I don't think they have to be an underachieving slacker - and that's the worst thing about it. In my situation, these people were in my AP classes, with similar grades, and were supposed to be smart enough to "know better." They knew me, they knew my achievements, they knew how hard I studied. Hell, we were all in NHS together and part of student council, and shared several EC activities. That was the part that hurt me - this wasn't some ignorant redneck complaining about black folks achieving - these were my peers since I was seven years old, and all my life, I had considered us equal. And then, at the end of the day, I was just another ni**er. Reality check. Point - society.
But yes, @greenjumper, it's certainly a coping mechanism - but a racist one.
Oh and the WORST part (for me) is that growing up my father would always tell me to watch myself around white people (him being a "token" in his field, to this day) and that they will smile in your face and stab you in the back, and I'd reply, "Daddy, it's not the 50s anymore. My friends aren't like that - we're all just friends, it doesn't matter what color I am, it's 2000." (I had a diverse group of HS friends too) HAH I was so damn wrong! Lesson learned.