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!
#FBF – Black Girl in a Big Dress
#FBF to a year ago when we wrapped production on the first season of Black Girl in a Big Dress. It’s been an amazing ride! Thanks to everyone who’s watched, shared, liked, commented and pointed out that correct, those are in fact, not bourbon cremes. Here’s to getting the right biscuits in Season Two!
If you haven’t seen the show, check out all 8 episodes of Season One below!!
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7 Awesome Things About Slavery (Reprise)
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!
EXCLUSIVE: Other Shows HBO Considered Before Deciding On Confederate
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:
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!
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!
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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?
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.
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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Race Reversal: Acting Black to Win an Election
I need to find a solid term for a reverse Oreo: Someone who’s white who acts black. One that can be appropriately applied to Dave Wilson, one of the newest members of Houston’s Community College Board of Trustees. In order to win his seat in a heavily black district, Wilson pretended that he was black.
Wilson was smart about it. He didn’t need to start voting for Obama or dropping the n-word to make his point. Instead, he just used his campaign information strategically. He omitted photos of himself on voter mailer and instead, sent out a flier featuring the faces of several happy black folks.
From Business Insider:
The mailers featured “smiling African-American faces — which he readily admits he just lifted off websites — and captioned with the words, ‘Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson'” over 24-year incumbent Bruce Austin. He won in the heavily black district by just 26 votes.
“Every time a politician talks, he’s out there deceiving voters,” Wilson told the network.
He also ran a radio add that was narrated by two black women.
“Dave Wilson? Isn’t he the—” one woman says.
“Yes, Dave Wilson is the man who’s fighting for our neighborhoods,” the other says.
People often get on to me for “acting too white and not being myself”. But first, take a look at this picture circa 1999 and you’ll see I come by my whiteness honestly. Second, even if I didn’t spend years crafting and honing a someone to pretend to be, this story just goes to show that other people do it every day. So what if someone takes on personas in order to reach a desired end? We all lie about who we are to some extent? Do you really want to go to the gym that much? Of course not, you just want a chance at a date in about 4 weeks. I want a better rate on my home loan, a lessened chance of getting diabetes and the ability to stop answering questions about my hair. So I Oreo it up. This guy wanted to help run a Community College, so he lied to his community. We’re totally twinsies.
I kinda want to send him a congratulations card for his good work because on one hand, I admire him. He managed to successfully hide from his own ethnicity. On the other hand, all of his new friends are RBP, so I’m not sure I want to give that guy my home address.
What do you think? Bad politics or fair game? What lies have you told to get what you want? Let us know in the comments!
Just got some pictures and daguerreotypes back from a week away I spent with the fella’s family.
This is a branch of the family he doesn’t talk to or see all that often, so it was a great chance to reconnect. Even better, unlike visiting the distant arms of my RBP family where we literally had KFC for dinner (don’t worry, eating fried chicken on someone else’s dime is one of the exceptions that makes it okay to consume. Still, I didn’t like it), his extended family are the waspiest. They pronounce their “r” as “ah”s, they went to boarding schools, they start drinking at 4 p.m and don’t stop until after midnight. Hashtag heaven.
Of course, I did learn some things on my visit and will share them here. Feel free to use these tips on your next trip to New England. And please feel free to add any of your own.
Do try to date someone who’s family owns a house from the early 1900s. It will go nicely with your chalet.
Don’t continue to date them unless said house is at a cape or in the St. Lawrence River. Easy, land-locked vacations are for the weak.
Do remember to pack Dramamine. You don’t want to look like you’ve never been in an antique Chris Craft before.
Don’t get into the water! Even if the boat capsizes, do not go in! You’re bright. Figure it out. You may float on it, hydroplane over it, or drink next to it. But one drop of natural river water without a tonne of conditioner at the ready and your freshly pressed hair will kink right up and leave you looking like a q-tip. No one can unsee that. Especially wasps.
Do laugh at their jokes about how you are the only person of non-European descent who has ever visited the house. It is pretty funny when you think about it.
Don’t be surprised when even though your boyfriend has slept in the main, appointed quarters of the house his entire 4-decade life, he suddenly finds himself relegated to the servants quarters because he’s with you. It’s not personal, they’ve just instituted some new rules….this year. House virgins have to sleep in the servants’ quarters with the peeling paint and mold on the walls. That way they “appreciate it more” next time. You’d do the same with your chalet.
Do use the time to catch up on your reading. Proof is still excellent…or maybe it’s Doubt. I get those confused. You know what, bring both. Also, Faust.
Don’t be surprised when the patriarch of the family hands you a book and says he thinks you’ll love it. Spoiler alert, he’s going to give you a spoiler alert and it will sound like this: “It’s really interesting. It’s about sailors who were shipwrecked and became slaves. But here’s the thing. They were white slaves. White. Slaves.”
Do agree that white slavery is definitely the weirder slavery.
Don’t be surprised that two more days pass before the master and mistress of the house talk to you directly and that it only happens after they find out you ride horses.
Do be prepared to show photos of show ribbons or the conversation will be brief.
Don’t take offense to the hundreds of questions everyone has about your hair when you curl it that one time.
Do not let them touch it. No one needs that can of worms.
Don’t forget to drop words like “Main line,” “Colby College,” and “made pony.”
Do go ahead and answer when your boyfriend’s mom continually calls you by the name of his first black girlfriend.
Don’t correct her. Once it happens five times in a row, it’s just going to be awkward to change the pattern.
Do not hug and kiss goodbye at the end of the trip. That kind of showiness is for Southerners.
Don’t forget about to start planning next year’s trip early! And just wait, you might get moved up to the nice rooms.
What was it like the last time you visited your in-law types? Let us know about it in the comments!
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People often ask me why I try so hard to escape my ethnicity. It’s an odd question to be because there are plenty of obvious reasons. I mean, come on! Think about it. It’s pretty clear. I mean, who would want to be… Why would anyone let themselves look like… I can’t believe people would be content… Really? With the choices out there, someone would actually… Who wants to be in the same group as… Seriously? People are okay with that… Anyhoo
It’s not just that I want a better deal on my home or auto loan, a lessened chance of getting diabetes, and the ability to get my hair done without it feeling like I’m being punished. The truth is, one of the biggest reasons I work so hard at surprising people with just how Oreo I am is that in many other ways, I am beyond stereotypical.
- As a Los Angeleno, I will drive to something even if it’s only 3 blocks away.
- As someone who was raised Baptist, I’m always terrified I’m pregnant.
- As someone who drifted over to Episcopalianism, I kvetch way too much about whatever I give up for Lent.
- As an American, I’m pretty sure I can’t differentiate between Yemen and Bahrain on a map.
- As a Southern Californian, I’m freezing if it’s below 70-degrees.
- As a left leaner, I don’t get what’s so great about owning assault weapons or what’s so terrible about letting poor kids eat food.
- As someone who looked like this in high school, I found refuge in the theater.
- As a theater kid, I sing showtunes all the bloody time.
- As a writer, I’m perfectly content not speaking to anyone for a week or so straight.
- As a member of the tail end of Gen X, I fiercely fight for my right not to be lumped in with Gen Y. Nothing personal, most of my friends, but I was born in the 70s and that fact is important to me.
- As a woman, I always wish I were thinner and I freaking love yogurt. Seriously. I will Yogurt all the live long day.
- As a Texan, I can run a train on some brisket, I often say “y’all” and yes, I will clap my hands if someone sings “the stars at night…”
- As an only child, I really don’t understand team sports. I just don’t see why you need so many people at once. I can run with the ball or you can run with the ball, but we don’t all need to be here.
So, so predictable. Being an Oreo is the thing keeps me interesting.
What makes you interesting. Or boring? Let us know in the comments
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