The condition of the world has kept me on the down side of life lately. I am tired. I have so many other things to deal with and having to worry about my safety on the daily because white people don’t like the color of my skin is exhausting. It’s also very exhausting always being on edge when I am around them because, let’s face it, when going out and walking the streets of any city you can feel the tension in the air.
Well, I know that I can. Because most black people are always ready to go “there,” we take most stuff that white people say literally. The white allies who believe that what’s going on with Trump, the Alt-Right, white nationalists, and white supremacy are wrong are in our corner. That’s why it is disheartening that folks are dragging Tina Fey for her recent sheet cake skit.
I get it – white supremacy and all the bull crap the followers of that sick movement are doing is no laughing matter. But the hate that Fey is getting for using satire to combat the white people who still won’t call what’s happening what it is – racism and hate – is too much. Black people, we do too much sometimes, and on this one, we are going too much.
Fey appeared on the “Weekend Update: Summer Edition” to speak about the atrocities that happened in Charlottesville, VA last weekend. As an alum of the University of Virginia, it broke her heart to see those things happen, as it did the vast majority of America. In her bit, while wearing a U-VA sweatshirt, she went in on everyone from Paul Ryan to “The bunch of white boys in polo shirts screaming about taking our country back.”
“I know a lot of us are feeling anxious and we’re asking ourselves, like, what can I do? I’m just one person… I would urge people this Saturday instead of participating in the screaming matches and violence, find a local business you support, maybe a Jewish run bakery or African-American run bakery. Order a cake with the American flag on it … and just eat it.”
While many people laughed and enjoyed the break from the craziness, there were a good number of people of color (POC) that did not. The overall sentiment of those who took issue with her comments was something to the effect of: “How dare this white girl use her white girl wonderful privilege and get on television to make light of the fight us black and brown people are waging against white supremacy? And for her to suggest that we just simply go buy a sheet cake and eat it instead of getting out there and coming face to face with these bigots is applauding.”
I get that things are touchy right now, but if you are a POC and took Fey saying that eating cake is a whole lot better than fighting white supremacy literally, you need to chill. Like, go open the freezer, stand with your face in front of it, feel the cold breeze from all the ice and frozen food and chill! Clearly, this woman was NOT telling us to eat cake instead of caring about what’s going on in this country. With a mix of comedy, she dropped some very real truths and used her influence and position to say things that needed to be said.
She went in on the neo-Nazis. She called Paul Ryan a pussy for not blatantly saying that white supremacy and Trump are to blame for the racial tensions in America and that Republicans are to blame for Trump. She did not hold back, and I for one appreciate everything she had to say. Because the truth is, white people expect black folks to say it; we are outraged and angry and blah, blah, blah. But I do believe that it opens their eyes and piques their attention just a little bit more when someone that looks like them speaks the truth.
When it comes down to it, any attention that is brought to the system of racism in America and the white people who perpetuate it is good attention. It keeps the conversation going, and it brings to the forefront the hard to swallow elements of the discussion that white people don’t want to talk about because it makes them extremely uncomfortable.
If you took what Tina Fey said literally, then I can see why you were not feeling it. Sitting around and eating cake, quite frankly, is what a lot of people are already doing. But if you saw past the surface and understood the truth in the satire, then you realize that what she said about everything from white men getting away with hate speech to the horrible way Native Americans were treated at Standing Rock for defending their land needed to be said. Why does it matter the color of the vessel that said it?
There’s a lot going on right now and it’s easy to get in your feelings. But truth is truth even if it’s coming from a white woman comically suggesting that eating cake is the answer to life’s most pressing issues. Sometimes eating cake does make us feel better.