamed on cultural factors and/or genetic deficiencies which morphed into theories stating that Black students are inferior to White students. The fact is that Black students do succeed and achieve, but these students are often viewed by their peers as "acting white."
While serving as a teaching assistant at a large research university in the Northeast, the author, Dr. Pittman, observed a severe underrepresentation of minority students in the college honors program. He embarked upon a study of twelve students of which six were current members of the schools honor program and six were former members. He examined the students' reflections on their membership in the honors program and as students in a predominately White university.
The authors work dispels any of the historical theories of Black inferiority but rather points to what made these students successful is the usual recipe for any students success; a strong drive to succeed combined with strong family and peer support. His work does point out some troubling sentiments with regards to the honors program; the feeling of elitism and that the honors experience was not the same for Black as it for White students. Ultimately these sentiments, but not the fear of being accused of "acting white," result in many worthy Black students choosing not to enroll in the honors program.
I would recommend this book to any educator or potential educator because they will be seeing an ever increasing representation of minority students in their classrooms in the years ahead. It is important for all educators to work diligently to ensure that all students are welcomed into their classrooms and that no biased thoughts like students "acting white" should cause them to pre-judge the students.
Dr. Pittman is currently an Assistant Professor of Instruction and Curriculum at Kean University in Union, New Jersey. He earned his PH.D. in curriculum and instruction with cognates in gifted education, educational studies, and English education from the University of Connecticut, Storrs.
Posted May 8, 2010
Many people associate black and white heritage as completely different. People believe there are different standards for different races. In the end, every person no matter what color they are wants that big house on the hill and a great car in the driveway. This book describes why some African American students perform poorly in academics, mainly, because they do not want to be looked at as "acting White." "Acting White" is viewed as a minority abandoning ones ethnicity. Many African American students downplay their precocity to avoid being accused of "acting White." Why can't people see that if you are smart it is a good thing and can be used to help the future? Dr. Pittman has many strong points and views on why many African Americans are accused of "acting White." He makes great key points about the society and life that many others have lived and combines his thoughts about their past. Dr. Pittman focuses on why many African American students just want to get by, but also emphasizes the ones that want to succeed in the honors program. Dr. Pittman goes threw many interviews to challenge his thoughts and reactions to make for hard evidence in the field of academic achievement. Dr. Pittman has earned his Ph.D. in curriculum and instructional with cognates in gifted education, educational studies, and English education. Dr. Pittman is a graduate from the University of Connecticut and shares his great abundance of knowledge to his students. From reading this book, I have retained many useful scenarios to help any student that I come across and push for their wellbeing. I have found that African American students must cross cultural and racial boundaries to succeed academically. I would recommend this book to any student that is trying to change their outlook on race and never judge a book by its cover. Academics are important, having the skills to be on top makes a student want to succeed no matter how hard it may be, race and culture included.
Donald E. Cherry Jr.