In ethnic and cultural studies: What is the term or phrase that refers to the act of someone being more of their race or act on the stereotypes associeted to them (being more "black" or more "mexican", than they really are.

Example: When I (a mexican american with english as a first language, college education and good career) am in front of a white person; by choice I act more ghetto or talk in slang or use ebonics to speak.

I have good manners and well rounded. I choose to act on the stereotype, i am over acting on them. What is this phrase or term called? It doesn't have stereotype in the phrase or term at all.

2 Answers 2


I'm not sure if this is what you're getting at, but there is a phenomenon called code switching. Originally, this was a term in linguistics describing conversation where a speaker switches back and forth between two (or more) different languages.

More recently, it's also come to mean an conscious (or sometimes unconscious) adjustment in dialect or patterns of speech depending on the speaker's social environment. In particular, someone who "talks Black" in a group of Black friends or family members, but uses much more "standard" English in professional or mixed settings would be said to code switch. It could also be used when the speaker wants to "sound Black" for other reasons.

Here is an article about this sense of code switching in The Economist.

  • Not an everyday word, but certainly one that fits. Interesting article, too.
    – J.R.
    Feb 28, 2018 at 17:24

I was just reminded of another word that might come closer to what you're asking, although you should be very aware that this is a strongly negative word that is deeply entangled with some very politically difficult American racial history and you should be very careful about using it because it could offend people.

The word is minstrelsy and it refers to the 19th century minstrel shows that were based on stereotypes of African American behavior that today we would regard as shockingly offensive.

In modern times, the word might be used it in a couple of situations:

  1. As a very strong criticism of a movie, TV show, or other performance that relies on extremely stereotypical characters or ethnic stereotypes. If you describe a movie as indulging in minstrelsy, then you're saying that the Black (or other ethnic) characters are so one-dimensionally stereotypical that the movie is garbage and the author is probably a racist. As I said, it's very strong criticism where you're deliberately intending to insult the author.

  2. If you are member of a minority who hears someone say something that you think is racist, you might respond by acting in a stereotypical way specifically for the purposes of making them feel bad. Later, you could describe your own behavior as "performing minstrelsy" or "descending into minstrelsy." Once again, this is a very strong word, and you'd only use it if you're trying to describe behavior that is very vicious, and certainly not if you're just joking around.

This word is still associated mostly with African American stereotypes, but it can be extended to other minorities as well. Here is an example of an article that uses minstrelsy to criticize a show for trafficking in gay stereotypes, and another one using it to criticize the Canadian Prime Minister for trying too hard to "act Indian" while visiting India.

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