Embracing Life as a Token

Uptown writer Andrea Michelle reflects on her experience as the only black girl in her social circle and being referred to as an "Oreo" back in the day.

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It's a peculiar kind of hurt that an African American feels when the term "Oreo" is hurled at him or her by another black person. Uptown writer Andrea Michelle tackles this notion as a woman who grew up in the suburbs and made her peace with being the only fly in the milk.

Blackness has had a sliding scale value assigned to it ever since it was discovered by the western world: civilized vs. savage, good vs. evil, freed vs. auctioned, liability vs. asset. My personal favorite is how we calibrate ourselves against the relative state of other black people: solid, liquid or vapor. Lol. As a kid growing up in southern white suburbia, I could best be described as a fly in the buttermilk -- a little brown speck proudly swimming along in a sea of (slightly sour) white. My penchant for reading, math and science quickly put me in advanced classes and unfortunately separated me socially from the other black kids, whom I only really saw at P.E. and lunch. In turn, I built friendships-in-proximity and that meant that I was getting a firm lesson in good ol’ fashioned, plain vanilla apple pie white America.

I crushed on who my friends crushed on (I see you, Jordan from New Kids on the Block), rocked out to the local rock station (Smashing Pumpkins, I see you, too) and otherwise thought I was a happy, well-adjusted tween. Until one day I got a rude reminder by a girl that I only saw at P.E. and lunch. She informed me that I was not in fact black, but rather a hybrid species of white with a delicious chocolate cookie exterior; I was an Oreo. (P.S. Let me tell you, hits from the home team hurt waaay harder.)

What is it with these self-imposed notions of what constitutes "authentic" blackness? It is hard enough defending ourselves from constant razor-sharp attacks from outside the community about who we are, what we are and how well we belong to devote any extra energy proving our identities or allegiances at home. Save that bucket of crabs for your next trip to Red Lobster. #Ain'tNobodyGotTimeForThat.

Read Andrea Michelle's entire piece at Uptown.

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