Holiday Party Survival Guide

It’s that time of year when despite your best efforts you may be forced to spend time with other of colors. This will likely happen at family gatherings, holiday charity donation drives or company events where the main office invites the warehouse and janitorial staff to attend.

A check of the guest list might encourage you to skip the peppermint-tinis and almond hummus bruschetta to avoid potentially dangerous run-ins. But keep these few rules in mind and you can schmooze safely.

1. Avoid Eye Contact. As you enter the room, perform a quick perimeter scan. At this point, do not lock eyes with anyone, simply discover and memorize the locations of your anti-targets. Keep them in your peripheral vision throughout the night, but only there. Even a slight look in the eyes of an of color may strike in the Oreo an uncomfortable familiarity. In that moment, you may see the parts of yourself that you have thankfully pushed aside to reach for a higher goal. And you don’t need anything that might lure you back to the dark side.

2. Remember: Their Vision is Based on Movement. There will be music at this party. For the most part, these songs will be timeless holiday classics like O Holy Night and White Christmas. However, the appearance of melanin will likely encourage the DJ to play something ethnic. You may be finishing the final 1-2-3 steps to Adeste Fidelis when Empire State of Mind begins hurting your ears.

Halt your box step immediately. If the others see you moving as this anthemic “tribute” to New York begins, they may get the wrong idea and assume that you’re going to join them popping and locking on the dancefloor.

Remember, just because “orchestrapop” contains the word “orchestra,” that does not mean that it is Oreo approved music.

3. Sound the Oreo Distress Call. You may do everything right on your mixed crowd evening and still have something go wrong. Whether it’s something as simple as getting stuck in the crepe line next to that guy from shipping and receiving or an of color taking it one step further and asking for the time, the location of the restroom or your number, you must remove yourself from this situation ASAP before your coworkers, that one white family member or the leaders of the friendly non-profit organization think you are nothing more than an RBP.

Chin up, Ziggy. It's not personal.


It’s time to sound the distress call. The distress call is simply a line of spoken dialogue that will draw fairer skinned people your conversation and push anyone else to a different gift exchange. Use one of the following if you need to escape quickly:

  • God, the Redwings were amazing last night.
  • I wish I knew where I put my Young Republicans pin.
  • Call me crazy, but I really prefer the Thin White Duke to Ziggy Stardust.

Happy Holidays. Be safe, be smart, be assimilated. It’s a gift we all deserve.


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