"Acting white" : is there social pressure within Mexican Americans adolescent peer groups to conform to within-group cultural expectations?
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Mexican Americans are a population that has significantly increased over the years in the United States. Despite their growth, many still face barriers in their pursuit of success and are at increased risk for poorer outcomes. Many explanations, such as acculturation, have been sought as potential contributors to poorer outcomes seen among Mexican Americans, particularly in academic settings. As an alternative explanation to acculturation, Fordham and Ogbu (1986) proposed that many of the negative outcomes in academic performance seen among African Americans could be attributed to the within-group processes that ostracized those who exhibited behaviors deemed “White.” Since the emergence of the “acting White” thesis, significant research has emerged in the hopes of either proving or disproving the tenants of the thesis. What has emerged is that some minorities have experienced pressures to conform and that many utilize a set of strategies that allow them to negotiate their multicultural contexts. However, most of the literature has focused on the experiences of African Americans; meanwhile research has been limited among other ethnicities who may share similar experiences. This report proposes a study that would attempt to examine whether Mexican Americans experience social pressures to conform to within-group cultural expectations. This study would also explore how Mexican American youth negotiate their ethnic peer cultures and school environments. In addition, potential psychological stressors related to accusations of “acting White” and perceived social pressures would also be explored.