Are You an Oreo?



Oreo – Disparaging and Offensive

A black person who is regarded as having adopted the attitudes, values and behavior thought to be characteristics of middle class white society, often at the expense of his or her own heritage.
This is the definition given by dictionary.com of the epithet used by blacks against each other in an attempt to strip one another of their “blackness”. The word that sticks out the most in this definition is the word “thought”. It is ironic because anyone who gave the meaning of this word any “thought” wouldn’t use it in the first place. I have had friends who have been called an Oreo and, at one point in time, I was stamped with this label. I gave myself a thorough self evaluation and listed all the reasons I would be called an Oreo. Here is the list I came up with:

  • I speak proper English
  • I am well educated
  • I love to read
  • I grew up in a fairly decent neighborhood
  • I strive for success
  • I listen to an eclectic mix of music
  • I stay away from clothing that has someone’s name plastered across it

When I thought about it, I realized that an Oreo was not a bad thing to be called. What I did realize was that African Americans are so accustomed to these achievements only being obtained by whites that a person with these characteristics must not want to be black. On the contrary, this could not be farther from the truth. Because I LOVE my people, my heritage and my ancestors, I thrive to be the best I can be in order to uplift my community and prove that being black does not mean I must be raised in the ghetto, use slang 24/7, only wear urban inspired clothing, don’t value the worth of a good education and can’t see myself ever leaving the area I was raised in. Why is it that anything associated with ambition, success and proper etiquette is considered white? I am a 24 year old black woman with dread locks, a college degree and I was raised in the East Flatbush area of Brooklyn, New York. I can articulate myself very well and I love a range of music from R&B and rap to soca, pop and jazz. Does this make me any less black than a person who was not blessed to have the same privileges I did?

It is a shame that when one black person calls another an Oreo, that person instantly dumbs down their speech and begins to feel ashamed of the many accomplishments they worked HARD to achieve. I thought Black was Beautiful; not dumb, illiterate, loud, always in a state of stagnation and in trouble with the law. Our President, Barack Obama, has been called an Oreo numerous times. If he is the definitive representation of an Oreo, then I will gladly claim the title. I love my people and everything I do is for the betterment of my race. I was taught that there is a time and place for everything. In order to grow, one must be able to analyze their situation and act accordingly. The way I behave when I am hanging out with my friends is not the same way I conduct myself in a business meeting. It must be understood that everyone was not exposed to the same situations growing up. As long as you love, appreciate and acknowledge your roots, then there is nothing wrong with being a successful, well spoken and open minded African American. Let’s really put some “thought” into the words we choose to label one another. It’s time to build each other up, instead of tearing each other down.

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