Guess the Setup to These Racially-Inspired Punchlines…It’s Good for You!

27771942When encouragement comes from someone you know, who knows you and your struggles, that’s great. Chances are, that person understands the work you’re doing, how important it is to you and how far a few kind words can send you. It’s a good thing.

When encouragement comes from a stranger, who knows nothing of you, what you’re doing or how important it is to you, that is phenomenal.

Imagine my joy today then, when on the phone, a client of mine inadvertantly praised me when he began complaining with very colorful language about people, who I can only assume from his vernacular, are black.

Sure it stung a little to hear people I may well be related to so maligned, but just before I yelled, I realized what good work I had done. Neither the tone, timbre of my voice nor any references I had made during our year of working together remotely clued him into the fact that I had been born ethnic.

So instead of yelling, I gave myself a pat on the back and settled in for a little more abuse that hurt in all the right ways.

If this has happened to you, congratulations Rockstar, keep up the good work.

Oh, and remember, so as not to blow your cover, it’s a good idea to know some of the jokes that will surely come your way in a conversation like this. I have included some helpful punchlines below.

  • The pizza can feed a family of four.
  • Put it in a book.
  • The lights are out, how can you count them?
  • It’s gone
  • The cop
  • “No honey, it’s because you’re 23.”
  • A microphone
  • They don’t like any jobs.
  • An auctioneer
  • “Oh, then I use their last names.”
  • From the pepper spray
  • Raisin Bran
  • Crime prevention
  • My bike
  • Cocoa Muffs

Swap out that inspirational poster for these bad boys and watch productivity soar.

Playing it Safe

I went to see an August Wilson play last night. I know what you’re thinking. Nearly buying watermelon last week, now seeing an August Wilson play, am I giving up on the Oreo lifestyle?

Not at all, friends. Like with any one night stand, I took precautions.preview_600_787

  • I went in the company and at the suggestion of a white friend. Taking someone up on an invitation to an awkward social situation is par for the course for, say, Hampton society, so why not embrace!
  • Pre show, I took care to keep a bubble of unblack patron between myself and other patrons of color. Sitting next to a black person at a play where themes of racial identity will be discussed would tempt anyone to discuss the shared experience of being a minority in America. Such discussions could lead to empathy for and an embrace of one’s ‘culture’, which clearly derails the hard and necessary work one has done as an Oreo.
  • As an extra precaution, before the show started, my host and myself engaged in a rousing discussion of comparative literature.

This definitely helped offset the high ratio of color to Caucasian in the theater.

Then during intermission, I realized: this situation was not as dire as I thought! August Wilson was the son of a black woman and a white man. Not just white, German in fact. Upon this realization, I breathed a sigh of relief and enjoyed the rest of the show.

To celebrate, I’ve listed some other things that are not nearly as dangerous as they seem, plus how they can benefit anyone looking to hide from who they are.

scorpionThe fake danger: With half a dozen eyes, a crispy exoskeleton, giant pincers and a tail that means business, scorpions are as terrifying looking as a rerun of Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. But it turns out it’s all looks. These tiny horrors are nearly blind and have only a very mild venom. Getting stung by one is only about as harmful as getting stung by a bee.

The Oreo Upshot:
Even better than the fact that scorpions can’t really hurt you is that they are found in places where people of color are not: remote desert campsites, historic Victorian homes and exotic pet stores.

So if you as a person of color do have the fortune to be stung by a scorpion, wear that injury proudly. It shows that you are hanging out where you should be.

Swine Flu
The fake danger: Despite a handful of deaths and promotable nicknames like “Hamthrax” and “Snoutbreak,” the feared 9o5trTSwine flu is not really all that bad. Some experts are saying that it is in fact much less severe than the yearly regular flu outbreaks and the CDC is considering changing the definition of ‘pandemic’ to accommodate the general unseriousness of Swine Flu.

The Oreo Upshot:
Initial Swine Flu cases were coming out of Mexico. Should you come down with fever, chills and diarrhea, just show off your pics from the white sandy beaches of Cancun with the other white sandy patrons and anyone who was afraid of your symptoms will be delighted that they can reminisce with you about how fun it was to have drinks served to them by brown locals whose hovel homes are hidden by the American based hotel chains who give you decent rates by refusing the natives a living wage.

Texting While Driving
Avoid-texting-while-drivingThe fake danger:
Sure there is an accident or two more now than there were pre iPhone, but the frustration incurred by not answering text messages while avoiding pedestrians on the on ramp is the real danger. Gen Y is accustomed to getting what we want when we want it. Even if we want it while operating a 2,000 pound thing that can kill an innocent on contact.

If we don’t keep our hands at 4 and 8 on our phones and not at 10 and 2 on the wheel, how can we tell our dinner date we’re running late, passively aggressively avoid our parents with a digital birthday greeting or find out if the object of our affection texted us back yet…no? how about now?…Now?  NOW?!?

Don’t think of it as creating an accident by being visually distracted, think of it as avoiding the death of our self-esteem, which is way more important than that guy selling roses and oranges by the side of the road who we just grazed.

The Oreo Upshot
Everyone has a cell phone, so that’s not going to make you stand out. But if you can get someone to call you to trigger your Grateful Dead ring tone while the cops are finishing your accident report, so much the better!

Move 10. e5
The fake danger:
ChessThat’s right, chess fans. What was once seen as a problem move in the trusted Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defense, is playable after all. Thank to the continued efforts of the folks at Rybka, there are many solutions this seeming stalemate of a move. Including of course, but not limited to: 10. h6, 11. Bh4 dxe5, 12. fxe5 (alt: 12 wfd7).

The Oreo Upshot:
If you understood any of that, you have Oreo points for life, even if you do decide to watch an episode of House of Payne.

Plausible Deniability

I almost bought a watermelon today.

I know excuses are pitiful, but it was hot, I was hungry and the allure of a lightly sweet, hydrating fruit was mighty and powerful.

But I was strong. I left the display, went inside and bought a bushel of figs instead.

The whole experience made me realize there are some things that even the most devoted Oreo will have a hard time avoiding. I’m listing some here for your reference, hoping that you can forgive me my trespasses and looking for a program, 12 steps or otherwise, that can help.

lotions-wholesale-privateAshy Knees. When one has higher levels of melatonin in one’s skin, one should also have higher levels of lotion with them at any given time. We do our best, but sometimes extra dry weather, a sudden fall to the ground, or time spent genuflecting and praying to be released from our ethnic bondage will sap the skin of moisture. Don’t worry, we’ll reapply as soon as possible.

Hairanoia. As discussed earlier, hair is a very delicate subject for an Oreo. We go 6046through great pains to keep it in line….a very straight line…and stray jets of water, rainfall or the beach or a public pool can be disastrous. It’s not that we can’t swim, it’s just that like a Mogwai, water has the ability to replicate things about ourselves that are best left alone. Specifically, the curls that give away our true identities.

blackjesusLooking Bad by Comparison. If you watch movies, you will see that black people are relegated one of to two roles. They are either the obligatory thugs/criminals/ ganstas , or they are what is affectionately called a Magical Negro.

These MNs are found in movies like The Green Mile, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Legend of Bagger Vance, The Shining, The Hudsucker Proxy, Because of Wynn Dixie, Two Weeks Notice, Shawshank Redemption, Million Dollar Baby, Driving Miss Daisy (oh, hell, the whole Morgan Freeman oeuvre), The Matrix, O Brother Where Art Thou and The Stand, just to name a few.

These black characters exist to help white characters with whatever their problems may be without taking any reward or benefit for themselves.

The truth is, every black person is a Magical Negro. If you’re a scuzzy looking white person, you’re not nearly as frightening as that black man in line behind you, so consider the loan yours. If you’re a white lady with a few baby daddies, well at least those daddies don’t come from Inglewood, so line up for county services. If you’re a high school dropout with suction cups for hands, your resume is still more readable than Harvard graduate DeShawnda’s so get ready to roll over that 401K.

Sickle Cell Anemia. This disease exists only in persons of African descent. 76520-004-27CD47E9The upside: It renders us immune to Malaria. The downside: It exists only in persons of African descent, so the blood test that’s part of a yearly physical forces us to reckon with who we really are. Why must you betray us, biology?

gritsGrits. No excuses here. Grits are amazing. Small. Grainy. Filling. Delicious…and white. So hopefully that counts for something.