As a young black woman from a very early age, many of us question our identities. “Was that too black?” “Am I not speaking black enough?” but what do all these things mean? There is a massive stigma behind the word “Oreo”, which is what many black people are labelled as for being well spoken, listening to indie music predominately produced by white music artists or having certain mannerisms that people would associate with being “white”.
On numerous occasions ignorance, has hindered many people from knowing that just because a black woman does not portray herself as a stereotypical “sassy black woman”. Which is the way in which they are presented in many films. A prime example of this is Dione in 90’s cult film Clueless, although this film is an absolute classic and in my top ten list of best films, Dionne is not only portrayed as a stereotypical black girl for example she accuses her boyfriend of adultery with a female named “Shawana”, which is a name generally associated with being an aggressive black woman in many urban films.
Just because black women act in a certain way it doesn’t mean they’re trying to dissociate with their culture and black women should be able to act in whatever way they want without being labelled. Black women come in all shapes and sizes, just like white women and this is one thing that is constantly reinforced at University Of The West Of England’s Feminist society. They encourage people of all different ages, gender and backgrounds to join. During a discussion at one of our meetings, the subject of things black women were constantly questioned about came up in conversation. Something that caught my attention was a statement a student made at the meeting. “For me as a young black woman I’ve noticed that numerous amounts of men will approach me and say “you’re pretty for a black girl”. Being a black woman doesn’t separate you from the rest of the world, black girls need to understand they are not beautiful in spite of their black skin and culture, but they’re beautiful because of it.
During an amazing performance of spoken word about race, identity and how black girls are categorised and called “too white”. Ernestine Johnson stated “They say I’m not the average black girl because I speak with so much class and I have too much but just enough ass”, she goes on to say “You don’t want to come across as one of those average black girls who come across rude”. Through this powerful speech she portrayed the everyday struggles of a black woman, this shocked the audience as they soon learned to discover the complexity of a black girl and the fact that they shouldn’t be branded the “average black girl”.
Indeed, the stereotype of a black woman being loud, rude and full of attitude is still one that is believed in our society, but a black woman refusing to conform to this does not mean that she is separating from her black culture and should be labelled an “oreo”, but it simply means every black woman has her own identity.
Written by Rema Mukena