Month: November 2009

Black Friday Shopping with The Oreo Experience

After celebrating a day that commemorates a time when people first learned just how much of their culture could be wiped away, The Oreo Experience is taking part in another important American tradition and starting Christmas shopping.

Before buying for family and friends, I must reach out to non Oreo acquaintances with a very special gift that will ease them into their transition by honoring our president and also reminding them how the pain of a hair relaxer pales in comparison to the embarrassment of untreated hair. 

By New Years, I trust that their patriotism will be in in place, as will their self loathing.

Word of the Week – TPSD

TPSD – Acronym that stands for “Tyler Perry Stress Disorder” and describes the condition that occurs when an Oreo is exposed to certain ethnic programming. Like PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), TPSD can cause sleeplessness, depression and an inability to experience positive feelings such as love or happiness.

Congratulations to The Blind Side!!

In honor of Sandra Bullock’s tour de force, The Blind Side, making it to #2 at the box office this weekend (second only to vampire/werewolf mega sensation New Moon) The Oreo Experience is pleased to release some as yet unheard material from pre production.

While this song (recorded with white [natch] singer/songwriter Athena) unfortunately did not make it into the final soundtrack, I think it does a great job at showing why this movie is so important to an Oreo. Without movies like these showing us how RBP just can’t cut it on their own, they remind us why we fight so hard to be anything but an RBP. 

Please enjoy. 

Can’t get enough of this thematic material? I know I sure can’t! Gotta keep the Oreo fires burning with something. For more material that will remind you that RBP just can’t do it on their own and make you love to hate every drop of melanin you were born with, check out not only The Blind Side, but also, Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers, O, Hardball, Up the Down Staircase, Step Up, Bring it On, Step Up 2: The Streets, Finding Forrester, Precious-Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, Fighting the Odds: The Marilyn Gambrell Story, Hancock, Wildcats, The Gridiron Gang, Friday Night Lights, and Transformers 2-because even on a near-apocalypitc, robotic future, the black robots are the only ones who can’t read. Thanks, ruling class, we clearly, really owe you!

Meeting Minutes

As a creative professional, there are certain hazards that come with the job. Income droughts, being compared to characters in RENT (dangerous for an Oreo since half the cast is black) and failing powerful executives. 

This is a short story about the latter.Meeting

I won’t go through the cat and mouse game of trying to make you guess at which studio this occurred, but if any information squeaks out, you didn’t hear it from this OreoWriter.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I showed up to work in my smart pencil skirt, boots, cardigan and scarf belt and was immediately whisked off to a meeting. In attendance were the other writers on the show, my boss, and a couple of VPs. 

I was a little worried because there was another of color in the room. I didn’t know him well enough to suss out his tendencies, so I kept my distance and sat on the other side of the table. 

Apparently, I didn’t sit far away enough. 

At this particular studio, there is a fellowship program though which many, but not all writers of color join the company. I of course, did not do the program–imagine, sitting in a room with nothing but people who looked liked me? We might be all kinds of tempted to discuss shared experiences or issues pertinent to those experience, thus depleting scores of O-points and becoming RBPs in the process.

I was referred to this position by a contact and after a quick interview, was hired.

The VP looked at me. His first words.

VP: Oh, did you do our fellowship program?

OW: No, I didn’t.

VP: No, no, our fellowship program, did you do it earlier?

OW: No.

VP: I don’t mean are you doing it now, I mean did you do it before?

OW: No. I didn’t.

VP: You didn’t do our fellowship program?

OW: No.

Quiet for a beat.

VP: Then how did you get this job?

Naturally, I was upset. 

confusion

I knew that I should have added the Blair Waldorf headband to the outfit. Clearly I confused this executive. As he (and Sandra Bullock, et al) rightly pointed out, RBP need the kind and benevolent hands of the fairer folk to get jobs or join football teams.

Which is why I work so hard to not be an RBP. I was five sixths of the way there that day. But I didn’t make it. And thus, this poor exec was confused as to how I got there in the first place. Without the full and proper costuming, how was he to know who I really was?

His confusion, understandable. My oreofail, unacceptable.

Oreo Interviews – Dale, grocery store owner

Grocery cartEvery once in a while, I have the chance to talk with people who really remind me why I’m fighting so hard for my Oreodom. I stumbled across my latest interview quite by accident. 

I was researching famous black actor Steppin Fetchit. Mr. Fetchit changed the course of life for African Americans everywhere by condoning what ruling class performers were already doing in minstrel shows by becoming a minstrel who came already blackfaced. Instead of presenting himself as an intelligent, upwardly mobile human, he presented himself as a shuffling, idiotic, infantile man. And in so doing, became the first African American millionaire.

His legacy forever altered the way of colors were seen on TV.

Naturally, this is the kind of material a good Oreo should watch over and over again just to keep the self loathing fresh and on hand.

When I googled “step n fetch”–the term that was ultimately derived from his name to describe a certain type of behavior and persona, I found a variety of businesses who use the name.

The first one I was able to contact was Step N Fetch Um Grocery in a small town in Oklahoma.

Because it’s rare to find a business who so blatantly reminds its customer base what the average Oreo is fighting against, I knew I had to speak to the owner  to thank him for justifying my fight. Below is the transcript of some of the highlights of the conversation.

OW: …I actually found your business because I was looking for some information on the actor Stepin Fetchit. Do you know that is?

Dale: Mmm, no. I never…I heard about it, but I don’t know–

OW: –Who he is?

Dale: Ahh, I don’t know any details on it. I just…Somebody has–they’ve asked several times and I tell them “I don’t know.”

OW: Oh really? People have asked about it before? What do they say?

Dale: They just asked me if I come up with that name, I say “no.”

Dale then explained to me that the name was actually created by his business partner who unfortunately passed away quite some time ago. Dale bought the business from his partner’s wife and kept the store and the namesake.

OW: Have you ever looked up who Stepin Fetchit is?

Dale: Mmm, no. In fact, though, last year, one of the school kids, I guess they were studying something in school and they asked me about it.

OW: You guys should look up the actor sometime, though, he’s really interesting. He was a black actor in the first part of last century, which was really groundbreaking at the time. But he kind of created the sort of character that a lot of black characters are in movies today. He was kinda dumb and very much like “yes, missa, lemme do that fo’ ya  missa,” like evoked that kind of persona. Which, I don’t know. I’ve heard that some people get offended by that. Have you heard that?

Dale: Yeah. I’ve heard some of it. It’s kinda like …and I don’t know if you remember this or not, but do you remember Sidney Poitier, he played with–he was the first black cowboy I’d ever seen. 

OW: What was he like?

Dale: He was great. He was a real good actor.

OW: Sidney Poiter was an amazing actor. Did he play the same kind of character that Stepin Fetchit did? Like the kind of dumb guy?

Dale: No, he played one of the main characters.

OW: That’s great. Good thing you didn’t name your business after Sidney. That would have been an awkward homage.

We talked movies for a bit, before returning to the topic at hand.

Dale: It’s interesting that people bring this up every once in a while. Evidentially, it must be back in the history books.

OW: Are they upset or bothered?

Dale: No, they just ask about it and I tell them my partner made it up.

OW: Was your partner black by any chance?

Dale: No. He was from down eastern Oklahoma.

OW: When people ask about the business name, are they upset or concerned or do they like it?

Dale: I had one lady who said “Well, that’s kinda offensive.” I said “Well, I dunno. Not that I know of.”

OW: She asked if you thought it was offensive and you said you didn’t know.

Dale: Yeah, it was somebody from out of town. It wasn’t nobody–

OW: Oh, she wasn’t from your town?

Dale: No. Huh-uh.

OW: Was she black?

Dale: Uh, she was part. But she was asking me about this and I said “I don’t know!” 

OW: Well, I mean, why would you konw. And why would you go look it up? That’s a lot of time to take.

Dale: Well, a lot of people get curious on stuff like that. I’m not a great big history buff. It doesn’t concern what we’re going through. If it doesn’t affect us now, I don’t really worry about it. That was 40 or 50 years ago.

OW: Yeah, stuff that happened 40 or 50 years ago does not affect what’s going on today. 

Dale: It’s like my ancestors. They came over here from Switzerland. 

OW: I love skiing. Do you get to go skiing very much?

Dale: My granddad used to talk about fighting over horse biscuits in the street.

OW: Horse biscuits?

Dale: Horse poop.

OW: Oh! Those kinds of horse biscuits.

Dale: They had to use it for burning over there. I thought that was kind of hard to believe, but like this other stuff, it doesn’t have anything to do with what’s going on today. 

OW: That does sound like the same issue as Stepin Fetchit’s dubious legacy.

Dale: Yeah, because we don’t have to put up with it. 

OW: Yeah, don’t have to put up with fighting for fuel in the streets. Don’t have to put up with terrible images of black people in movies.  It’s all better.

Dale: Yes.

Dale went on to tell me how he grew up mostly around Native Americans. He even had a black friend in high school. 

OW: So, because you grew up around so many minorities, do you feel a connection to the cultures?

Dale: Oh yes! They had the same problems that we did.

OW: Exactly the same problems. 

Now, I understood. That connection that he so proudly proclaimed clearly explained why he didn’t waste any time figuring out if the name of his business was offensive or at the very least, outdated.  

OW: Now, are there very many people of color in your town?

Dale: I’ve got one sitting right here.

OW: Well, congratulations.

Dale: Do you want to talk to him?

And that’s when the conversation became terrifying. Not just because I was chatting with another of color–if any other Oreos would have seen me, I’d be chastised for sure, but because of what he told me mere second into the conversation.

 OW:  I’m a little intrigued by the grocery store Step N Fetch Um. Are you a regular here?

RBP: Oh yes.

OW: Do you like the name?

RBP: Yeah! Ain’t nothing wrong with this name. We still have to step and fetch it!

Well, technically not since 1865, but who’s counting?

OW: Do you know the actor Stepin Fetchit?

RBP: I know all that, but if you leave the name alone, it’ll be okay.

OW: Did you like his work? Did you think he was funny?

RBP: Yeah, he was funny. 

OW: So you’ve seen very many of his movies.

RBP: I’ve seen practially all of them. 

So I guess Tyler Perry is on to something, after all. 

OW: Well, thank you. I am off to go shine some shoes and serve some lunch, I will talk to you guys later. 

RBP: Okay, bye.

Please enjoy the following clip of Stepin in action. (Just in case it’s not clear, Step is the lazy man in bed who can’t get up, is fascinated by the telephone, can barely get his words out, and happily admits to being 11 months behind on rent)