Month: February 2010

Back to the Basics

 

It's TOE's paper anniversary! Share a square with us.

It’s almost been a year since The Oreo Experience went live. And anniversaries are perfect times to quietly wonder why you got where you are in the first place. With TOE’s paper anniversary on the horizon, I can’t help but smile when I think just how far we’ve come through self-loathing. 

Click here to take a trip down repressed memory lane and consider just how much you can love hating yourself

Not sure you’ve got the guts to hate your guts? Chin up, little soldiers, I bet you do! It’s not just people of color who can hate the skin they’re in. I bet if you try hard enough, you can come up with all kinds of things to try and hide. If not, try these tips. I’ll keep the kleenex and the number to my therapist handy.

1. Look in the Mirror. Forget the schmaltz on How to Look Good Naked. We have a standard in this day and age and chances are, you’re falling short. I know I am. I would instantly be relegated to quirky best friend in a movie about my own life. Freckles, water retention, teeth too white, outie, size 4.?  The mass media would crap on your reflection, why not join them?

2. Hijack your friends’ email. You know how you mention your pals’ peccadillos behind their backs? Well, the good news is, they do, too! Scan a few of their emails. Whether it’s the debby downerism, the constant cheerfulness or the fact that you don’t like your foods to touch, you’ll soon know which habit they crucify you for so that you can start driving in the nails, as well!

3. Swing from your family tree. You don’t even have to go as far as reunion to see what freaky fish are swimming in your gene pool. Just grab a couple of photos and read the body language. Dollars to donuts, you’ll be able to tell in under a minute what your mom really thinks of your stepdad’s fashion choices or if there’s not a little House of Yes action between those two cousins. Give the fam a phone call and listen to them bitch about each other and you’ll get a good idea what you inherited that’s worthy of hate.

4. Watch television. When all else fails and you’re still feeling pretty good about who you are, turn on the TV. Chances are, unless you’re Gerard Butler, your demographic is represented pretty badly. Watch a few eps to see what people in power really think of you and you’ll be on the self-bashing bandwagon in no time.

I bet if he tried hard enough, he'd be one of us, too!

Writing Advice

Inspired by Binyavanga Wainaina’s article “How to Write about Africa,” The Oreo Experience presents a handful of tips on how to write about not Africans, but African Americans. (Please, please do read Mr. Wainaina’s article. Excellent, sound advice there.) There are many similarities, but a few key differences.

Find a way to incorporate “soul,” “color,” “brother” or “dark” into your title or subhead. This will immediately clue your readers into the fact that this article is about someone of color. You need to let people know that awkward material is on the horizon. Bonus points if you can work some sort of ghetto/urban/ebonics into your title, too!  

Never write about middle to upper middle class African Americans. Your audience will recognize that this can’t possibly be the experience of RPB and it will ring false. 

Keep it down, low. Whether you’re writing about rising unemployment and continued high poverty, how the recession is hitting blacks harder than others, the burden felt by pioneers, higher levels of diabetes or HIV, or food deserts in of color communities, remember, no one should be smiling by the time they get to your end paragraph. Articles about doctors doing amazing things, academics rising to great heights
 and well-to-do families adopting kids  really need to focus off of of colors in order to ring true. 

And as important as it is to write this way, Oreos, it’s important to keep reading, too. If you’re not sure why you’re fighting the Oreo fight, click on any of those links in Tip #3 and you’ll be back on the self-loathing track in no time!

Be sure to check back in next week when we discuss how to cast an actor of color in your film or television show!

Australian Of Colors Should Be Thankful

Much to do is being made over World Champion and Russian Olympic competitors Oksana Domnina and Maksim Shabalin. The pair is coming under fire for wearing costumes inspired by and potentially offensive to Aborignal heritage. The costumes feature loin clothes, stirking white body paint, randomly festooned Eucalyptus leaves and a bit of brown face.

Russian skaters dressed up like Aborigines

While they may look like the most terrifiying kids birthday party performers ever, Domnina and Shabalin are doing the folks down under a favor.

I mean, when was the last time any talked about the Aborigines? Pre-Olympics, no one was saying anything about them. Now, they’re making front page news! 

I suppose that somewhere over scones, someone is maybe discussing how like Native Americans, the Aborigines were the original inhabitants of a lovely place and soon had their culture replaced and all but eradicated. Mayhaps someone is discussing how like minorities in the US, Aborigines experience much higher levels of poverty, disease, imprisonment and unemployment than the rest of the continent’s inhabitants. Or perhance how if explorer Robert Burke had just listened to the instruction of the Aboriginal inhabitants of the land he was setting out to be the “first” person to cross, he might not have died from starvation

BORING!

And like differential equations or L’Eclisse, those things are difficult to digest and hard to get your head around. Much more satisfying and helpful to the Oreo cause to remark how this 60,000-year-old culture is oversensitive and continue to learn about them through interpretive ice dancing. That way you learn so much more–like about the didgeridoo and how to get along in mixed company. 

Too bad they didn't dress up like this one instead.

Oreo Gold!

The appearance ethnic athletes at the Olympics is not news in and of itself. We expect to see of colors there in some events: track and field, basketball, clean up crew.

But this year, of color speed skater Shani Davis is winning medals and sporting his Oreo pride as one of only a handful of blackletes at the Winter Games. Here’s video of Davis setting a new world record (one of the eight he has set). Bonus points for this video being in Dutch!

 In 2006, Davis became the first African American to win an individual gold medal at the Winter Olympics. And while media outlets and bloggers write stories about him with headlines like “Soul on Ice,” Davis is reticent to talk about his ethnicity and according to Yahoo!Sports, Davis only wants to be known as a skater, melanin levels, unimportant. 

Fun fact: (if wikipedia is to be trusted). The character Frozone in Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles was based on Davis. Hmm. Definite gold for Oreo-ing it up in Vancouver. But probably a bronze for having Sam Jackson voice him. What? Was Branaugh not free?

Chin up, old boy. You'll be in the picture next time, mate.

Depardieu? More like Depar-do more for us!

French actor Gerard Depardu is getting his beret handed to him because he is playing mixed race writer Alexandre Dumas in a movie

M. Dumas wrote such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. Also, he was the of color grandson of a Haitian slave. But thanks to French cinema, Dumas will largely be remembered by the current generation as a white dude. Though Depardieu sports a tan and curls his hair, his European heritage proudly shines through.

So chin up, Oreos. Though you may spend your life being black, do enough and Hollywood may reward you by lightening your legacy with clever casting.

This issue comes up every now again, like when Angelina Jolie played  widowed and of color writer Marianne Pearl. 

But just like Mickey Rooney’s performance in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, sometimes, you put someone in a role just because they’re the best person for it, or maybe because you can’t find the right person of color, or part color for the job.  So, sorry Leila Ariceri, Saili Richardson, Michael Michelle, Giancarlo Esposito, Jennifer Beals, Thandie Newton, Vin Diesel, Shemar Moore, Lisa Bonet, Jasmine Guy, Rashida Jones, Kidada Jones, Karyn Parsons, Mowry twins, Tatyana Ali, Rae Dong Chong, Victoria Rowell, Boris Kodjoe, Lonnett Mckee, Rain Pryor, Troy Beyer, Carmen Ejogo, Nicole Lyn, Taimak Guari, Tracee Ellis Ross, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Gloria Reuben, Clark Johnson, Rosario Dawson, Cree Summer, Mario Van Peebles, Maya Rudolph, Tammy Townsend, Sherri Saum, Gina Ravera, Tamara Taylor, Jaye Davidson, Rachel True, Stacy Dash, Maya Davis and Persia White. 

While collectively you guys may have strong roles in television and film, write satire, speak German, sing opera, write indie music, are the daughter of royalty, produced fashion shows, speak Spanish, develop groundbreaking comedy, dance ballet, win national pageants and bring home Oscars, you’ll have to content yourselves with those things. Because when it comes to portraying actual and historic figures, some folks just do it better. 

It’s just like the way your stories about high school change and morph over the years. Ten years out and according to you, you weren’t nearly as awkward as you probably were. I mean, how would you rather remember history? Accurately, or comfortably?

Eh, close enough

Compton Cookout – Classic!

When I saw this facebook invitation to a “Compton Cookout” hosted by frat brothers in San Diego, I was upset and heartbroken.

“February marks a very important month in American society. No, I’m not referring to Valentines day or Presidents day. I’m talking about Black History month. As a time to celebrate and in hopes of showing respect, the Regents community cordially invites you to its very first Compton Cookout.

For guys: I expect all males to be rockin Jersey’s, stuntin’ up in ya White T (XXXL smallest size acceptable), anything FUBU, Ecko, Rockawear, High / Low top Jordans or Dunks, Chains, Jorts, stunner shades, 59 50 hats, Tats, etc.

For girls: For those of you who are unfamiliar with ghetto chicks – Ghetto chicks usually have gold teeth, start fights and drama, and wear cheap clothes – they consider Baby Phat to be high class and expensive couture. They also have short, nappy hair, and usually wear cheap weave, usually in bad colors, such as purple or bright red. They look and act similar to Shenaynay, and speak very loudly, while rolling their neck, and waving their finger in your face. Ghetto chicks have a very limited vocabulary, and attempt to make up for it, by forming new words, such as “constipulated,” or simply cursing persistently, or using other types of vulgarities, and making noises, such as “hmmg!,” or smacking their lips, and making other angry noises, grunts, and faces. The objective is for all you lovely ladies to look, act, and essentially take on these “respectable” qualities throughout the day.

Several of the regents condos will be teaming up to house this monstrosity, so travel house to house and experience the various elements of life in the ghetto.

We will be serving 40’s, Kegs of Natty, dat Purple Drank – which consists of sugar, water, and the color purple , chicken, coolade, and of course Watermelon. So come one and come all, make ya self before we break ya self, keep strapped, get yo shine on, and join us for a day party to be remembered – or not.”

Why wasn’t I on the invite list??

Sure, it’s dicey for Oreos to spend time with other people of color, but spending time with people pretending to be of color is just as important as making sure you’ve staked out your place at the regatta. Because here, we are reminded of just how unpleasant we would be if we were RBP.

Thanks, brothers, for the reminder. See you at next year’s Pimps and Hos ball, the Gangta Grill and the Cotton Bowl.

A Smudge, er Smidge, of Absolution

 

Hope you got your fill of vices on Fat Tuesday, because it's time to give up just a little more

 

Happy Ash Wednesday!

If in your Oreodom, you have chosen a faith, it should have been one that smacks of Europe and has a nice Scandinavian Christ on the wall to show you what perfection looks like. 

I myself am a practicing Anglican and use Ash Wednesday as a chance to further the Oreo cause.

During Lent, most people give up a typical vice like soda, smoking or sex. But choose your Lenten sacrifice just right and it can help offset the fact that your ashes blend in unfortunately with your skintone.

If you’re worried that your Lenten season won’t be one befitting an Oreo, use one of these phrases when asked about it and you’ll be on the right path.

  • “I’m giving up my season tickets to the Ahmanson and donating them to a non-profit. I mean, I love my Forever Plaid, but Lord knows I’ve seen it enough times.”
  • “Giving up meat doesn’t bother me so much. I went vegan after that summer at the ashram.”
  • “Chapel was lovely, but it was nothing like when I got to do a Rite I service during my cathedral tour in Germany.”
  • “I kind of like fasting, it reminds me of The Road to Wellville”
  • “I swear I’ll make it these 40 days without my Vicar of Dibley! It’ll be rough, but chin up, stiff upper lip, I’ll muddle through.”

Don’t think of the season as a time to go without, but as a time that clears up some headspace for enjoying the reward later. Besides, think how great those plush theater seats will feel and how refreshing Dawn French will be after a moon and a half without.

Bonus Oreo points if you get the good vicar to do your ashes for you!