The Oreo Complex is a one-woman show about just that: the idea that some Black people are perceived as, well, acting too white. It is written and performed by Lillian Brown, a talented writer and actress. It is a compelling portrayal of internalized segregation, and a celebration of Black ancestors.
At the outset, we see Brown, a beautiful young Black woman, in a black dress with white trim around the top and pearls. She might be attending a formal occasion, or a dance. Behind her is a white platform draped with shiny white fabric; on either side are various sizes of singing bowls.
She begins with a recitation of a number of insensitive and racist things that have been said to her. “Can I touch your hair?” “You’re so professional and articulate. Where were you born?” are some examples.
She explains that she has been an expert in “making white people comfortable around me.” There are so many white people who just don’t Get It. “Not you, of course,” she says, smiling at the audience.
White people say so many inane things it is hard to keep track. “I voted for Obama,” “I have Black friends,” “One of my favorite actors is Black.” The list goes on and on.
Brown makes the excellent point that “I do not have to prove my Blackness to you.” She adds: “What does it mean to be unapologetically Black?” Slavery, she reminds us, took place not, as some would say, “thousands of years ago,” but in 1865, which, if you can do math, was 157 years ago.
Later, she places pictures of the all-too-familiar faces of Black people who were murdered by whites, usually police: Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown. Emmett Till.
In the end, she performs a striking ritual, which I won’t give away.
Don’t miss it.
Running Time: 60 minutes, no intermission.
The Oreo Complex: Or Where Are My Allies? plays one more performance at 8 pm July 17, 2022, at REPRESENTATION – Formerly Washington Sports Club, 3270 M Street NW, Washington, DC. To see the performance schedule and purchase tickets ($15), go online.
COVID Safety: The audience is to remain masked for the show. The mask needs to cover your mouth and nose the whole time. Proof of vaccination and ID are checked before entry.
Age appropriateness: Recommended for Children 13 + older