What I (Used to) Have in Common with Senator Tim Scott — and Why Black People Too Should be Anti-Racist
I used to get called an “Oreo” regularly. It’s an offensive term that a lot of white people don’t realize is offensive. It means that a person can look Black on the outside, but on the inside everything about the person is white cultured — speech, dress, where you live, who you love, etc. I hated that term, but I hated it because people weren’t entirely wrong. Let me explain.
My parents are from Ghana, West Africa. I was born and raised in the U.S. and we lived in a small town called Palmyra, PA, right next to Hershey, PA. It was a 98% white town. I was the only Black person in my high school senior class, and almost always the only Black person in every grade. All my friends were white. All the guys I dated were white. Everything I learned in school was white-washed. I was living in segregation and didn’t realize it. I was completely immersed into white culture. I wanted straight hair. I wanted mixed babies. I had thought about bleaching my skin from time to time. It really was as if I was the vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate like a Magnum ice cream bar.
I knew absolutely nothing about Black American culture. But as a Black girl in America, I still had my own unique experience of what it meant to be Black in America. I knew when someone was being racist. I knew when someone didn’t like me because of my dark skin color. I didn’t have the terminology growing up, but I knew the difference between a microaggression and flat out racism. I felt all of it, every time. But rather than address it, I buried it, and I internalized it. Then something strange started to happen: I started to believe the racist things that I heard. I was told from white people that I “wasn’t like other Black people,” because I was African. I wanted so desperately to distance myself from the racism I was experiencing, that I held on to that lie and developed a false sense of superiority because of my closeness to whiteness. I was developing Stockholm Syndrome — a psychological response when an abuse victim or hostage starts to bond with their oppressor over time as a coping mechanism to deal with the abuse, and in hopes that bond will make the abuse stop.