“You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent.”
-- The White Supremacist-in-Chief in response to Charlottesville.
“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.”
--Martin Luther King, Jr.
I am (a few weeks late, admittedly) obsessed with Tina Fey’s cake sketch. It’s one of the few things in recent memory that I’ve been able to be even a little equivocal about. She got some amazing points across, and “Yell it into the cake” will be part of my lexicon from now on. The way she ate the thing was mesmerizing, a work of art in and of itself. But to me, her overall takeaway message was one of obedience.
By characterizing protests as “screaming matches” and advising “good, sane Americans” to stay home, she is not only dishonoring Heather Hayer’s death, but encouraging a sense of superiority in those who do nothing. (Having lived through the 2016 election, I can assure you that the apathetic do not need help feeling superior.) I appreciate the empathy for my/our post-Trump feelings of fear and helplessness, but by denigrating anti-Nazi counter-protestors just as much as the torch-bearing monsters they were standing up to, Tina was (maybe satirically? I hope?) echoing the president’s claim that there was blame on both sides.
Lumping in all protests as unproductive and undignified seems especially out of step, considering this sketch shares a year with THE LARGEST PROTEST IN HUMAN HISTORY, and the assertion of helplessness is ridiculous, given the number of Confederate monuments that did come down after Charlottesville. Tina rants into the cake on the Water Protectors behalf while at the same time insinuating that they and their allies are less-civilized than those who stay home. Would she tell John Lewis that he’d participated in “screaming matches,” and that he should have stayed home? Listing off meaningful protests seems like just as annoying an undertaking as listing off women who are funny. When you’re starting from a crazy false premise, no amount of evidence will help.
I think every person with a platform, large or small, has the moral obligation to loudly and unambiguously stand with anti-hate action of all kinds. So, from my so-tiny-as-to-be-almost-nonexistent platform, I’ll say this:
Self care IS resistance, but resistance is also self-care. If we continue to prioritize our own safety and ignore threats to our fellow humans, our actions are no longer self-nurturing but nihilistic. White supremacy isn’t an event that we can choose to attend or not attend, it is woven so deeply into the fabric of our society that every single one of us can fight it, in large and small ways, every day. Helplessness is what Trump wants us to feel, and stress-eating is an outdated misogynist concept. Dear fellow white ladies, dear everyone: eat for pleasure and fight like hell for your fellow humans, in whatever way you can.