Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Where is the fats?

Okay no pre-birthday post today.

Instead I want to talk about some other things.

My White homies, it's going to be one of those days. Gird your loins.

A few of you have inquired (very sweetly) why I have been less Fat oriented of late.

First I need you to go read this open letter thing at Nolose. It's kinda long but this bit is very salient to what I'm saying today.

While fat activism in the United States continues to be predominantly white, there is an emerging wave of fat People of Color (POC) activists moving out into all aspects of our communities. Joining with fat POC activists who have been working for years to create space for the unique challenges faced by POC within our mainstream diet culture, this has the potential to be a time of enormous shift in the perception and face of fat activism in the U.S.

There is more and I encourage you to read it but this is really important.

For those who don't know in both meatspace and on the internets I have been talking about body politics far beyond my first introduction to the Fatosphere.

From the first few times I read about or spoke about body politics and fatness, it has always been overwhelmingly white. Locally in meatspace I had not a single person of color in my sphere.

Fast forward to me blogging on the intertubes and people either don't realize I'm a person of color or because I am not famous, educated or have a book out etc, have no idea that I'm here.

IN the last few years I've seen a lot of hand wringing on the part of White activists, they moan WHERE ARE THE POC?

We're here.

We've been here. Fuck it pains me to no end because I've been here for years.

It's fucking exhausting.

My experiences in the Fatosphere and dealing with a lot of White people in it are exhausting. Many of them are very well meaning but often have no grasp of intersectionality, don't understand how their colorblind ideologies and insistence on telling me about them hurts me, I have to explain and explain and explain WHY it's not okay to say or do X thing, I have to hear people tell me that I'm pulling the race card.

I have been personally attacked not for things I've actually said but for having the audacity to be both Black and disagreeing with nice smart White people.

The thing is that these are not isolated experiences to me being involved in FA on the internet. THis is my actual everyday life and my internets life.

Also frankly I'm tired.

I don't want to keep either trying to calmly explain why I have issues with X thing based on racial things.

I don't want to keep telling the same people.

I know that my voice is of value. I know that there are those of you who have needed my words even when they hurt and that makes me feel really good.

Now. Let's talk a little about my experiences in internets FA.

What I often see is that POC in FA are relegated to sassy fatshionistas and when they do speak up about other intersecting issues we get crickets.

I will conflate this with a lot of my experiences with modern feminism.

It's the trap of being the Sassy Black Lady.

Yes, I have some bit of style.

That doesn't mean my or any other POC doesn't have anything else to say. I hate hate that it's necessary to say that.

I have also often seen White Women's Tears used to manipulate and tell POC including me that when we talk about racism, when we talk about the intersectional aspects of fatness that we're hurting feelings and being mean.

I feel like this happens more often in FA.

I understand where it comes from. Fat acceptance is fucking hard.

It's super fucking hard when your'e just starting out and you want to be protective.

Here's the thing.

I care so much about fat acceptance that I have often criticized perceived leaders and ideas. However I don't care about it enough to let hard discussions where I don't feel like I'm heard or valued, add so much stress to my life.

It's a fine line most POC walk daily.

I feel like FA is at a point and age where there are in fact enough POC involved directly and peripherally that the ball is sort of out of our court.

I need for White people to stop telling me they are trying.

Don't tell me (not me personally but POC in this case) that you're "trying" to add diversity to an event or blog space.

Look, we're all smart. If you are reading this I presume you can read and comprehend and use the google machine. If you run a blog space, if you run a fat safe space, if you are organizing an event. You can ask your favorite bloggers if they know of any POC who might want to come along.

We aren't going to magically show up.

Which brings me to the matter of giving lip service to diversity vs actually actively engaging with diversity.

Lip Service to diversity says to me that you have signs and manifestos and sayings that "welcome" everyone.

Actively engaging in preserving and creating diversity means you have to have hard discussions. Sometimes you have to understand when it's time to shut up and listen. You have to understand that often your privilege might blind you to how uncomfortable a person of color might be at your event or in your internet space.

Understand that if even if you really want a person of color you like or admire to be the voice of all brown people everywhere, you're going to be high and dry. Have some sensitivity. Don't expect a person of color to be completely aware of and able to speak on ALL of the POC related things.

If acknowleging or starting to acknowledge your privilege is beyond you at least have some empathy.

Understand that these pressures don't just exist in the realm of activism. Understand that for a lot of us brown people, these pressures are with us every step we take. Every time we turn on the TV, every time we open a book, every time we watch the news, when we try to speak on our experiences.

This is a weight and it's really fucking heavy.

Back to me.

I'm still feeling like I'm tired. Sometimes when I start fat related posts I have this vision of myself on a hamster wheel. I (as I mentioned a while back) will see within days or weeks someone else speak on the same issues-ish and more impactful for me seem to be taken more seriously.

These things are why I don't make a fuss when I've fallen off the fat feeds or my readership falls off a bit.

Right now I am trying to reclaim my space and voice.

I'm trying to give no fucks about my apprehensions and go on ahead and say what I wanna say.

So that's where I am and the post at Nolose kicked these things loose.

Moving along.

Thank you for the prebirthday well wishes. I will be 35 on Friday.

If you are hell bent on giving me something, for serious you can drop a dollar in my paypal donate area to your right. I have most of the things I really -need- but would be into having some mad money for sparklies or whatever.

Now I'm going to have some food.

Homo Out.
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1 comment:

Tapati said...

These various activist movements are also invariably classist and I have felt marginalized for that reason. When I did help to run one FA org and advocated for having a discussion event centered on the body image concerns of POC, there was a panicked response where women worried we would offend someone inadvertently. They didn't seem to realize that NOT addressing such obvious issues in a society with racist beauty standards was offensive in and of itself. I pushed through that resistance and it was one of our most successful and well-attended events we ever did. People have got to start pushing past their fears.

I have also lost patience with group activism over the years and instead I tend to just write about stuff that I care about and hope it might give someone, somewhere, a clue. It's difficult enough to take on the whole of society without also having conflict in the very group that is supposed to be working with you. I'm too weary to constantly "process" and deal with defensiveness.

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