Speak Up: Responding to Everyday Bigotry

What Can I Do About In-Group Bigotry?

'You're So White'

From a 20-year-old African American college student in South Carolina: "I've been called an 'Oreo' all my life: 'Oh, you're black on the outside, but you're white on the inside.' Or, 'You're so white.'"

A black high school student in Pennsylvania wears braids to school. Sitting in the cafeteria, some other black students speak loudly about her: "She really thinks she's black now." The student says she often is called "too white" by other blacks.

Some Native Americans share stories of being accused of being "too native" by their peers, as do some Latinos who say other Latinos have accused them of being "too ethnic." Similarly, many gay students speak about being perceived as "too feminine" or "too queer" by other gays.

Affirm your pride. "I'm proud to be African American, always have been, always will be."

Respond with questions. Challenge in-group stereotypes the same way you would cross-group stereotypes: "What does that mean — 'too' ethnic? I don't understand what you mean." Or, "Where does 'too ethnic' begin and 'not ethnic enough' end?"

Get to the root of it. Many in-group slights are actually extensions of racist and sexist stereotypes. Point out that accusations of being "too feminine" or "too gay" support and promote sexism and homophobia. Anything that hurts or marginalizes one member of a group hurts or marginalizes all members of that group.