International Need for Oreos

I dug up some journal entries from my trip abroad. Here is one of them.

Dateline: Amsterdam. Even among the pastoral tulip fields and gently twirling windmills, it was impossible to escape the sting of my ethnicity.

I spent some time traveling with a friend to a few cities and here was the conversation I overheard while

I ate my feelings that day. And they were delicious!

waiting on line for dutch pancakes.

Friend: Pardon. Zit hier iemand?

Local: No, the seat’s free.

Friend: Oh, you speak English.

Local: Yeah. Where are you from?

Friend: The states. Los Angeles.

Local: Oh, I hear it’s dangerous there.

Friend: Can be.

Local: Because of the blacks?*

A moment later, I sat down in front of my friend and my new Dutch buddy with a plate of piping hot pannenkoeken. Now, had I not been a practiced Oreo, I would have wanted to pour those piping hot pannenkoeken down the front of my new buddy’s shirt. But, being the Oreo that I am, I supported his point.

Me: Well, you just have to pay attention to where you are. If you come visit, you’ll see. That’s why I moved to Hancock Park.

I could have made him feel suuuper uncomfortable. But instead, I fostered international relations with the right conversation and my appreciation of perfectly pressed pancakes.

*It’s been suggested that I’m making up some of these stories. But no. Really. I’m not.

For other uncomfortable moments I didn’t make up. Check out these posts on phone etiquette, getting out of a parking ticket and talking to kids.

Pleasure Reading

imagesIn honor of Juneteenth (the holiday developed to remember the day that President Lincoln released slaves from a life of forced assimilation into a world where they now had the choice to conform to expectations…or die) I went to my local Borders Books to do some research on “my people.” I thought for a moment that I may have been too zealous in my journey toward Oreodom and that learning about myself would guide me toward a more moderate path.

But a quick trip in the “ethnic” section of the book store told me I was right on track.

In the 20000 square foot big box Borders, about 10 square feet were dedicated to the ethnic section. Out of the tens of thousands of books available elsewhere in the store, maybe 50 titles were in this section. I was relieved to see that CEOs smarter than I dedicate the same amount of space to ethnic identity.

Part of me hoped that I would find on these two shelves, a tome or two that spoke to me. That I would learn something about “my people’s” history that would make me feel like I was indeed a part of this population.

Granted, that kind of self-discovery is challenging, so thankfully here’s what I found instead.

Specific Self Help

funny-pictures-cat-scared-sink-water1Most of the books were fiction and the non fiction discussed either slavery or self help. But the self help was limited to telling one how to seize the day or how to say “aw hell naw” at all the right times.

In terms of self improvement, I am more interested in calorie intake, balancing work and pleasure and laying down the rest of this Stepford-filled baggage.

But since those books don’t seem to belong in this section, I suppose, neither do I.

pi_271African American History X…if X > Pump up the Jam

There was nothing in the ethnic section that was published before about 1990. No classic novels or writers here. All post parachute pants prints.

And since I existed before 1990, it seems this is not the section for me.

I Put My Trash in the Bin, Not in the

The romance novels here were all trashy and Harlequin-esque. No sweeping tales of love. No sexy, taught dramas. No achingly coquettish stories that made you tense with wonderful anticpation to read them. Just books with pictures of big curves on the cover, giant print inside and the overuse of the words “chocolate,” and “member” in the same sentence.

And since I never compare any part of my partners to food, I guess this isn’t the section for me.

250785631_96c039e1d9Black People Don’t Like…Things, Apparently.

The area also left out other key sections that sell quite well in the greater Borders book store. There was no “humor” section. No “food” section. No “travel” section. No “science fiction” section.

And since I like to laugh, eat, go places and because I intend on existing in the future, I realized once again: this is clearly not the section for me.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I affirmed once again that I was doing things right by pursuing the Oreo way of life. I smiled as I thought this…just as a sales clerk approached.

“Did you find what you were looking for?” she asked.

“Yes. I did.” I said, with probably too grand a pause between words.

“Good. We just got in some new books for Juneteenth.”

“June-what?” I asked and laughed as I brushed past her, before adding. “Can you tell me where to find the latest issue of The Baltimore Review. I’m going to start it just after The Thought Gang and just before Gun With Occasional Music.”

The Obama Problem – Part 1

With a black President in the White House, many people ask me if there is really a call to hold on to the Oreo way of life. Hasn’t America changed to the point where we’re all equal and it’s irrelevant to figure out a way to skirt prejudice and self loathing.

Simply: Are you kidding?

There are two main reasons why Obama does not pose a threat to those who choose to maintain their Oreo pride.

1. He’s half white. And was raised by the white side. This clearly affected him in a way positive to society at large. For example, though his name is certainly not in theĀ  mainstream, it’s more foreign than black sounding. Do we really think that America would have elected him president if Ann had let him be named LaTron, Darnell or DeShawn Connerique?

2. Who do we have to thank for Obama’s upbringing? Not the indigenous brown folks who originally inhabited his home state of Hawaii. They’re notimages the ones who keep that island economy running. Who does? Wealthy white tourists. Sans their support, Barack could have grown up underprivileged, his family out of work and certainly not been able to hop on that path to greatness.

Thanks, ruling class. We owe you one.