Enigma Weekend Edition: 'Oreo' by Savannah Schickel
By Savannah Schickel
I miss the days when junk food could pass
Through my stomach like a train without brakes
When I was a kid I gobbled enough gobstoppers
To finance my dentist’s Mercedes
And chewed enough chocolate ‘till my face exploded
In a collage of pimples
Like pepperoni pizza.
Because who needs middle school crushes when you’ve got Hershey kisses?
The art of snacking was always carefree
Until I had my first Oreo.
There I was swallowing them whole
While the other kids would twist them apart
Licking off the brown shell like used Kleenexes.
Stacie said, “The white part just tasted better.”
The irony of all this is that my mother used to say
“You are what you eat,”
But the first time someone called me an Oreo
Made nothing about my skin feel sweet.
When somebody tells you
That you aren’t really black
They’ll smile a shade of importance
And expect you to wear their words like a medal.
They expect you to cling to these words
As if their bigature is the closest your hands will ever come
To touching white privilege.
When someone calls you an Oreo
They’ll hit the emergency ejection button on their throat
And force a laugh that assures you
That you’d be a fool to be offended
Because this is how they thank you
For not forcing them to swallow the parts of you
That don’t sit right in their stomachs,
In their suburbs,
In their supremacies.
“Stacie, thank you for showing me that you don’t have to call me a dog,
To make me feel like you’re my owner.”
You-- you are the reason I can’t raise my hand in the lecture hall
Without feeling like a traitor to my own complexion,
As if the only way I can kick start my career
Is to stand on the free-throw line.
She called me an Oreo
Because I was the first shade of brown
She hadn’t seen on the O’Reilly Show.
I was the first shade of brown
She hadn’t gotten served to her
In a Starbucks cup and white washing,
White washing is adding creamer to your coffee
Because you’ve become so dependent on artificial sweetener
So it’s easier to swallow.
Because you love the caffeine but
You can’t stand how bitterly the blackness binds
To your tongue.
But forgive me for refusing to sugarcoat my skin,
For whenever you need a pick me up.
Your compliments are as hollow as a paper mache smile.
I refuse to shake hands with someone
Who thinks my hands should be in cuffs.
Blackness is not something we abandon
The moment we grow too large to fit your television screen.
I will never ever stay silent in a world that expects me to leap
At my own ancestry
Just to earn its acceptance.
Acceptance means more than looking for a mirror in someone else,
What makes you think the best we can be is a reflection of you.
So pardon my French,
But forget you and your Oreo, Klondike, York bars, and Peppermint Patties.
Stop calling us candy.
You’re feeding us empty calories
And they will never fill us.
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