Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Nerd Alert, Yo Mama!

The youth culture just keeps getting more complicated. Now we learn that nerdiness is an admirable “hyper-white” reaction to cool European-American kids who appropriate African-American culture.

You follow? According to academic linguist Mary Bucholtz, “Being a nerd has become a widely accepted and even proud identity, and nerds have carved out a comfortable niche in popular culture...By cultivating an identity perceived as white to the point of excess, nerds deny themselves the aura of normality that is usually one of the perks of being white.”

Bucholtz finds this admirable. By pushing white-bread Young-Republicanism to the point of parody, the new nerds are “refusing to exercise the racial privilege upon which white youth cultures are founded.”

The nerds may be, in the language of another era, putting us on, or perhaps their chronicler Bucholtz is. At any rate, the subject of whites trying to act black and vice versa is very much in the air.

When Hillary Clinton drops her “g”s in gerunds for an African-American audience or Barack Obama is accused of being “too white,” racial styles are definitely in play.

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