stereotypes

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!

pence_tweet-png_848779016

 

 

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.

f65fe7c642a54ca8b280fbc3b64bb851

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!

image2

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!

portrait-1880455_1280

 

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!

marriage-1880258_1280

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:

****************

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

****************

For Mor-eo Oreo:

Follow The Oreo Experience on Twitter (@oreoexperience)
Like us on facebook!
Or subscribe on youtube!
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.

tumblr_mb7zxfj1b91rukq44

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

 

******

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

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.

***

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! 

******

For Mor-eo Oreo:
Follow The Oreo Experience on Twitter (@oreoexperience)
Like us on facebook!

Race Reversal: Acting Black to Win an Election

Black enough.  (source)

Black enough.
(source)

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!

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

Vacation Rules

Just got some pictures and daguerreotypes back from a week away I spent with the fella’s family.

To be fair, there is a lighthouse in all of my vacation photos from where ever I go.

To be fair, I can’t take a vacation photo that doesn’t include a lighthouse. No matter where I am.

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.

I don't care how many floaties you have to stuff in that hull. Do not let yourself get wet! (source)

I don’t care how many floaties you have to stuff in that hull. Do not let yourself get wet!
(source)

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! 

****************

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

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

So Stereotypical

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 contentReally? With the choices out there, someone would actually… Who wants to be in the same group as… Seriously? People are okay with that… Anyhoo

I digress.

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.
The spoils of my war

The spoils of my war

  • 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

****************

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

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

 

Wrong Idea Wedding (VIDEO)

Sometimes you have the best intentions and the worst outcomes.

Special Thanks to:

Director/Editor Shilpi Roy
Director of Photography Anthony Chiappetti Khunz
Producer Reena Dutt
Featuring:  Dan Wingard, Jennifer Meyer, Jason Layden, Scott Narver, Tish Merritt, Gerrard Panahon, Rob Roth, Mark Arana, and Jim McCaffree

****************

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

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