Black Girl in a Big Dress is also beginning her festival run next month at The International Black Film Festival in Nashville, and the Urban Mediamakers Film Festival in Atlanta!
This post originally appeared here.
It has been updated below.
Also, seriously, how do you pronounce it? Is it “ruh-prize” or “ruh-preeze”?
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
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!
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!
What’s your favourite thing about forced free labour? Let us know in the comments!
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)
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.
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!!
Here were some other fantastic ideas for programming. What was your favorite?
We’re just a few weeks away from launching BLACK GIRL IN A BIG DRESS!! Please join us at any of the following:
As longtime readers of this space will know, an Oreo is not likely to celebrate Black History Month. Summer Solstice, is fine. Nothing wrong with a Labor Day picnic. And I’m already happily planning the photo shoot for this year’s Boxing Day cards.
But Black History Month is not something we traditionally make space for. When black people go on and on about other black people…and especially when they go on and on about the historical treatment of black people, it makes other people very uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter if what said black person is saying is “true,” or “correct,” or “a helpful bit of conversation to help understand current events,” history and truth will always be around, so no need to harp on them. Comfort, however, is fleeting and should be cherished. Like a shooting star or the finish on a nice Southern French Negrette.
Yesterday, however, Vice President Pence gave us a lovely gift! He showed us that we can celebrate Black History Month by talking about White People!
That’s way more comfortable than being all snowflakey/SJW/RBP about it. It’s perfect! We get a few more days to throw a lovely bash (who’s gonna pass up an excuse to pass the flutes!) and we can do it without upsetting the social order.
I hear what you’re saying, though. You’ve been indoctrinated to focus on black heroes during BHM. Effectively, unsung white champions have been Affirmative Actioned right out of the conversation. So they’ve been all but forgotten. What white heroes would we even talk about? We’ve got you covered. Below are a handful of white folks to lift up along with talking points about their contributions to Black America.
Look at this darling little white girl.
She was illustrated by another darling white girl. Ellen Hattie Clapsaddle lived in the late 1800s and early 1900s and was the most prolific greeting card illustrator of her day. Black people, after being freed from slavery, developing economic communities of their own, standing up to the nation when those communities were torn down, and then building themselves up again would eventually mail postcards to each other. Thanks for the support, Ellen!
Hubert Cecil Booth
This is Hubert!
Back in the day when everyone went by all three of their names, he was busy being three-named and inventing the vacuum cleaner. Most homes in the US have a vacuum cleaner and some of those homes have black people in them. Plus, earlier last century when black people could only get work as preachers or maids, some of those ladies used vacuum cleaners instead of having to break their fingers combing carpet by hand. Where would they be without this great man? Thanks, Hube!
Look at this guy!
Who is he and what did he do? Does that matter? I think what’s important to see here is that he looks like someone you could just have a conversation with. He probably keeps a level head and gently guides you to make decisions that don’t get everyone all riled up. Thanks, This Guy!
Look at the love!
These two are just starting on their lives together, but they’ve totally had conversations about adopting a kid one day. And they’re not totally opposed to the idea of adopting inter-racially. So there’s like a solid 70-30 chance that they’ll help reduce the inner city by one. Thanks, This couple!
Happy Black History Month, everyone!
For more BHM survival tips:
- Check out This Guide #BlookerPWooshingbun.
- And then maybe read this about my first Black History Month wherein I should probably stop using these people’s real names.
What heroes are you celebrating this February? Let us know in the comments!
For Mor-eo Oreo:
I remember it like it was yesterday.
There I was, 8 years old, making some awesome dioramas, sipping Capri Suns neat, and generally just enjoying the crap out of fourth grade.
To that point in time, I had made it through 6 years of schooling being able to skate under the racial radar, not draw attention to myself, and generally thinking that who I was was OK.
Then Black History Month came along. A separate but equal period of time in which to focus on what really matters — the things that make us different that we must learn to crush into submission.
Despite my years of training, people still sometimes look at me and think “Oh, a black person. Isn’t that nice/vaguely threatening/potentially interesting.” And during this month, those thoughts have the potential to run rampant. Suddenly you go from just another friendly face at the bar to someone who can potentially answer some questions.
Trust me, you do not want to answer those questions.
The more questions you answer about “your experience as a minority,” or “your point of view on current events as a minority,” or “your thoughts their new savory egg and hemp seed muffins as a minority,” the more likely you are to dirty the lens through which people see you. You’ve worked too hard to suddenly turn into someone’s black friend.
“But what do I do?” you’re thinking. “How do I avoid these conversations?” “What if someone comes toward me, MLK biography open and dog-eared, how do I escape?”
With these 5 steps, it’s easier than you think.
Get Your Blinders On
Always remember that their vision is based on movement. This advice works for avoiding dinosaurs, it works for avoiding Regular Black People, and it works for avoiding well-meaning co workers as well.
You know the feeling. You’re sitting in your cube. Happily scrolling through Instagrams for images for your vision board working incredibly hard at helping the company meet its goals when you feel it. The eyes from a few cubes away.
Do not look into them. One second of eye contact and you’re giving a green light to awkward questions.
If you find the stares difficult to ignore, just pull out some of your polo prep. Grab a wide-brimmed hat or parasol; and if all else fails, just borrow your horse’s blinders. Colonel Beauregard Sable won’t mind at all.
Opera Sonar and Grand Jete Away
There’s a reason dolphins never run into you. Okay, several reasons actually. But one of the big ones is sonar. They send a sound into the world, wait to see what it bounces off on and avoid what they need to. You can do the same.
Keep a cadenza on your lips and listen for its echo. When that bad boy starts to doppler, get away and get away fast. Whether it’s Grand, Russian, or Tour, a jete is just the thing to get you out of the line of sight asap. A glissade will also do in a pinch.
Let Them Correct You
You only have to say “Blooker P. Wooshingbun” once in a conversation for folks to get the message.
Look The Part
Get your hair done, slap on a shade of foundation a half shade lighter than you, press that Peter Pan collar, stand in the right light… and folks might have to look twice to confirm your ethnic status. In that second it takes them to reconsider you can make your getaway.
Distract and Deflect
Sometimes, despite doing everything right, someone’s going to ask you something awkward. It’s okay. The good news is you don’t need to make a scene and be all uppity about it. You’re not an RBP after all. The better news is that you also don’t have to answer.
Look, it would probably be helpful to be people’s very own personal ethnic point of reference. But once you admit to identifying with the minority, that’s all folks will be able to see you as. So it’s not about being rude to get out of the convo, it’s about self-preservation.
Here’s your script: “That’s a really good question. I would love to answer it, but I have to finish this piece for a haiku festival this weekend.”
They’ll tell you that they’ll catch up with you later (or, if they’re feeling like risking it all, that they’ll “holla at you later.”) But chances are, they’ll find a real RBP or the self-awareness to know that it’s not your responsibility to explain anything to them and they’ll forget they ever asked. You won’t forget, but that’s okay. Part of being a good Oreo is learning to love that burning, gnawing feeling.
If you don’t have anything going on this weekend, feel free to use our handy Oreo Excuse Generator.
What do you think about Black History Month? Helpful teaching tool or terrifying social construct? Let us know in the comments!
Another reason for my Oreo-ness is how people love to celebrate any ethnic holiday other than any ethnic holiday having anything to do with being black.
As I indulged in my one whisky and ginger last night, I looked at all the not-Irish people wearing “Kiss me, I’m Irish” shirts. All those of Scandinavian, Mexican, Eastern European descent drinking away, spouting bursts of gaelic and loving the celebration. And I realized nothing like this ever happens on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Man, the Irish had it right. I mean, they were oppressed and do you see them demanding a whole month and bemoaning their past. At one point, the Irish were called the n-words of Europe. But do they march in the streets during the entire month of March, interrupt our regularly scheduled programming with awkward documentaries, find themselves insulted when restaurants serve specials on corned beef and cabbage, get bummed out when America reduces centuries of Irish history into a handful of stereotypes and excuse to make bad decisions or get mad when people put on green face? No. They embrace it.
Maybe if the blacks would shrink Black History Month into one day full of liquor they might have a better sell.
And, no, by “liquor”, I don’t mean 40s. We could class it up a bit. Whisky gingers are good for all occasions.
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**.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!