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Oreo Enough

[Sent: March 26, 2022]

Growing up, I went to predominately white schools, which consisted of children with straight hair and blue eyes. In high school, the hallways were littered with insecurity and immaturity. I possessed some of these traits: straightened hair (from a relaxer), low self-esteem, and the obliviousness of my youth. Before high school, my older cousin and I would have long discussions about how to survive the four years I had ahead. Being called an Oreo became something to avoid, and yet it happened two months into my first year of high school.

Education systems allow a limited amount of time for teachers to educate students about slavery and Martin Luther King in English classes (I don’t remember learning about this in History class haha-ahhh).

However, the present-day microaggressions that students of colour absorb from white students was not involved in any conversation, in or outside of the classroom. Although it’s so important to acknowledge the history, I think that moving forward can be difficult without noticing what is going on around us right now.

Oreo: A black person who is said to "act white" because of the way they dress, talk, or act. - Urban Dictionary ;)

At a vulnerable time when we were all trying to fit in, I was perceived as being black on the outside and white on the inside.

From 2013-2014 I attempted a Major in Psychology at Carleton University. Among my courses was a Women’s & Gender Studies class that challenged my ideas of how we are represented and treated in society. This course was awakening and slapped me in my face a couple of times. In one of the classes, we watched a documentary by Chris Rock called Good Hair. That sinking feeling appeared, the one where we know we are about to internalize a deep thought that we filed away and labelled as “confidential.” In a bowl of milk, I was the last bit of Nesquik cereal leftover. I was the one damaging my hair to assimilate. I was the one inhaling toxic fumes to be beautiful. I sank in my seat, hoping no one would notice my relaxed hair in its ponytail state.

Many of us are still trying to figure out where we fit in. By now it may seem as though we should have outgrown that feeling by now. It takes time to cultivate a theory of who we think we are, of our truest likes and dislikes. Eventually we may stop relaxing our hair or we may continue to do so, both are whatever. It can be painful to think of our past selves but it’s also heartwarming to know that our intentions were of trial and error.

Someone I met at a BIPOC LBGTQIA+ writing workshop reached out and had asked me to submit a piece about my experience in high school as a black person, and I was touched to submit a summarized version of today’s newsletter. There were moments in writing this where I discovered that I could embrace these parts of myself that hold what kind of a human I once was.

*kiss sound* *kiss sound*

Tiffany Unsociably High

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