I have always stuck out amongst my group of friends. I've never been able to really "fit in" with a friend group completely nor have I ever wanted to be a clone of my closest friends. As a young black man, I feel this way a lot, especially because of the lifestyle I choose to live.
Regardless of the fact that I sing opera, wear preppy clothes, or even enjoy acoustic or country music; do not call me an "Oreo." Not only is calling me and other black Americans an Oreo offensive, but it says a lot about how you, as an individual, view black people and black culture.
The media does a very good job of depicting black people as impoverished thugs, drug dealers, gangbangers, pimps, and strippers. However, when a black person is portrayed to being an "upstanding citizen" it's almost "newsworthy" because of the novelty of the idea that a person of color can live and behave outside of the stereotypical depiction of a group of people.
Believe it or not the average black family that I'm personally surrounded by does not act or raise their children to be something that the mainstream media enjoy conveying.
Never mind the Obamas, the Condoleezza Rices, the Laurence Brownlees and the Audra McDonalds of America. The "hidden figures" of Katherine Jonson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson recently depicted in an Oscar-nominated film (2016). The pursuing scientists, lawyers, politicians, and more that are coming up in areas like Baltimore and Chicago who happen to also be black.
The craziest part is that regardless of the many more successes than failures within the black community I can still be called an "Oreo" in 2018, like being successful is synonymous with being white in America. Black women are the most educated people in America according to the National Center for Education Statistics, but yet they have to face both the glass-ceiling of being a woman and prejudice for being black.
As I have gone through my time at Butler, people often don't believe me or take me seriously because of my behavior, lifestyle, and successes. Within the first week of being on campus a fellow student asked me in a class if I thought that I got into Butler via affirmative action — as if I was incapable of getting into Butler without assistance or leverage.
It's unbelievable that people still think that intellectually people of color are inferior to their classmates or colleagues. What's more unfortunate is that people are going to read this article and say "well that's just one person." That individual had to hear it from someone who believes that black people are inferior and/or disadvantaged. He had to have said it before without being checked or corrected, and if one person has an opinion 100 more people share the sentiment.
I have been judged and rejected because as a young black man I come across arrogant, overconfident, and pretentious because I know what I want, have worked hard for what I have, and am unapologetic for most of my decisions. Never mind the same behavior from a white male my age who may exhibit similar behavior, but "it comes across different."
Moreover, if you're being called an Oreo then you've also been called boujie. According to urbandictionary.com you're being described as "relating to or characteristic of a person who aspires to the upper middle class or a fancy lifestyle; haughty, elitist, snobbish."
God forbid the idea that black Americans hold themselves to higher standards and exceed the expectations of their peers. God forbid the idea of wanting more for yourself and wanting the opportunity to be treated the same way a white male is treated when walking into a building.
Preconceived notions of a person's character because of the color of one's skin is wrong. I am conscious of the fact, especially after attending a predominantly white institution, that I can not assume that everyone white person I talk to has mal-intentions or will be ignorant and prejudiced. As a matter of fact, some of my closest friends are white and I have learned and grown from them as I hope they have from me. However, what I will say is that I am tired of excusing white people who address any person of color with disrespect.
I am not an Oreo because I am simply a product of my environment, just like someone isn't "ghetto" simply because they are from a rougher neighborhood. Don't tell me I'm not "black enough" if you yourself are not black. If you are black don't compare my life to yours and assume that I am not in touch with heritage because I don't behave or act a certain way because it does neither of us any justice for our true character.
I addressed things in this article that may have pertained to certain people and certain interactions. Nobody is perfect, but there is always room for improvement. I am a strong believer in treating people the way YOU would want to be treated. I am not going to sugarcoat my articles, especially when I don't sugarcoat my conversations because I am passionate about the uplifting of black people of all backgrounds while also creating relationships with people that transcend race, and this topic for me falls under that umbrella.