‘And there are three things you musn’t run out of or it will upset your father. First, you need to make sure that there is grapefruit in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator.’ Mother had a list of things I need to take responsibility for while she is in California this week.
‘Grapefruit. Right, got that. Second?’
‘Olives. His olive jar needs to be clearly visible in the center of the top shelf.’
‘Ok, I can handle that too. What’s the third thing?’
‘Huh? I didn’t know that Uncle Ben made chocolate chip cookies, Mom.’
‘Yes he does, and it is absolutely essential that the jar is filled to the top.’
I looked in the jar, which was empty. ‘There’s a new box in the pantry,’ she told me. So I went to fetch them.
Gentlemen, there’s not really much I can say, except that I hope you can accept my apologies. And furthermore, in the spirit of truth and reconciliation, I do feel that we need a little factual information here. So, for Mother and anyone else who can’t tell the difference between their African American branding stereotypes…
Wally Amos (b.1936) became famous as the William Morris Agency’s first African American talent agent, representing among others, Diana Ross and Simon and Garfunkel. He rather charmingly used to send his homemade chocolate chip cookies to his clients and they were so popular that in 1975 he opened a cookie store out in LA with some seed money from Marvin Gaye and Helen Reddy. Wally doesn’t own the brand any more but he is still in the food business, is an important national advocate for adult and children’s literacy, has written a series of self-help books, and is a successful motivational speaker. He currently divides his time between homes in Long Island and Hawaii.
It is probably best to keep all this from Big Daddy, who has an irrational prejudice against people from California, and might decide to switch brands if he finds out that Famous Amos is some sort of ‘do-good hippie yankee deal’.
By contrast, Uncle Ben is undisputedly the most successful African American fictional character in the nation’s history. Rising from humble origins and hired to promote rice during the second world war, he was appointed chairman of the board of the Mars Food Corporation in 2007. Under his leadership, the company has expanded internationally into whole new areas of global racial stereotyping.
Uncle Ben’s office at the Mars Global Headquarters building makes Barack Obama’s Oval Office look like the waiting room of our local Greyhound Bus Station. Seriously, check it out, there is a virtual reconstruction of his actual office online. You can read his diary, examine his sentimental bow tie collection, read selections from his library and everything.
It is my new favourite place on the internet.
Be sure and go all the way around the room, don’t limit yourself to snooping around his desk. If you’re anything like me, the experience will literally move you to tears.
© Copyright 2011, Southern Dysfunction