My friend called me her favorite Oreo.
“You know,” she said, “black on the outside, white on the inside.”
I stared at her, trying to figure out what I could possibly say to that. She thought she was genuinely complimenting me. I mean, I don’t even like Oreos.
We had just gotten our SAT scores back and I had done really well, surprising even myself at how much knowledge cramming I had retained. But apparently my friend thought scoring well on a standardized test is something that doesn’t fit with the black race. I just changed the subject because I didn’t want to seem touchy or like a drama queen, but instances like these have happened to me so many times. I’m fed up!
Do I get classified as an Oreo because I’m a voracious reader (apparently all those SAT flashcards paid off)? Or because I might seem reserved when you first meet me? Or is because of one of the other billion facets of my personality? Yes, I would seriously contemplate selling my soul to be front and center at a Lil Wayne concert, but I also can’t help but belt out Taylor Swift songs when they come on the radio. Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston both have works on my list of favorite literature, as do Shakespeare and Jodi Picoult. Oh, and if you see me out dancing, I might be bouncing around to the latest hip hop song, but I could just as easily be showing off some complicated salsa step I learned during the two years that I took salsa classes.
I’m not meant to be categorized or labeled. Try to put me in a box and I’ll do my best to claw my way out, because I just don’t belong in one.
I understand that people use phrases like these to joke around. I do have a sense of humor buried somewhere under the tirades and attempts at being politically correct. Still, the time I was called an Oreo fits in with other times people have acted like I, for some reason, don’t seem like a member of my race. “I don’t think of you as a black person,” is one I’ve gotten a few times. And then there’s the “you’re so pretty, you don’t even look like a black girl!” Uh, thanks?
I used to stay quiet when people would say things about my race that they thought would boost my ego, as though I should be happy if I didn’t fit in with black people. Well, my days of avoiding these confrontations are over. My silence insinuates that I agree with the statements people are making, and take pride in the fact that I’ve got a little “white” in me. And I definitely don’t. I’m proud of who I am. Even if I could wave a magic wand and change some part of me, it would never be my race. I wouldn’t want my skin to be even a smidgen of a shade lighter.
In fact, the only thing I’d want is Beyonce‘s derriere. But who wouldn’t?
[This story was originally posted by Zahra – Northwestern.]