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Balancing ActsYouth Culture in the Global City$
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Natasha Kumar Warikoo

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520262102

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520262102.001.0001

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Racial Authenticity, “Acting Black,” and Cultural Consumption

Racial Authenticity, “Acting Black,” and Cultural Consumption

(p.46) Chapter 3 Racial Authenticity, “Acting Black,” and Cultural Consumption
Balancing Acts

Natasha K. Warikoo

University of California Press

This chapter discusses how the drawing of symbolic boundaries between ethnic and racial groups and peer expectations of racial authenticity affect teens' taste preferences, focusing on the subtle differences in taste preferences between the Indian, Afro-Caribbean, Indo-Caribbean, and white students in the schools. Hip-hop's association with African Americans has elevated black racial identity to high status among peers. Non-black students are sometimes chastised for acting black or inauthentic consumption of black popular culture. Hence, ethnic groups have found ways of engaging with hip-hop that connected with their particular ethnicity. Afro-Caribbean youth are equipped with the most authentic claim to hip-hop because of hip-hop's black roots. South Asian youth engage in hybrid bhangra–hip-hop and Hindi-hip-hop styles because they cannot easily boundary-cross in their consumption without being seen as racially inauthentic. The white youth in London choose from myriad cultural styles. Hence, although popular youth culture and status considerations exist in all social contexts, regardless of race and class, their manifestations differ by race and ethnicity.

Keywords:   racial authenticity, ethnicity, hip-hop, racial identity, youth culture

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