News

Stuff Black People Care About

This weekend, MSNBC aired a show called “The Black Agenda”…and disappointingly enough, it wasn’t about a darkened page in Moleskine notebook.

What? It's black and it lists the topics up for discussion. You can see how I was confused.

I was all excited until I saw the commercial for the show and heard:

“MSNBC examines the issues and policies that impact African Americans.”

I was worried. I certainly look like a black American. Was this show going to bring up stuff that I care about and thus pigeonhole me into the space I’ve tried so long to escape?

Here’s what MSNBC (with obligatory black guru Al Sharpton) said black people care about: Employment, Healthcare and Housing… you know, stuff that’s WAAAAAAAY different than anything anyone else in the U.S. cares about.

No, there aren't any other of color pundits available for news magazines. Why do you ask?

And it all added up to more evidence that I’m not *really* black.  Because though I care about the above, that’s certainly not where my list stops. To the best of my knowledge ALL issues and policies affect me.

Education reform affects not only how my children grow up; but also the kind of labor force I will need to rely on as kids get out of school and consider college. Education issues affect how well-trained the next generations of doctors, social workers, writers, astronauts, chemists, landscapers, architects, day care workers, insurance professionals, car manufacturers and audio engineers are.

Health care affects how the people I care about will be able to take care of themselves. It affects how well those doctors, social workers, writers, astronauts, chemists, landscapers, architects, day care workers, insurance professionals, car manufacturers and audio engineers are able to do their jobs.

Prison reform affects how safe I am…not only from truly violent, uncaring criminals. But from people who might not have been the best kids in town, but who have been damaged by a system that tends to punish rather than rehab.

Reproduction rights affect my relationship to the world as a woman, women’s relationship to men, men’s relationships to each other.

Military spending affects how my friends kids’ who are fighting overseas will be able to protect themselves and the country.

Estate and business taxes affect how my boss will view my job in years to come.

Environmental policies affect how much I can enjoy the world around me.

Marriage equality affects not only how my friends are able to express their love for each other, but how America decides it willing to care for or shit on other “others” like myself.

But according to MSNBC, blacks just aren’t that into those things. And those things don’t seem to affect blacks.  So….. by my count, still an Oreo!

Yup!

Also, by continuing to trot out the same pundits for the black community, it really does emphasize the fact that blacks are all the same and march to the exact beat of the exact same leader. Which is nice for me, because all I have to do is say something simple in conversation like “I’m not really a Sharpton fan,” and people get that my pigmentation just might be a fluke or an overzealous tan.

Sharpton actually said something that was helpful. He mentioned that the continued disparities between blacks and whites hurts everyone. But this lovely soundbite was encased in a show titled “The Black Agenda,” which is just not going to draw the audience that needs to hear that….He also made a rhyme about a bacon and egg sandwich that I could have done without.

And finally, thank goodness major media outlets continue to divide people this way. If they didn’t run shows like “The Black Agenda,” how would I stand out. I would no longer risk being seen as a black person. I’d just be a person. And I have spent WAY too much money on relaxers to be just like everyone else. 🙂

Anything They Can Do, Blacks Can Do Better! (Hospitals!!!)

People often ask me why I try so hard to hide my blackness from the world. And I say, well, mainly because I’ve seen The Blind Side (and Precious Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire and Dangerous Minds and 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 um, yeah…being black looks really scary and makes you way more likely to cut a bitch. And I don’t want to cut any bitches.

Being black also brings along with it a certain competitiveness. Blacks are always trying to outfill the judicial systems faster than

Get used to it, black people. Whether the ambulances are scurrying you away from the drive by or just double checking the doctor's work, apparently, you're going to be seeing a lot of them. Statistics say so!

non-colors, flee from PhD programs faster than non-colors and get hypertension way more!

And those things are so not me!

I mean look at today’s story:

After leaving the hospital for treatment of three common conditions, older black people are more likely to be readmitted within 30 days than older white people, a new study finds.

Black patients have 13 percent greater odds of readmission within 30 days after discharge, according to the study.

Boo! I don’t want to spend extra time in the hospital. I mean, the idea of a handsome, wealthy man in a nice coat touching my forehead softly and asking if everything is okay is just fine. But I can probably just hire that out, right?

Check back in for more things that blacks do better than whites! If you don’t, I might have to summon the color in me and cut a bitch. And like I said, I don’t want to have to do that.

*uck Finn – 4 Reasons Why The N Word Should Stay In

They're not okay with the n-word, but are okay with kids running away, stealing stuff and smoking. Got it!

You remember Huck Finn, right? The book about a boy and his slave friend who run away and learn about each other. Oh yeah, and they say the n-word a bunch. You know, because it was set in the American South, pre-Civil War and that’s kinda what people did.

But a new edition of the book is coming out and the publishers of the book will replace the ethnic slur with the word “slave.”  You know, to make the book less offensive. Because owning slaves is totally okay as long as you call them nice names…or something like that. It’s hard to be clear on exactly what the publisher’s goal is, but they say it’s not about PC-tastic censorship.

The effort is spearheaded by Twain expert Alan Gribben, who says his PC-ified version is not an attempt to neuter the classic but rather to update it. “Race matters in these books,” Gribben told [Publisher’s Weekly]. “It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”

 

Now, I get it, the word makes some people uncomfy**.

Not her, though.

But that doesn’t mean we should just strike it from the record completely.

Here are four reasons I think Huck Finn should stay just the way it is.

1. More Oreos! A selfish reason for sure, but nothing made me want to escape my skin quite like sitting in a classroom with my peers reading these books aloud. Sure, I hated the stares I got when someone mentioned Twain, or anything to do with Civil Rights, Martin Luther King or firehoses, but it put me on a path toward just the right amount of self loathing to take up some hobbies more interesting than gospel singing or dominoes.

2. Equal Opportunity Offense. There’s something in pretty much every book that’s going to offend most anybody. Should we take out references to sex or the church in The Scarlett Letter lest we offend people who pray or put out (or, like myself…both. :)? Should we take out half the words in anything written by Dickens because it’s just so g*dammed long and that is offensive in and of itself? Should we stop the production of Tyler Perry movies because they’re just offensive to everyone?  Nah. A little thicker skin is good for everyone.

3. Keep the word somewhat safe. If we remove the n-word from classic works of literature, the only people dealing with it are plucky talk show hosts like Dr. Laura and the hip hop and rap industry. I don’t know about you, but I totally trust one of the greatest American writers of all time over the the guy who wrote the song “Bitches Aint Shit.”

4. And seriously…yes, the n-word is pretty damn offensive. But if we lose sight of how offensive it is and the damage that it caused and causes, then we run the risk of perpetuating those offenses and creating them anew.

5. Too Much Change! If we start changing the words in Huck Finn, then it’s only a matter of time before someone changes the libretto to Big River, the Broadway musical written about that story. And I already have the current version commited to memory. Not ready to re-learn all that music! Seriously, listen to these harmonies. That’s a lot of work!

What do you think? Let us know!

The Gods Must Be White

Don't eff with Thor. You don't want to see him angry!

As we’ve pointed out here, movie, if anything, are totally true to life. So it stands to reason that the Council of Conservative Citizens has their white sheet undies all in a bunch because Hollywood has done the unthinkable! Nope, it’s not that they’ve made the Yogi Bear movie or Little Fockers. It’s worse. They’ve made Heimdall black.

Everyone knows Heimdall, right? He’s the Norse god who can hear grass growing and leaves falling. The one who will sound the Gjallarhorn, alerting the æsir to the onset of Ragnarök where the world ends and is reborn. Oh, and he’s also called “the white god.” And he’s being played by blacktor Idris Elba.

Said the CoCC:

“It [is] well known that Marvel is a company that advocates for leftwing ideologies and causes,” the site reads. “Marvel frontman Stan ‘Lee’ Lieber boasts of being a major financier of leftwing political candidates. Marvel has viciously attacked the Tea Party movement, conservatives and European heritage.

 “Now they have taken it one further, casting a black man as a Norse deity in their new movie Thor. Marvel has now inserted social engineering into European mythology.”

On one hand, as an Oreo, I’m totes jealous that Idris Elba is cast to play “the white god”! What an Oreo coup! I’ve sung “Popular” from Wicked at karaoke for years and have yet to land a role for a blonde.

On the other hand, as an Oreo, I’m totes bothered. If directors like Kenneth Branagh continue to fly in the face of reality and give roles to of color actors that allow them to speak in lofty poetry instead of rap and live in the sky instead of the hood…what does that mean for the Oreo? If Hollywood just starts giving parts out willy nilly to talented actors without first vetting them based on race, how will the Oreo know what to avoid to not seem so, you know, black?

And the CoCC has some good points. (If you want a real fun afternoon, btw, check out their website!) Heimdall clearly wasn’t mean to be black. He’s a Norse god, hello! So it’s good that apart from Elba, all the other actors are ethnically correct. Like the Celtic New Zealander Chris Hemsworth who plays Thor, or the Welsh Anthony Hopkins who plays Odin,  the Irish Ray Stevenson who plays Volstagg.

Yup, all Norse– wait, what?

It’s a relief to note, btw, the other true-to-life elements of Thor remain in tact. Like how Thor’s hammer flies from nowhere to his hands whenever he clicks his fingers.  So it stands to reason why the CoCC was so upset…the movie was so close. So. Very. Close. 

Obviously,  the CoCC has a lot of boycotting to do! Here’s their email form if you’d like to get in touch with them to show your support. If you do…let me know what they say.

This Is Why We Can’t Go To Nice Places!

The rope is there for a reason.

Because in a group, black people are scary!

Look, Ivy League alum who are upset that your were turned away from a club even though you weren’t doing anything wrong, we’ve been over this. One of us in a crowd is delightful, maybe even amusing. We provide the image of diversity in a neighborhood with declining property values.

But standing in line…outdoors…where people can see you…that’s just threatening. Even if you are a bunch of Harvard and Yale law students. Yes, the argyle and the discussion of this year’s lacrosse teams is a start, but you have to look at the whole picture.

Here’s what happened: A group of of-color Ivy Leaguers with a phenomenally strict guest list were waiting on line to get into a new club.

The owners of the club, seeing the line, believed it to be attracting “local gang bangers” and shut the party down. Or maybe they just thought the line would attract local gang bangers, because according to one of the event’s organizers, the club management said both.

In a letter to the party-attendees, one of the organizers explained his mistake:

At approximately 10:30PM club management called the owner to say that they saw individuals on line whom they recognized as “local gang bangers” (their words not mine). In response to this, the club owner directed the bouncers to only let individuals with a Harvard or Yale ID in to the club. At this point Kwame and I argued that no alumnus would have his or her expired college ID with them and reiterated that the reason we did the party on a pre-sold basis with strict admittance based solely on the guest list was to guarantee that the only attendees were Harvard and Yale alumni, grad students and their close friends and to ensure that no “bad seeds” could contaminate our party. However, given that this was the club’s opening weekend, the owner was particularly sensitive to anything going wrong.

At approximately 10:45, after we won the argument concerning the amazing quality of our crowd and the strictness of our guest list, management began letting people in but then became worried that as our crowd waited in line it could attract the attention of “local gang bangers” passing by who would try to gain entrance to our party. Furthermore, they feared that if these individuals were turned away for not being on the guest list they could hypothetically cause problems with the bouncers outside of the club and draw negative attention to the establishment. Despite the fact that our Friday night party went off without a hitch and had no problems when we turned people away from the door for not being on our list, management decided to shut the party down as to avoid the hypothetical chance of attracting the “wrong crowd” (again their words not mine). In spite of our attempts to reason with them, we were left in a position where despite agreeing with our logic, the decision had been made and we were left powerless

Well, the management here really be blamed? There are very simple rules for being a functioning Oreo and one of them is that we don’t congregate en masse. Check the FAQ here if you have any questions…or check this link to see which people might be more excited to see you.
And make sure you sign the sign up sheet for next month’s Caroling Fest so we know if there’s still room.
Wouldn’t want to upset anyone.
***************************
For Mor-eo! Follow The Oreo Experience on Twitter (@oreoexperience)
Leave a comment here or at any of the above and let us know what you think!

TV Show Fades to Black, then Fades

When JJ Abram’s hour-long drama, “Sexy Sexy Black People” Undercovers showed up in the TV listings, I was super worried. A show with Oreo-esque leads might lead to other TV shows to feature layered characters of color and then how would I stand out??

But my fears were allayed with NBC announced they were canceling it.

Writing for The Root, Marcus Vanderberg mentions that Undercovers had a lot of challenges–including untested acting talent, weak scripts and a poor time slot.

Another problem:

Black viewers, who many might have guessed would rally behind the show, never embraced it. Undercovers only cracked the top 10 on Target Market News‘ list of the top 25 broadcast shows in black households twice, and that was during its first two weeks on air. On Nov. 4, the night before the show was officially canceled, Undercovers finished 16th in black households behind Hawaii Five-0 and The Mentalist, both of which lack black lead characters.

Black people didn’t want to watch a show with untested acting talent, weak scripts and a poor time slot. So now, networks are feeling skittish again about casting leads of color in a show.

The fact that black leads are such a gamble on network TV these days highlights the noticeable shift in programming during the last 25 years….

…The UPN and the WB, which is now the CW Network, copied the Fox blueprint (think Girlfriends) before they all abandoned most of their black programming in order to appeal to a more mainstream audience. And now it seems as if all the inroads of the past few decades have been for nothing…

I took a look at other shows that have been canceled or threatened with cancellation this year and noticed a disturbing trend:

18 To Life: Kids Get Married on a Dare

100 Questions: A girl and her friends navigate life in NYC - canceled after 6 eps

As The World Turns: Stodgy Soaps Suddenly Seems Sexy

Man with huge hands gives advice - canceled after 2 eps

The Bridge: Cop does cop things.- canceled after 3 eps

Gravity: Suicide survivors make jokes - canceled after 10 eps

Huge: Nikki Blonsky goes to camp

Lone Star: A con man has a conscious...and also a lot of sex. - canceled after 2 eps.

My Generation: Angst and agnst with a dollop of angst. - canceled after 2 eps

Outlaw: Jimmy Smits knows justice; but not TV audiences - canceled after four eps.

Notice anything about most of the people in these shows?

They’re actors! Apparently, actor-led TV shows have a really hard time sticking. I hope the networks don’t feel skittish about gambling on having actors in their shows after this disappointing season.

Crossing my fingers for you, actors. You’ll figure it out.

And if you do wanna see some of colors leading a show…there’s always the still-climbing-in-the-ratings Real Housewives of Atlanta where next week, Phaedra and Apollo will have a baby…or won’t they???

***************************
For Mor-eo! Follow The Oreo Experience on Twitter (@oreoexperience)
Leave a comment here or at any of the above and let us know what you think!

Aunt Jemima IS Sweet; Butterworth is Shunned

Not only does she make breakfast treats even more delicious, she totally reminds me why I work so hard to be an Oreo!

Wow  if that’s what RBP look like, no thank you! And if that caption (which read: “Aunt Jemima, you is so sweet”)  is how they talk…ugh! not for me!!

A big thanks to Tennessee Republican Terri Lynn Weaver for posting this pic on her facebook page shortly after Halloween of her (on the right) posing with her pastor.

Also, thanks to the folks at Sociological Images where I found this video of coverage of the photo. Click the link for the video.

There are so many things to love about that video and this story that I don’t even know where to start. So many good tips and reminders for Oreos! Here’s some of what I learned from this clip.

1. When lawmakers and men of God decide together that dressing up in blackface is okay, how can you possibly argue with that?

2. The use of the phrase “some of my best friends are black”–still a totally valid argument. In the video, Weaver asserts that “she is the least racist person because SOMBFAB.”

3. When doing a story about a contentious race issue, be sure to put your of color reporters on it and have only a passing quote from someone who’s a non-color so that there’s no doubt that this story is pretty much just for black folks and doesn’t affect anyone, except maybe the poor lawmaker who clearly doesn’t understand that facebook is a wildly public space accessible by anyone with a computer or cell phone.

I wonder if we can get that Aunt Jemima get up in a sexy version for the ladies!

I also wonder what other costumes Pastor Jemima threw out in favor of the one he picked. I mean, if he were going for syrup ladies, he could have done Ms. Butterworth and not had to spend so much money on shoe polish.

 

For more fun with facebook, check out this skin whitening app, this invitation to a “Compton Cookout,” and this charming message I got in my inbox.