If anyone ever asks for a textbook definition of white privilege, all you have to do is show them Tina Fey’s recent “Weekend Update” skit.
For anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, actor/writer/director Tina Fey was a top trending topic on Twitter after a recent appearance on the summer edition of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update. Fey, who graduated from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, was seen in her college sweater behind the desk she once occupied as an SNL cast member, offering up her own solution to the rise of white supremacist and neo-Nazi movements in America today: Stay at home and eat cake with a spoon:
and in this exact moment, we're all tina fey. pic.twitter.com/98inLan6Cw
— likes tina fey (@sirinyawinsiri) August 18, 2017
The gist of Fey’s skit is that stress-eating an entire sheet cake feels better than going into the streets to fight neo-Nazis in approximately nine cities this weekend, calling the binge-eating of several pounds of cake in one sitting “a grassroots movement.” While Fey was obviously joking around as Weekend Update anchor Colin Jost played the traditional role of the straight man in a two-person skit, she did end up accidentally exemplifying everything wrong with good-intentioned white liberals.
Activists on Twitter took advantage of the #Sheetcaking phenomenon to remind everyone that while neo-Nazis were committing acts of domestic terrorism — like when white supremacist James Fields allegedly ran over and killed 32-year-old counter-protester Heather Heyer and injured dozens of others in Charlottesville — they would be marching in the August heat speaking out loudly against everything Nazis stood for. Twitter user Broderick Greer used the moment to remind other Twitter users that 53 percent of white women voted for 45* in the last presidential election. Erica Better implored her followers to donate the cost of a sheet cake to their local Black Lives Matter organization if they truly wanted to fight against white supremacists.
I hope Tina Fey is enjoying her sheet cake. We are marching in 100+ degree heat. #DefendDurham
— Chris (@CRMusicWriter) August 18, 2017
tina fey telling people who historically don't show up to fight white supremacy not to show up is…
well, it's consistent
— Kindred @SPX E10 (@itskindred) August 18, 2017
nazis: "no jews on our soil!!!!"
tina fey: "it's wine o'clock😝"
— crissy (@crissymilazzo) August 18, 2017
Tina Fey is all eleven types of liberalism.
— Ryan Mosgrove (@basebenzi) August 18, 2017
— Broderick Greer (@BroderickGreer) August 18, 2017
— erica better (@Erica_Better) August 18, 2017
Tina Fey adapts "don't show up" as an anti-fascism strategy from her years of doing the same for people of color, queer people, lower-clas—
— Avery Edison (@aedison) August 18, 2017
Stay safe inside. Don't go honor the life of an innocent person killed in the name of white supremacy. Stay silent. Safe. Thanks Tina Fey 👍🏾
— wikipedia brown (@eveewing) August 18, 2017
tina fey was trying to be funny but she exemplified white women's privilege of being able to just sit something out if we're uncomfortable
— Molly Priddy (@mollypriddy) August 18, 2017
While it’s safe to assume Fey certainly was trying to create value in the sketch, it echoes a pattern she has as a writer to be oblivious to racial issues in her comedies. In the Fey-produced flop Whiskey Tango Foxtrot that stars Fey, the producer/actor defended her decision to cast white men in brownface as Afghans by making the argument that Afghans are white.
In her Netflix original series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, one episode is devoted to a black character portraying a Japanese Geisha in yellowface, while simultaneously ridiculing uptight Asian critics who are upset about a character in yellowface. Fey even went full Tropic Thunder in another episode of Schmidt, in having a white actor’s skin tone artificially darkened in order to portray a Native American. Whenever Fey is faced with direct questions about why she continues to write shoddy racially tinged jokes, she opts to simply plug her ears and refuse to listen to criticism.
Thanks for offering your suggestion, Tina Fey. But staying home and eating cake won’t rid the world of fascism. If you ever feel like venturing outside of your $9.5 million apartment in the Upper West Side of Manhattan and actually showing solidarity with Americans who are being directly targeted by neo-Nazis’ vile rhetoric, we’ll see you in the streets.
(*EDITOR’S NOTE: GritPost.com is now exclusively referring to Donald Trump as “45.” Please read our official statement on Twitter explaining the decision.)
Michael Boone is a freelance journalist and columnist writing about politics, government, race, and media. He graduated from Texas Southern University’s School of Communication, and lives in Houston’s Third Ward.