The Oreo Effect: The Conflicting Identity of Being Black in a Western State

Yesterday I wrote about having seemingly conflicted identities in my previous post “You Don’t Seem Black“; being an Oreo and having to  balance the scale my Blackness. W.E B. Du Bois writes in his book “The Souls Of Black Folk” about the concept of a double consciousness. It can be defined in  Du Bois’ experiences as reconciling his African heritage with an upbringing in a European-dominated society.

This concept is important because it describes taking on multiple identities successfully. The above uses the example of the concept in terms of women within a working patriarchal society, but I can be applied in many other ways as well. In terms of what I was describing in my previous post, I used the example of academia and wanting to go to university, but had resistance from my parents. The concept in this way can be fully more wholly describes by Nicole Johnson in her video below.

Ultimately, she pushes for the possibility of redefining the double consciousness to adapt to current situations. DuBois wrote during a time of post slavery; Johnson is arguing during a time of realized inter-sectioned identity.



(image  used from )


What are your thoughts? Comment below on your experiences with balancing different identities in your life.


5 thoughts on “The Oreo Effect: The Conflicting Identity of Being Black in a Western State

  1. Leave Her Wild,

    Thanks for writing this- I really enjoyed your insightful post.

    Although my double-consciousness is a different experience than yours, I can definitely relate to DuBois’ concept.
    Growing up as a first-generation Canadian, I do at times feel the pull between my identity as Canadian and my European heritage. Even though Canada is a country that was founded on European ideals, I often feel that my upbringing was different in important ways from growing up in Canada.

    In my family, it would be normal to have lively debates, which would often lead to very loud voices talking over one another, but might seem like pandemonium to others. I remember at a very young age, not understanding why my friends at school would think I was being rude, when I would not lie or how I could not catch on that a ‘yes’ could mean a ‘no’. Even these subtle difference in cultural values can cause confusion.

    It took me many years and I still do grapple with ‘how I should act’. Should I follow what ‘society’ tells us to do here, perhaps ideas that contradict with values of the other part of myself and what I feel is my cultural background.

    In the end though, I agree being aware of our identities and using that to our advantage instead of letting it box us in, to carve our unique path is the only way for progression.

    A Tribe Called Quest said it well:
    How far must I go to gain respect? Um
    Well, it’s kind of simple, just remain your own
    Or you’ll be crazy sad and alone


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, thanks for sharing. I can definitely relate to having to adapt mannerism at risk of being seen as rude rather than just to the point (this is huge for both sides of my family).

      I love how you are embracing your identity now too!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Good post that calls for reflection on how society acts toward others. I grew up in Brazil, a country that has different cultures and backgrounds, first colonized by Portugal but received people from other European countries as well as Japan, Africa and Middle East.

    Liked by 1 person

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