Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Apples, Bananas, Coconuts, and Oreos (An Apology)

Apples, bananas, coconuts and oreos. To most white people those are simply the names of food,but to people of color, those are names you get called for "acting white" or "not being (fill in the minority) enough". "Acting white" means you don't use slang when you talk, you want to get an education/get ahead in life and basically you don't fit in with the stereotype people have about your culture. Some examples: An African American who likes metal music, a Latino who doesn't speak Spanish, etc. These are all examples of people who would be accused of "acting white."

An apple is what Native Americans are called when they "act white", "red "on the outside, white on the inside. Banana is what Chinese people are called, "yellow on the outside, white on the inside." Coconut is the similar term for South Asians (I think it's only South Asians, correct me if I'm wrong) and Oreo is the term used for African Americans. I don't know what the name is for a Latino who "acts white". Besides the fact that the terms red and yellow being used to describe people's skin color can be seen as offensive, these terms all essentially mean that you are a sellout, someone who does not embrace their culture. Let me make myself clear, I'm no expert on these words and the meaning behind them. I am basing this off of my own experience as well as things I've read/heard/seen. I don't want anyone to think I'm an expert on this subject, but I do want to help readers understand these terms and why we shouldn't use them.

There's nothing wrong with being white. But it is an insult to be accused of acting white if you aren't white because it means you aren't proud of your culture. Not only that, it implies that only white people can be educated, listen to certain music, watch certain things, etc. Why is a Native American child called an apple simply because he or she wants to make something of themselves? It's ridiculous to accuse people of "acting white" who want to get ahead and lift up themselves and their people. Why is a South Asian who doesn't speak Bangla, Urdu, Hindi, etc. considered a coconut? Why can't an African American not like rap music without being called an oreo? Furthermore, why is wanting to better yourself considered something that only white people can do? At the end of the day, that's what's really troubling. The fact that POC seem to think that when you do well in school, volunteer, get a job, etc. you are "acting white" and not "acting black/Latino/Asian/Native American". What a low standard. Based on that thinking, there's no point in ever trying to get ahead because if we want to become presidents, CEOs, doctors, lawyers, nurses and have success in our careers, then we have to give up our culture. Well I refuse to accept that. Isn't it obvious that a POC with a strong work ethic is not "acting white", they just have a strong work ethic. Honestly, the naysayers who say that successful minorities are "acting white" are just trying to hold their race/culture back, they may not know it, but it's true. In fact, wouldn't you say that the successful minorities are making our race PROUD?! Regardless of how you feel about him politically, you have to admit that President Obama is a smart guy. I bet he was called an oreo when he was younger (I read his autobiography a really long time ago so I don't remember for sure) because he got good grades and went to college and then law school. Now look at him, PRESIDENT. Do you hear anyone calling him an oreo? (if people are still calling him an oreo, they are just dense). Instead people are expressing pride in how far he (and we) have come. There are many more examples of people like him, leave some names in the comments :)

I've been called an oreo before. As a former dancer I can hold my own, but I have a diverse taste in music. I love hip hop and some rap, but I also like some old school rock and I love salsa and merengue. I also listen to reggaeton, jazz and during my dance years I listened to classical a lot. I was called an oreo for knowing the song "Living on a Prayer", not only that but apparently, my singing along with the song with my white friends meant that I wasn't "black enough." *eye roll* I know people who have been called oreos for not using slang. Being a minority in this country forces you to learn two languages of sorts. As a Black American teenager (I'm also half Latino but I don't speak Spanish that well), I've learned that I can relax and use slang with my friends. We can talk about the subtle racism occurring in our school and laugh at the ignorant comments people ask ("why do you wear wigs everyday?", "why don't you talk black?"). Then you have to learn the language that everyone else speaks, proper English. When I'm not with my Black or Latino friends, I lose the slang especially when you are talking to an adult, but I don't use slang with my white friends either. I don't use a lot of slang to begin with, coming out of my mouth "finna" sounds ridiculous. I also don't know all the slang, once my friend called me a cluck. I had no idea what that was. Apparently, a cluck is someone who is clumsy. No idea where that comes from. I strongly disagree with the notion that not using words like "finna" and "cluck" means you don't know or respect your Black culture. It means you speak proper English.

I'm writing this post to explain and (lamely) apologize. The fear of being called an oreo is what holds me back from telling my friends about my blog. My friends don't even know that I like to read. It's why, though I may accept your friend request on Facebook, I will not talk about books or book blogs on my account. My Facebook account is basically for my friends that I see face-to-face. So I apologize for not joining your book group or becoming a fan of your blog, etc. on Facebook but I'm tired. Tired of being called an oreo simply because I refuse to let a stereotype box me in. I'm not perfect, I have thought the word oreo in my head when I meet Black people who don't want to associate with other Black people. I'm working on not thinking like that, it's not easy but it's necessary. "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me", I can handle being called a nerd and a bookworm, those terms don't hurt me as much. But accuse me of not being Black or Latina, of not respecting or making my culture proud? That hurts more that you will ever know. I may laugh it off but believe me, "oreo" is deeply branded into my mind and it has left scars.

I'm half Black and half Latina and I don't fit in with either. I don't speak Spanish so I'm never fully accepted by Latinos and Black people don't always accept me because of my class and the way I talk and the music I like, etc. I was once told by a Black person that the reason I couldn't get Double Dutch was because of my "Hispanic blood" (I think it just comes from me being clumsy), so I shouldn't "worry about it." So I'm not "Black enough" or "Latina enough" (it doesn't help that I don't have an hourglass figure), I can't win. But the trials of being mixed-race, biracial and multiracial are for another post on another day.

PS I wasn't born knowing most of these terms! I learned about apples from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and coconut from Shine, Coconut Moon by Nessha Meminger (and banana from the comments).

PPSS Never call a POC an apple, banana, coconut or oreo if you are not of that race. Obviously, you shouldn't use it in general but believe me, if a white person calls a Black person an oreo (or a Native American person an apple, etc.), they will beat you down (verbally or physically). Seriously people, how can someone who is not of that culture tell someone else that they are not "Black (or any other minority) enough"? Doesn't even make any sense and yet I know some white kids at school who talk about Black people being oreos (we don't have enough Asians or Native Americans for them to comment on), as if they even have a clue as to what being Black means. Oh please.


  1. THANK YOU, for this post. I think these terms and stereotypes are so freakin annoying, especially coming from someone not of my race. I remember one day this guy at my school told me "you only act black when you are mad", I was about to scream. Of course I told him off for about an hour about how ignorant and stereotypical he was being. And honestly how would someone who is not my race know what it means to be my race. Because they watch TV shows that portray all black girls as using bad grammer and and getting weaves all day. Its like I braid my hair, does that make me any less African than I was teh day before??? And I go to an all Asian school, so its really sad how people will tell me that I'm not acting my culture since most of them are from Asia and have limited experience with those outside of their race themselves. And since I am Nigerian, I wasn't brought up watching the television shows that these people get their so called facts on how a black girl should behave. Its like how can you tell me how someone of my race is supposed to act when no one has been to Nigeria and is accustomed to how Nigerians act. Even so, people should encourage us not to be generic and just be ourselves. Bottom Line: We refuse to be stereotypes!!!

    (Sorry for such a rambling comment, your posts tend to get me all worked up and wanted to write everything I want to say lol! I should just respond with a post of my own lol)

  2. I truly commend you for writing this, because I know it couldn't have been easy. I have struggled with this issue myself. I used to dance as well (pointe,jazz,african), and I could listen to almost anything but I was expected to know all of the new rap songs that came out. The way I spoke was considered "white", but I couldn't understand why no one wanted to speak proper English but me. Your post reminds me of a post that's been in my draft for months that I called "The Secret Blogger" LOL. Maybe I'll get up the nerve to post it one day. Thanks for sharing! My advice would be to do your own thing girl. There is so much more to us than what's on the surface. No, I don't go around telling everyone in my personal life about my blog but if it comes out in a conversation I won't be ashamed. You shouldn't either because you put such pride in it.

  3. Wonderful post, and I agree 100% with what you say. That's all :-)

  4. I'm obsessed with learning about Natives and watch TONS of Native films so I have heard of apple. Its so heartbreaking to them. The term just strips them of their Native identity.

  5. What an incredible post. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. It isn't any wonder that racism still exists with the the stereotypes still in full swing.

    It also intrigues me that in order to 'want to do well for yourself/get an education', it's considered a "white" thing. I'm 'white' and I come from a terribly deprived area in the UK: Everyone lost their factory and mining jobs with the Tories and there was a lot of devastation and unemployment. I grew up in the 2nd most polluted and crime-ridden towns in Britain. My brothers and I could never have treats or an abundance of toys.

    I'm under no illusions that "the straight, white man" still, unfortunately, holds the most power, but, particularly here in the UK, we're also some of the poorest. I hope one day we can just get rid of these stereotypes - I mean, "acting" black or white is ridiculous - it all depends on the area you're from really.

  6. YES! I totally feel you on this. People would think I was insane for speaking Spanish, Japanese, and watching Anime, listening to heavy metal, making descent grades. Since when did being a good person and trying to live life to the best of my ability become an exclusively white thing to do. I really think it's the culture. I mean, I know I'm not the only Black person who does "XYZ" that is not attributed to being Black. After a while, I stopped caring. I used to get picked on a lot in middle school for hanging out with non-Black people, but after a while I was just "If y'all don't like me, leave me alone." Stop spending all this time hatin' and make something of yourself. It's not like our lots in life are any different. At the end of the day, I'm still Black and I'm in the same boat as you are. I can only help you as much as you're willing to help yourself.

  7. I have heard coconut for Latino/a so I guess it's a widely shared insult.

  8. This is definitely the most thought-provoking blog post I've read recently. I admire your honesty. This isn't something I have to go through personally but I've witnessed others being called names like this and I just think that everything it stems from is completely sad.

  9. And to address what you said about not telling your friends on facebook and stuff about your blog, I don't think it is a bad thing. Same here, even my best friend who is black and also loves to read doesn't know about it because its just on a different level than just picking out 1 book at the library and taking 3 weeks to finish it. It's just something I like to keep seperate, I don't need anyone annoying me and thinking differently of me because I like to read. So I don't fault you at all for not telling your close friends or your facebook friends, I actually commend you. It's your life, if you want to avoid giving people another thing to annoy and judge you about, then you gotta do what you gotta do!!! Go girl!!!!

  10. @iluvhersheys-I hear you, whenever someone not of my race accuses me of not being a memeber of my race, it's just like "Whaaa?!" At least you give them a verbal lashing, I just ignore them which doesn't give me much satisfaction.

    Wow you go to an all Asian school? I could count the number of Asians at my school on two hands. I actually have a couple Nigerian friends and I love listening to them rant and just talk to each other in general (I'm learning Yoruba from them!), but that's a whole different level/issue too. When people lump Africans and african Americans into one category, gah. We act differently and each of us come from beautiful cultures.

    I like long rambling comments!

    Thank you, I'm just tired and I'll probably tell some people in college. Maybe. lol. But I know exactly what you mean, I don't want anyone thinking differently of me either and while I know your friends aren't supposed to judge you and always be there for you blah blah blah, but I don't want to risk it. Not now.

    Thank you, you've totally made me feel better :D

  11. @Girl on a Mission- I did jazz and pointe too! You should read Sellout (although I haven't actually read it yet, I have it and it sounds like it's basically about this issue. In fact, I think I'll start reading it today).

    That's the thing, I'm not ashamed of my blog per se, but well, I don't even know. My mom is proud of it and she's told some of her close friends and when it comes up in conversations I steer around it, for fear that they will tell their kids. It's hard and I don't think it's any easier for adults either (although I think with age comes more confidence!).

    You should post "The Secret Blogger", I was nervous about this post and my letter to Bloomsbury because they were so personal to me, but the response to both has been overwhelming kind and I'm sure you would seem the same.

    Thank you for your words of confidence, it means a lot!

    @Aarti-Thank you, good to know I'm not alone :)

    @Juju-Exactly. Why can't they want to get off their reservations and make their people proud and then come back? It makes no sense. Have you read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian? If not, it's a must-read.

    @Ceri-I don't understand either, why is getting ahead associated with white people only? It's a mystery in this day and age.

    I'm so sorry, I can't imagine, that must have been very trying. Do you mind my asking what area of Britan (not that I know one area from another besides London, haha)? I'm not sure I completely understand what you mean though, becuase even if you grew up in a poor neighborhood and you're Black if you want to go to college and speak proper English, odds are that you will be called an "oreo". Same thing applies if you're rich and Black. In fact, you're probably worse off if you're rich/middle class because you "don't have to struggle". So I'm not sure it always depends on where you grow up, because at least in the case of Black people it doesn't matter, if you want to move up at all, you're "acting white."

    @Najela-First, I'm totally jealous that you speak Japanese. And that's exactly what I mean; I'm no metal fan, but I'm not gonna call you an oreo for not listening to rap (or "black music"), but other Black people will and that's ridiculous. You like what you like, your skin color doesn't change because of it.

    Amen! We all need to help each other, stop tearing our race down and start building them up! I love that "I can only help you as much as you as much as you're willing to help yourself." It's so true.

    @rhapsody-That's interesting, I asked my dad and he said he wasn't aware of it, but I could understand coconut being used for Latinos.

    @Lauren-Thank you so much, that's all I want to do; vent and make people think =) Exactly, the basis for all this name-calling is very sad and it needs to stop. I'm a bit surprised that it happens in the UK though, I don't know why, but I always thought it would be more common to Americans.

    @Eboony-I have to finish Sellout but the idea behind Sellout is what (I think) my post is all about. so thank you for writing the story, it's one that is not well known but needs to be told!

  12. I think it's so amazing that you wrote this. I am white, but I have friends that are either half black or fully black and they have been called oreos in high school. It's absolutely ridiculous. My one friend loves punk rock music dresses the style too. She's her own person and I adore her for it.


  13. Great post! I definitely agree with you. Aarti and I talked about this same issue a few months ago after we read The Absolutely True Diary of Part-Time Indian. I've never had anyone brave enough to call me an oreo to my face though I know I'm considered to be a "white-girl" to certain people. I think the reason why it doesn't bother me is because I'm pretty headstrong and stubborn. I think many people don't think about the stereotypes they place on others and themselves.

    Do you ever feel like you're living two lives? One online and another life in irl? What's going to happen when you go off to college?

  14. It sucks that people say such stupid, prejudiced things to you. :( Thanks for writing this.

    If I can nitpick, though - it makes me sad when people think of standard American English as "right" and black vernacular English as "wrong". I grew up in South Louisiana hearing both, and as a languages nerd, I like hearing the differences in tense and diction between them. It's like British vs. American English - they intersect (a lot), but when they diverge, it's not a question of which is better, full-stop; it's a question of which is more suitable for a given situation.

  15. Thank you for the thoughtful and courageous post. When I was in high school, there were no blogs, and I ended up finding an outlet through a community radio station, where I became an engineer and occasional DJ (though I had a speech impediment then that made me a not very good announcer). However, when I went to college, things got a lot better because I found a place where a critical mass of people shared my values and interests.

  16. I love this post so much. Thank you, Ari, and thank you for being so honest and true to yourself first and foremost. Do what you need to do, and don't worry about what anyone else thinks. :)

  17. Wow. What a great, brave, honest post! =) I've heard these terms a lot, and it never fails to bother me.

    I also agree with Jenny - linguistically, "black" English (or actually, a lot of what people think is "black" English is just plain "Down South" English) is just as correct as "proper" English, with a fixed grammatical system. Though obviously I see the virtues of "proper" English, it does make me laugh when people not only stereotype because of somebody's race, but also because of how they speak. Whether it's a black person (or any person of color, actually) using "proper" English and being told they're too white, or the other way around, it's wrong.

    Thanks again for this post, and on a side note, I love your new layout! =)

  18. Anne Bronte said to the critics who sought to dismiss and segregate women writers and carp about any inappropriate material in their novels, "I am satisfied that if a book is a good one, it is so whatever the sex of the author may be. All novels are or should be written for both men and women to read." I think the concept applies to anything good and to any group--if it's a good film/book/song/painting why can't it be enjoyed by everyone? Where is it written you have to be this skin color, this gender, this nationality to enjoy or understand something? It's such a blinkered mindset to dismiss something simply because it comes from outside your culture.

  19. Ari, I love that you are so courageous and keep it real on your blog. I grew up in what seems like a similar situation. I didn't dance, but was the first black cheerleader at my school ever (and there were over 2000 students there). In addition, I made good grades, spoke in grammatically correct sentences, and grew up with parents who were financially able to afford wants and needs. I was mostly rejected by the few black students who went to my school and was called an Oreo.

    I felt so alienated and while I had tons of friends and was respected by my other peers, they never quite understood why my hair didn't have to be washed daily and tons of other things. Eventually when I went to college, I was surrounded by people of so many cultural backgrounds and many of us shared a common ground because we all wanted to be successful in life. It was there, I found acceptance and was unafraid to completely be myself.

    I wish I could have been as brave as you and stood my ground, but luckily for me, it became easier with age. I still get called an Oreo occasionally (my country accent doesn't really help the situation), but my skin is now thicker, and I live my life with no apologies for who I am.

  20. Thanks so much for sharing, Ari. You're a strong young woman. Every time someone shares these intensely personal experiences, I think it opens us all up to thinking about what we can do in our own communities.

  21. I love the new look! just be who you are, girl...some day, when you're ready, you'll be able to integrate the various parts of who you are. for now, do you...

  22. YOU RULE, Ari.

    I've been called all kinds of Oreos in my day. People probably STILL think of me as one. I dunno. I tried to join the "blackfolks" community but they rejected me, probably because I don't look black enough. I dunno. Anyway, it's taken me years to be comfortable with the things I like, which would be considered "white" by a lot of people of color.

    The point is--be who you are. Don't let other people's attitudes dictate what you should like, what your interests should be, and what you should want to do. Embrace your interests and passions. Because most of those people will probably fade out of your life, but you will have to live with you. Don't sell yourself short to fit in. *hugs*

    P.S. Add me on Facebook if we're not already friends! Search for Ronni Selzer.

  23. *HUG*

    Great post, Ari! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

  24. Ariiiiii! Dear, rant all you want. Your rants are informative and useful. Your rants turn things around.

    Nothing wrong with keeping your lives separate (personal and public).

    And thank you for sharing, and know that you're not alone, and don't have to fit in any mold. We're a mosaic, and each piece is unique.

    Guess what? I danced, too; my musical taste is goes from the North to the South pole, etc...

    And for what it's worth, we appreciate you just as you are. :) I hope you always keep your strong and honest voice. It's a gift and a skill at the same time.

  25. I gave you an award, please check here:


  26. Just want to chime in with another "excellent post" comment! I'm sorry you've had to struggle with this - it's patently unfair.

    As for keeping your online and real lives separate, that seems totally natural to me. I did the same thing throughout middle and high school, also afraid that my outgoing friends who did a million extracurriculars wouldn't understand my quiet online activities and the communities I was a part of. Even today I try to keep a very firm line between one of my online handles and my real name because the entire world doesn't need to know about the fan fiction I write!

    Whether you tell other people about your blog is totally your decision. For your readers here, what's important is that you keep writing heartfelt and authentic posts like this one!

  27. Oh Ari, I'm in tears!!! I heard those same types of things growing up and I'm so sad you are experiencing the same thing. I'm also sad because my children are biracial and I don't want them to go through all that nonsense. It is nonsense. I can't believe you are a super celebrity in the blogosphere and feel like you can't share that part of yourself with your peers. Find a good pack of friends and try not to let the idiots get to you, but I know that is easier said than done. Stay fab, because you are!!!! I want to be you when I grow up. Let me know if you want me to kick some booty for you because I will!!!!

  28. I commented on Twitter (new to twitter and your blog) and I still think this is brave to put this out there. So again, thank you for your perspective. Love that you reference "True Diary of a Part Time Indian," one of my favorites.

    As I digress...as to why I find this awesome (for selfish reasons.) For me this is deeply personal and fairly new. My son is in pre-K and came home several weeks ago calling himself (very proudly) an "Oreo." He then went on to correctly explain the term. 3 and 4 year olds should not be aware of this term, where did it come from? And so it begins.

    Only we're a transracial adoptive family, there is no hiding this. This is such a difficult thing for me, as his mother, I feel it is entirely on my shoulders and that there is absolutely NOTHING I can do about it and I also feel responsible. And while what you wrote about is very different I think this is type of a thing is a label/term that is offensive no matter how you look at it. Anything that excludes or stereotypes can be painful/difficult/energy draining/and sucks. Nobody is a stereotype-we are all individuals who have a right to our own preferences and/or life stories. But no matter what I think. This is something that I have to help my son deal with. I've heard of using humor, um how? I don't know. Maybe you have tips?

    When a CC friend laughed and said you know he has no choice but to grow up to be an "Oreo," because he's never going to know how to "act black." After picking up jaw, I asked her to describe what it meant to "act black." And what came out of her mouth ended our friendship. You are right it is that much more offensive coming from a non-minority.

    -Off topic and only because in this situation I do want to explain, generally I do not feel the need to explain but...um feeling pre-emptive just in case.- We adopted through foster care. I've heard everything from every side. I've had looks, I've had the nasty comments...I get it. We don't have a world we really fit in anymore, and it was OUR choice. My son? He didn't have one. This is something we were well aware of before. But the truth is-he needed someone. Weary of assumptions that I am uniformed on what this means for our son-how this complicates his life-how we aren't prepared, that we are like the ignorant international adoptive parents on TV trying to "save a child," not understanding how damaging that statement alone is...I get some of it. I get that we are clueless in many ways. But I'm learning. I'm trying. What I want to say to the comments from African American strangers/critics- "So help me, it's the only way to help him." Don't reject us because you don't agree. In an ideal world there would be no foster care, and if there were in a less ideal world there would be several African American homes. The "Angelina Jolie" assumptions, the dirty looks, shaking of the head, this all further invalidates and hurts my son- to my son, I'm mom, dad's dad, his sisters are his sisters etc. We are his family. We can't wear the "why our family looks the way we do" on our shirt. I won't tell random stranger at the mall or even close friends the private details of how our son came to our life, nor should I. That is not my story to tell. But the truth is. We were it, there was not an African American family available. To a child who has been through loosing one family and the types of things that bring a child into care-we have a multitude of issues to deal with. This should not be one of them. What is he supposed to think when peers reject him based on assumptions because of how we look as a family? As young as he is my son knows is rejection already. I wish people could understand how painful this can be.

  29. @Briana-I'm glad that you recognize how ridiculous it is. Right, I have a friend who dresses in the punk style and other friends who like alternative music, they are called oreos. It's so frustrating, but you're so right, you love your friends for who they are.

    @Vasilly-At least people know you won't take being called an oreo! I don't come off as very strong/threatening I'm afraid. Too good natured ;)

    I really do feel like I have two seperate lives, more like three. School/social, online life and my political life. I'm thinking in college, if one of my new-friends asks me about all the books I own or something like that, I will tell them. Hopefully, I'll be brave enough, all these comments have really helped.

    @Jenny-Yes! We had this discussion in my Spanish class (I could write a whole other post about that so I tried to steer around the topic), who decides what's proper English and what's not? Exactly, which is more suitable for the situation and many minorities learn that black vernacular or speaking spanish, etc. is ok in a group with your friends of the same cultural background, but even with white friends, you speak standard American English. Nitpick away!

    @Lyn-Thank you for reading it and not thinking less of me. At least we both found outlets! Being a DJ would be so cool :) I'm enjoying high school, but I do think college will be better.

    @Shveta- Thank YOU for commenting and encouraging me, it means a lot :D

    @Maggie-Most of "black" English is down South English, not all of it, but most if it. It's so wrong and thank you for being bothered by it, many people just don't care.

    Thank you! I really like it too =)

    @DePizan-I completely agree that you should be able to enjoy anything that is good and you like, regardless of cultural background. Great comment, thank you.

  30. @Shalonda-First, congratulations girl! You looked gorgeous :D

    Wow out of 2000 students you were the FIRST Black cheerleader? That's crazy, good for you though! I get tired of explaining that no I don't feel like tanning and no I don't need to wash my hair and absolutely NO getting my hair wet. haha

    And who cares about the accent? I'm glad you've found acceptance and that's my thinking, in college you are surrounded mostly by people who WANT to be there and make something of themselves. I'm still developing my thick skin but comments like yours and the others, really help so thank you :)

    @biblauragraphy-That's what I hope to do get people thinking by sharing my own experiences, it just takes a little while for me to post them. I've been thinking about this post for months.

    @Zetta-Thank you, I love it too, can't stop staring =) That's the main theme from these comments: Do you, I'm getting there. Your honesty on your blog helped inspire me in writing this post.

    @Ronni-Yay we're facebook friends officail! ;) I really don't but if we had more honest leaders, that would be cool. That's not something I really think about but you're right, many of the people who call me an oreo I probably won't ever see any of them. Thank you, why does the Black community do this to each other? Calling people oreos, putting more accpetance on those who are light skinned and have good hair? It's baffling. *accepts hug*

    @Tarie-Yay hugs! *returns hug* Thank you for talking the time to comment

  31. @Nathalie-I think rants can be very useful, not sure how much mine are, but I always have something to rant about :) Thank you for being one of my friends who is there for me to rant to! Sometimes I worry that I can be too honest and I tone my stuff down, but then I think that toning my posts down doesn't help anyone, including myself so I just put it out there.

    I love your way with words; a mosica. Lovely. I don't understand how people can only like one particular type of music, there's so much beautiful sound out there. =D

    @anachronist-Thank you!

    @Angela-Life's unfair and it could be worse. I'm lucky to only have to deal with these issues. I'm here for my readers and if I stop being honest than I'm doing them a disservice, so you're right. It really shouldn't matter if I keep my online and real life seperate. What you do online is your business, I want to tell some of my friends but I don't feel that I can. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

    @Jeanine-*hugs* I love you, thank you for always being ready to throw down for me!

    My hope is that by the time your children grow up, these terms will be used less and less. It is especially hard for mixed children I think. But you are a great, strong mother and I'm sure your children will be fine, give them all the advice you give me! It's so encouraging.

    LOL definitely not a super celebrity, just one of many many great book bloggers.

    @Anon-Your comment was the last straw so tp speak, I started crying. It's ok to be selfish in this case.

    I HATE that a 3-4 year old knows what an oreo is, that's so wrong.

    It's not your fault, I know that some parents have expressed that they think it's their fault their child is being teased because of race. Good for you for taking a child in need into your home and loving him. That's all that matters.

    Definitely check out this website, http://mamacandtheboys.com/ the woman who runs it is amazing; she's a great writer. She has a young kids in a transracial family.

    I really don't have any tips, I'm still trying to figure it all out myself. My advice: use the Internet. Thank goodness for the Internet because it puts so many resources at your fignertips. Surround your child with positive images of himself (multicultural literature), that will help. Once he's older, you will have to be patient and explain to him that he is going to through some silly and hurtful stuff because he is a Black man.

    You're not clueless because you're actually trying, just let the haters hate (I need to take my own advice ;)

    Thank you for speaking out and understanding. You get it. I really wish that your son wouldn't facethat kind of rejection, it's unbelievabely unfair. All you can really do is love him and teach him to be proud of his transracial background.

    I hope this helped in some way. I'll look for other resources if you need them, let me know :)

  32. Thank you for responding :)

    I think what I meant was that the general feeling we get here in Britain is that race is a much bigger issue in the US than it is over here. Of course, we still have to battle with racist attacks happening but, overall, the biggest 'segregation' is class.

    We have the rich and middle class, (made up of different races), the working class (different races), and then the ... well, non-working class (People who are usually regarded as 'chavs', etc.).

    We've just had a general election which has put our country into so much danger. As you probably know, and as I said, our country was affected badly by the Conservatives running Parliament (what with the mines and factories closing, etc.). Then in 1997, the Labour party came and rescued the 'poor, working man' and people of a lower class started to get the attention they deserved.

    Last month's general election brought about a 'hung parliament' - but it ended in the Conservatives coming back to power again (our new PM is conservative).

    This isn't a good thing. :S We're screwed as a country.

    I think what I'm trying to say is, it seems that Class seems to play a prominent role in our society - Kind of like the way race issues seem to play a prominent role over there.

    I guess the race issues we have here at the moment is, because of the lack of jobs, there's a lot of racism amongst the working classes towards immigrants. The idea is that immigrants are coming and "stealing our jobs for less money" (which is utter crap). As a result, that's one of the main issues we're having to deal with lately.

  33. I never learned how to double dutch, and when I tell people I am from New York, some assume Upstate NY, (because I talk proper, I guess) and I turned in my hip hop/rap knownledge card in a long time ago. Actually,it was revoked

    But even with all that, no one has ever called me outside of who I am. I don't know how I would react.

    And that whole a person should only lesson to a certain type of music because of their race is BS.

    I still have my Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill CD from High School.

    Ari - Thanks for starting this discussion

  34. @Ceri-That makes sense and I completely agree. I've always gotten the feeling that race is a bigger deal in the U.S. than in Britan, in most countries the main issue divider is class, but often times (especially in the U.S.) class and race can seem to go hand-in-hand.

    I don't think you're screwed, the British people are determined. My sympathies though, our U.S. political system is ridiculous right now (Tea Party!). Britan's elections are interesting, the U.S. needs to follow your example and have a shorter election cycle. I do wish the Labour party had won though (not that I know much about the four parties).

    I remember reading an article about Gordon Brown and the lady who visted being afraid of all the immigrants. That was troubling. But the U.S. is facing the same problem (at least you guys aren't trying to deny people born in your country to undcomunted parents their citenzship.) The world is so messed up

  35. @Doret-Haha I'm reinstating your rap/hip hop card! I mean, what gives people the right to judge you and "revoke your 'black/latino etc. card"? Jeez.

    Good for you! I never understood why it's not cool for a Black person to listen to rock music or a Latina to like metal, etc. why put limitations on people?

  36. I'd like to echo all the supportive stuff people have said here, and add a yay for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Awesome book!

  37. Thanks for the link-going there as soon as I'm done and for responding so quickly and that night when I thought about it, it made me cry too. I should have explained (but it was already so long) I don't think any of those 3-4 year olds fully appreciated what they were saying, but they got that word somewhere and they used it correctly. This is a painful reality. These children are of all races and socio/economic situations, one of the reasons I chose this pre-K. And even though E-man correctly explained to me "its cause I'm white inside just like the cookie!" with a giggle-it took my breath away. I don't know how funny he'll find it when he's older? I don't want him to find it funny but I also don't want anything like this to have power or hurt him. After a few minutes and asking several adults, most of which told me to laugh it off, one said to me. But aren't we all the same color inside? Just tell him that. Well DUH! I felt like a moron. So I explained to him that Oreo is not a nice word. I told him that everyone is the same color inside. We went online and I showed him diagrams of internal anatomy online and he was happy with that explanation. I used the cliche that if I cut you your blood is red, if I cut me my blood is red, our skin protects our body and everyone has different colors on the outside but it's who we are that matters. Then I spoke with administration (who were horrified) but after the teachers talked to the kids I'm fairly certain it gave the word more power to their 3 and 4 year old little minds because it came up again...I'm rambling.

    Point is that I agree with you all of those names are offensive for all of the reasons you and other's pointed out. And this is something our son will deal with. I think that right now? It was easy.

    My son-he's amazing. Your post had me emotional and I have a hard time expressing this responsiblity/guilt to do right for him. As informed as I can make myself there are parts of his experience I simply don't have in my repretoire-I am made up of my life experience that is going to be very different then my son. Skin color is just one of these differences. The sad reality-you know this-in our world, and I hope things are changing it matters to way too many. As a black man-he's going to have to deal with a whole lot of ignorance. It's nice that some people are "colorblind" but until the world around us is that way-we have to deal. And as this is already so long I don't even want to go there about how stupid this notion is that people aren't judging based on race anymore? I used to be one of those people so...anyway. Quickly learned I'd been naive and also feel strongly that If I show my son I ignore racism it can deeply hurt him. Reading about how to parent a child in theory is different having to deal with situations on the spot. This blog entry of yours was a EUREKA moment. Also books-I adore books. I love the whole premise of your blog. Thank you :) it's a great way to understand things on a personal level.

    And you're right let the haters hate yet there is this mamma bear in me that is like but "hate me-but don't you dare let your hate hurt my son!" And I'm not sure if this is going to do any good-other then making me angry and show my son how to be angry? Must be a better way.

    -thanks again-

  38. I just want to echo everyone elses sentiments. You are amazingly self-aware and thoughtful. It is freaking awesome that we have a person like you in the world. And this was so brave of you. I think it's cool of you to forge your own space for identity, even if you're not ready to share that with your real life friends.

    I want to look at Ceri's comments about the UK being different from the US in terms of race, but I'm wary of derailing your discussion or getting into a degrees of suffering type of debate. So I guess I'll just say I think class and race intersect a lot here (although I'm not denying there's also a big, white working class who are struggling)and that a kind of class geography applies to a lot of our country that is then further split along racial lines. So there are poor areas which contain a lot of white working class and poor areas that contain a majority of black, or asian working class. Also the media is, in my opinion, rather selective about the stories of working class struggle that they tell and the geographical areas they visit when they want to tell this kind of story.

  39. I'm absolutely amazed by how you handle the idiotic names.

    I have a comment about the last part of your post. As a Latina, I just wanted to state that we are not a race. We are an ethnicity. Our culture including the language, music, food, nationalities, etc. is what makes us Latina.

    Coming from a different point-of-view I can see how not knowing the language, etc. can push Latinos away. Knowing the different parts of our culture is what makes us...us. Not the different skin tones. That's why there are Black and White Latinos. But, they are called Latino because they grew up with the culture.

    As a Latina (My mom is from Cuba. My dad is from Spain. I speak Spanish and English fluently. I was also raised in a predominately Latino-occupied American city: Miami, Florida), I have constantly (usually to people not raised in a "Latina" home) had to bring people to the fact that we are not a race. Being part-Latina doesn't make you multiracial.

    I hope you don't take this comment as hostile. Thank you for the insight on these idiotic name calling. I think it's a complete shame that being

  40. (I cut off my own comment)

    I think it's a complete shame that being educated, listening to different types of music, and speaking proper grammar is considered 'White.' And that people have the audacity to call someone out when they are the ones being ignorant.

  41. Great post! I'm sorry to hear that you're being called "oreo." I'm African American and when I was in high school, I hung out with mostly white kids because I was in the honors classes and few minorities were in the classes with me. I was never called "oreo" but I did feel sometimes like I was being judged for not being stereotypically black. When I went to college, someone saw the pictures of my friends on the wall and asked me where my black friends were. So ignorant.

    Good for you for writing about this and spreading the word that names like these are unacceptable.

  42. I know this is more than two months after you originally posted this, but I just came across this tonight and had to comment about the one and only time I'd been called "Americanized."

    Let me put this into context: I'm Black, American, ancestors were slaves in this country, the last ancestor that I know of who immigrated to America was from Ireland (a long time ago). All my grandparents were born in America, as were my great-grandparents, and probably all my great-great grandparents too (unless one of those was the one that came from Ireland). The Black guy who called me this was also American. (Though I don't know his entire background, I don't remember him mentioning that his people were from anywhere other than Mississippi.)

    Does this confound anyone's mind but mine?

    Americanized. I really don't understand.

    Anyway, love this blog!

  43. I'm of multi-cultural blood myself. Predominantly I'm African-American but I also have Native American and Asian in my family. The sad thing about me is that I wasn't accepted not because I talked articulate, not because I preferred rock music to rap, not because I chose to wear DCs and band tees and not wear hip-hop fashion (don't get me wrong they contributed) but I never got accepted because of how I looked.

    I have light skin that is actually indescribable in pigment, the "good" pretty,wavy coal black hair that ISN'T long and flowing down my back, with slanted looking eyes with the hour glass figure. Often I get the question of "What are you?" when people first met me. A few of my closest friends told me they thought I was Mexican upon first meeting me. I've gotten everything from being confused with Puerto Rican to having South Asian in me. The fact that I never fit the mold in looks or personality wise people from where I live at never knew how to take me. Needless to say it was always pretty lonely for me.

    Recently my mother called me an oreo and said I wasn't "ghetto enough". I asked her "What was there to be proud of in being considered ghetto?" and she had to agree that I had a point. I always say that when you're a POC you have to face racism from both sides. From white people and from your own kind if you don't feed into a stereotype. It's sad.

    Not all is bad though I've seen recently that more and more people like me are starting to come out and stand up to the stereotypes saying "I can like rock music and still be proud of my heritage." I hope to see more of this in the future. I was happy to share my experience with this issue and its so nice to see that I'm not the only one thinking this way. I hope this continues to open peoples eyes because nowadays too many of them are keeping them closed.

  44. I tend to call myself an invisible minority--I'm half-Chinese and half-white (Norwegian and Scottish), but look predominately white (although not at all like the stereotypical Norwegian or Scott), making me look like part of the majority, but actually being in some small little minority (if you can call Caucasian/Asians a minority).
    Because of this, there tends to be a disconnect between how I am treated and what my actual race is. It's shameful, but I actually told everyone in my kindergarten class that I was completely white (which they all automatically assumed, of course) because I thought no one would believe that I was half-Chinese.
    I've had people who seem to think I'm "pretending to be Asian" just because a lot of my friends are Asian, I bring dinner leftovers for lunch to school and eat them with chopsticks because it comes naturally (and I really really hate eating noodles with a spoon), I know my way around Chinatown and T&T, I have a bit of sore spot when it comes to Asian rights (my great grandparents came over during the Chinese head tax), we celebrate Chinese New Year fairly elaborately, etc. It's not that I don't like the way I look, but I find that because of that people don't respect my Asian heritage. My class is a bit under half Asian and the rest are white, and I've had people tell me "you wouldn't understand because you're white", and even some of my close friends were really surprised to discover that I knew how to use chopsticks or that I had a Chinese name.
    I feel that racism goes both ways--of course, generally its been the invading white people have held greater power and so it has been the PoC who have been more commonly surpressed, but I also feel that white people are automatically assumed to be ignorant, redneck and racist. Which yes, they have acted like that in the past, but that does not me that I am that.
    Racial identity has always been a bit of a confusing point for me. Its very straightforwards for lots of people, but when it comes to people of mixed ethnicity, the stereotypes don't hold for them, causing people are confused about how to treat people like me. Except at home, I always feel like I'm either being looked upon like a white or an Asian. Society appears to very keen on this categorizing thing; either this or that... its absolutely inconceivable that you could be both. Which is sort of depressing, because I believe that the amount of people of mixed ethnicity is a good measure of the multiculturalism of a country: how much people of different races are accepting each other and living together in harmony.
    There was a survey that I had to complete once for a volunteer club which asked for your racial background and gave a list of options and fine print which instructed you to only choose ONE. I found that survey very hurtful in how it completely disregarded biracial people, and seemed to imply that there was a high degree of racial segregation and so no people of mixed ethnicity could possibly exist.
    I am very proud of my mixed roots, but I just wish that the world would be more accepting of them. I suppose the growing population of mixed race people is something that can be considered vaguely new, but I don't believe that gives society an excuse to overlook us or try to push us into one box or another.
    I'm sorry for my overly long ranting comment, but your post brought up some interesting notions and I just had in butt in with some of my own issues which then trailed off into this completely unrelated ramble.

  45. The idea that you're not Latino/a because you don't speak Spanish is pretty stupid, since Spanish comes from Spain and not Latin America. (That's why I refuse to speak Spanish and won't be teaching it to my kids, if I have any in the future).

    1. LOL! And English is??? That is really consistent thinking.

  46. Thank you for this informative and sensitive post.

  47. So what do you call a white that acts hispanic?


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