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Historical situations that could have been peacefully solved by a white lady with a Pepsi

Selma. Stonewall. The storming of the Bastille. Tragically, all that was missing was Pepsi.

Judging by the rapid-fire responses to Pepsi’s latest ad, releasing a commercial in which police violence and injustice can be solved by offering uniformed officers with guns a can of carbonated corn syrup is the ultimate lead balloon.

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A quick primer for the uninformed: On Tuesday afternoon, Pepsi published a video featuring Kendall Jenner, who is famous because her family prances around on TV doing basically nothing. In an attempt to be timely, or “with it” or something in that general vicinity, Pepsi elected to depict the civil unrest that’s marked much of the past three years as the country became increasingly aware of the fact that it’s not exactly safe to be an innocent black person around police. Basic plot points: Kendall is blond and modeling, and she sees a crowd of brown people with signs traipsing past her. When one of them wordlessly tells her to join them, she rips off her blond wig, hands it to an unimportant black lady, starts marching and gets woke. Thoroughly ensconced in her wokeness, Kendall and the crowd meet a wall of police officers. Kendall offers a Pepsi and a smile, and all is right with the world, no one gets hauled off in paddy wagons with their hands in zip ties, and tear gas is basically an imaginary substance no one uses.

The answer to hundreds of years of race-based subjugation, violence and oppression was a white lady with a Pepsi.

Who knew?

That sound you hear right now is millions of hands slapping against foreheads, wondering how we could have missed this obvious and simple solution.

Just think how many situations in history could have been solved, if only there’d been a woke white lady with a Pepsi. It’s a lot, which is why I’m generously offering my services to help us parse this incredible discovery. If only we had a time machine and an unlimited supply of Pepsi, the world would be a completely different place. For example:

Tiananmen Square

Guy driving tank sees a white lady holding out a Pepsi, decides against brutally massacring students protesting for democracy. Hundreds, if not thousands, of lives are spared. China becomes the world’s biggest democracy, and no one cares what Donald Trump has to say about currency manipulation.

The Trail of Tears

If someone had only gotten Andrew Jackson a Pepsi, maybe we could have spared thousands of Native Americans from sickness, cruelty and displacement. Maybe we wouldn’t be so pressed to get this dude off the $20 bill. But no, instead, we’re getting Harriet Tubman, the pistol-toting narcoleptic. See what happens when there’s no white ladies with Pepsi?

Bloody Sunday

Not only would congressman John Lewis not have had to go through the trauma of thinking he might die on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, all for the sake of some silly little voting rights, Ava DuVernay never would have been snubbed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Selma. I can’t believe this. Not having white ladies with Pepsis ruins everything.

That period when Bloody Mary was being really terrible to Protestants

Fine, maybe we could have fixed Queen Mary I’s penchant for creatively murdering Protestants if her favorite lady-in-waiting had an ice chest full of Pepsis. But then maybe Elizabeth I never would have ascended to the throne, we wouldn’t have that whole “I don’t wish to make windows into men’s souls” speech and Cate Blanchett wouldn’t have had to tell everybody at Tillbury that “I have the body of a weak, feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king.”

Totes not worth it. Hard pass. Sorry, Protestants.

Any Riot, Ever

See: The Stonewall riots. The Rodney King riots. The Watts riots. The King assassination riots of 1968. The Wilmington race riots. The Tulsa race riots. The Storming of the Bastille.

Look, the next time someone is denied one’s civil rights and gets murdered simply for being oneself, or a group gets pissed off at the lady with big dresses and funny hair telling poor people to eat brioche, maybe we should all just take a deep breath and find a white lady with a Pepsi. Honestly, Marie Antoinette would probably still have her head attached to her body if only she’d had enough Pepsi.

The Duel of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton

We could have had President Alexander Hamilton maybe (notwithstanding the whole Reynolds pamphlet scandal), after the election of that lech Thomas Jefferson, but no. Hamilton had to go and get into a duel with Aaron Burr, and instead of shooting a harmless Pepsi can off someone’s head, what resulted was the death of the architect of our whole complicated financial system. Thank God for Ron Chernow and Lin-Manuel Miranda; otherwise, none of us would know any of this.

Every lynching ever

Somehow, cracking open a Pepsi just eases whatever inclinations you might have had to throw on a white robe and hood and terrorize, torture and kill members of a community. But only if it comes from a white lady. Funny how that works. White ladies (with Pepsi): Clearly magic.

But really, folks, drinking too much sugary fizzy water, no matter the brand, will give you diabetes and contribute to obesity. Until they release an ad in which Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer and Chelsea Handler band together to solve gang violence in Chicago, maybe we can all just drink La Croix instead.


UPDATE: Pepsi has pulled its ad featuring Kendall Jenner. In a statement released Wednesday morning, the company said this: “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”

Soraya Nadia McDonald is the senior culture critic for Andscape. She writes about pop culture, fashion, the arts and literature. She is the 2020 winner of the George Jean Nathan prize for dramatic criticism, a 2020 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism and the runner-up for the 2019 Vernon Jarrett Medal for outstanding reporting on Black life.