Firstly, I would like to put out a disclaimer that this blog post is not to complain or insult anyone but rather to educate and hopefully raise awareness as to why the term “OREO” should not be used to describe black people.
The word “Oreo” was introduced to me when I was in a sixth form when my group were playing a game where we discussed the partners (relationship wise) we were going to end up with. When it was my turn, a black girl said the following to me:
“Oh, I only see Angelina with a white guy and not black guy”. And to my surprise, everyone at the table agreed. Of course, I asked her why she came to that conclusion and her response was “you can’t handle black guys, you’re too nice, innocent and quiet; basically, you are an Oreo.” I thought that was the most absurd thing that a person could ever say. However, inevitably, over time, I began to believe it and take it a compliment because that is what I was being taught by society. At the time, everything was taken and done so lightly that I myself didn’t know I was being brainwashed by society and with the negative stereotypes that are associated with being black who would want to be one of those stereotypes? Certainly, not me.
For those of you who are lost, when someone calls a black person an “Oreo” it means that you are ‘black on the outside, white on the inside’ (i.e. you are a black person who ‘acts white’). Although such remarks may be harmless jokes, they’re reflective of society’s narrow understanding of black people and how it manages to infect black communities themselves. I think that it is extremely sad that society has managed to influence people to think there are certain criteria that a black person has to fit into before they can be classified as “being black” and if they do not fit those criteria (which are just a bunch of stereotypes) then they are “not black enough”.
This notion is rather damaging as it limits the potential for young black children to express and follow their genuine interests and dreams but most importantly, to be themselves.
According to society, to be black means to be loud, ghetto, have a bad attitude, listen to R&B, hip pop and rap as well as have aspirations to be a musician (or in the entertainment industry in general) or a sportsman and with food, you must absolutely love fried chicken! Honestly, if these compositions about black people were true then, personally, I am yet to encounter many black people in my life. The most reprehensible thing is the people who think of it as a sort of compliment. The next time you use the word “Oreo” and imply “you’re not really black”, just be aware that there are many other hidden connotations that include but are not limited to:
- You aren’t loud
- You speak eloquently
- You’re well educated
- You love to read
- You strive for success.
Please note that it is not a compliment.
Finally, to answer the question of why I am no longer accepting the term “Oreo” being used to describe me is simple. I believe that there are good and bad people in every race. There is beauty in every race. There is intelligence in every race and within each race, there are differences in personality and character amongst the people because race is not linked to any of the attributes mentioned above. Therefore, insinuating that the colour of an individual’s skin determines how they act is ridiculous and ignorant, so to speak.