There were very few other black children at Holy Trinity with me, which meant that there existed scarcely any authority or context against which my evolving self could be measured or fact-checked. The more I channeled my inner Rashawn [a neighborhood thug] and aped whatever I saw on Rap City and Sports Center, the more I noticed that the white kids I went to school with were willing to buy into the 'hood persona I was busy developing. They entered into our little social contract ready to enable my street fantasies and to cede me the physical sphere entirely. My classmates took for granted that I would beat them in the hundred-yard dash, hit them with killer crossovers, and pluck rebounds from up above their heads. The idea that I couldn't dance was met with incredulity, and in the locker room everybody operated on the assumption that black dicks were the biggest. The truth is that a brother can get used to such flattery, and quickly. The result was that I got a big head and allowed myself to sign this tacit agreement with all but my closest white friends. At first, it put some pep in my step. Before long, though, I couldn't help but realize that I was these white boys' superior -- yes, perhaps, possibly -- but I was not their equal. In the classroom and in terms of material well-being, for example, their expectations of me tended to be much lower than of themselves and each other. The same Tina who had puzzled over the rigidity of my hair revealed herself to be equally perplexed when I caught a higher grade than she did on a history exam. My friend Mark, apropos of nothing, asked me one day whether I had ever seen a house as spacious as his before. When we went upstairs to dinner, a nice roast served with steamed vegetables, he wanted to know if I got to eat that way at home.

At first, these aspects of the deal were insulting to me--my natural proclivity was to take offense here: why couldn't I be smart and middle-class too, I thought (albeit with a wicked left hook and an enviably sized penis, of course)? But gradually, gradually, like a desert of sand sifting through a monstrous hourglass, after days and weeks and months and years of these constant asymmetric relations, fronting like I came from the ghetto when I was around kids like Mark and Tina seemed a small and even reasonable price to pay for the obeisance I could be granted in return.

-- An excerpt from Losing My Cool: How a Father's Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture by Thomas Chatterton Williams