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A Definition and Explanation

March 24, 2009

The Oreo Experience or: A Total Whitey in a Black Chick’s Body

Oreo – Slang: Black on the outside….white on the inside.

My grandparents have really cool recessive genes for black people. They have this rich, dark skin with bright blue eyes.

I also have an interesting recessive gene for black people: the one that makes me love Renaissance Fairs, Kristen Chenowith and dressage competitions.

This blog is dedicated to that existence.

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Your Acceptable Black Friend

January 27, 2014

So, I have some news. I have a new friend. She’s… Black.

And I’m not talking about just another card-carrying, flag-waving Oreo. She’s no RBP, but she downloaded Beyonce’s secret album the other week. Whatever. It’s no big deal. She filled out the application. And so now we have coffee every now and then.

Obviously when making a new black friend it’s important to be careful. Get too many of you together and it looks like you’re trying to stage a revival of The Color Purple.

And sure, she does like theater, but if we stage any production, it will probably be a revival of Proof. I’ll be playing the mathematical formula. It’ll be pretty groundbreaking.

Yes, there are some obvious risks with consorting with other Of Colors, but there are actually a couple of plusses as well. Tread carefully enough and you can still be a very special snowflake, but your new pal might just become a friend with some benefits.

She’ll have lotion.

Your Acceptable Black Friend probably doesn’t spend as much time trying to deny her countenance as you do. Because of that, she totally accepts that sometimes, said countenance gets ashy. White people can live without lotion forever. If their skin is dry, all they have to deal with is a distracting itch that can lead to cracks in the skin and possible infection.

What they don’t have to deal with is the embarrassing trail of chalky, flaky, white streak on brown skin if they dare scratch. (Meditation classes on ignoring discomfort are starting up again in a couple of weeks. PM me for deets).

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

I’d take the infection if it means that a simple itch didn’t draw attention to my Hamish curse. This leads to wishful thinking which leads to not buying lotion which leads to having to wear long pants all winter.

But your ABF probably just “accepts” that she gets ashy. So she’ll buy lotion. Which you can borrow on the DL.

You’ll be better at crossword puzzles.

I don’t know what “deuces” or “turnt out” means, but it’s fun to say (ironically, of course.) Thanks, ABF!

She’ll create a diversion

Despite an Oreo’s best efforts, at first blush, you’re still going to look ethnic. Relaxers and Peter Pan collars and tulle skirts aside, people will still get the wrong impression. This means that sometimes, people will approach you and use terms like “yo” and “articulate” when they start talking to you. They’ll point you away from the delicious trout canapés and tell you where the okra is or ask you how you feel about grinding on surfboarts or Michelle Obama’s healthy eating campaign.

You’d think the deer in the headlights look would be enough to deter them, but it usually only makes them ask more questions. Or encourages them to build you a playlist that includes far too little Sarah Watkins and far too many vocal riffs.

Your ABF, however, can fill in the gaps between their attempts at conversation and your terrified silence. While they chat, you can slip away unnoticed and take a moment to yourself to start planning your next Downton Abbey viewing extravaganza.

That Dowager’s got nothing on you. 

Bring it on, Violet!

Bring it on, Violet!

Deuces!

Who are some of your newest friends? What are the best things about them? And what is going on with Mr. Bates?? He’s about to lose his mind, right? He’s totally headed for Crazyton Abbey?

Let us know in the comments. 

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That’s Not an Apology

January 6, 2014

To ring out the old year, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry hosted a humour segment on her show where comedians and panelists poked fun at the news of the day.

Unfortunately, they also poked fun at the Romney’s. More specifically, she made a coupla jokes about the newest, youngest, not-whitest Romney – the adopted baby boy Kieran Romney.

Sad to see that Rafalca didn't make the holiday card

Sad to see that Rafalca didn’t make the holiday card

Seeing this picture, Harris Perry commented that “one of these things is not like the other” and that it would be totes adorbs to see Kieran and North West join forces.

A few days after that, and after some backlash, she started her broadcast with a the following statement that made my jaw hit the floor.  Just look at the video below.

I’m confused as to why she would call that an apology. I’ve followed lots of news stories about verbal faux pas – from Megyn “Are there are too many y’s in my name?” Kelly’s comment that kids should just accept that Santa and Jesus were white, to Phil “I’m Actually Quite Preppy, But Grew This Beard for Duck Dynasty” Robertson’s announcement that gay people were the same as terrorists, to Todd “A Woman’s Body Has a Way of Shutting that Whole Thing Down” Akin and what Harris Perry gave was not an apology.

A real high-profile apology has within it the following sub-pologies. In order to smooth out any waves made by what you said, you first need to:

Apologize for other people not having a sense of humor.
When Megyn Kelly took a moment to chastise people who would like to see Santas of various colors and creeds by saying that while Santa can live in an ice desert and fly through the air in a vehicle pulled by cloven hooved magicals, he definitely, definitely cannot be anything but white, she followed it up a week later by saying that she was definitely sorry…that no one got that she was making a really funny joke. Any hurt feelings or sense of cultural dismissal was only felt because brown people are too dumb to get what’s funny about insisting that we experience a white, very white, and only white, Christmas.

Apologize for other people not being able to understand excellent songwriting.
Earlier this year, singer Rick Ross came under fire for including the following lyrics in a song:

Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it
I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.

While  the linguistic arrangement of the worse “ain’t” and “even know it” gives me night terrors, the message is also concerning. Basically, Ross is singing about drugging a girl and having a good, enjoyable sex with her unconscious body.

When he apologized, Ross made sure to mention that any offense is listener’s fault. He didn’t use the word any variation of the words “sexual assault” in the lyrics after all, so why on earth would anyone think that’s what he’s talking about.

 “I would never use the term rape in my records… I want to make sure this is clear, that woman is the most precious gift known to man. It was a misunderstanding with a lyric, a misinterpretation where the term rape wasn’t used.

Apologize for other people not getting what a super awesome team leader you are.
In March, the founder of lingere yoga pants company Lululemon got into hot water when he responded to customer complaints that his company’s sexy long johns yoga pants were too sheer. Instead of re-jiggering the manufacturing, he instead stated that the problem had nothing to do with the child slaves who make the unnecessarily expensive underwear yoga pants and everything to do with the fact that women’s thighs sometimes touch.

Later, he posted an apology video on youtube where he got teary eyed and apologized to his team members for having to listen to people complain about their product and for all those whiney pants not understanding what an amazing culture has been built up at Lululemon.

Apologize for other people’s inability to stand up for 1st Amendment rights.
A few weeks ago, Duck Dynasty’s patriarch angered lots of people by saying that gay guys just don’t get how awesome vaginas are and that it’s just a step or two from being gay to having sex with animals. Shortly thereafter, he was put on hiatus from his show.

DD supporters lost each and every one of their mind and said that he was being discriminated against because people should be able to say whatever they want with no consequences because First Amendment!

And…obviously. Our constitution clearly protects people from their own issues by putting in safeguards like the 1st Ammend. So go ahead and call your boss a beslubbering beef-witted cunt and when you’re subsequently fired, sue the shit out of them.

Apologize for other people not being down with your own personal version of god.
Included in the outrage over Phil Robertson’s week-long hiatus from the reality show that has exploited faux Southern culture and made him a bazillionaire (another inalienable American right), was the fact that Phil was being persecuted for expressing his religious beliefs.

Said Robertson: All I did was quote from the Scriptures, but they just didn’t know it.”

Why let a little thing like separation of church and state get in between you and a good publicity stunt.

Here’s a resolution for Ms. HP – learn to say you’re sorry in a way that lets us know what you really mean.  

Who else is really good at apologizing? What’s something you’re not all that sorry for? Let us know in the comments! 

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Keep Up Appearances…and Your Distance

December 5, 2013

When you’re an Oreo, there’s an unspoken 300 foot-restraining order on all other Of Colors. That way, you don’t get too close to one another, but you can both still attend the polo match-so long as you sit at opposite ends of the field.

This rule exists for good reason. Get too close to another brown and it’s a slippery slope from discussing how you can’t wait for the next season of Downton Abbey to talking about how the fried chicken appetizer does actually look really good. Then, not only are you caught in the company of another of color, but you’re both shoving chicken into your face. At that point, you might as well throw on a red and white polka-dotted do rag and start shilling syrup.

Keeping our distance doesn’t just keep us safe, it also keeps other people on their toes. If the answer to someone asking you what you’re doing this weekend is “I’m going to a Jay Z concert,” you’ll get an “ohhhhhh, cool,” followed by a tacit “of course she is. “ But if your answer is “I’ve got orchestra seats for Sleeping Beauty at the Met” you get an “ohhhhhh, nice” accompanied by the head tilt and raised eyebrow of acceptance and admiration.

So what to do when you just can’t help yourself and you need to see an ethnic entertainer? Well, such was the case with myself and a recent Audra MacDonald recital. I tried to say no, but once you go 5-time Tony/4-Time Drama Desk/Ovation Award winner, it’s hard to go back.

 

Can I be her when I grow up? (source)

Can I be her when I grow up?
(source)

If you find yourself in this position, have heart! There are some things you can do to mitigate your situation and to not set off alarm bells for the patrons near you. Make sure you have the following things with you and your Oreo status will remain in tact.

An anglo escort or escorts. A go to for Oreos anyway. The bigger the rosie ring around your posey, the more you’ll blend in. So grab a few favorite members of your blanchetourage and enjoy your night out!

Barney’s accessories. Prove that a little racial profiling is nothing to get up in arms about. Set yourself apart from the RBP who get upset at a routine shop and frisk by putting the program in your Balenciaga and popping the collar on your Isabel Marant Ego Coat.

Tickets to other geeky events you’ve attended. A well-timed “accidental” purse spill can be a great asset to an Oreo. Let everyone see your ticket stubs to and Playbills from The Westminster Kennel Club Show, The Rolex Three Day Event (minus the reining portion), and The America’s Cup.

With these things on your person, you can be certain that you will enjoy your evening and, more importantly, that everyone at your evening will enjoy you.

What do you bring with you on your nights out? Let us know in the comments!

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Diary of a Mad Black White Woman – Hail to the Chief

November 27, 2013

Dear Diary:

It’s obviously fun to blend inI’ve spent a lot of years, a lot of dollars and perfected a lot of grimaces at the salon to do so. I mean, who doesn’t want to look like you belong, to get the invitations to THE events and to not be shoved on the ground just because you bought an overpriced belt.

But getting profiled and being harassed based on your looks gives you cool stories, bro. Not getting profiled doesn’t. Hence the fact that my yesterday was fairly uneventful.

What, this? Oh, nothing. Just the leader of the free world hanging out where I have coffee everyday. nbd

What, this? Oh, nothing. Just the leader of the free world hanging out where I have coffee everyday. nbd
(photo courtesy of Madison Sellers)

I mean sure, President Obama came to my work and I got to see him speak from 30 metres away. Yes, that happened. But some of the people I worked with got to see the President speak from 30 metres away AND got to tell everyone how intense security was with them. At their obligatory dinners tomorrow, they’re going to be ones getting sympathy and attention because they were roughly turned away from stairwells, had dogs search their bags and got wands stuck in uncomfortable places.

I’ll only be getting sympathy and attention because my hosts will find it unfathomable that my jaw can actually unhinge and that that much stuffing can fit inside one human being. During our President’s Day, none of the SWAT/CIA/FBI/Secret Service/Glendale Police even looked twice at me. I got to go up a blocked off flight of stairs as a (white) co-worker was questioned before he could proceed up the same stairs. And even though I went through 2 mandatory metal detectors, when I held my arms out to let the guy rub that stick on me, both times I was waved on with nary even a flick of that stick. Apparently “stop and frisk” isn’t really that big of an issue.

BORING!

I know I’m supposed to be happy about this. The fact that I was ignored means that I blended in. The way that I looked, spoke and comported didn’t raise any hackles or pique any suspicions. According to law enforcement, I looked just like everyone else– a success in an Oreo’s book.

But I’m wondering: maybe becoming one with the majority isn’t just about being profiled or not. Maybe it’s about where and how you get profiled. Any ol’ RBP can get stopped in Beverly Hills or handcuffed in the Upper West Side. That’s to be expected. That’s what RBP do.  But since domestic terror suspects aren’t usually black people, maybe it should be the goal of a true and dedicated Oreo one day be mistaken for one (a terror suspect, not a black person, let’s not get crazy). Yes, I think that’s what it is.  It’s not that I’m impossible to please, it’s just that an Oreo’s work is never done.

I’m sure I’m in part just overreacting to what was a perfectly fine and historic event. So,  I’m going to get back to finishing this Earl Grey and quiche and start hoping for what will happen at airport security when I head back to London next fall. Fingers crossed that the stories will be epic! 

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Oreo Sister From Another Mister?

November 21, 2013

Dearest Lady Belle,

…if that truly is the name you were Christened,

For a fortnight, I have been pacing about my room questioning the very notion of a correspondence. I apologize in advance if my words seem out of turn or my manner too curt. But I feel it is of utmost importance that we speak.

I see your corset-perfect posture and raise you going en pointe.

I see your stagecoach rides and challenge you to a side-saddle race any day of your choosing.

recognize that you fancy your taking air with the blonde pony-tailed gent but I will show you a perambulation that will leave you both in shame. 

It is only for your benefit that I caution you to refrain from thinking that your station in the manor will cause you to be seen as the Oreo to emulate. There are many of us with whom you will need to contend. It is a battle I look forward to finding; and from which I feel certain I will emerge triumphant.

PS. Can we be best friends forever. Please for reals.

I eagerly await your reply. 

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Race Reversal: Acting Black to Win an Election

November 12, 2013
Black enough.  (source)

Black enough.
(source)

I need to find a solid term for a reverse Oreo: Someone who’s white who acts black. One that can be appropriately applied to Dave Wilson, one of the newest members of Houston’s Community College Board of Trustees. In order to win his seat in a heavily black district, Wilson pretended that he was black.

Wilson was smart about it. He didn’t need to start voting for Obama or dropping the n-word to make his point. Instead, he just used his campaign information strategically. He omitted photos of himself on voter mailer and instead, sent out a flier featuring the faces of several happy black folks.

From Business Insider:

The mailers featured “smiling African-American faces — which he readily admits he just lifted off websites — and captioned with the words, ‘Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson’” over 24-year incumbent Bruce Austin. He won in the heavily black district by just 26 votes.

“Every time a politician talks, he’s out there deceiving voters,” Wilson told the network.

He also ran a radio add that was narrated by two black women.

“Dave Wilson? Isn’t he the—” one woman says.

“Yes, Dave Wilson is the man who’s fighting for our neighborhoods,” the other says.

People often get on to me for “acting too white and not being myself”. But first, take a look at this picture circa 1999 and you’ll see I come by my whiteness honestly. Second, even if I didn’t spend years crafting and honing a someone to pretend to be, this story just goes to show that other people do it every day.  So what if someone takes on personas in order to reach a desired end? We all lie about who we are to some extent? Do you really want to go to the gym that much? Of course not, you just want a chance at a date in about 4 weeks. I want a better rate on my home loan, a lessened chance of getting diabetes and the ability to stop answering questions about my hair. So I Oreo it up. This guy wanted to help run a Community College, so he lied to his community. We’re totally twinsies.

I kinda want to send him a congratulations card for his good work because on one hand, I admire him. He managed to successfully hide from his own ethnicity. On the other hand, all of his new friends are RBP, so I’m not sure I want to give that guy my home address.

What do you think? Bad politics or fair game? What lies have you told to get what you want? Let us know in the comments!

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Diary of a Mad White Black Woman – Buyer’s Remorse

November 4, 2013

Dear Diary,

I finally caught up on this Barney’s kerfluffle. Apparently, the chain has hired a civil rights expert to investigate their policies and determine if they’re in the wrong. This all started a couple of weeks ago when a 19-year-old African-American man, Trayon Christian purchased a $349 Ferragamo belt. Outside the store, undercover police officers detained him because they got a tip that the card he used to by the belt was fraudulent. Christian was held in a cell for a couple of hours before being released sans charges.

Shortly after that, a 21-year-old black woman, Kayla Phillips told the press that she experienced a similar incident when she bought a $2,500 Celine handbag. Her temporary debit card didn’t have a name on it; and though the sale went through, police surrounded Phillips after she left the store.

After reading about both of these stories, I was, natch, horrified and embarrassed.

These folks were so close to being model Oreos, then ruined it by making the wrong purchases. I blame myself for not being more vigilant.

Sure, going into a Barney’s with intent to buy is a great first step, but you’ve got to follow it through by picking up the right items.

This is the belt that Christian tried to buy.

And try not to buy something so black. That's just doubling down on a negative.

And try not to buy something so black. That’s just doubling down on a negative.

It’s reversible. Nothing says “not quite up to snuff” like being reversible. He might as well been picking through a bin of hypercolor shirts. Next time, try a Paul Smith contrast-stitch belt and add a pocket square. Trust me, including a $200 16-inch quadrilateral of pashmina to any purchase will throw everyone off the scent.

Second: A handbag? A whole handbag? When you’re black and you’re buying something that big, it looks like you’re just trying to find a place to hide your pressing comb and welfare baby. Instead, get a clutch. An Edie Parker, a Tila March – the smaller the better. If all you can fit inside is one credit card, that’s fine. Just make sure it has your appropriately hyphenated name on it.

We don’t go to Barney’s for function. We go to Barney’s to make a point. I hope that these points are more strongly made in future.

They should take heart though. Sometimes, even the brightest Oreos make the simple mistakes.

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