Africans: The Gray Area of Black V. White

Africa did give us giraffes - my favorite!! So I guess it's not all bad.

As an Oreo, it’s hard to know what to do with Africans. On one hand, they’re black, so spending time with them totally makes you look like an RBP. On the other hand, thanks to massive amounts of colonization, they’re kind of Europeany.

I was having brunch with an African friend (carefully, of course) and came up with this list of tips for hanging out with your friends from The Dark Continent.

1. Use the Proper Greeting. When meeting at the Marina or in Silverlake for brunch, be sure to say hello properly. A handshake may be too formal and a hug suggests a bit too much familiarity. Instead, opt for the double cheek to cheek kiss. This indicates that while you look like two regular black people, you definitely don’t act like them.

2. Sport Boarding School Sweaters. Most of my friends from Africa went to fancy pantsy boarding schools away from their home towns. These institutions fill their students heads with multiple languages and soccer rules of play. Tell your brunch date that it would be fun to swap school stories and sweaters so that both of you arrive in uniform. Normally a school full of of color kids shows up on very special shows like Dateline NBC and in Tyler Perry movies. No one want to go to those schools! But with the two of your preptastic v-necks proudly on display, heads will definitely turn…toward you and not to the exit.

3. If you Must Talk about “Africa,” Do So Like It’s One Big Country. Demonstrating an understanding of the fact that the continent of Africa is bigger than the US, China and Europe combined  and contains extremely distinct ethnic groups as divergent as the Berbers are from the Zulu will make you look really ethno-centric. Awkward! If you must talk about issues related to the origin of the diaspora, don’t make distinctions between Zimbabwe and Zaire, South Africa and Morocco, Congo and Cameroon. Also, don’t use the word “diaspora.”

4. Order Quiche. And maybe a mimosa. And perhaps a tartin of some sort. Definitely no chicken.

5. Refer to the other rules for extra protection:

What do you think? Do Africans count as Oreos? And if there are any Africans in the audience, what are theRBP of Africa like? How do you set yourselves apart?

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8 comments

  1. Honestly… It doesn’t matter.
    If you go to Crustacean or Amadine or wherever enough that everyone knows you, you just just waltz in, have a drink at the bar and get a table.
    Those waiting to be seated will wonder who you are and they will be more worried about impressing you than you have to worry about impressing them.

      1. I find it a little sinister that you are selling us this product of being an oreo, but you are fraternizing with f**ing Africans! Why did you go to brunch with a BP let alone a f**ing African!?!

  2. so, you slept with an African guy? Is that allowed as an Oreo? Are they cultured like Americans or running around in leaves? THERE IS PLENTY YOU ARE NOT TELLING US!!! DETAILS PLEASE! (:

  3. There ARE occasions when one spots a Double-Stuffed Oreo.
    (When two Oroes meet)
    Sure, these may look like regular Oroes but there is a double dose of whiteness.
    (Which is a common sighting on blogs frequented by many Blacks who are accustomed to being ‘The Only One” under most conditions.)

  4. Pretty sad comments here.

    Interesting post. I’m African (a very loose term but going with the flow). You raise some good points. Ultimately, it all really comes down to socio-economics and degrees of exposure and appreciation to different things.

    Yes, there are distinctions between the Africans you speak of and African RBP. But these distinctions do not carry the same “oreo” baggage as they do between so called Oreos and RBP here in the US. Generally speaking, African elites are still very ethnically cultured. And African RBP for the most part aspire to achieve the same levels of exposure, reach, and access as the elites.

    Africans are often referred to as Oreos in the US solely because the majority of Americans who would share their same socio- economic background and exposure tend to be white. So, with the exception of skin colour and racism, Africans’ frames of reference and outlook are be closer white peoples, or other similar immigrant groups.

    In Africa, the term Oreo, and indeed the thinking behind it is almost non existent, and where it exists, it bears little significance. Being the world’s most ethnically diverse continent, there are are many more areas of distinction that matter to folk in Africa.

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