*Note: I wrote the below post last Friday night and it is rather stale now, but I decided to post it anyway. Because inane drivel like this is still being printed by white people with no clue.
So, most folks saw the Saturday Night Live sketch with Tina Fey eating and yelling into a sheetcake rather than yelling at nazis. If not, you can check it out here. I’ll admit, I chuckled a time or two, but at the end, I felt nauseated. Not just because of the sheer amount of cake Tina managed to consume in a short couple of minutes made my stomach do somersaults – no this was an illness borne of the unease of watching someone who has such a large platform miss the mark so profoundly.
It was a sad reflection of our self-indulgent culture that turns to instant gratification over introspective and meaningful change. I appreciate the nuance of the “Let’s eat cake”, you know, turning Marie Antoinette’s “Let them eat cake” phrase that allegedly launched a revolution into a sarcastic “Let us eat cake”, which seems to be the catchphrase of the #Resistance (you know, let’s sell kitsch shit, attend a couple of rallies, but not actually do anything to confront the real elephant in the room – our own bias, racism, classism, sexism, and transphobia led us here), but overall? This sketch just sat wrong with me. People are dying in our cities as a hatred that has been steeping for generations comes to a rapid boil – so let’s eat cake and let the neonazis take over?
We got in this mess precisely because of this type of indulgent inaction that lets us feel comfortable in our permissiveness. After all, there’s nothing we can do – “I’m just one person” as Tina says. We might as well just eat cake and wallow in our helplessness at the inequities. But that’s not true. We should be going outside and yelling at nazis. Cornell West said of that as he and his fellow clergy members were holding a line and singing “This little light of mine” at the nazi rally in Charlottesville, “we would have been crushed like cockroaches were it not for the antifascists.” The right-wing rally had planned to go through a neighborhood that consisted predominantly of people of color as they chanted “blood and soil” while fully armed and in militia gear – the neighborhood and the protesters turned them away. Right now, across this nation, protesters and anti-fascists are lining around synagogues and mosques to protect citizens who are being subjected to hate while attempting to worship – but Tina Fey jokes (but it’s tongue-in-cheek!) for us to eat cake.
We got here because individually and collectively we’ve failed to stand up until it got to this point. We failed to stand up or speak up when liberal and conservative policies alike set disastrous precedent after disaster precedent that legalized injustice under the conventional dog whistles of hate, while we white folks nodded our approval. We failed to stand up when it became clear that there are separate rules for the wealthy and the poor, and even worse rules for the poor and black.
We swallowed the garbage that made it easy for us to criminalize the impoverished, the “Welfare Queens“, we nodded our heads sagely at the wisdom of “law and order” candidates, and failed to confront the rabid “birther” movement with the gravitas and weight it deserved. Our current president went from being a “birther” proponent to a “show me your transcript” (a black man graduating from Harvard, who was on the Harvard Law Review, and became a community organizer couldn’t have rightfully earned his degree, right?). There should have been no surprises when Trump revealed the extent of his racist ideology openly post-Charlottesville. The thing that really seems to annoy us white liberal folk is that previous presidents at least had the courtesy to use dog whistles, even as they propose arguably racist legislation after racist legislation.
It didn’t hurt us, so why should we speak up?
We have been silent too long. We have been passive too long. We’ve made excuses for ourselves, for our loved ones, for our leaders, and for our communities too long. We don’t need another excuse to feel like it’s okay to leave the disasters for another day – we’ve already waited too long.
If we don’t stand up now, when will we?
History is a vicious mother-fucker – it always comes full circle and it hits you hardest when you’re not paying attention.
Be alert and stop making excuses for white people with power.