african americans

7 Awesome Things About Slavery (Reprise)

This post originally appeared here.

It has been updated below.

Also, seriously, how do you pronounce it? Is it “ruh-prize” or “ruh-preeze”?

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Every now and again a public official will casually say that America was the best when slavery was happening. They usually say it has something to do with family values and God and MAGA.

 

This week it happened again and people are all butt hurt because Alabama Senate candidate and alleged serial sexual predator Roy Moore basically said that slavery was A-OK when asked what his idea of a perfect America was.

Here’s how that totally reasonable exchange went down:

At a campaign event in September, a journalist asked Moore when was the last time America was “Great.”

Moore said: “I think it was great at the time when families were united. Even though we had slavery, they cared for one another. … Our families were strong, our country had a direction.”

And just like always, after said public official reminds us that slavery was totes nbd, there’s a huge snowflake backlash and everyone starts talking about how “terrible” it was that families were stolen from their homes, ripped apart, horrifically abused so that farmers in America could grow crops without having to do all that “work,” and used to set up a system of economics in this country that relies on people doing very difficult labour for none to low wages.

And I’m always so surprised that people would say things like this.

Because there are so many benefits to slavery that people always overlook. Here are 7 of ’em!

1. Fitness plans. According to some stats I hastily Googled, almost half of all black people are obese. This article says that in 42 states, more than a third of the black people there are obese. And in 15 states, that number goes up to 40%. I imagine that means that those black people are so fat that…they probably have a number of health problems and are uncomfortable in tiny seats or skinny jeans.

But back in slave days, blacks were super fit!! You can’t have a high body fat percentage when you’re doing hard labor all day. Not only did they get some cardio in when they were running from dogs and bullets, but they also got some fantastic strength training by carrying around full bushels of crops.

And they didn’t have to pay for it! Today a Crossfit membership that offers this kind of HIT training is not cheap! But back in the day, slaves got all that exercise for freezies! #jelly

Not fat.

2. Zero Percent Unemployment. It’s not new that The Great Recession was hard on everyone. But statistics show that it was super hard on blacks and that the African American population has been slower to recover than other groups.

That’s so not how it was when slavery was en vogue. You’d be hard pressed to find a black person out of work then. And sure, they didn’t get paid and they had to work ridiculous hours and they were beaten to death if they voiced an opinion or tried to find their husband who had been sold to a different family, but you know how good an internship looks on a resume!

3. Travel Benefits. Trying to work overseas can be a nightmare! There’s Visas and sponsors to worry about. You have to figure out how to get your paychecks converted into the right currency for whatever bank you’re using. You can’t lose your passport.

But slaves got to work overseas and had someone else take care of all the particulars! All slaves had to do was mind their own business in Africa. Then, suddenly, they got a surprise trip to a whole new world with lodging already taken care of!

Sure it’s crowded, but think of the travel points!

 

4. Easier Investment Portfolios. Have you looked at a paycheck recently? They’re so confusing! There’s the gross pay and allowances and all kinds of taxes. And don’t get me started on how complicated it can be to have a 401K! You have to figure out who your dependents are and how much of what stock you want to invest in. And if your company does matching funds, what’s the tipping point when you start taking out too much…it just goes on and on and on…

But slaves didn’t have to worry about all that. No pay meant no financial headache! No one likes doing their taxes and slaves got away with never having to.

6. Lots of Time Outdoors. How tiring is it, being cooped up in an office all day! Fluorescent lights and distant windows and office chairs that never seem to be adjusted quite right. It feels so good to just get away at the weekend. Go outside, take a hike or even just a walk around the neighborhood. Camping is a huge industry–people love it! And those lucky lucky slaves got to be outside all the time!! And they didn’t even have to wear sunscreen!

7. Low-Sugar Diet. We’ve already talked about the obesity rates among blacks, but diabetes is sky-high, too. Diabetes rates are twice as high among African-Americans than it is in whites. And they’re more likely to have to have limbs amputated. No. Thank. You.

It’s hard to over do it on the sugar when you’re eating scraps of meat and bread, or not being allowed to eat at all, so slaves totally had it good when it came to controlling carbs! It’s soooooo hard to say no to dessert. But slaves never got the chance to say yes! How easy would it be to be healthy without all that nasty temptation everywhere!

8. Gated Community Living. Today, neighborhoods where lots of black live are all scary like Compton or Oakland or The South. But as slaves, blacks got to live in super secure, fenced-in areas that would be totes out of their price range today. Jealous!

I mean, no, they didn’t live in the big house, but they got to live behind the gate. Which is more than I’m doing, tell you that!

 

What’s your favourite thing about forced free labour? Let us know in the comments!

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For Mor-eo Oreo: Follow The Oreo Experience on Twitter (@oreoexperience)
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Please also check out The Oreo Experience’s new webseries, BLACK GIRL IN A BIG DRESS. Join awkward African American Anglophile Adrienne as she navigates 21st century dating with 19th century ideals. All 8 episodes of Season One streaming now!

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EXCLUSIVE: Other Shows HBO Considered Before Deciding On Confederate

Managed to get my hands on this internal memo circulated at HBO. Some pretty interesting titles here. I’m still rooting for Rosa Parks and Rec!! (Full text below)

 

 

Hey HBO,

Here are some other ideas we’re kicking around. Looking forward to your thoughts!!

 

GROUNDHOG MLK DAY – In the spirit of the acclaimed and beloved GROUNDHOG DAY, this series will re-live the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King over and over and over and over again. Each week, the audience will get the opportunity to see the assassination from many angles they never knew they wanted to see before.

 

JAMES CROWE – Superhero anti-heroes are all the rage these days, right? (read: Deadpool, Batman-those are the two that come to mind, anyway, so we’re gonna call that a trend). So why not create a Civil Rights-era anti-hero for us to hate, study, and learn from?? James Crowe is just a regular dude who just hates black people. That’s his whole deal. This series will follow his journey from regular citizen to political machinist slash lynch mob organizer. Every episode, he’ll come up with a new way to fuck over people who are darker-skinned than him. But also, he’s really charming in that Bradley Cooper/Littlefinger sort of way.

 

BOYCOTT BOYBAND – People also love musicals right now, right? We keep seeing all these Hamilton posts, so we figure that’s like a whole thing now. BOYCOTT BOYBAND combines the heartbreak of segregation with the joy of four-part harmony. Yes, people are getting fire-hosed, but also yes, they’re singing about it and cutting an album. We’re thinking of partnering with Harry Styles on this one. Each week, audiences will get to see visceral images of people being violently arrested while the sweet, dulcet tones of our favorite Motown quartet delivers a soundtrack that is sure to please!!

 

ROSA PARKS AND REC – A mockumentary-style (this is still a cool thing to do right?) series that shows us the quirky side of everyone’s favorite Civil Rights Era icon. From the back of the bus to in front of the camera, she’s a Pam Beasley for a new generation!! (Possible to get Jenna Fischer to play titular role?)

 

CIVIL WRONGS – It’s a procedural where every week, an African American person or family will try to use the court system of the United States to protect themselves and win their civil rights. But here’s the kicker: Every week, they will lose!! The good news is that this will be deeply painful to watch and the better news is that we’ll probably get several Emmys for it. Thinking of Peter Dinklage for the lead.

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Which one of these are you most interested in tuning in to? If you let us know which one and why in the form of a slave narrative, you might be eligible for a walk-on role in Season 4!!

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Here were some other fantastic ideas for programming. What was your favorite?

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We’re just a few weeks away from launching BLACK GIRL IN A BIG DRESS!! Please join us at any of the following:

The First Step Is Admitting You Have a Problem

It’s taken me a long time to admit this. I’m not proud, in fact, I’m embarrassed.

People say it’s not my fault. That I’m blessed in so many other ways. That something like this could happen to anybody

It’s come to my attention. That somewhere along the line, I’ve contracted Angry Black Lady Face.

This isn't what it looks like, but it's sure how it feels.

This isn’t what it looks like, but it’s sure how it feels.

I don’t know how this happened. I’ve been so careful. I always use protection. I lay pencils in between my teeth at night to train my cheek muscles to always be in a fully upright and stored position. When walking alone, I often quote old English Chaucer, which is nearly impossible to do without screwing your face into a smile.

But then sometimes, I’m careless and this is what happens. You come down with ABLF.

I first realized I had Angry Black Lady Face when I noticed that children never offer to sell me Girl Scout Cookies. And people outside of Trader Joe’s never try to get me to sign petitions.

There I am, leaving with my humus medley and fennel bulbs and my rosemary marcona almonds tucked securely under my arm. I hear the siren song of the (paid) idealist:

“Excuse me! Do you have 5 minutes for net neutrality!”

“Excuse me! Do you have 5 minutes for marriage equality!”

“Excuse me! Do yo--”

And then they meet my eyes. And their cause fades away.

I try walking towards them in an open and affirming way. But they look past me, safely into the middle distance.

tumblr_mb7zxfj1b91rukq44

It’s a shame that I have Angry Black Lady Face because I am the least black lady of all the ladies. Lady Mary Crawley is more black lady than I am… as evidenced by the fact that I just made a Downton Abbey reference. And used the phrase “as evidenced by.”

It’s also a shame because I am at Trader Joe’s a LOT! Love Diet Hansen’s Ginger Ale. I walk past about 30 thousand petitioners a week. Think of the good I could do.

Just for the record, my ABLF is just my Thinking Face. Usually thinking one of these things:

  • Why didn’t my Radiolab podcast update this week?
  • Ugh. I was supposed to do a leg yield from A to X but did a passage instead. Stupid!
  • Is it too late to get tix to see Gone With The Wind in Imax?
  • How much Speculoos is too much Speculoos?
  • What is my favorite Belle and Sebastian song?
  • Imaginary friends are totally normal. Totally.
  • You know what, I’m not even sad that I spend half my life in Spanx. It’s like being hugged all day long.
  • I love having pets, but am kind of afraid it makes me a mini-terrorist. You take an infant from its family without explaining yourself. You make it poop in front of you. Then when it gets sick or old, you just kill it.
  • Grrr, seriously. Why is my Cosmos podcast crashing my phone! Do not eff with me deGrasse Tyson. Not with me.

Do you have Angry Black Lady Face? Or it’s alleles: Resting Bitch Face? Studious Asian Face? Always Sad Eyes? Smiling But You’re Not Really Smiling Smile? How do you cope? Did I use “alleles” correctly? Send us a picture or let us know about it in the comments!

 

 

 

Remember, there is no cure for ABLF. But there is hope.

giphy

 

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For Mor-eo! Follow The Oreo Experience on Twitter (@oreoexperience)

Where Should I Put This?

I was so happy this week to finally be graced with my shiny, brand spanking new Restoration Hardware catalog in all it’s 12-lb glory!

If you haven’t gotten it yet, you’re in a for a treat! An eco nightmare of a treat, but what’s life without a little waste?

 

#blessed (source(

#blessed
(source)

If you have gotten it, I’m assuming you’ll be reading this post when you come out of your polished nickel daze and will need to know what to do with that mound of quasi-recyclable paper once you’ve finished dog-earing all that needs to be dog-eared.

Take care. The placement of said catalogue in your home will speak volumes about who you are, where you’ve come from and who you wish to be. So lay it down with care.  And feel free to use this guide.

 

Where you put it:Front Step
What you’re saying: “I’ve come home too late to notice this dark grey brick” or: “I can be bothered to fix the broken slate, so this’ll do.”

 

Where you put it: Book-ended on the Art Deco table in your foyer
What you’re saying: “Please wait here. I’ll be with you shortly and I hope that you remain in the utmost comfort until I return. Oh, and if you wouldn’t mind taking off your shoes.”

 

Where you put it: On the distressed teak coffee table in your living room.
What you’re saying:  “We’re low on coasters.”

 

Where you put it: Atop the subway tile counter top in your breakfast nook
What you’re saying: “It’s best if we don’t speak to each other during meals. I’m sure you agree.”

 

Where you put it: Stuffed into your tall vase, the one with the long sticks.
What you’re saying: “I just want you to understand something. I’ve made it. No one has tall vases with sticks unless they’ve made it.”

 

Where you put it: In the box with tear-outs from your House Beautiful subscription and Persian Pear wallpaper swatches.
What you’re saying: “No, no, everything’s fine. I’m just re-doing this other bedroom to make more of a space for myself. We’re not sleeping in separate rooms so much as I just end up working late and don’t want to wake him when I–did you want a drink?”
Where you put it: Under the absinthe fountain
What you’re saying: “Listen, everyone has problems.”

 

Where you put it: Hanging from your abalone chandelier
What you’re saying: “What’s the point of having something–be it a piece of lighting, a vintage celery dish, or a fight–if you’re not going to draw a little attention to it?”

 

Where you put it: In the drawer of your Dutch industrial bedside table
What you’re saying: “I only dream of paradise and cupcakes. What about you?”

Where do you put your most important stuff?  And does anyone have a hookup to a cool vintage celery dish; I’m super hoping to find one. Let us know in the comments!

 

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What Not To Say When Everyone In The Room Shouts The N Word, Then Suddenly Realizes You’re Also In The Room

Zumba. I love it. Especially on nights like last night.

Zumba is actually tricky for an Oreo. During the dance-style group exercise class, some of the moves can come dangerously close to looking like popping and/or locking. So as a good Oreo, I always try to stiffen up a little on some of the hippier moves so as not to frighten the other dancers or myself.

What I feel like when I work out

And then tonight, something wonderful happened. I don’t know what the song was (Sondheim didn’t write it, so I was at a loss), but everyone else in the room did. As we danced, they sang along and sang along and sang along and then everyone sang the n-word. In unison. Without missing a beat.

I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

Usually, when there’s an RBP in the room, people would shy away from one of the most offensive words in the English language. They’d think twice about loudly shouting a word that has probably gotten people killed.( At the very least, it’s gotten people into debates on Oprah’s couch–which for an Oreo might be a scarier place than the business end of a revolver.) Normally, if an RBP was in a room, people would maybe try to be polite — not out of fear of making a faux pas, but mainly out of some regard for public safety.

But not with me there. It was like they didn’t think I was black at all!!

Unfortunately, as quickly as my happiness was upon me, it disappeared. For mere seconds after they said the word, they caught sight of my reflection in the mirror and no one sang along for the rest of class.

What I probably look like when I workout

My apologies, ladies, for sullying last night’s good vibes. I will work on my layback and hopefully blend in much better next time.

Granted, some of the following did go through my head, but thanks to my Oreo training, they stayed inside and my outside voice never took control.

  • Why do you all know this song???!
  • Why did you include this song in your playlist??!
  • Is there a manager I can talk to?
  • What did he say after the n-bomb? I really can’t understand any of these lyrics.
  • Please don’t vote.
  • Don Sterling called, he’d like his favorite word back.
  • I’m concerned you might not have wrapped your heads around some basic points of everyday etiquette
  • This is a radio song, so you’ve said this like…how many time by now? And it hasn’t occurred to you to maybe… not?
  • This is a huge city on the liberal left coast for fuck’s sake! Get your shit together!
  • Oh yeah? We’ll your momma’s so fat, I”m very concerned for her long term  health.
  • You’re right, it is ~just~ a word after all, you stupid whale cunt.
  • Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never— *sobs*
  • Maybe I should just got to bootcamp. There’s not music in bootcamp.

Any of those responses would have seemed really RBP-like. Sure, the growing ulcer in my stomach might one day take over my entire digestion system. But I’ll look darn good while I’m convalescing. Yay, Zumba!

We’ve all been there. Someone has said something horrible and we’ve wanted to respond. But a response only makes people feel as awkward as you do.  And we’re better than that. What do you not say when someone pisses you off? Let us know in the comments.

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American Girl Gone

Happy start of summer! And welcome back to me. If you’re wondering where I’ve been, I can tell you (and not because I just visited my own Oreo Excuse Generator) that I’ve just been super swamped prepping for a Tom Stoppard Exhibition and this really great Castle Con.

(Also, just saying… my last entry was about how I finally made a black friend, and then suddenly the blogging stops. Coincidence? There are no coincidences my friends. Only war!)

Now that I’m back, what better way to kick of the beginning of Florida’s polo season than with a bit of nostalgia.

Last week, American Girl (making pretweens lose their minds since 1986) announced that it was discontinuing 4 of its historical dolls, 2 of which are of color. Cecile, who is African American, and Ivy, Asian American, will be going to American Girl Doll Heaven, leaving 7 dolls in the AG lineup. Including only one black doll. …who is a slave.

12 Years a Slave would have been much more adorbs if this was Solomon Northrup (source)

12 Years a Slave would have been much more adorbs if this was Solomon Northrup

Okay, fine she’s a former slave, so that’s good. She got out.  But whatever, part of her story involves being whipped into submission, sold for her womb and potentially being used for gynecological-related live science experiments.

The specifics of her history might matter less, except that a big part of the American Girl doll experience is the book that comes with your Girl, which tells about her life up until the point that you got her. I’m sure they leave out the R-rated bits, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there.

..oorrr, maybe there they're in all their gory detail. Yikes!  Well, that's a choice for a bedtime story

..oorrr, maybe the details are there in all their gory detail. Yikes! Well, that’s a choice for a bedtime story

(Also, these dolls cost $110. One hundred and ten dollars!! For ONE doll?  That’s 4 VIP tables at Empire Polo Club. Or like 30 Oprah Chais, which is the blackest thing I’ll admit to doing. For real, though, those things are yum! )

I only have one wish for slave Addy.

I wish that I knew about this brand when I was a kid and buying dolls! (read: making my parents buy me dolls!) This situation would have made my doll buying experience so much easier!

The one year or so I was into dolls was pretty rough. All I wanted was a blonde- or red-haired doll with long straight hair and freckles and a name like Allison or Brigita. Not too much to ask for. Every one of my friends had one, why shouldn’t I?

There are worse things than wanting an uberwench looking doll. Like wanting this one. It breast feeds. On children.

There are worse things than wanting an aryana looking doll. Like wanting this one. It breast feeds. On children.

But my parents wanted me to have “a positive self-image,” and “a reflection of myself in my playthings” and “more respect for my pointe shoes.” The latter had little to do with the doll issue, but it was still a struggle to explain that more respect would have been impossible as I had nothing but respect for my pointe shoes.

Anyway, all I wanted was for my doll to blend in in a way that I never could. Isn’t that what playtime is about? Indulging a kid’s fantasies about who they could be one day? Allowing them to dream about what beautiful person they might grow up to become? Giving them a little taste of vicarious happiness?

I knew from an early age that what doesn’t kill you gets you invited to better parties, so at age 9, assimilation was the goal. And I might have done it, too, if it hadn’t been for those pesky Cabbage Patch Kids!

See, if all I had to work with was American Girl dolls then my parents would never have let me have a toy that was also a slave. But since CPKs had one regular ol’ Cabbage Black Kid, that was my option: Black doll or no doll.

I remember the standoff in the store with my mom. The Toys R Us aisles loomed huge above me. And atop them, my Ginger Princess. So far out of my reach.

My mother stepped into frame holding the baby power smelling yard-headed monstrosity that was the “diverse’ CPK.

This doll or no doll.

“Fine,” I said after what felt an hour of almost passing out from the strain of so much defiance. “I’ll get a Pound Puppy instead.”

She still made me get the brown one.

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What were your favorite childhood toys? Did they reinforce your desires to be someone else? How did you negotiate this with your family? What do you let your kids play with today? Do you think American Girl doll should keep the diversity, or are we giving Slave Addy too hard of a time?

Let us know in the comments! 

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Your Acceptable Black Friend

So, I have some news. I have a new friend. She’s… Black.

And I’m not talking about just another card-carrying, flag-waving Oreo. She’s no RBP, but she downloaded Beyonce’s secret album the other week. Whatever. It’s no big deal. She filled out the application. And so now we have coffee every now and then.

Obviously when making a new black friend it’s important to be careful. Get too many of you together and it looks like you’re trying to stage a revival of The Color Purple.

And sure, she does like theater, but if we stage any production, it will probably be a revival of Proof. I’ll be playing the mathematical formula. It’ll be pretty groundbreaking.

Yes, there are some obvious risks with consorting with other Of Colors, but there are actually a couple of plusses as well. Tread carefully enough and you can still be a very special snowflake, but your new pal might just become a friend with some benefits.

She’ll have lotion.

Your Acceptable Black Friend probably doesn’t spend as much time trying to deny her countenance as you do. Because of that, she totally accepts that sometimes, said countenance gets ashy. White people can live without lotion forever. If their skin is dry, all they have to deal with is a distracting itch that can lead to cracks in the skin and possible infection.

What they don’t have to deal with is the embarrassing trail of chalky, flaky, white streak on brown skin if they dare scratch. (Meditation classes on ignoring discomfort are starting up again in a couple of weeks. PM me for deets).

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

I’d take the infection if it means that a simple itch didn’t draw attention to my Hamish curse. This leads to wishful thinking which leads to not buying lotion which leads to having to wear long pants all winter.

But your ABF probably just “accepts” that she gets ashy. So she’ll buy lotion. Which you can borrow on the DL.

You’ll be better at crossword puzzles.

I don’t know what “deuces” or “turnt out” means, but it’s fun to say (ironically, of course.) Thanks, ABF!

She’ll create a diversion

Despite an Oreo’s best efforts, at first blush, you’re still going to look ethnic. Relaxers and Peter Pan collars and tulle skirts aside, people will still get the wrong impression. This means that sometimes, people will approach you and use terms like “yo” and “articulate” when they start talking to you. They’ll point you away from the delicious trout canapés and tell you where the okra is or ask you how you feel about grinding on surfboarts or Michelle Obama’s healthy eating campaign.

You’d think the deer in the headlights look would be enough to deter them, but it usually only makes them ask more questions. Or encourages them to build you a playlist that includes far too little Sarah Watkins and far too many vocal riffs.

Your ABF, however, can fill in the gaps between their attempts at conversation and your terrified silence. While they chat, you can slip away unnoticed and take a moment to yourself to start planning your next Downton Abbey viewing extravaganza.

That Dowager’s got nothing on you. 

Bring it on, Violet!

Bring it on, Violet!

Deuces!

Who are some of your newest friends? What are the best things about them? And what is going on with Mr. Bates?? He’s about to lose his mind, right? He’s totally headed for Crazyton Abbey?

Let us know in the comments. 

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