When white Americans encounter black Americans who have achieved educational or professional success, they tend to doubt that success. They do so because the ordinary white mind transmogrifies the notion of "affirmative action" into "giving unqualified black people an advantage."
There's a sad irony in the white doubting of black achievement. Black professionals know that others doubt their qualifications and abilities, so they tend to make absolutely certain that they are qualified and able. Personally, if I had a choice between two doctors, and all I knew was that one was black and one was white, I would choose the black one:
One way that African Americans consume personal energy is in determined efforts to succeed in the face of racism, including overachieving to prove their worth in the face of whites' questioning black ability and competence. . . Several respondents felt that it was common for black employees to prove themselves in white settings to overachieve, doing more than white employees with similar resources and credentials would have to do.
This extra pressure dealt with by successful African Americans does have an upside for them, as one law professor in the study notes: "Once you succeed, you know that you have the ability. There's no question about it, because you've had to do a little bit more than the next guy to even get through."