black history month

Great Heroes of Black History Month

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!

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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.

Ellen Clapsaddle

Look at this darling little white girl.

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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!

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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!

 

This Guy

Look at this guy!

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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!

This couple!

Look at the love!

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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:

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What heroes are you celebrating this February? Let us know in the comments! 

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For Mor-eo Oreo:

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Black History Month: A Short Survival Guide

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.

Slip one of these inside your Trapper Keeper and you were set!

Slip one of these inside your Trapper Keeper and you were set!

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.

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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.

Plus, look how happy you look!

Plus, look how happy you look!

Let Them Correct You

You only have to say “Blooker P. Wooshingbun” once in a conversation for folks to get the message.

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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.

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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.”

Discussing fencing is also an excellent way to change the topic

Discussing fencing is also an excellent way to change the topic

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! 

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

Post Patrick’s Day Puzzling

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.

 

Hmm, are you really or are you just looking to get some without much effort?

 

 

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.

 

...or on Thurgood Marshall Thursdays.

 

 

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.

 

 

And make emotionally complex, corkscrew like movies.

 

 

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.

 

Seriously, this thing doesn't offend people? It's like the pickaninny of Western Europe.

 

 

 

*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!

Compton Cookout – Classic!

When I saw this facebook invitation to a “Compton Cookout” hosted by frat brothers in San Diego, I was upset and heartbroken.

“February marks a very important month in American society. No, I’m not referring to Valentines day or Presidents day. I’m talking about Black History month. As a time to celebrate and in hopes of showing respect, the Regents community cordially invites you to its very first Compton Cookout.

For guys: I expect all males to be rockin Jersey’s, stuntin’ up in ya White T (XXXL smallest size acceptable), anything FUBU, Ecko, Rockawear, High / Low top Jordans or Dunks, Chains, Jorts, stunner shades, 59 50 hats, Tats, etc.

For girls: For those of you who are unfamiliar with ghetto chicks – Ghetto chicks usually have gold teeth, start fights and drama, and wear cheap clothes – they consider Baby Phat to be high class and expensive couture. They also have short, nappy hair, and usually wear cheap weave, usually in bad colors, such as purple or bright red. They look and act similar to Shenaynay, and speak very loudly, while rolling their neck, and waving their finger in your face. Ghetto chicks have a very limited vocabulary, and attempt to make up for it, by forming new words, such as “constipulated,” or simply cursing persistently, or using other types of vulgarities, and making noises, such as “hmmg!,” or smacking their lips, and making other angry noises, grunts, and faces. The objective is for all you lovely ladies to look, act, and essentially take on these “respectable” qualities throughout the day.

Several of the regents condos will be teaming up to house this monstrosity, so travel house to house and experience the various elements of life in the ghetto.

We will be serving 40’s, Kegs of Natty, dat Purple Drank – which consists of sugar, water, and the color purple , chicken, coolade, and of course Watermelon. So come one and come all, make ya self before we break ya self, keep strapped, get yo shine on, and join us for a day party to be remembered – or not.”

Why wasn’t I on the invite list??

Sure, it’s dicey for Oreos to spend time with other people of color, but spending time with people pretending to be of color is just as important as making sure you’ve staked out your place at the regatta. Because here, we are reminded of just how unpleasant we would be if we were RBP.

Thanks, brothers, for the reminder. See you at next year’s Pimps and Hos ball, the Gangta Grill and the Cotton Bowl.

Diary of a Mad White Black Woman – Image

Dear Diary,

The kind of invitation I’d been waiting for finally came. Embossed envelope withe the kind of wax seal I haven’t seen since my last Renaissance Festival. I was expecting to be asked to any number of red carpet events where I could rub sunburned elbows with the kind of people it does me good to be seen with.

Then I opened the envelope.

The NAACP Image Awards?? 

Such a tease you are, life, such a tease. 

They are honoring The Blind Side, though. So, maybe they’re more Oreo-tastic than I thought.