black people

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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Red Crossed

A lot of people were concerned this week when the Red Cross, an organization dedicated to public health initiatives and to building at least one house in Haiti, was found to have produced this public safety announcement.

 

redcross

Curious as to what the problem was?

The poster’s goal is to show kids that there are 2 types of behaviour at a public pool. There’s “cool” behaviour such as waiting for the diving board like a little debutant stretching a hamstring before the talent portion of the competition. And there’s “uncool” behaviour like well, according to this poster, being brown.

Internets wer quick to point out that all the kids demonstrating “cool” behaviour were flesh-colored (if we’re using the Crayola naming convention) and almost all of the kids demonstrating “not cool” behavior were brown colored. No kids of brown were pictured to be demonstrating “cool” behaviour.

Red Cross ended up apologizing and asking that pools who hung up the poster take it down immediately.

Look, is the Red Cross racist? Probably not. I mean, they built that nice singular house for all those people in Haiti. A racist wouldn’t do something like that. Let’s not get overly PC about this.

Casting choices aside, there are actually plenty of things to be offended by in this picture, though. And these issues deserve all the Twitter outrage.

 

 

Those lifeguards

They’re not allowed to join a union.

They’ve worked there forever. They’ve saved lives. And when they asked their boss about some organization to their organization, their boss hung up a  memo that was all: “We’ve committed to you, we expect the same kind of commitment from you. Just as we didn’t ask you to sign contracts preventing you from taking freelance pool work, we’d like to ask you not to ask us sign something that will make it difficult for us to continue our working relationship.”

#YesAllLifeguards

 

That water

Three words: They. Still. Use. Chlorine.

Have they never heard of salt water? It’s like they don’t even care about the planet or saving money on maintenance.

 

That cool dad with his baby

He has to pay alimony to his ex-wife indefinitely because even though she makes more money than he does, her income is mostly off the books, so no one can prove a thing.

 

That dolphin sitting on the fence.

She didn’t get paid for a speaking role because someone else provided the voice balloon copy which technically means that dolphin didn’t speak. This a technicality that allows Big Pamphlet to continue to profit while working class artists suffer.

 

That pair of interracial synchronized swimmers

She makes like 15% less than he does for the same effort. And they have the same agent. And she won’t listen to any of us when we’re like “you need new representation. Your partner should be standing up for you!!” She’s always like “but I just love the craft. It’s not about the money.” And we’re like “yeah, but your student loans!” And she’s always “You just need to meet him.” And then we’re like “Whatever. Well, we’ll be here for you when you change your mind but for now, we don’t know how to be supportive of this. Doesn’t mean we’re not friends. In fact, it means we’re better friends than he is.”

 

Frankly, the racial profiling is the worst of this poster’s problem.

What do you think? How does this poster hurt your feelings? Let us know in the comments!

 

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For Mor-eo Oreo:

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

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.

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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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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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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!