family tree

Family Time

One of the most basic tenants of being an Oreo is that you do not spend time en masse with other browns and blacks. If you do things like go to Renaissance Faires, oboe conventions, regattas and while collar office spaces, this is fairly easily accomplished. The one time it’s a real bugger to work around is when you’re guilted into  you decide to go visit people you’re related to…and they live in the South.

However, like most of the jams that Oreos find themselves in, there are ways to mitigate the damaging proximity to melanin that one must experience during obligatory small talk fests with people who share your genetic code.

It should be noted that Oreos prefer getting marmalade and not jam. (source)

It should be noted that Oreos prefer getting stuck in marmalades and not jams.
(source)

I just got back from such a trip and wanted to share with you my tips and tricks for not seeming quite so black when you’re in the company of a whole buncha black folks.

Pack Appropriate Reading Material

Hundreds of people will walk past you on the plane, so make sure you aren’t holding something hella ethnic like Oprah’s magazine or those Beatz headphones. Instead, try a copy of The Harvard Business Review or Epitaph for a Peach. Why relax when you can use journalism to fend of judgement and remind yourself of how poetically you’re not thinking about all that you’re not achieving.

Pass Through Airport Security Without Unloading All Liquids

The airport is a place where it is defs not okay to be brown. One the last three flights I’ve taken, my boyfriend has managed to get through security with razors in his bag while I’ve been accused of having too many toiletries bags and had my hair inspected as though I just got back from a missionary trip in the barrio and they wanted to make sure I didn’t have lice.

But this time was different. Maybe it was because they figure no one on their way to Raleigh Durham would be up to trouble. Maybe it was the fact that it was a red-eye and we were all tired. Or maybe it’s because the fact that I just totally forgot to take a couple of bottles out of my bag looked like such a boss move to them that they couldn’t bring themselves to do anything but let me go.

Stay At A House Where Slaves Used To Work

If you’re gonna go to the South on a trip, you might as well go to The South. Instead of staying in an RBP-tastic place like La Quinta or The Hampton Inn and Suites, I chose a delightful little B&B. That was built in 1847. In the Confederacy. That was owned by a rich legacy family. Which means that once upon a time, it’s very likely that a house girl made the bed that I refused to while I was there. (Well, not the same bed. This bed was too comfortable to be 166 years old.)

I'm in there somewhere. And always will be

I’m in there somewhere. And always will be

Identify Favorite  Patterns

There was another bonus to the ex slave resort. And I’m not talking about the awesome wainscoting or the gladiolas or the awesome sitting room where yes, I claimed that I had the ‘vaypas’ so I could sit in the awesome chair. This place also had the same toile pattern that appears on an ottoman I just bought. It was like the house was calling to me from afar. I wouldn’t have been surprised if at the end of the trip, my vision rack focused on a photo from 1864 where I stood grinning with the rest of the house staff while a voice over reminded that I was a guest and I’d always been a guest…

Spend An Hour Or So Discussing the Pros and Cons of the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Local Philharmonic

In case you were concerned that I didn’t come by my Oreoness honestly, you only need to meet my uncle and aunt. I hadn’t seen these people in a decade. But instead of catching up about ourselves (boring), we threw on a classical hits CD, talked about each movement and shot the shit about who brought out the best in what movements (totally not boring!)

Make Small Talk re: Who Has Better Summers, Scotland or Switzerland

Trick questions. It’s Basque, obvs.

And just as soon as I finish paying off student loans, I hope to always be here.

And just as soon as I finish paying off student loans, I hope to always be here.

Stuff Emotions So Deeply That You Feel Full Enough to Refuse the Fried Chicken

RBP are known for their clever comebacks, snappy repartee and their delightful disses and dozens. So when a parent decides for the 10,000th  time to describe not just you looked like at birth, but your afterbirth at birth, many RBP would have something to say that would stop that conversation in its tracks. But where’s the challenge in that. Anyone can walk out of a room, set some boundaries and decide not to engage in inappropriate conversation topics. But it takes real skill to sit and endure. To smile and nod. And to not get all up in someone’s business about it. And that is a skill I’m proud of. In large part because it really does turn your appetite enough that you can honestly say that no thank you, you’re fine with just the roll and you don’t need the okra, greens or pecan pie. … okay, maybe a little pecan pie.

You're also not going to want to eat ham salad again. Not after that story.  (source)

You’re also not going to want to eat ham salad again. Not after that story.
(source)

When was your last trip home? How did it go? Any advice for next time?

Roots

First, let me say that as a good Oreo, I’ve only seen enough of Roots to know I don’t want to see the rest. Slavery, your name is Toby, wahwahbad, I get it.

But this weekend, after a family get together in Vegas, I discovered some interesting tidbits about my roots (other than the fact that I do need another relaxer soon). I learned that I am the niece of a Republican, of the inventor of a computer system that helps guide the F16 and of a champion cross country skier.

Clearly, I come by my Oreodom honestly.

Unfortunately, I did also find out that I am the granddaughter of a session musician for Duke Ellington and that one of my great uncles was a Tuskegee Airman. Two way ethnic occupations. Eh, we can’t all have perfect pedigrees. I’ll just make sure I frame the skier’s photos more prominently.

This is my great Uncle Lt. Andrew D. Marshall (the ethnic one). This picture is in the Smithsonian and was taken after he was shot down over Greece. Even though 'Tuskegee Airman' just screams ethnic...it's still pretty cool.

What fun stuff is hanging from your family tree?

Back to the Basics

 

It's TOE's paper anniversary! Share a square with us.

It’s almost been a year since The Oreo Experience went live. And anniversaries are perfect times to quietly wonder why you got where you are in the first place. With TOE’s paper anniversary on the horizon, I can’t help but smile when I think just how far we’ve come through self-loathing. 

Click here to take a trip down repressed memory lane and consider just how much you can love hating yourself

Not sure you’ve got the guts to hate your guts? Chin up, little soldiers, I bet you do! It’s not just people of color who can hate the skin they’re in. I bet if you try hard enough, you can come up with all kinds of things to try and hide. If not, try these tips. I’ll keep the kleenex and the number to my therapist handy.

1. Look in the Mirror. Forget the schmaltz on How to Look Good Naked. We have a standard in this day and age and chances are, you’re falling short. I know I am. I would instantly be relegated to quirky best friend in a movie about my own life. Freckles, water retention, teeth too white, outie, size 4.?  The mass media would crap on your reflection, why not join them?

2. Hijack your friends’ email. You know how you mention your pals’ peccadillos behind their backs? Well, the good news is, they do, too! Scan a few of their emails. Whether it’s the debby downerism, the constant cheerfulness or the fact that you don’t like your foods to touch, you’ll soon know which habit they crucify you for so that you can start driving in the nails, as well!

3. Swing from your family tree. You don’t even have to go as far as reunion to see what freaky fish are swimming in your gene pool. Just grab a couple of photos and read the body language. Dollars to donuts, you’ll be able to tell in under a minute what your mom really thinks of your stepdad’s fashion choices or if there’s not a little House of Yes action between those two cousins. Give the fam a phone call and listen to them bitch about each other and you’ll get a good idea what you inherited that’s worthy of hate.

4. Watch television. When all else fails and you’re still feeling pretty good about who you are, turn on the TV. Chances are, unless you’re Gerard Butler, your demographic is represented pretty badly. Watch a few eps to see what people in power really think of you and you’ll be on the self-bashing bandwagon in no time.

I bet if he tried hard enough, he'd be one of us, too!