Tina Fey, "sheet-caking," and the cumbersome political rage of white women

Tina Fey, "sheet-caking," and the cumbersome political rage of white women

By the time I watched it, it had already started to go viral: Tina Fey’s sheet-cake rant on SNL’s satirical newscast, "Weekend Update." (If you haven’t seen it, you should probably watch it if you are going to give this post a fair listen: click here)

Her satirical, sheet-cake-eating rant pleasantly gut-punched me in all the right places. This comedic genius is the first person - male or female - to call Paul Ryan a straight-up pussy. So hell yeah I re-posted it, and went about my business.

Later in the day, I saw the first "antifey" post calling her out on her message of inaction.

  • “White women can and should do more than stay home and eat cake.”
  • “I don’t care what white millionaires have to say about this issue.”
  • “That’s not real activism: that’s white privilege.”

Hold up. Did Tina Fey miss the mark? THE Tina Fey - who single handedly turned the world against Sarah Palin? That didn’t sound like her, so I watched it again.

And during the re-watch, I could understand what angered people.

"And then, next time, when you see a bunch of white boys, boys in polo shirts screaming about taking our country back, and you want to scream, ‘It’s not our country–we stole it. We stole it from the Native Americans. And when they have a peaceful protest at Standing Rock, we shoot at them with rubber bullets. But we let you chinless turds march through the streets with semi-automatic weapons.’ When you want to yell that, don’t yell it at the Klan, Colin. Yell it into the cake."

People are decrying her for suggesting we turn away from the threat - that we put our heads in the sand.

But Tina Fey was not saying that. She wasn't saying Let’s just sit this one out. Not at all. She was saying, What if we didn’t dignify these Nazi fucks with our attention? 

It was hypothetical. It was a protest piece. It was a sketch, not a plan of action. None of my like-minded friends were messaging me about organizing cake-eating parties at the next Nazi rally. Quite the opposite: those who shared my adoration for the Tina Fey video were women who have marched in protest, will march again, and are fully in this fight in their words, their writings, and their actions.

And most of those people happen to be white women.

Was that the disconnect, I wondered? Was she simply giving voice to the cumbersome, confusing, politically uncomfortable rage of white women? Colbert, Maher, Fallon, and Meyers skewer the presidency on a daily basis, and we love it. We look to them for relief. But this Tina Fey thing struck a chord with us. And by us, I guess I mean white women.

I watched it a third time, and I was clear. This was an editorial rant with an “eat-your-feelings” trope thrown in for physical comedy. It was not an assault on advocacy.

When I went back to the original protest thread to offer my sentiments, I noticed that many of the loudest voices against the video were coming from black women: I knew something was wrong when I saw all my white friends posting it.

My heart sunk. I’ve been in this position before. My commitment and allegiance were being mocked.

***

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As fate would have it, my work took me to Memphis last week. I visited the Civil Rights Museum in the days following the Klan rally at Charlottesville - the one that our President refused to condemn.

My visit to the Lorraine Motel only burned my rage deeper into my moral fiber - how dare anyone refuse to defend the blood, tears, and unconscionable sacrifices of generations of Black Americans?

How dare you, Mr President.

I dragged myself from exhibit to exhibit reading of hope, death, and redemption for millions at the mercy of the heartless. Many were stories from not so long ago…

As a white woman, there’s a strange rage that comes from seeing so many white faces act like monsters. There is no denying the obvious racial connection. There is no ignoring the shame. And there is no simple way to channel the rage I feel towards those white faces.

I’ve always believed the stories of the black experience in this country. I’ve always understood that there is a web of deliberate and systematic racism corroding the brotherhood of man in America.

I’ve witnessed its carnage as I’ve driven further and further west in Chicago. I’ve watched the visible bootstraps disappear from communities - with the schools and playgrounds getting shittier and rustier by the block, and the availability of fresh produce evaporating into darkened, windowless sugar shacks on street corners.

I’ve posted and re-posted that eye-scalding article in the Atlantic, "The Case for Reparations" by Ta-Nehisi Coates, about how the US government deliberately engineered the ghettos around Chicago - mandatory reading for anyone who starts their argument with “it’s 2017 - get over it.”

I’ve gone toe-to-toe with high school acquaintances, begging them to consider that maybe, just maybe it’s NOT because “they” are all lazy. (*sigh*)

But my advocacy will never be experience. My white privilege is what I go to sleep with and it is what I wake up to. There will always be a gap - a dangerous uncomfortable gap in which I am sometimes thrown into alongside the 43% of women who voted for the human garbage can currently residing in the white house.

But I’m not part of the 43%. I don’t understand them. I’m angry at them, and so is Tina Fey. And for whatever reason, Fey's latest piece struck a chord with other angry white women. We shared it, and then we were shamed for it. We were told that we were subpar allies for applauding her message.

What message? Here’s what we heard: “If a Nazi fuck falls in a forest and no one gives a shit….”

It’s the same non-violent leaning that is encouraging separate, broader peace rallies on the same day. She just said it via the language of sketch.

Us: “Haha….did you hear what she said about the emails? Haha..yes Okay, ladies. Break over. Back to work. Did you call your senators yet? “

***

I’m not asking for praise. I’m not telling you what a good White Person I am in this mess. I swear to you I’m not. I’m asking you to give Tina and her fans the benefit of the doubt. I’m asking you not to equate that video with civil apathy. I’m giving you the fingerprint of one activist, and I’m asking you not to diminish me for enjoying a couple of minutes of satire.

Come on, everyone. This is misplaced rage - and it’s poisoning our well.

My rage is legitimate. Tina Fey’s rage is legitimate. Trust me, we have no intention of eating cake while those Nazi cunts attack our way of life.

***

That's my piece, and that my peace. Thanks so much for reading my silly words - it truly means the world to me. Carry on.

JA

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