Being a "Oreo": A personal reflection
Growing up in Greenwood, Mississippi, I was seen as an " Oreo" because my worldview was Caucasian. For those of you that do not know the defintion of an "Oreo", it is a term for a African American who identifies with the Caucasian culture (Black on the outside, White on the inside). When my late father taught at the University of Florida, we lived in a integrated area close to the University. However, many of the children that I grew up with were Caucasian. In 1978, we moved to Mississippi, where my late father landed a position at Mississippi Valley State University.
When I attended Greenwood High School, I was actually percieved to be " acting white" by my African American classmates and teachers. At the time, my worldview was shaped by my late father who was West Indian. Many African Americans think that West Indians and Africans are not considered Black. However, I was seen as one who accepted the mainstream culture. As a result, I did not associate with them on social grounds. As a ninth grader, I was told by one of my African American teachers that I needed to stay in my place. In other words, I was told to be an " obedient darky".
Attending a historically African American institution, did make me aware of my cultural heritage because I could identify with my heritage. As I stated in a previous essay, I became pro African American, when I went to graduate school at a predominately Caucasian institution. To state, I ended up having to switch codes when dealing with both cultures.
Today, my outlook is actually African American because I actually live in a predominately African American neighborhood. Also, I am afilliated with several African American organizations. On the issue of dating, I date primarily African American women. In other words, I actually am in the mainstream African American culture in the community that I reside in.