Saving Face When You’re Face to Face

Remember: When in doubt, don't go out!

Sometimes, even when an Oreo takes the best of precautions, she or he may find themselves at an event in close proximity of another person of color.  Such was the case last Friday.

I went to see a friend’s improv show.  Black folks generally do not congregate at independent 30-seat theaters to watch silly make-em-ups, so I thought I was safe.

Until I saw the doorman. Black guy.

Le sigh.

He was nice enough, we had a pleasant conversation and I went in to watch my show.

Afterwards, the theater owner approached me and said that he saw me talking to the guy at the door.

“You two’d make a cute couple,” he said. “Too bad he doesn’t date black girls.”

My face lit up!

“Ha! And I don’t date black guys!”

My new Oreo friend overheard me and we had a great conversation about traditional Italian cuisine, Vespas and lucid dreaming.

And it reminded me that yeah, sometimes as an Oreo, you’re gonna end up in conversation in public with someone who looks like they could be related to you. People will assume this is the case or they will assume that you’re more interested in each other than in the freckled, ruddy headed kids next to you. So you must take precautions; and through your manners and conversation remind those around you that you are not RBP, but in fact, Oreos.

How? Easy!

1. Stand outside. If one of you is a woman, definitely take your conversation outside if you can. This will allow the wind to blow through your freshly relaxed hair. Natural styles and dreads do not billow in the wind. Showing off your chemically treated locks will show that you are not an RBP.

2. Strategically drop a business card. When the passerby who picks it up sees a title like “Executive Chef,” “Lead Architect,” or “Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgeon,” she or he can relax, knowing that they are in the presence of well-marketed Oreos.

3. Sing a little. First of all, everyone loves musicals, even if they say they don’t. So whether you break out some of Sondheim’s Company or Abba’s Mamma Mia, your non-soulful ditty will have everyone joining in and understanding who you really are!

For more on watching your back in public, see how to Go Solo; Why even a non-color can pose a threat; and why it’s important for other Oreos to follow the rules.

Make Patrick proud…or he’ll hack to you bits on a sheet of plastic. The upside? You’ll be listening to Huey Lewis–so sing along and maybe he’ll spare ya.


  1. Ha! Well, I suppose this is a good technique to use when I get out in the business world. I’m about to start college, so I use the young-whippersnapper approach. I’m already off-putting as it is, wearing all black and extr33m emo eyeliner in triple-digit weather.

    Name-dropping an obsession with My Chem or a love of Japanese snack foods just makes it easier. XD

  2. Wow. If you are sincere in what you are writing then I truly feel sorry for you. You are pathetic. Embrace your heritage and be proud of who you are. That does not necessarily mean conform to sterotypes. However, you seem to have gone to far; its seems no, it is clear that you are exhibiting self hate issues. That is sad and I can only pity you.

  3. Wait, I’m not sure if it is a guy thing but what about the nod? You know the nod that happens when two black people cross paths. Now I have in the past been told that I ignore it, some of my ex-girlfriends none of them that are RBP have ask me why. Truly unless right in front of me I don’t see it but once I do I utterly fail and nod back.

  4. As an attorney I understand what you are saying. However….. to what degree are the police responsible? Is it First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Manslaughter…. ? To fan the flames before the “LAW” make a determination is irresponsible…IMO. Clearly those HUMANS that have control issues are drawn to the law enforcement profession. What I am saying is….. Why don’t we wait for the legal process to be completed before we make accusations not currently supported by evidence. Granted… it is unfortunate that people of color are killed by police but please understand…. if you do your research you will discover that a larger number of whites are killed by police.

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