Brunch is canceled this weekend. There will be no Eggs Benedict, no bottomless mimosas, no “rosé all day.” We will not be standing in line for two hours so we can Instagram our meals.
This is not to hate on brunch — I love Hollandaise sauce more than I like some of my friends — and I’m sorry for all the small businesses that will be making less money this weekend, but on Aug. 26 and 27, white nationalists are holding rallies in our cities. And you need to be there.
Remember all those things you’ve shared on Facebook and argued about in comments sections? It’s time to stand behind them.
For the past week and a half, I’ve been wavering about whether I should show up to Crissy Field and downtown Berkeley or take part in another demonstration someplace else. I know many of you have, too, and I’m not going to lie, the documentary Vice put out about Charlottesville spooked me. The vileness and the hatred welling up from the people profiled made me reevaluate just how thick this Bay Area bubble really is. But here’s the thing: Letting fear decide where you can or cannot go is the definition of terrorism. Many queer folk, people of color, Muslims, immigrants and other marginalized communities don’t have the privilege of not going somewhere because they are uncomfortable or scared. Hell, most women don’t even have that privilege, and they’re 50 percent of the population.
So I will be out there at Crissy Field and in Berkeley protesting non-violently. I am asking you to come stand shoulder to shoulder with the communities who have been enduring this ugliness for centuries. This is part of being a good ally. This is part of being a co-conspirator. Plus, if we all show up, tens of thousands of us, it greatly minimizes the risk of violence. Just look at how well Boston handled it.
Truthfully, though, nobody can guarantee there won’t be violence, and I won’t hesitate to defend myself or my comrades. But we can demonstrate that hatred will not be tolerated in our cities, and I believe we can do it without bloodshed. One method that’s been used for centuries is tactical frivolity. It’s what people have meant when they’ve discussed glitter bombing white nationalists or drowning them out by blasting the theme song from “The Benny Hill Show.”
My buddy Alex had a great idea: Bring so many rainbow flags that it will be impossible to have photos of the white nationalist rally without it looking like a Pride parade. In many protests in the U.S. and in Europe, the folks employing tactical frivolity were called the Silver Bloc, and they followed the more confrontational Black Bloc in marches. My hope is that there will be so many of us that we can choose to be confrontational or frivolous or both.
It’s also important to be prepared. There are trainings happening all week, and most of them are word-of-mouth to avoid infiltration, so ask your activist friends if they know of any. You can also check the guides on BayResistance.org and BrokeAssStuart.com to learn tips and best practices for this weekend. If you plan on attending the Crissy Field, meet up with the Longshoreman’s Union at 400 North Point at 9:30 a.m. and march together as a group. For the Berkeley protest, you can join Bay Area Rally Against Hate at 10:30 a.m. Oxford and Addison streets or Resist Racist Violence & Hate from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Ohlone Park at Hearst Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. (Remember to check with the organizations or Facebook groups as the week progresses; some of these gatherings are subject to change.)
For those still uncomfortable with the weekend’s actions, there are other counter-demonstrations happening that you can attend instead. And if even those are too much, volunteer to babysit or provide rides so that other people can make it who want to attend.
Just don’t sit this out. Brunch is canceled, remember?
Let’s be clear about something: Standing up to white supremacists is brave. But what’s even braver, and takes much more work, is dismantling the system of white supremacy that all white people in this country benefit from. We need to tear apart the prison industrial complex. We need to demilitarize our police. We need to fight for universal health care and free education. We need to vote with our wallets and support candidates that aren’t corporate stooges. We need to run for office in our cities and towns.
Showing up this weekend won’t end racism or rid the country of racist people, but it’s a great first step to taking on systemic racism as a whole. White nationalists are just the cold sore that represents the virus that’s infected the entire body.
For the record, the rally at Crissy Field promises the demographics of its speakers will be “3 black, 2 Hispanic, 1 Asian, 1 Samoan, 1 Muslim, 2 women, and 1 white male.” They’ve also sworn that “no extremists will be allowed in. No Nazis, Communist, KKK, Antifa, white supremacist, I.E., or white nationalists.” I hope this is the case and look forward to them proving this.
Now, who’s down for brunch the following weekend?
P.S.: Shout out to my boy Sayre Piotrkowski for our conversation about brunch.
Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com. Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in the San Francisco Examiner.