african americans

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

You Can’t Say That on Television…Without Letting Me Know to Tune In!

Aasif Mandvi - those eyes, that smirk, that ability to make people forget that their words are being broadcast to millions and that there are such things as "consequences" mmmmmmmm

Aasif Mandvi – those eyes, that smirk, that ability to make people forget that their words are being broadcast to millions and that there are such things as “consequences”  – Yum!

In case you didn’t catch Thursday’s Daily Show clip that everyone is talking about, here’s the Reader’s Digest version: (Note to self: Find out if people still read Reader’s Digest)

Aasif Mandvi interviewed Don Yelton, a GOP Precinct Captain from North Carolina. During the interview, the two discussed voting rights generally, and more specifically, the fact that since the Supreme Court repealed part of the Voting Rights Act, North Carolina has done what it can to make sure that only the right people get the right vote. Yelton agrees with this practice and supports oppressive voting rules that keep various populations out of the polls. Oh, and he’s super racist about it.

If you haven’t seen the video, it’s worth a watch. So click here for that. Don’t worry, we’ll wait. (and if someone wants to teach me how to embed Daily Show clips on WordPress, there’s a bright and shiny oatmeal raisin cookie in it for you!)

HmmmmmhmmmmmooooooAAAAAAAAAAlalalalalawhatdoesthefoxsaytchofftchofftchoffalliwantedwastobreakyourwaaaalllllsbuteverybody’slikecristalmaybachdiamondsonyourtimepiecesomethingsomethingtigersonagold — oh you’re back!

So yeah. I watched that video and as you might expect, I was pissed.

That guy was so phoning it in! Sure, he trotted out uncomfortably bigoted phrases like “one of my best friends is black,” and “lazy blacks,” and “we call them negroes,” and yes, he even dropped the n-word a couple of times. Good for him, but he left so many great phrases out!

With just one more ounce of sticktoitiveness, Mr. Yelton could have done us the favor of saying words and phrases like:

  • Welfare queens
  • Food stamp president
  • Tar baby
  • They just don’t value education
  • Our blacks are better than theirs
  • Look, if it wasn’t for slavery, they’d all still be smashing rocks and throwing spears in Africa
  • What’s the difference between a pizza and a black guy
  • Can I touch your hair
  • The Holocaust? Yeah, I’ve heard that propaganda before.
  • Fried chicken and diabetes

With just one or two extra phrases, I could have totally won last night’s game of Unbelievably Dumb And Totally Cliched Right Wing Racist Things Bingo–a game I play weekly. PM me for deets on the next location.

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Leave a comment here or at any of the above and let us know what you think!

How to Write about Current Events, Zimmerman

Since Saturday, I’ve been trying to figure out what to say about the George Zimmerman non-verdict. Just like I tried to figure out what to say when all this started last year. Moments like this are what folks like me are here for. We’re supposed to say something hella pithy and clever and poignant and then drop the mic like BOOM.

The good news is, I have been saying a lot about the ol’ GZ sitch. The less good news is that the conversations have mostly been in my head. And they’ve sounded a little like this:

Saturday

TheOreoExperience: Holygoodness, I love me a singalong! And on such a lovely Los Angeles summer night! Ha! Summer days, drifting away to ah ah those suummmer niiiiiiights.

Inner Voice: Psst! Pssssst! Psssssssssssssssssssssssssst! Check your phone!  Someone just got an AP Mobile update saying that the verdict has come in.

TOE: C’mon. I just got my goodie bag. There are bubbles in here. I guarantee you the verdict is not going to make me want to blow bubbles.

IV: Who’s Bubbles?

TOE: My bubbles, I just– hey! I see what you did there. Stop being a child. We are at a Grease singalong. This is serious business.

IV: Travolta’s tight pants are serious business.

TOE: Yes they are. So stop distracting me. I’ll deal with this tomorrow.

IV: Okay. Sure thing.

(beat)

IV: He was found not guilty of all charges.

TOE: WHAT?! WHAT THE EFFING HOLY MOTHER EFFING EFF?! HOW IS THAT–

IV: We have to write about this.

TOE: I know, I know. But seriously, tomorrow. It hurts my self to think about this and It’s hard to put coherent satire together when you’re singing Beauty School Dropout.

Remember, kids. The moral of this story is something along the lines of become a slut to get the man of your dreams.  Not gonna say it worked for me...not gonna say it didn't.  (source)

Remember, kids. The moral of this story is something along the lines of become a slut to get the man of your dreams.
Not gonna say it worked for me…not gonna say it didn’t.
(source)

Every Day Since Saturday

IV: Why aren’t we writing yet?

TOE: Because…I just… I mean, have you…

IV: Oh, come on. You live for this stuff!

TOE: What a horrible thing to say.

IV: But it plays perfectly into your whole narrative.

TOE: It’s just too dark. I mean, as much as I like making jokes about this stuff, I kinda wish i didn’t have to.

IV: Yeah and I wish I had a unicorn right now.

TOE: Okay, fine.

IV: Wish in one hand, poop in the other, see which one fills up first.

TOE: I get it.

IV: When you wish upon a star, you look like a crazy person talking to yourself like that.

TOE: Okay!! You are not nice today.

IV: We’ve got things to do. Let’s hear what you’ve got.

TOE: Okay, well I thought about doing a piece about how a little Oreo fashion instruction could solve a lot of issues. Instead of hoodies, black folks should don turtlenecks and wigs–they keep all the brown from being seen, but aren’t as gangy looking. The right wig can also totally throw someone off the scene. I’m thinking a Whig era wig, you know. Also, I look amazeballs in a turtleneck.  

IV: Hmmm, yeah, now all I’m thinking about is that poor boy. Fucking sad.

TOE: That’s the problem!

IV: What else ya got? I think we can still make something work.

TOE: Hmmm, I could make a list of names that were more likely to encourage a guilty verdict. I mean, if George Zimmerman had shot young Albert Van Beveran or little Larson Latimer or if he had murdered Mackenzie Morris, things might have been different. I could talk about how Oreos know this and so we’ll even change our last names if it arranges an anglo-tastic alliteration. Maybe throw in a list of things you can change your name to?

IV: Yeah, it’s still really just bumming me out right now.

TOE: What about–

IV: You know what. Why don’t we just call it a day maybe go out on a cat picture.

TOE: Sounds good! Can we do some kitten mittens?

IV: Wouldn’t have it any other way.

TOE: You’re good to me.

IV: I really am.

TOE: Thanks Craig for the tip on the gif!

IV: Who’s Craig?

TOE: This guy I work with. He’s cool.

IV: Right on.

1233209173_1993968011

 

TOE: Hey, IWS?

IV: Yeah?

TOE: Is this maybe what’s wrong with, oh, everything by the way? The whole let’s just look at a cat gif instead of rising up and taking action as a society?

(beat)

IV: It’s a really good gif.

TOE: Has everyone in my office seen me talking out loud to myself?

IV: Yup!

TOE: We have really got to get you a body.

(Click here for How To Write About Current Events Part I)

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What are your favorite pieces on the Trayvon Martin case? Give us links in the comments!

Or, if you’re the emotional child that I am, what are your favorite make-yourself-feel-better photos or gifts? Leave those in the comments, too! 

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

Leave a comment here or at any of the above and let us know what

Cheerios Girl and The Art of the Awkward Interview

Once upon a couple of weeks ago, Cheerios released an adorable commercial where an adorable little girl uses adorable kid logic and adorably pours Cheerios all over her sleeping father to help him stay healthy.

Cute, right?  Haha! Wrong! At least to a good chunk of the online community, anyway.

Cheerios had to close the comments section under this video due to racism. And this week, the little girl at the center of the blended family controversy spoke out…ish.

While young Grace is not an Oreo Oreo (she’s mixed race, not in denial), she’s made of enough cutes to get an honorary mention. Plus, during her interview with NBC, she shows us some great ways to handle the awkwardness that comes when people see that you’re the one thing that’s not like the others.

So the next time you find yourself at the wrong end of an inquiry, remember what Grace would do and try the following:

Wear a jaunty cardigan. No one wants to trouble someone in a delicate sweater. So not only do the long sleeves hide the evidence of your melanin, you get bonus points because the warm fuzzy fabric makes everyone around feel warmer and fuzzier themselves.

Smile and stare in lieu of answering. Making someone ask the same question more than 2 times in a row usually draws attention to the how weird/unnecessary/obvious/rude the question in the first place. So instead of answering, allow yourself a little time delay. You’ll find you won’t have to say very much and maybe not even answer the question at all. If

Look as cute as possible. Delivering a blank stare instead of a canned answer might come across as rude in some circles. But not if you’re super adorbs about it! So rose up those cheeks (yes, guys, you can do this, too), dig in those dimples, shine up that twinkle in your eye and get ready to deflect.

Bring back up. When possible, surround yourself with at least two other people with more patience than you have. It helps if they’re taller and if maybe one of them is white. (What am I saying, Oreos? Haha ‘maybe one of them.’ Obvi, both will be!) You can always use a head-tossing giggle to throw the question to them, ask them to translate or just stand a bit behind them and blend into the background.

Start talking to yourself. When all else fails, just start having a conversation with yourself instead of whoever bugging you. They’ll leave you alone.

Watch the interview here and see these tips in action!

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How to Meet Someone

(source)

Con’t be afraid to crop out dark spots in your photos.
(source)

With the end of the year comes a host of potentially awkward situations for an Oreo: office holiday parties, obligatory shindigs thrown by vague acquaintances, family dinners, the lack of new Shark Tank and Kitchen Nightmares episodes.

Not only is the Oreo forced to make make-believe merry with people who also don’t want to be there, but she or he might get stuck talking to another of color, or worse, an RBP. In some cases, an Oreo might find herself in the extra sticky situation of having to introduce another melanin-rich individual to someone else. Or worse, they might be introduced to a black person by a malicious member of their blanchetourage.

In either case, it is imperative to make it clear that the Oreo a) does not know this person well b) does not wish to know this person well and c) hopes no one gets to know this person well. Too much familiarity and an onlooker is certain to fear a gang-fight.

Here are some steps you can take at your next party to make sure that everyone knows you’re only shaking this person’s hand to be polite.

Mispronounce their name. Nothing says that you just don’t give a shit like the mispronunciation of a name you just heard learned. If you’re meeting a Michael, try calling them Michelle, La-Michael or Quantas to make sure no one thinks you’re friends. Adding an “accidental”  “La-” a “D'” or a “-eesha” to the beginning or end of most names will make them sound super black and thus allow everyone to recognize how little you think of this person. It will also draw attention to their darkness and keep people from looking at yours.

Look Away. Whether you look just above their heads, to the left or right of their ears or bury your face in yours or your neighbor’s purse, keep yourself from locking eyes with the Other. You don’t want them thinking that they can engage you in further conversation or steal your soul–which they will do.

Accentuate the negative. This will highlight your own accomplishments as well as ensure that mutual friends will try to keep their distance, which in turn, will help you keep yours. Try saying something like:

  • “Hi Marcie, this is LaJennifer-eessha, her divorce should be just about final by now.”
  • “Nice to meet you.. D’Steven, was it? Didn’t I see you in the parking lot just before that busload of children was shot… Huh. Must have been your twin, then!”
  • “This is LaD’EeshaJohnFootballPlayer. His sentencing hearing is next week. What’s that? You’ve never been convicted of anything? Huh, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. I mean… look at you!”

With phrases like these, you’ll ensure that the conversation will be brief and your humiliation bearable.

No touch. While you may not be able to get away with avoiding a handshake, do not under any circumstances hug, kiss, tickle or sleep with this person. You’re dark enough. You don’t want that shit rubbing off on you.

For more tips and tricks for social situations, see below.

Click here for an additional Holiday Party Survival Guide

Click here for info on how to deal with someone who looks Mixed Race

Click here to see how to deal with a white person who surprises you by suddenly sounding all black out of nowhere.

Celebrate carefully, my friends.

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Who’s the Creamiest of Them All? Oreo Showdown Me vs. Frank

I was incredibly proud of the heights of Oreodom to which I ascended this weekend. I was at a financier’s wedding in Wine Country that was totally hipstered out (bride and groom walked down the aisle to Bon Iver or some such, food trucks sported locally sourced, organic quinoa kale pizzas and for every tux trouser, there was a pair of Tom’s poking out of the bottom).

The attendants basically looked like this
(source)

At one moment, I took my glass of Northern California Shiraz in one hand, my Starbucks in the other and went for a stroll through the adjoining vineyard. I looked back at the scene and reveled in a couple’s lovely commitment to love and at my pulling off being the only black person in attendance.

It’s the little things.

Then something caught my eye. A black guy. Surely, I thought, he’s here to hand me the keys to my car or take away this biodegradable wine glass. But no… he was a guest like me. When I figured that out, the competition was on! I was not going to let this handlebar mustachioed, Steampunk suit sporting dude out Oreo me.

Naturally, I couldn’t talk to him directly lest people think we were extras from Real Housewives of Atlanta, so I ran my reconnaissance and found out that he was doing an excellent job at Oreoing.

He was an accomplished equestrian, a fine artist photographer, had clearly trained in ballroom dancing…and did I mention the handlebar mustache. I imagined him twirling it like an old timey villain if and when he found out he had bested me. He spoke French, made a delicious tapenade, had been a vegan since he was 12 and was from Connecticut!

Even I have a hard time matching those stats.

Damn you, home state! Why couldn’t you have been a Dakota?
(source)

I was about to tip my french veiled hat in concession when I saw his date… She was White! A black guy dating a white women. That is SUCH an RBP thing to do!! I win.

So instead of stopping, I grabbed another glass for a victory lap around the wine bar safe in the knowledge that I finally made up for the other wedding party that, despite my best bestest efforts, went terribly. An unfortunate loss for him, but it was a game well played, sir. Well played indeed.

And yes, I get the Catch-22 that Oreo guys are in. Date a black girl and people start thinking you’re just escorting her to her next john. Date a white girl and you look like an RBP. Oh well, we all have our crosses to bear. Anyone have any suggestions?

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