‘You’re white’–The Cultural Struggle of Ethnic Stereotypes

Samory Senh

Oreo, possibly the most blatant term utilized to describe an African-American who does not fit the stereotype or more importantly, an African-American who behaves “white.” Sure, when said jokingly, I can jump up and down and giggle in amusement, but it has to stop.

Although I am an American, I tend to find myself bound to the European pillars adopted by my heritage. My mother was raised in Paris, France with my Uncle Jean-Claude (not Van-Damme). Both had spent a good portion of their lives in a Catholic boarding school, in which was at the time predominately caucasian. I spent my childhood listening to artists like Pavarotti and Hans Zimmer, admiring the prowess and class portrayed in their work. I relished that of Zinedine Zidane and Sebastien Chabal, eventually became obsessed with thrillers and cinematography, and literature.

Apparently, this classifies me as an Oreo and I’ve actually managed to avoid certain racial incidents because I did not classify as an African-American amongst my peers. Re-read that bullshit and know that you read it correctly.

Understand that my upbringing in the United States was rather conflicting in terms of race. Who knew that pigmentation could generate so much drama. Regardless, I was never confused about my identity. I’m black, I’m proud to be black and I too have suffered at the hands of discrimination no doubt.

Today I hung out with an old friend who happens to be black as well. We’ll call him Q. Q and I went off on politics and social controversies. We transitioned from civil rights to police brutality to inequality, but our conversation came to an abrupt end when this piece of trash flung out of his mouth, “But Sam, why do you care, you’re white af (as fu*ck).”

“Prejudice sucks” Illustration: Samory Senh

I had to pause before searching my arsenal for a word equivalent to receiving a face full of foot. I didn’t find jack, so I casually replied, “No, I’m black you obtuse butt-crack.” I didn’t call him an obtuse butt-crack, but you get the point.

Apparently, I didn’t realize that there was a certain checklist you had to meet before considering yourself African-American. In fact, what is it that makes you an African-American? Is it your hairline and your style of clothing? is it the food you eat or way you speak? Do you have to be exceptionally athletic and inarticulate?

Sometimes I think of every African-American I’ve seen in a film, how they are portrayed, and their significance in the story. The stereotype doesn’t really venture off into a realm of positivity. Now let’s run back to 2008 for a minute. I want you to understand that Joe Biden said, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.” Surely it wasn’t intentional, he just wanted to portray President Obama in a positive light, but this practically summarizes the stereotype on African-Americans and it’s absurd.

Understand that neither your skin tone nor gender should define you in any way and I pray that someday the negative stereotypes bestowed upon individuals vanish. For the sake of our nation and our legacy, society must change.

So please, think twice before using a stereotype to define someone even if it is a joke. I don’t want to burst your bubble, but there is nothing more beautiful than an individual. So do the world a favor and cut that crap out.