The Whitney Museum chooses silence in an effort to displace, downplay, and negate valid public outrage regarding their policies, ethics and leadership. By Jamara Wakefield May 17th marked the start of the 79th Whitney Biennial. The Biennial is a contemporary art exhibition, featuring typically young and lesser-known artists, at the Whitney Museum of American Art […]
White Conservatives are Really Bad at Protesting
White people are always worried about the wrong things and it shows up both in what they choose to protest and how they choose to go about it.
White people are hilarious. I know they aren’t trying to make me laugh, but they still do. I know they want me to take them and their concerns very seriously, but I just can’t. Even in the moments when they cause very real harm and enact or promote white supremacist violence, they are still unintentionally comical in at least some regard. I hate that this is true, but it just is. I will never not chuckle at the fact that leaders and high-ranking members of the KKK are called Grand Wizards and Grand Dragons, because: of course they are. White supremacy is a fantasy, and they have to keep that fantasy alive, even when they look and sound ridiculous.
White people are always worried about the wrong things and it shows up both in what they choose to protest and how they choose to go about it. White fragility and white narcissism play a collective role in all of this. Not only can they not cope with the discomfort of their worldview being challenged, but they also live in a fantasy world in which the rest of us are supposed to give a shit about their hurt feelings, white tears, and self-inflicted damage. This is what happens when you exist in a world that constantly reassures you that your whiteness makes you and your feelings more important than everyone else’s and that you should be centered at all times.
Again and again, I find myself letting out hearty laughter at white people forms of protest and resistance against even the idea of racial equity or combating white supremacy, and their confidence that the rest of us will care about their discomfort. After this week’s #BoycottNike fiasco, I decided to compile a short list of some of my favorite—for lack of a better term—white people protests.
Conservatives and Trump supporters have been raging against former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick since he first refused to stand for the National Anthem over a year ago. Even though he has plainly stated time and again that his refusal to stand was in protest of anti-Black police brutality in the U.S., white supremacy and the people invested in it have an inexplicable talent for ignoring facts in order to reframe narratives to fit their agenda. They’ve worked themselves up into a frenzy by convincing themselves that Kaepernick’s protest was an act of disrespect against the American flag and the military, despite the fact that it was an Army veteran who encouraged Kaepernick to kneel in the first place, rather than sitting like he originally did. Kaepernick was ultimately blackballed and sacrificed his career in the NFL because he did not back down from his protest.
This week, Nike revealed Kaepernick as the face of their 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign with an ad featuring an image of the former quarterback and the words, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” In response, #BoycottNike appeared on Twitter almost immediately and we were treated to images and video of conservatives destroying their own Nike apparel with fire and household scissors.
First the @NFL forces me to choose between my favorite sport and my country. I chose country. Then @Nike forces me to choose between my favorite shoes and my country. Since when did the American Flag and the National Anthem become offensive? pic.twitter.com/4CVQdTHUH4
— Sean Clancy (@sclancy79) September 3, 2018
This spectacle they have created is beyond absurd, but I’m not upset or annoyed or even exasperated. I’m tickled. Their response to seeing Kaepernick’s face on an ad was to destroy their own property, which hurt absolutely no one except for themselves because they had already paid for it.
What’s also funny is that Kaepernick has been Nike-sponsored since 2011, but I guess they have only just noticed this since Nike featured him in the ad. Nike also happens to supply the military with combat boots and many active duty people have stated their explicit support. Nike also doubled down on their support of Kaepernick by releasing a video ad which he voices and that aired during the NFL’s season opener. It also features the great Serena Williams, another athlete who receives unfair and anti-Black scrutiny. I won’t speak on Nike’s politics here or whether or not they are pimping out activism for profit, but I will say that they are showing us that they support the Black athletes that white people love to hate, and I appreciate that.
Boycotting the NFL
This is one is in the same vein as the Nike boycott. After Trump’s comments about NFL protests during the National Anthem resulted in more than 200 players deciding to sit or kneel during the anthem, a call to boycott the NFL began to make its round on Twitter. What followed was dozens of salty Caucasians burning their own jerseys and flaunting their bonfires on Twitter and YouTube for all to see.
Supporting someone accused of inappropriate sexual relationships with minors should easily be considered an abhorrent character trait, but not for white conservatives, apparently. When Sean Hannity made comments in support of Roy Moore, a Republican US Senate candidate in Alabama accused of engaging in sexual misconduct with multiple teenagers, Keurig made the common sense decision to pull their ads from Hannity’s show. His fans didn’t like that so much. Their response? A boycott which entailed destroying their own property. I’m noticing a pattern. They hammered Keurigs to smithereens in their living rooms and tossed the machines from balconies, and of course posted the videos online.
Keurig ultimately apologized to its employees for publicly speaking on their decision to pull their ads in the first place, as it gave the appearance of “taking sides” in a politically charged situation. The apology was not directed at Sean Hannity or his supporters, but that didn’t stop them from celebrating it as a win.
WE WON! @Keurig apologizes.
DO NOT underestimate the POWER of the Silent Majority. Congrats @seanhannity , your viewers have spoken#IStandWithHannity #MondayMotivation #CitizenOfTheYear https://t.co/MdYj7lyvk3
— Kambree Kawahine Koa (@KamVTV) November 13, 2017
Vice President Mike Pence decided to go to a Broadway show one night in 2016 and the situation became far more uncomfortable than he anticipated, so much so that he walked out of the theater when the performer portraying Vice President Aaron Burr in the musical sensation Hamilton addressed him directly while closing out the show.
— Hamilton (@HamiltonMusical) November 19, 2016
Whew, child. Trump did not like that, and he came in like a wrecking ball with his Twitter tantrum as per usual, calling for an apology for his precious Vice President, even though Pence himself stated that he was not offended. Trump’s rabid followers, as they are want to do, seconded Trump’s demand for an apology and called for a boycott of Hamilton. Lin Manuel-Miranda’s immensely popular musical is notoriously damn-near impossible to get into, and was basically sold out until 2018 at that point. So, their boycott made absolutely no impact and was doomed from the start. I’m sure the fact that Hamilton actually set sales records immediately after they decided to boycott it was just more salt in their wounds.
Boycotting “Black Panther”
How can you boycott something that wasn’t meant for you anyway? How can you threaten to not come to a party that you were never invited to? Again, white supremacy will have white people believing that everything in the world is made for their consumption. As Black people everywhere were getting hype for the release of Marvel’s “Black Panther”, knowing full well that director Ryan Coogler and the cast had created something centering Black people and imbued with Black culture, white Christians were mounting up to boycott it, laboring under the illusion that Disney is “liberal.”
Along with the dedicated white Christians raging again the “big mouse ear corporation,” white nerd boys were also in a tizzy over a superhero film without a cis straight white man as the central hero. Before the film was even released, they announced that their boycott plans were to give “Black Panther” overwhelmingly negative reviews in order to tank its Rotten Tomatoes score in the same way that they tried to do with “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” because the last few installments of the sci-fi franchise did not star white men. Rotten Tomatoes blocked them and prevented their trolling endeavors, but social media was still a flutter with complaints about “white genocide” and the films apparent propagation of a Black ethnostate.
Ultimately, they achieved absolutely nothing except making me laugh, because “Black Panther” had already broken records with advanced ticket sales before it was even in theaters, is now the highest-rated superhero film of all time on Rotten Tomatoes, went on to break even more records to become the third highest-grossing U.S. film ever, and even made history as the first film shown in a theater in Saudi Arabia in more than 35 years. I just can’t wait to see what happens when it gets Golden Globe and Oscar nominations.
The Charlottesville protesters’ polo shirts, khakis, and tiki torches are now iconic in the best possible way. After we finished ripping into them for their hideous display of white fragility and violence, and contextualizing their “Blood and soil” chants, we also roasted them for their outfits and mosquito repellent sticks. Even the TIKI brand came out to say that they did not support the protest or its message. GQ called them “an army of JC Penney mannequins” and, honestly, where is the lie? I saw some “Back to School” pics of elementary schoolers with their exact outfits all over social media these last few weeks.
"Guys, we need to look tough"
<) ) GET
( (> THE
) ) TIKI TORCHES!
— Marybeth Glenn (@MBGlenn) August 12, 2017
If there’s one thing white American Christians hate, it’s when you acknowledge the fact that Winter Solstice holidays outside of Christmas exist, and they sure got hot under their ugly Christmas sweaters when Starbucks introduced coffee cups that read “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” That was boycott number one, suggested by everybody’s favorite white supremacist in the White House. They called for another boycott after former CEO Howard Schultz announced the company was planning to hire 10,000 immigrant and refugee employees over five years following Trump’s immigration ban. We have to remind them every year that their boy Jesus was a brown, Middle Eastern man who literally had to be born in a stable because no one would give his parents asylum according their lil’ Bible story, but whatever.
In their boycott demands, they insisted that Starbucks hire 10,000 veterans instead and were unimpressed when people pointed out that Starbucks was already planning to do that anyway, for veterans and their spouses. And do you know how some of them protested Starbucks? By going to Starbucks and buying coffee. They put their heads together and what they came up with was organizing to descend upon their neighborhood Starbucks en masse to order fancy coffees and ask the barista to write “Trump” on their cups instead of their actual names. I wonder how many orders were given to the wrong “Trump.” I’m sure someone ended up with a Caramel Macchiato when what they ordered was a Pumpkin Spice Latte. #TooManyTrumps
Freedom Fries and French Wine
“This wine represents the blood the French have never spilled for freedom,” said the proud white American as he poured a brand new, perfectly good bottle of French red wine onto the street and watched it flow into the sewers.
The short film “Freedom Fries and Other St*pidity We’ll Have To Explain To Our Grandchildren” takes a detailed look at the state of post-9/11 America in 2003 when brave white people refused to say “French fries.” In protest of France not supporting the war in Iraq, white Americans replaced “French” with “Freedom” and took to the streets to destroy their French wines and parfaits in daring acts of patriotism. Again, it did absolutely nothing except waste things that they had already purchased.
Raging Against Wolfenstein
This one might be my absolute favorite. This video game has had the same subject matter since its inaugural installment in 1981 with Castle Wolfenstein for the Apple II. You play as an American prisoner of war, a spy captured and thrown into a dungeon. The objective of the game is to escape the castle and you have to kill some Nazis in order to do so.
When the trailer for Wolfenstein II: The New Collosus was released in 2017 with the tagline “Make America Nazi Free Again”, the alt-right erupted with tears about the video game’s targeting of them and their politics. The newest installment is set in a reimagined America in 1961 in which the Nazis won WWII and colonized America. It wasn’t the fact that they decided to boycott the game that amused me. Rather it was that it was completely lost on them that the themes explored in the Wolfenstein games had never changed, but instead the more public emergence of their alt-right politics and neo-Nazism is what had ostensibly positioned them as the bad guys that players get to kill in the game. Nazis have been the antagonists in various pop culture texts for over half a century now. I just think it’s funny how they’re all of sudden bothered by it now that they think it’s “cool” to be a Nazi, as if Indiana Jones or Captain America wouldn’t punch them directly in their insipid face.
Featured Image: via Twitter
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