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J Natl Med Assoc. 2017 Spring;109(1):21-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jnma.2016.12.001. Epub 2017 Jan 17.

Cultural-Ecological Theory of Academic Disengagement Used to Explain a Story of Race, Culture and Education.

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Department of Dermatology and Skin Science, University of British Columbia, The Skin Care Centre - Vancouver General Hospital, Vancouver, British Columbia V5Z 4E8, Canada. Electronic address:


Students of African ancestry often share an experience of being a racialized minority in the context of the educational institution. Late Professor of Anthropology John Ogbu's Cultural-ecological Theory of Academic Disengagement is employed to describe the negative responses encountered by peers in the name of academic achievement. The late Nigerian-American anthropologist John Ogbu described that it is often socially disadvantageous for black youth to prosper academically in formal education. Black students are often seen as betraying their cultural identities by aspiring to academic success and scholastic achievement and are met with repugnance by black peers. The notion of "acting white" is unnecessary, impertinent should be abandoned outright as achievement should have no color.


African American; Diversity; Medical education; Minority health

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