MBW Formation

Those of you who’ve read my book So Yesterday may remember the following scene in chapter 2. A focus group of cool-hunters has just been shown a new sneaker advertisement, and they all seem to agree that it’s awesome.

That is, until Jen speaks up . . .

“I was kind of bugged by the missing-black-woman formation.”

Mandy blinked. “The what?”

Jen shrugged uncomfortably, feeling the eyes on her.

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” I said, even though I didn’t.

Jen took a slow breath, collecting her thoughts. “You know, the guy on the motorcycle was black. The guy on the bike was white. The woman was white. That’s the usual bunch, you know? Like everybody’s accounted for? Except not really. I call that the missing-black-woman formation. It kind of happens a lot.”

It was quiet for another moment. But gears were spinning. Tina Catalina let out a long sigh of recognition.

“Like the Mod Squad!” she said.

“Yeah,” Hiro chimed in, “or the three main characters in . . . ” He named a certain trilogy of movies about cyber-reality and frozen kung-fu, whose title ends in an X, counts as a brand, and therefore will not grace these pages.

The floodgates broke. More comic books, movies, and TV shows tumbled off everyone’s lips, a dozen stuffed-full pop-cultural memory banks rifled for examples of missing-black-woman formations, until Mandy looked ready to cry.

She smacked the clipboard down.

“Is this something I should have KNOWN ABOUT?” she said sharply, sweeping her eyes around the table.

An unhappy silence fell over the conference room. I felt like an evil genius’s henchman when something goes wrong in a certain series of secret agent films—as if Mandy might push a button on the control panel and we would be ejected, chairs and all, out the roof and into some lake in Central Park.

I noticed only yesterday that we’re living through a nation-changing MBW formation right now. (Gloria Steinem may have jogged my brain on this point.) So let’s all take a moment to appreciate the predictive, productive, and representative powers of pop culture.

We have a way of becoming the stories we tell ourselves.




Just to be clear: I’m not mocking what’s going on here in the US. Having a woman and an African-American man as serious contenders for president is momentous. It’s great to see.

Still, I didn’t want to let a missing-black-woman formation as epic as this one pass by unnoticed.

And for you younger folks, here’s the scoop on the late-1960s TV show The Mod Squad.

Update: To comply with Federal Election Commission equal time rules, I am also required to display a picture of the Republican candidates . . .


158 thoughts on “MBW Formation

  1. Me and my friends type OMGOSH…
    Well some of them aren’t my friends anymore cuz they suck and when they found out I had just turned 13 they were like ‘OMG you’re a seventh grader!’ but obviously these people didn’t know me very well..
    oh and I went back to school today
    my first day of tech
    the teacher didn’t explain anything to me even though I missed 2 days
    he made my ‘group leader’, Bailee, do it
    Bailee wears vampire teeth
    theres 2 boys and another girl in my group
    I told them that they would get mad if I read the packet
    they made me do it anyway
    guess what…

    they got mad
    they said I talk too fast
    I know I do
    They told me to shut up
    so I tried but they couldn’t pronounce the words so I interrupted and it made it worse
    I would have much rather been in a group with Alexandra, my friend from kindergarten, Allysa, a girl in my girl scout troop, and Conner, even though he’s bad luck at least I know him better than most of those kids, he was in my computer class and he’s in my Spanish, he can be quite annoying

  2. People, hello, answer me question!!!

    Have you ever wanted to be preppy?

    u must answer, yes. Most of you probably want to put up a restraining order on me now but thats who i am:
    Pick loving, boy crazy, like-saying, flat wearing (the shoes), reader. sorry, but i have always wanted to be a prep.

  3. Well, thats ur opinion, i for one think i would be freakin awesome/fawesome. Omg! My teacher had this book and it had rhyming words! It was fun it was like.

    but the acculy made since.

  4. god no!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Abercrombie is my Kryptonite.
    *cranks up music by band whose guitar player is named Vlad and readjusts black sweatshirt hood over purple hair*
    i have never once wanted to be preppy. all the preps i know are obnoxious, alcoholic, sheep-like masses.
    and that’s not me.

    i ask again!
    good band name or crappy one?
    i need more data, my friend is all skewing it in her favor.

  5. Umm…it sort of depends on what kind of band it is.Like what kind of music would that particular band that would be named
    Secret Kitty play?

  6. I think its a good band name. although it reminds me of Hello Kitty (gag me).

    By the way i said i would want to be preppy, right now, im so far form it.

    Uh,i think i had to much cake.

    Well, im going to go join Ciara now and her totally fawesome music.

    I need a signature thingy-ma-bob.
    Uh, how about- i got nothin- oh! Ok this is my nameon something so i use it.


  7. Ok, so here i ma, listening to Ciara when this wild idea pops into my mind.

    What if Scott did this awesome camp where he tought people like how to write but he like accpted all of us.

    I dont no, i just thought of that, thought i wound share.

  8. he he he. Bran-la that wouls be soooo fool!!!!!!!!! but idk if he could teach all of us. we would need to write a really good story to get in or an essay but that would still be soooo foolio!!!!!!!!!!

    You shoud so do that. like a camp on how to write fawesomely, like you. but you could like have uswrte a really good Narritive or Some kind of essay and c=you could like pick the best and like have other authors come too! that would be like so Foolio!! maybe when you finish your current books then like maybe try to setup the camp! that would be so foolio. ~~~it was Bran-la’s idea.~~~ OH YA AND SCOTT COME TO ATL, GA!!!!!!!!!! PLZ?!?!?

    but wouldn’t that be so fawesome?!?

    he he he

    WoRd 😉

  9. Ya, and he could invite all his obsessive commenter’s (thats me that me!!!!) And we could all be like all in the camp and you could buy a mansion Scott and we could stay there and write all the time!

  10. ok here comes a random post:
    i havent like had a great day today so i was listenin to my emo song which just also happens to be in my opion the Uglies theme song….Mad World by Michael Andrews the lyrics are like PERFECT http://www.lyricsdownload.com/michael-andrews-mad-world-lyrics.html
    note how at one part it even says”children waiting for the day they’ll feel good happy birthday happy birthday” FREAKY MUCH well i love this song it reminds me of uglies and i can play it ont he piano!! another way i feel better when im sad is read Specials…so basically uglies makes me happy in every way!

  11. “To comply with Federal Election Commission equal time rules, I am also required to display a picture of the Republican candidates . . .”

    Scott, you are my hero. 😀

  12. I know that this is probably random on this page but I noticed that there are the most people commenting on here and I want a lot of opinions.Okay this is for my own self amusement(or torture, whichever comes first)This is the million dollar question:
    Who is better? EDWARD or ZANE?Please answer.(even if you are a Jacob or David fan)Thanks!
    See Ya!

  13. Wow – the missing black woman formation is everywhere!!! I never even noticed!!

    And I have to say the picture of the “Republicans” had me laughing so hard it hurt!!!!

    I love both Edward and Zane. But for very different reasons. One of my main reasons for loving Edward is his over-analytical personality, I fit him so perfectly. He’s so conerned about Bella and her safety, he wants her to have as many human experiences as possible.

    On the other hand there is Zane, who I also love!! I love him for his spontinaity (sp?) though. I love how he just acts on impulses, and does all these crazy things to try to not be pretty-minded anymore. He risks taking the pill with Tally even though he knows it could end up disasterous (and it does…) plus he tries everything he can to allow Tally to have as many experiences of clear-mindedness as possible.

    They’re both so great, I couldn’t say who was my favorite – I love them both!!

  14. i’ve noticed that textbooks have a lot of the MBW formation.



    i need to get off the internet. blasted bloody homework.

  15. Random Question!

    Sorry to ask this here, but I don’t know where else to ask it.

    Is anyone else having trouble accessing westerboard.com? I would like to go there and participate in the forums, but I cannot go to the Web site: a pop-up stops me, asking me for a username and password. Is this normal or is there something wrong with my browser? If I hit “cancel” it goes to the site and says:

    Authorization Required
    This server could not verify that you are authorized to access the document requested. Either you supplied the wrong credentials (e.g., bad password), or your browser doesn’t understand how to supply the credentials required.

    Additionally, a 401 Authorization Required error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

    Is this normal? Any help from you guys would be greatly appreciated! 🙂


  16. Ahahaa Im even a Conservative, and I found that GOP Candidate smack to be hilarious…..

    Be better if they were all wearing Reagan masks….
    “Im regan!”
    “No I am!”
    “No…I am!”
    “No seriously, I am.”

  17. Wow, I remember that now!

    Uhhhhhhhhhh, I am at home, sick! I feel sooo crappy, I can not even explain it! And, when I get back to school I have to take all the tests I’m missing today, and all the tests that are tomorrow! It’s sooo horrible! But, I’m rereading Specials, again. It’s sooo good, but like, I haven’t read it in forever sooo for some reason it seems sooo different from when I last read it!

    Bran-la, no I have never wanted to be preppy! All the preps at my school are (so many bad words to give them, but I will say a particularly nice one) jerks! All they care about is themselves, if you get in there way they will take you down, they don’t care if your feelings are hurt, and end the end their life is secretly horrible but the thing is they will realize it way to late do anything about it! Wow, that was weird.

    Well, I’m going to go take a cat-nap, I’m already exhausted and sooo dizzy!

  18. Oh, and I forgot, SECRET KITTYS, is a horrible name! sorry but it kinda is, I know, I know it’s pretty harsh, but well thats my opinion!

  19. Ow, Ooops, but still Secret Cat is still horrible! lol! ughhh, sick! Gross! (I’m talking about how I’m sick) It’s horrible!

  20. The first thing I siad to my step-mom this morning was, “the world sucks and im gonna die at an early age

  21. I am home Serafina, sick! It sucks!!! It’s sooo boring, I’m reading my fourth book right now! (I’m not saying readings boring, I’m saying that not being able to get up and hang with my friends is boring)!

    And, Netta-la, why when you got up this morning you said…

    “the world sucks and im gonna die at an early age”


  22. cuz i was tired and in a grumpy, pouty mood
    more specifically i said “..die at an early age because of global warming.”

  23. Oh, lol! Like I said, sitting in bed reading all day is better than school, but I just wish I could hang out with friends while I do it, ya know?

    I see what you mean, Netta-la, hehe! We’re all going to die of global warming, though so, ur not alone!

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