When I started this blog, I wrote imaginary letters. It was an amusing rhetorical device, kept me entertained – and, more importantly, it preserved the idea I had that, really, I’m just sitting here, talking to you as an individual. That was, and is, important to me because I believe activism in this format is most effective when we have a connection, when we see each other as human beings living unique experiences.

I’ve been so proud, over the years, to be part of the fat acceptance movement, to be part of the fatosphere. Some amazing things have been accomplished. Every email I get or person who tells me they have decided to stop hating themselves because there are other options, better options… That is transformative.

But from the beginning, the fatosphere has struggled with intersectionality. Specifically, the fatosphere has struggled with racism. There’s enough overlap between the worlds of fatness and disability (though I do not support the conflation of the two) that people seem to be good about acknowledging the intersections there. But fat acceptance has proven remarkably awful – I’d say almost as awful as mainstream feminism – at being sensitive to issues of race.

This is unacceptable to me. I have worked, here at the Rotund, to be as inclusive as possible – and I’ve also fucked up plenty of times. I’ve not done as much as I could to make this space inclusive. That is totally on me.

But what I have tried to do, as much as possible, is at least not let racist shit slide.

And, y’all, my supposed allies in fat acceptance, I have to say very honestly and with sincerest regret that this letter is necessary, some of y’all are fucking this up.

A lot.

If fat acceptance is a safe haven for racism in the name of solidarity and keeping the movement together, then I gotta tell you the truth: we’re doing it wrong. And not just a little wrong. If we are building a fat acceptance that supports racism then we are doing social justice fundamentally wrong on so many levels I cannot even.

I am debating with myself whether or not to link the post that has me all up in arms – I’ve long believed that we trade in pageviews on the internet. I don’t want to be cryptic by any means, but I also don’t want to drive traffic to sites that flat out don’t deserve it based on their own words and actions.

Let me explain – no, there is too much, let me sum up.

The Strong4Life campaign in Georgia is pretty much a bunch of gross fat hate. As so many of these initiatives prove, the path to hell really is paved with good intentions about saving the children. There was a response from the fat activist community – which I was really glad to see, even though I did not have the time or energy to participate myself. That’s the great thing about community – we don’t all have to fight every single fight.

I tell you that I didn’t have the time or energy straight up because I am not ashamed of that. We all have to balance our lives and our activism. And I also tell you because Shannon Atchka emailed me one day and basically threatened to “out” me in some fashion for being unwilling to help him. I’ve had my minor run ins with him before but I tried to have a fairly reasonable email conversation about how I wasn’t avoiding the campaign because of him – but my life was in a little bit of psychological shambles at the moment and I needed to focus on that. That didn’t go so well.

My plan was to just write it off as another difficult conversation with someone who essentially means well.

But now Shannon Atchka has decided to have a pity party and, frankly, some people have joined him in comments on his post about the matter.

Some of the comments on his post make me actively ashamed to be associated with fat acceptance as a racist movement – and I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit quietly with that. Because fat acceptance belongs to me, too, just as much as it belongs to people making racist comments about how tired they are of being called out on their white privilege.

Listen, if you’re tired of being called on your privilege, consider that the people of color around you are probably EVEN MORE TIRED of having to deal with it. Plus they have to deal with living in an inherently racist society!

Yes, it absolutely sucks, my fellow fat white people, to be told that you have certain advantages. White privilege is a difficult concept for a lot of people.

But here is a basic fact of life: the people who most need to hear about something are the people who most protest hearing about it.

That means if you are kicking and screaming because someone called you out for doing or saying something racist… you might want to consider that the reason it feels so very awful is because YOU DID OR SAID SOMETHING RACIST.

Being called out is a favor, an act of kindness – someone is letting you know that your internalized racism is showing and getting all messy all over everything. It doesn’t feel very good at the time, but being corrected NEVER does. The key, the most important thing for you to do when you are called out, is to not freak out on the internet where you will only make things worse.

That’s what Shannon Atchka is doing. Atchka is calling out Julia Starkey because she dared to say something critical about Stand4Kids – the fat acceptance response to the Georgia campaign.

Now, I think Stand4Kids is a pretty cool concept. But I also accept and acknowledge that Julia was correct in her questions – and doing the people involved a favor by giving them a chance to explain what was going on.

It’s totally understandable to me, as a busy person, that the people involved in Stand4Kids were volunteers. And I definitely understand when people lack knowledge. But google exists for a damn reason. And creating a project or atmosphere of any kind that is welcoming to people of color involves more than an invitation to participate. That’s the tiniest step you can take in getting people of color involved. What you actually have to do – and if you don’t know how, that’s again why google is so very useful – is make your project or atmosphere actually welcoming. You have to create a space that invites diverse people to participate without fear of ridicule or hatred.

That is hard damned work. And I don’t think anyone is perfect at it.

The really great thing though is that no one is really expecting perfection. A genuine effort and a willingness to listen when we screw up is half the battle that we as fat white people trying to create diverse spaces have to fight. Screwing up is not the end of the world! It’s uncomfortable – we’re embarrassed and our feelings get hurt and we kind of flail around a little wishing no one had scolded us – but discomfort isn’t going to kill us. In fact, discomfort is a really great teacher, if we pay attention to it.

I see a lot of objection to the idea that people of color are not responsible for educating the people they call out. I get it, I do. It’s easy to think that if someone is going to call you out, they should put in the effort to tell you what you did that was so wrong and why it was so wrong. The problem with that is the obligation it places on the person who was offended or injured in the first place. The problem with that is that we as fat white people can, as I mentioned earlier, use google. Or we can talk to other fat white people! We are resources for each other in so many other things; we can help each other with this as well.

In fact, I’m going to volunteer to field racism 101 questions here – if you’ve been called out and you don’t understand why, you can ask me about it instead of the person of color who called you out. How about that?

There is a difference between saying a person of color is welcome to participate (and solve the diversity problem their own damn selves) and saying that it’s something that will be addressed. One is a deflection of responsibility – the other is an acknowledgement that it hasn’t happened yet but we want it to, we’re trying to make it happen.

I don’t beef on the internet. I have too many other things to do (fat things! and clown school!) to spend my time stirring up online drama. I love y’all and I want our time here together to be productive. I want us to feel empowered and amazing. I very very rarely post angry – mostly because I always feel bad for being all pissed off after the fact. But this is worth it, this is worth posting and waking up to dissenting opinions in the morning. Because I do not want to be part of a fat acceptance that claims it is divisive to point out racism. I do not want to be part of a fat acceptance that defaults to a white perspective, a white experience. A white face.

The strength we have is in our diversity, is in the uniqueness of our experiences. Our strength is in the summation of our identities, as varied as they are. Intersectionality is vital because it keeps us invigorated, strengthens us, teaches us.

I know that white people get tired of talking about racism. And sometimes it feels like we can’t get anything right. When that’s the case, we need to sit down and shut our mouths and listen. It’s difficult – but it’s worth the effort because we have so much to learn, so far to go. Because it is complete and utter bullshit that our social justice movement can be derailed by the racism of white fat activists.

This is the link I want you to follow:

a response to white fat activism

from People of Color in the fat justice movement

Please, my fellow fat white people. Let’s stop fucking this up.

Love,

The Rotund


This entry was posted in Action Plan, Discussion, Fatty Politics, Intersectionality, Letters. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

129 Comments

  1. Posted March 21, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    Listen, if you’re tired of being called on your privilege, consider that the people of color around you are probably EVEN MORE TIRED of having to deal with it.

    Listen, if you’re tired of being called on your privilege, consider that the people of color around you are probably EVEN MORE TIRED of having to deal with it.

    Listen, if you’re tired of being called on your privilege, consider that the people of color around you are probably EVEN MORE TIRED of having to deal with it.

    Thank you for this. I finally understood what privilege was one day when reading through a racist clusterfuck online and I thought to myself, “Ugh, I don’t want to think about or deal with this anymore today.” I realized I could make the conscious choice to not deal with racism simply because I didn’t want to. And I realized how inherently privileged that made me.

    • TR
      Posted March 21, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

      It’s such a simple but important realization, isn’t it?

      Like, intersectionality means, yeah, some people may experience white privilege that is side by side with fat hate or other oppressions. But that doesn’t actually make it go away.

      It just blows my mind sometimes how very resistent some people are to the idea that people of color might have some insight into racism in America that white people lack, you know?

  2. Rachel Kacenjar
    Posted March 21, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    thank you so much for saying this. Thank you thank you thank you. I’ve had my ass grilled by mean privileged white folk all damn day, but I am still trying really hard to provide support and answer all of their questions without cussing too much.

    I don’t want to whine about doing the work because its so necessary and important, but damn, was I disappointed at the number of people who preferred to relish in their ignorance as opposed to just sitting back and listening. I truly don’t get why its such an outlandish idea to spend a few minutes thinking about how to make positive change and welcome a part of our community that is oppressed with open arms to the table we’re supposed to share.

    • Cihan
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      Are you sure that all the people you’re getting your ass grilled by Rachel, are even all white? Is that an assumption on your part?

      • TR
        Posted March 22, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        Fat activism isn’t actually all that large – and Rachel knows a lot of people. It actually is entirely possible Rachel knows who she is talking about and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if they were all white.

  3. Posted March 22, 2012 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    Want to add my thanks to you for writing this post. As I was reading it, I was thinking of the NOLOSE posts you linked to, and all the really wonderful conversations I had about this very issue at NOLOSE last year.

    I…I don’t really know what I want to say. I’ve been so pissed off about racism lately because of my racist students, and it’s just good to see other folks talking about this too, specifically other white folks, because, as I try to tell my students, racism has to be something that we fight against too. It’s not just a problem for people of color, it’s OUR fucking problem, and our responsibility.

  4. Amanda Levitt
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    Thank you for writing this and speaking out. I was emailed by him after the whole email fiasco trying to rope me into that whole bullshit.

    Once I read the letter from NOLOSE I knew who it was referring to and was seriously frustrated with the response it had. It is so frustrating in a movement where we are suppose to fight for equality we do it without acknowledging our own privilege. The pity party that was thrown after it was published makes me want to scream.

    • Julia
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      As one of the co-signers of the letter I do want to emphasize this is not all about Shannon Atchka. The Stand4Kids campaign’s flaws are another example of systemic issues within fat acceptance.

      For instance, another co-signer Tara Shuai wrote a great piece back in 2008 about racism in Fat Acceptance political actions. The example was Marilyn Wann’s 1000 fat cranes project.

      http://blog.twowholecakes.com/2008/09/where-are-all-the-allies-and-where-do-we-go-from-here/

      The issue isn’t exactly about individuals (though certainly seeing the same people’s names come up over and over is depressing). It’s about systemic problems

      • Amanda Levitt
        Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

        Julia, I wanted to let you know that this is a problem I have been aware of for some time and my comment was in more reference to the specific instance that was highlighted in the letter. Thank you for writing it and speaking out.

        • Julia
          Posted March 22, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

          Thank you for being aware of this ongoing issue. I’m glad the open letter is helping to raise awareness/remind people of this.

  5. Posted March 22, 2012 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    Thank you for saying everything I really don’t know how to say and don’t understand fully enough myself to say anyway.

    I hate that I don’t know enough to talk about it. It’s frustrating and I want to help and be inclusive and fix the shit that’s wrong and sort out those people who are shaking their privilege all about… but I’m still learning myself.

    But I guess that’s the point isn’t it? We all need to be listening, learning and doing it better next time around.

    I just wish that Shannon would stop bullying others into doing things his way. I wish that he would stop trying to drive the fat acceptance movement how he thinks it should be driven. I wish that he would ASK people’s permission before assigning their work as “in support” of him. And I wish he would leave people alone who decline to work with him.

    Again, thanks for this piece and thank you for offering to help answer questions on the issue.

  6. Posted March 22, 2012 at 4:43 am | Permalink

    Both the links at the bottom of your post are the same– is this what you intended?

    • TR
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      Yep! Thanks for mentioning it though – I appreciate it.

  7. Mermaid
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Let me de-lurk to say a heart-felt thank you for this angry and loving post! It feels very important to me, a white fattie in a mixed race queer relationship. The only thing that feels worse that naming and believing racism and our (white and, in this case, fat) complicated complicity with it is NOT naming it and NOT believing that it is real, tenacious and life-threatening. Rock on!

  8. Posted March 22, 2012 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    there was something that i read on “yo, is this racist?” the other week that really stuck with me. someone wrote in with the question, “how can we really have conversations about race and racism when whenever white people say anything the response is, ‘you only say that because you’re white.’” and andrew responded, “if you’re saying that many things that people think are solely due to you being a white person, maybe you need to think more about what you are saying.”
    it feels a lot like the “people keep telling me i am being racist and it’s so hard!” thing–if you are the common factor in the situations, that might be a sign it’s time to look at what you’re doing and how it’s hurtful.

  9. Posted March 22, 2012 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Thank you. I did try to get some of this through at FFF but it didnt seem to happen.

    • Rachel Kacenjar
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      Bri,

      Thanks for being there. I was with ya all the way.

  10. Posted March 22, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    What I’m noticing is that I don’t know what “right action” to take in response to the response, so I’m not doing anything. That’s not strictly true — I’m reflecting, wondering how I might operate differently in the future.
    I haven’t blogged about this because I too have been busy, overworked, overtired, and in the non-internet world I rather imperfectly do work toward equity as a whole and health equity in particular, and do all I can to “engage people in identifying and addressing problems that impact their lives” from within the system I operate from.

    So, Marianne, for someone who considers herself a fat, white ally to people of color — (I certainly have other ways of describing myself) — and also a cis-genedered, straight ally to queer people — I’m learning that intersectionality is hard, and I don’t know what to say when I or someone else has not done the work of engagement.

    I’m on the receiving end of this in a very different way in my community around my Jewishness, and the attempts for other people to define that for me, and in my own way, I’m feeling extremely excluded and threatened by people who appear to not care about including Jewish people in their movement. It’s not the same thing, but it’s giving me a tiny taste of being excluded from a discussion that directly impacts me. I struggle to not respond in a way that makes matters worse, but the way that anti-semitism works, if I speak up I risk being seen as a “push Jew.” Okay, don’t want to derail, just learning what it’s like in a small, specific way.

    • TR
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      IS intersectionality really that hard? I mean, think about the ways in which we quite unthinkingly incorporate various aspects of our identities – I am a nerd and a fatty and a professional woman and a writer and a dog owner and all these other things. And I don’t stop being passionate about pit bulls when I put on my writer hat. I just…write about pit bulls.

      Intersectionality is like that – it’s the totally natural incorporation of all of our identities.

      What’s hard is getting into the habit of remembering that other people have identities that don’t overlap with ours – and even that, I think, is hard primarily because we’re told not to; there’s so much emphasis on finding our commonalities that maybe we’ve forgotten how to acknowledge our differences and how those can be really important too.

      Reflecting and listening is ALWAYS a good thing to do. In cases like this, I also think it’s good to at least speak up and say you are reflecting. In person, we use active listening – the person speaking knows we’re absorbing because we nod and look attentive and that sort of thing, but there are no cues of that sort online. There’s just a vast yawning silence and that can be hugely isolating.

      So when someone has not done the work of engagement, I think the right thing to say is going to vary – and it’s going to be very personal figuring that out. But if you are looking for a response, remember that a simple “I hear you” is very powerful. As is “I support you.” Or even “I am considering all of these things and learning a lot.”

      To borrow from your situation, if you don’t mind – some of us aren’t going to mind being seen as “push fatties”. Does that make sense?

  11. Julia
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    On a related note, when I ask someone if their event is fat positive, queer friendly, etc. I almost always ask for specifics on how they’re doing that. The reason is that it’s super easy for people say “yes of course we’re fat friendly!” when they haven’t done anything to make the event that way. There is often a knee jerk response “of course we welcome XYZ people.” I think that often comes from a place of the person being asked feeling defensive or taking the question personally.

    An event isn’t welcoming to marginalized groups unless organizers have done something to make it that way. I’ve done a lot of event organizing and try to be aware of that. For instance, people with disabilities can’t assume that event venues will be accessible to them unless it’s specifically mentioned.

    I think that someone saying “what have you done to facilitate X group being welcomed into your group” is the beginning of a conversation. It’s a chance to say “we’ve consulted with this group and we’ve been using this publicity technique, etc.” or to say “We’ve been trying Z method but we’re not sure if it’s effective. What do you think about it?”

    To metaphor it. Lets say someone said “I’m looking to do a photography project. I want to showcase all bodies!!” Then when you looked at the site you noticed they had photos up of 30 generally slim white able bodied conventionally attractive people. As a fat person I would want to know why there isn’t more body diversity in the photographs, and in particular where are the fatties and POC?

    • Posted March 22, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      THIS, Julia. It’s very easy to pay lip service by saying ‘oh, we’re totally inclusive,’ but asking people to provide information about how forces them to articulate their action plan–and may force them to admit that they’re just paying lip service. And it also spurs people to be aware, when planning events, that they need to think about intersectionality during event planning, so that when someone asks, they can say ‘oh yes, we’re doing this and this, these are the resources we’re using.’

      And ideally, someone shouldn’t have to ask, because the evidence should be visible. e.g. as someone who does speaking engagements, I line up a ‘terp and advertise the fact that ASL interpretation will be available.

    • Posted March 22, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      Oh, this.

      I do event planning for a small music convention. The community that has grown around the con includes folks who have mobility issues and disabilities. I’m also not the only person who may attend who is my size. We solicit input on how to make sure the con is accessible. We measure doors to make sure they’ll work for our attendees. We check how tables and chairs are arranged for clearance. We check for accessible bathrooms (one hotel didn’t have them on the same floor as the meeting space). And so on.

      We are not perfect by any means, but the level of accessibility we get is due to planning not happenstance.

      • Julia
        Posted March 24, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink

        I’ve been meaning to come back to this. I wanted to say that the idea of “acting perfectly” is really detrimental. We are all fallible humans beings. We need to try, to be open about mistakes, listen to criticism (even when it hurts our feelings) and figure out ways to not make the same mistakes.

        I completely understand feeling upset or like your feelings are hurt when someone calls you out. I’ve been there. It’s a sucky feeling. I think it’s important to sit with those feelings & figure out what is going on with yourself. Fuck policing someone’s tone. Figure out what is going on with *yourself* and your own stuff before saying someone else “made” you act a certain way.

        • Posted March 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

          It’s also useful, when working as part of an organization, to not take criticism personally. Decisions to go with an older, less accessible hotel or to schedule event A against event B were not made by a single person – they were shared. So’s the criticism.

  12. Kim31
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    There is one thing I do not understand about this incident- and I’m not taking sides at all, I genuinely do not understand the factors in play here and I’m trying to learn so that I can recognize them in the future. I understand that there should have been a discussion about inclusiveness from the beginning of the Stand4Life project. And I understand that didn’t happen and some people were understandably upset about it. But what I do not understand is how being invited to join the conversation was wrong. I *do* get that one should not expect a POC to educate people when they do something wrong, that the burden of educating oneself should fall on oneself, and not on others (although I’ve had some frustrating conversations where I wanted to say “would you just tell me what I did wrong so I can go figure out how to not do it again”, so I can definitely understand the impulse to ask for explanations). But I do not understand why it was possibly insulting to be asked to participate when a concern was raised. It would seem to me that would be an indication that the group wanted to be more inclusive and build the bridges with a community where they are perhaps less familiar with.

    • Gingembre
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      To my mind, it’s in large part because the group is *already* non-inclusive and is not responding terribly well to criticism – so what are PoC to do? Throw their energies into a situation that will likely cause them more pain and frustration, as they attempt to join and influence a group that has so far shown little indication of being prepared to listen? I would not want to do that, in their shoes, because that shirt *hurts*. I would want a decent indication of good faith before I made myself so vulnerable.

      I’ve been in groups before that professed a desire to include me (fat, female, queer) but in practice did not really listen to me, saw no reason to go out of their way to make me feel welcome, and were totally unwilling to accept that if they really wanted to “build bridges”, they needed to change some of their behaviours rather than just letting me in their club and then leaving me to it. To me, a simple invitation to participate looks like an invitation to embroil myself in an ongoing, even more personal version of the same soul-destroying debate. There needs to be more of an olive-branch than a simple invitation to come and change things from the inside, because if the group is not positively bending over backwards to listen and accommodate then changing things will be hard, painful work.

      • Gingembre
        Posted March 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        Er, “shirt” = “shit”. My fingers are censoring me!

      • Kim31
        Posted March 22, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        Ah, I understand now. I’m not entirely familiar with all the players, so it was hard for me to judge how things were playing out. But that’s ok, my main concern is that I do a lot of work with diverse populations and I’m always trying to make sure I understand how to be inclusive in a way that’s welcoming to people.

      • Posted March 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        Ohhhhhh! Ok, that makes perfect sense. I’d been wondering the same thing for several days now. I’m not an activist, and honestly don’t really know any activists, and so had not considered that a “Oh, hey, come join us and shed some light!” kind of statement would be seen as a “Crap! Forgot about diversity. Um, OK, you come do the diversity for us.” Someone who’s been at the activism thing for awhile would probably have experienced what you described, and would therefore not be all happy and joyful at being included as an afterthought. (Did I interpret that somewhat correctlyish?)

        Perspective. It’s a beautiful thing. Thank you for providing some. :-)

    • TR
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      Hi Kim31! Gingembre answered really well – I just wanted to tack on that when someone comes to me with a concern and my response is only THEN to invite them, it can be read as me wanting them to fix the problem for me. Does that make sense?

  13. Posted March 22, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure that this is exclusive to white people. I’m not white. Still, I have no idea how to make a project as inclusive as it should be. (And of course, while I’m not white, I *am* able-bodied, male, cis, etc., and race isn’t the only axis of inclusion.)

    Since you offered yourself as a resource, perhaps you could help: Suppose I want to make a crowd-sourced project such as a Tumblr feed that shows, say, people’s outfits. I give this as an example because there are a lot of these, and they’ve been widely criticized in this sort of discussion. I’ve seen many such feeds struggling with being asked to do the work they should be doing to make their project more inclusive, while also being told that asking the people leaving those comments what that work is is racist, and often being told to just google it even after the people claim to have been trying to google and and coming up with nothing but the critique itself. I’ve actually seen projects just decide to close up shop because the people sincerely want to do the right thing but have no idea how and don’t know who they can ask or where to find information, and can’t get over the “just go educate yourself” hurdle. (And I think that there needs to be some acknowledgment that some people do not have very finely-honed googling skills and are not deeply connected within key communities and discussions, and that sometimes telling those people to just google it is itself an exertion of privilege being made by those who have lived a lifetime online and don’t realize how challenging it can be for those whose time on the internet has been relatively brief.)

    So can you provide some actual answers here, so there’s at least one google-able repository? Maybe even a separate post to make it easier to find. I’ve seen about a trillion posts about how people do this wrong. How about a post about how to do it right? I think that would be very helpful. So again going back to the example above: Suppose you want to make an “OOTD”-type Tumblr community and even though you think you’ve tried to spread the word widely, all the submissions you get are white, or able-bodied, or young, or have certain body types, or are cisgendered, or are straight, or are relatively thin, etc. What do you do? Where else do you turn? Maybe there could be a good master list of places to advertise your project to reach different audiences, in order to address the above, “Your friends are probably going to be like you.” And until you hit critical mass, what do you do? Is it better to just not post, since posting within a certain narrow range might create an unwelcoming atmosphere, or is it better to post what you have while you try to get more diversity?

    I think that it’s important to give people the opportunity to tell people that they need to educate themselves. However, I think that this would be much more effective if the resources through which someone could educate themselves actually existed and/or were reasonably accessible, especially to people who may either not have super-elite internet skills, may not already know the communities and places in which to search, or may not be able to spend fifteen years reading everything on the whole internet in order to come up with an understanding. If an ally wants to put something like that together, that sounds awesome to me. Hell, like I said, I’m not white and I don’t think *I* could answer that question (I certainly don’t have any idea where all the other fat half-pakistani/half-french-Canadian mixed-race people hang out, if they even exist). I’d be happy to have such a resource myself.

    • Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      simply google “racism 101″ and the first page has lots of good stuff. also read blogs by people of color. if you have the time/resources/etc, take an intro class to african american studies or women and gender studies, either for credit or audit it (sitting in on a course, not for credit, not as an officially matriculated student).

      i also recommend the books:
      *privilege, power, and difference by allan johnson — free ebook here: http://www.archive.org/details/privilegepowerdi00john
      *feminism is for everyone by bell hooks — pdf here: http://excoradfeminisms.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/bell_hooks-feminism_is_for_everybody.pdf

      i would have embedded the links, but i just can’t get a handle on html no matter how hard i try. :)

      • Posted March 22, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        The links came through as clickable anyway, so it worked. :) (I think the blog software converts anything that looks like a URL into a link.)

        Thanks for the links. I haven’t read these specific links yet, and I will, and I am thankful for the effort you’ve gone to put them together. I apologize in advance if I’m wrong about this, but from their titles and a brief skim, as well as from course syllabi, since courses was something you recommended, I’m fairly positive that none of this actually answers the question that I asked. I think that this is a facet of the frustrating issue that I was trying to point out: “Educate yourself,” and “Just google it,” presumes that resources exists and are readily findable that actually answer the question the person is struggling with, which I don’t think is always the case. Again, if I’m wrong about that, you have my apologies.

        • Posted March 22, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

          I think it also presumes a certain level of information literacy that I’m not sure is all that common. Oh yes, for those who have a tertiary education or are able to find the time to educate themselves informally, sure, that’s not a problem. But my concern is that this is a grass roots movement, which means that people from all walks of life are trying to engage, and have the right to engage. If we’re going to be intersectional, that must include class and education as well. We should not be excluding those who don’t have the luxury of time out of their jobs, families and other commitments just to survive to spend sourcing and reading what is a very murky pond full of material to begin with.

          Those of us with formal education or time to self educate cannot assume that everyone has the same tools we do. Access to the internet is not by default only to people with high level formal education.

          I am constantly astonished as how many people do not know how to find credible, useful information on the internet, and therefore misinformation and misunderstanding flourish. But then I realise that in my astonishment at that, I am not seeing my own privilege in having had the resources and time to learn information literacy. Even as someone with only a rudimentary high school education, I hold the privilege of time, income and resources to be able to self educate.

          I don’t know the answer to the problem, but I do know “educate yourself” is also coming from a place of privilege and we have to find a way to accommodate that as well.

          • Posted March 22, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

            No. There are libraries. There are people in the know. Educating yourself about social justice is not dependent on privileged learning systems.

            This comment is bristling me because it seems to imply that when POC demand that white activists get educated about social justice ideas that have been around for over 200 years, we are exerting some sort of internet or educational privilege. There was no internet in the 1760s, 1860s or 1960s, nor was there formal education access for most people, certainly not most marginalized people. Yet social justice ideas were still formed and exchanged.

            In fact, it is exerting (white) privilege when one asserts they have no idea how to find out about the reality of how racism and white supremacy work, or that it’s just too hard.

          • Posted March 22, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

            Margarita – I am a librarian and I spend HOURS of my time working with people who have no information literacy skills. So “there are libraries” is a ridiculous thing to say. There are few libraries in many places in the world. Here where I live, yes, there are. Maybe you have the privilege of being able to access a library where you are too. But many, many people don’t, and even when they do, they may not have the education, the skills or the time to utilise that resource.

            I’m not talking about the calls from POC, I’m talking about US, as activists with privilege in areas like class and education actually remembering that intersectionality extends in a whole lot of directions other than fat and race.

            I am not saying that it’s just too hard, and I’m not saying that I have no idea how to find out the reality of racism and white supremacy – I DO, because I have that privilege.

            If we don’t examine ALL of our areas of privilege, then we’re contributing to the problems.

          • Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

            I can’t comment to your response so I am responding here. It will not be a full response but it is what I can manage.

            “I’m not talking about the calls from POC, I’m talking about US, as activists with privilege in areas like class and education actually remembering that intersectionality extends in a whole lot of directions other than fat and race.”

            US? You are really raising my hackles. I AM a POC. In fact, I’m one of the POC who signed the damn letter. I AM calling people to educate themselves. I can not imagine someone who has the time and energy to invest in learning about fat activism doesn’t also have time and energy and ability and privilege to also learn about racial politics. That is what we are discussing in this post, and trying to steer the conversations to other justifications for why that can’t happen is derailing. It’s not just discussing intersectionality when it’s in this context.

          • Posted March 23, 2012 at 12:39 am | Permalink

            Margarita let me clarify a few things:

            When I referred to “us” I was talking about the white fat activists (of which I am one) that this letter Marianne has written is addressed to. I didn’t mean “us” to imply yourself.

            I am trying to say that we white fat activists have to be the ones to be aware of our privilege – race, class, education – the works.

            In short, I’m actually agreeing with you and trying to re-enforce the message that white people need to educate ourselves, but that we white activists with class/education privilege need to fill the gaps with the information and resources we have access to for those who don’t before we start shooting down people with “educate yourself”. We (white fat activists) can’t presume that everyone has the same privileges we do.

            Unfortunately I’ve not expressed that clearly and I hope that this clarifies what I am trying to say.

        • Posted March 22, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

          actually irfan-kim ahmad, the reason i recommended those two titles is because they are both relatively short (not dry, theoretical, six thousand page screeds), and written in plain language. johnson’s book in particular is very readable in explaining the concept of privilege and helping the reader identify the ways they may be privileged in their various identities. it offers concrete ways to change how you think about things and interact with society.

          hooks is little more on the academical side, but one of the main tenets that she keeps in her work is how theory is NOT just for academics. she is a major proponent of the idea that keeping feminism (and really, any kind of highly theory-based schools of thought) within academia renders them utterly useless. if everyday, average people can’t understand and use these ideas there’s no point to them existing.

          • Posted March 22, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

            Thanks for your reply. I didn’t suggest that your sources were either long or dry, so I’m not sure what you’re responding to. I suggested that they don’t address any of the questions that I was asking or provide the resources which I was saying would be useful for allies to generate, which, after having looked at the ones linked (obviously I haven’t gone and taken the suggested courses in the meantime), I can verify that they don’t. I may well be missing something, but the whole thing seems like a big non-sequitur to me.

          • Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

            Okay, I had my partner read the thread to get a second opinion on where we seemed to be talking past each other. They suggested that it might be that because I discussed accessible resources, that it may have seemed like what I was suggesting could be put together were basic resources on Racism 101. That’s not what I was asking about. I was asking about putting together specific, practical guides for specific problems, to which end I suggested beginning with the specific problem of how to make an inclusive crowd-sourced initiative: where to post calls for participation, what other work has to be done to make a crowd-sourced initiative inclusive, etc. I think that producing those kinds of resources and making them widely available and easily findable would do a lot of good.

          • TR
            Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

            But the resources for a step by step approach DO exist already. I posted a link down thread.

    • Jane
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      This is certainly not a complete answer to your post at all, but I feel like one thing that I’ve seen on a lot of blogs that seem more inclusive is a willingness to publish critique — not necessarily even responding to that critique, just publishing it and making it clear that the people who run the blog are listening and learning. I feel like a lot of feminist blogs in particular screw this one up by trying so hard to respond/defend themselves, which comes off as though they’re not even listening to start with.

      • Jane
        Posted March 22, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        To extrapolate slightly, I think that people from various marginalized groups are more willing to hang around a space and see how it develops if the creators make it clear from the beginning that they are humble and ready to learn. I also think that a fairly strict/thorough comment moderation policy makes for a more welcoming environment, as well — I recently gave up on one of the larger feminist blogs, for instance, because the amount of hate spewed in the comments was just too overwhelming.

        • M Dubz
          Posted March 22, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, I want to second the humble and ready to learn thing. You don’t have to be perfect every time, you just have to be aware that you aren’t, in fact, perfect.

    • M Dubz
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      Some suggestions:

      1) Write down all of the marginalized populations that you can think of, and actively include those terms in your search. For example, instead of googling “outfit of the day” and inviting the first 20 people whose blogs show up, google “fat fashion” or “African American fashion.” The trick is actively seeking out people whose voices are different from your own.
      2)In the online spaces that you frequent, click through to different people’s blogs and see what blogs they link to. This is how I found most of the trans/genderqueer blogs that I read, as well as some fantastic genderqueer fashion sites! (links available on request). If all the people on all the blogs that you are reading are just like you, and link exclusively to other blogs written by people just like you, refer back to #1 and bookmark some new blogs.
      3) Seed your space. Invite fashionistas/ fashionistos (term?) whose work you admire (which you found from #1 and #2) to submit awesome pictures or to guest blog. This ensures that the space is diverse right from the beginning.
      4) Don’t be sad if you fuck up! It can really hurt to be told that you just REALLY fucked up, especially if you consider yourself an ally. Generally, if you show contrition and don’t continue to put your foot in your mouth about the same thing, people will forgive you. And if you start with #1 and #2, you will have places to read things and sit quietly until you have an aha moment about HOW you fucked up. It’s also okay to say “Man I am sorry that I hurt your feelings. I am going to take some time to process what you said and think about how it was shitty and do some independent research, and then try to do better in the future.” You don’t have to fix your mistake right that second, as long as you make it clear that you are trying to fix it.

      • M Dubz
        Posted March 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        Also, moderate the shit out of your site and don’t let people be ableist, racist, sexist, etc. on it. There are lots of great sites that have hellish comments sections, and that undoes a lot of the great work that they do.

      • Ashbet
        Posted June 21, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

        I love this comment, too! :D

    • TR
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      I think there have been some good answers all over this post. :) But I will try to put together a separate post. I DO think there are answers – if I google “how to make an event inclusive” I get some really great resources:

      https://www.google.com/#hl=en&sclient=psy-ab&q=how+to+make+an+event+inclusive&oq=how+to+make+an+event+inclusive&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_l=hp.3…629l4675l0l5382l30l22l0l6l6l2l1013l3068l14j7j7-1l28l0.llsin.&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=bcd65d5cec977fbd&biw=1234&bih=644

      In fact, that first link from the government of Alberta is an awesome step by step guide!

      http://child.alberta.ca/home/1254.cfm

    • Posted March 23, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      “Suppose you want to make an “OOTD”-type Tumblr community and even though you think you’ve tried to spread the word widely, all the submissions you get are white, or able-bodied, or young, or have certain body types, or are cisgendered, or are straight, or are relatively thin, etc. What do you do? Where else do you turn?”

      I have a couple suggestions.

      Suggestion one would be to *not* simply rely on submissions. If people only see a certain body type represented, and it’s not theirs, they’re not going to feel welcome to submit. So break the cycle by inserting pictures of other body types yourself.

      “Suppose you want to make an “OOTD”-type Tumblr community and even though you think you’ve tried to spread the word widely…”

      The thing is, if you don’t know any POC or non-cis fashionistas on Tumblr, you HAVEN’T spread the word widely. There’s http://mmmajestic.tumblr.com/ (fat queer butch awesome) and http://breegant.tumblr.com/ (amazing photographer, and both of them are part of a huge web of Tumblr blogs that deal just with queer POC fashion. How have you been spreading the word? Did you put a post on your blog that got reblogged just by your comminuty, or did you Google for Tumblrs dedicated to the things your community is missing and reach out to them as well?

  14. Jason
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    So let me get this straight, this breaks down into a ‘white guilt’ problem? I follow Marianne on twitter because, lets face it, I’m a fat dude looking into whats being done in the “fat acceptance” world nowadays. It seems like the “movement” is just a bunch of fat people whining online about not being accepted.

    Once you get the hate out of the American lexicon about being fat, then move onto the race thing. Pick your fights, because if you incorporate to much from other peoples struggles, your intial fight gets watered down by everyone elses demands. Think about how long racism has been around. Is your fat movement being associated with the fight against racism going to change the view on racism in the world? I’d say no, but I’m a realist.

    With that being said, I’m not a racist…I am fat. Lets do something about the last accepted form of racism in America, the racism agaist fat people!

    • TR
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      This is, of course, utter bullshit. You can’t put a hierarchy on oppression like that – you are actually and actively doing social justice wrong. Period. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars.

      I have only approved your post because I wanted to reply to it – I wanted to say directly in response to your comment that this is the kind of stupid racist bullshit that will continue to send the message that fat acceptance – a movement founded on principles of social justice – is a racist movement.

      You CANNOT look at oppression in a vacuum. It is a lie that it would ever be possible to fix one oppression if only we would all concentrate on it. That’s not how oppression works.

    • Posted March 22, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      “Other people’s struggles.”

      I am fat.

      I am also a person of color.

      Which of those doesn’t count? Do I deal with the racism in this society or do I deal with the sizism? I do I put my identity as a fat person on the shelf or my identity as a black person on the shelf?

      How about being a woman? A person with disabilities? A Jew?

      Which part of me do I ignore being slighted in order to fit in with a movement that’s meant to be about fighting oppression?

      “Other people’s struggles?”

      Fat is not just a label that white people get to claim.

      But if you want to understand exactly what Marianne was talking about, what Shannon Atchka fails to comprehend again and again, your comment was a perfect example of it.

      • Posted March 22, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

        indeed.
        how convenient to be able to strip away pieces of oneself to focus on one single thing! And to be able to claim fat as the last remaining acceptable ism.

        As a disabled queer trans poor fatty, i don’t have the luxury of not dealing with the trans parts, the poor parts, the disabled parts, the queer parts, and so on. i do however have the privilege of separating out my whiteness. The degree to which i choose to do this is the degree to which i haven’t understood all that talk about intersectionality and have failed to truly understand the other connections in my own life.

    • Gingembre
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      PoC are NOT other people. Some PoC are also fat people, are women, are queer, are disabled. Any social justice movement that only ever tackles one oppression will *by definition* be excluding stacks of people who DO experience that oppression, because intersectionality is reality.

      Everyone, every movement, every campaign, every organisation needs to be thinking about race and gender and ability and all of the other reasons we as a culture find to oppress people. All of the time. It’s not an optional extra. Otherwise, we are doing it wrong. Otherwise we are doing *life* wrong. You can’t just leave anti-racism to other people, because in a racist culture, anyone and any organisation that does not actively fight racism will end up colluding with racism. It’s insidious, it’s everywhere and you can’t just opt out without thinking about it any further. You may think you’re being neutral but neutral doesn’t exist.

    • Posted March 22, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      Once you get the hate out of the American lexicon about being fat, then move onto the race thing.

      My fat-acceptance activism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.

      (full credit to Flavia Dzodan)

    • M Dubz
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      “Last accepted form of racism”?

      Jeez, way to say a super super racist thing.

    • JupiterPluvius
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

      What the actual fuck? Do you somehow not get that a fat person who is also a person of color experiences both fat hatred and racism?

      That a fat person who is also a person of color and a woman experiences fat hatred, racism, and sexism? That a fat person who is a person of color and a woman who is living with a disability experiences fat hatred, racism, sexism, and ablism? That a fat woman of color living with a disability who is a lesbian…I could go on, but I hope my point is clear.

      I mean, you don’t get a say as to what forms of social oppression other people experience as “worse than” or “easier than” the ones you experience. You just don’t. You can speak to your experience as a fat white man; that’s fine. But what you aren’t allowed to do is to prioritize other people’s work against oppression. You fucking don’t get a say in that. Nobody has to march to your drum of “Let’s fix fat hatred first, then we’ll see about racism!”

      • JupiterPluvius
        Posted March 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

        “Last acceptable prejudice” always means “the only prejudice I am currently experiencing, so that I can conveniently ignore all the other ones and how totally ‘acceptable’ they are to so many people.”

        The idea that someone would have the gall to say that people of color “should” prioritize anti-fat prejudice over racism during the US’s national heartbreak and outcry over the Trayvon Martin murder is just the cherry on top of the solipsism sundae.

  15. Claire
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    That post you speak of and many of the comments replying to it were horrifying.

  16. Posted March 22, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    I’m not going to comment at length here because I realize I will probably get shouted down, but my main problem is not that issues of racism in Fat Acceptance were raised, but that I have been portrayed as a racist because a person who did not identify her race asked what we were doing to increase diversity on Marilyn’s project (something I had ZERO hand in developing, implementing or running), and I responded that I personally was not the person to lead these efforts because of my lack of experience in this area.

    NOLOSE took this exchange and implied that I was demanding that this POC educate me. This was not the case.

    Furthermore, I was not running this campaign. This was a collaboration between three people, Ragen, Marilyn, and myself. Rachel Adams was there from the beginning as well, and has now said that she hadn’t done anything to lay the groundwork either. None of these people were called out, just me. Why? Because I said that I did not have the available time to research the issues that she wanted me to research.

    Because of this, I’m a racist. Because I’ve defended myself against accusations of racism, I’m a racist.

    But I have decided that there is a group of people in Fat Acceptance who have disliked me since I arrived three years ago, and they will see everything I do as confirmation that I am the world’s biggest asshole. And you know what? I’m finally okay with that. I know who I am, and the people who actually read my words on a regular basis know who I am, so I no longer feel compelled to defend myself against this nonsense.

    NOLOSE raised valid points in their letter, but chose to draw attention to them by misrepresenting my conversation with Julia Starkey and suggesting that my response was racially-motivated. I’m sure has hell not going to be able to convince you, or anyone else, that this was not the case. So, I’m done trying. From now on, I’m focusing on my work only and not giving two shits about you, or anyone else.

    Peace,
    Shannon

    • Shinobi
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      “I realize I will probably get shouted down,”

      You get shouted down all the time because you are wrong, it is not a conspiracy.

      “But I have decided that there is a group of people in Fat Acceptance who have disliked me since I arrived three years ago, and they will see everything I do as confirmation that I am the world’s biggest asshole. ”

      Well speaking only for myself, I don’t like you because you are not open to criticism or learning. You are only interested in your point of view and people who agree with you. I don’t know if you are an asshole, I just know that every argument with you ends in you acting like a victim and complaining, but never in any actual learning on either side.

      Sometimes you are the problem. It is up to you whether or not you are open to working on that or not. Based on your words and actions over the last 3 years I can only assume the answer is not.

      (TR if you moderate me I will not blame you, but I am too annoyed to behave.)

      • Posted March 22, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        You just keep telling yourself that. That’s me, I never accept criticism or learning. You’re so right. Wow, you nailed me.

        Peace,
        Shannon

        • John Pedigo
          Posted March 22, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

          Your passive-aggressive response to legitimate criticism only serves to prove the point.

      • Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

        shinobi, i <3 you so hard right now.

    • Posted March 22, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      So, “issues” may be “raised”, just so long as we don’t have to actually attach the r-word to any good people? Perhaps there’s an aerosol that we can spray liberally around the fat-acceptance movement that will make racism wither and die?

      You do not understand white privilege. You don’t, you don’t, you don’t. Even if everyone opposing you in this particular argument were wrong in their assessment of your responses, your reply here alone is enough to show that you are coming at the issue of “did I do something racist?” from the absolutely most privileged, least introspective place possible. Everyone’s either a hooded killer or a saint, so how dare someone deny your sainthood.

      I want to work with a movement that is willing, able, and ready to call out this bullshit more and more every day. May you enjoy your own work.

      • Posted March 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        How about this: How about we raise the issue without demonizing people or misrepresenting the context? How about we not say “the commenter was told that if they wanted to support diversity within the project, they, as a person of color, should join the project’s Facebook page and offer solutions” when the person’s race was never mentioned in the comment.

        This whole thing is a bug hunt and the only people lending it credibility are those who have already written me off long ago. It’s shameless and pathetic and disgusting.

        Peace,
        Shannon

        • Posted March 22, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

          For gosh sakes, STOP MAKING THIS ABOUT YOU. The problem of inclusiveness in FA existed before you and it will exist after you. That YOU take their concerns as a personal attack is just your continuing pattern of ignoring any all criticism of you as part of some grand conspiracy to get you. You couldn’t even respond to nolose without bringing me into your pity party because gosh knows the authors of the nolose letter are the ideal people to hold responsible for what a straight white man told you. It shows you aren’t listening. Just like you didn’t listen to the people who took issue with you objectifying women, or engaging in “ironic” homophobia, or recentering discussions for fat people onto thin people, or demanding fat acceptance adhere to diet privilege. You see all of this as some grand campaign to get you instead of recognizing the common pattern of your behavior and actions. All of those complaints are bigger than you. All of them are issues that are bigger than you. But every time they are raised, all you see is yourself. No matter what issue is at hand, its always just about you.

    • Posted March 22, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      “But I have decided that there is a group of people in Fat Acceptance who have disliked me since I arrived three years ago, and they will see everything I do as confirmation that I am the world’s biggest asshole. ”

      This is bullshit Shannon. Many of us tried to work with you over and over and over, gave you chance after chance after chance, and EVERY time we came out burned. We came out publicly ridiculed because we didn’t want to engage in the same way you do, we came out belittled because we stood up for something that was being done in a way that was harmful, and we felt forced to participate with you without our consent.

      There comes a point when one realises that no matter how much you try to cut someone a break, they’re always going to say “I’ll probably get shot down for this.” or “Everyone hates me.”

      I don’t hate anyone, but I will not work with someone who does not allow me and others like me to define our own terms and participation in the movement because he thinks we “should” contribute to something. I will not work with someone who constantly feels the need to belittle others when they object to his method. I will not work with someone who when asked not to do something, claims that everyone is out to get him and continues to do it anyway.

      You bring this on yourself. Until you take responsibility for your actions and behaviours, and stop trying to force people to participate YOUR way, you’re going to find people standing up and saying ENOUGH.

    • Jill
      Posted March 24, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      I am so regretting donating to this campaign. Will pay more attention next time. This is appalling.

  17. Oh dear
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    This is why no-one takes your movement seriously. Fat activists only bring up racism when they’re trying to lend credibility to whatever stupid argument they’ve put forth. ‘This magazine has no plus size women OR BLACK PEOPLE!’. From the outside it just looks like a bunch of fat white people complaining about how they are not getting all the privilege they would be afforded if they were thin. People of color can’t go ‘I don’t like the way I am treated, I should lose some melanin.’ ‘Fattism’ isn’t racism. No. If you could equate a 17 year old boy being murdered for ‘looking suspicious’ in front of a 7/11, with not fitting in a plane seat, I’d love to hear it. Honestly.

    And if I have to make the decision between fighting racism and fighting for some obese midwestern woman who wants to be able to find capri pants in a size 32, I know which one I’m picking. Sorry!

    • Posted March 22, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      You are very right when you say “‘Fattism’ isn’t Racism.” That’s something Fat POC in the fat activist movement are saying.

      “And if I have to make the decision between fighting racism and fighting for some obese Midwestern woman who wants to be able to find capri pants in a size 32, I know which one I’m picking. Sorry!”

      The thing is tho, it’s not either/or. It’s not that either you’re a fat activist and you’re a Midwestern (read: white) person trying to equate paying double for a plane seat to being gunned down in cold blood, or you’re a person who is against racism and will prioritize that fight. It’s not either/or because there are fat people of color who face racial profiling in the movement. There are people who embody both, as Fat People of Color who have to divide their activist energy into anti-racist endeavors, as well as other activisms, such as fat activism, disability activism and food justice activism.

      This article is referring to a letter that some Fat People of Color in the fat justice movement wrote which critiques some common patterns that uphold white supremacy in the movement, and the defensive reactions to that letter. Fat People of Color in this movement exist, and some of us are critiquing it because it is our movement too. We get discriminated against because we’re fat, and because we’re Fat People of Color. And because we’re People of Color, period.

      Some other concerns that have been raised by People of Color in the movement. They include the appropriation of language and strategy of POC justice movements without giving mention or credit to it. This is particularly gross because we rest most of fat justice rhetoric on the work that was done in the civil rights movement. Then, frustratingly, some white fat activists can’t even be bothered to familiarize themselves with the rhetoric their movement was based on in order to fight their own internalized race issues.

      We have also critiqued the exotification of POC bodies and culture in order to uphold (white) fat activism (“Just look at African-American/Latino/Polynesian/Native/Islander/Indian/etc culture! They have such a good relationship with their bodies and my fat white body!”), and how the thin white ideal is upheld by white supremacy and the inflated status of (thin) white womanhood.

      You don’t have to chose whether to fight for the fat justice movement or fight against racism. But you do have to chose whether or not you are going to fight against racism in your fat justice movement.

  18. Posted March 22, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Oh. My. God. Some of the comments over on that Fierce Fatties site. I’m so fucking horrified.

    I posted about Trayvon Martin on Facebook, linking to a post written by a WOC and posted it with the comment “if you are white and outraged, then it’s time to sit down, shut up and listen.” I am white. So, it goes for me too. I don’t know why the concept of “sit down, shut up, and listen” is so offensive to racists, but it is.

    I just…am left speechless by the flat-out no-holds-barred ignorance of some people.

    Sigh.

    • TR
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      The comments actually blew my mind. I felt like I had no adequate response. And then I posted the above.

  19. Pillpocket
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Sharron Atchka is one of the reasons why I left the fat acceptance community in the first place. To me, he’s just another SJ person who is only interested in the one or two areas that affect him. He’s demonstrated before that he’ll gladly ignore women, so I’m not surprised that applies to PoC too.

    • TR
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      There are a LOT of people who are involved in Fat Acceptance. It’s not a large community but there is such a diversity of us. And I promise not everyone is like him.

    • drst
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

      I would never leave the FA “community” such as it is, but I decided a while ago that anything Shannon was involved with, I wouldn’t support/reblog/discuss/etc. He’s toxic. He refuses to change or even consider changing. He should be ostracized.

      I believe much of the FA community has good intentions. We need to do better actually doing good, inclusive, intersectional actions. People like Shannon (and “oh dear” and “Jason”) need to either start learning or go away and find their little corner of the internet to be ignorant in alone.

  20. Posted March 22, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    …and the funny thing is, if he hadn’t made a post about how terrible it is that he’s being accused of terrible things, most people would’ve assumed that this was between Marilyn and NOLOSE.

    • TR
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      That is SO TRUE.

      Like, I had to laugh because I suspect they left his name out of it because it’s a wider issue that needs to be addressed, not a specific beef with him.

  21. Naamah
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    Okay, so this may not be so much 101 level as meta level, and I’m not finding anything useful about this online because I am not sure where to look and Google is useless for this but. . . .

    Say I have a website. Say I want to make it appealing to people of all sorts. I want it to make people feel comfortable and I want them to interact.

    How do I do that?

    Now, here are the things that I would just assume ought to be done (on any website, seriously):

    If there are pictures of people, try to include lots of different kinds of people. <— So boneheaded, srsly, but also surprisingly hard if you are dealing with CC/stock sources. Like, doing my book covers? SO HARD finding professional-looking photos of big girls or girls who aren't white that I can use without copyright infringement.

    If there are comments, do not allow racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic/fatphobic comments to stand. Not even for "debate." Folks' humanity is not a matter for debate. And yet many sites cannot manage this.

    Address intersectionality by discussing aspects of the issue that affect some groups of people disproportionately, and by acknowledging these angles at LEAST, and hopefully discussing them.

    Link to a variety of other blogs, don't limit your links to stuff that handles just a single SJ issue: yours.

    If you review art or books or music, try to include a variety of artists, even if the genre is not so diverse as a whole (in which case it might be even MORE important).

    Not making a big DEAL out of this stuff; treat it like it's a normal thing you do every day, because it should be. <— I am not sure I am articulating this very well. I am also not sure I am right. Thoughts?

    If there is guest writing going on, get writing from POC or trans folks or disabled folks, etc. Both in general and specifically about those issues; both of those things are necessary.

    Specifically raise issues that are not just intersectional, but fully spotlight other SJ issues; like, lack of supermarkets in my neighborhood is a POC issue, a poor people issue, a mobility issue, etc. But there are issues that really are centrally about race or gender and so on, and making those things visible is a big part of getting people to not just understand intersectionality, but to respect the way that some groups have to deal with major issues in a way that privileged groups do not.

    I am trying to think of more.

    But that doesn't seem like creating a website that has actual appeal for diverse types of folks. It won't *bring people in* is what I'm saying. So what I want to know is, how do I do that? Because I am so seriously white, y'all. I do okay with gender stuff and most sexuality stuff (not so great with gay male culture, both because of my geographic location and because I am female, and because I just don't have as much experience with gay male friends) and disability stuff, because those are issues I am affected by and/or that affect people very close to me.

    I am not so great with race.

    So mostly my response to race-related stuff has been to acknowledge intersectionality, but I'm leery of discussing stuff in depth because, well, I don't want to be part of the problem by being another white person saying ignorant crap, and I can't deal with stuff from the standpoint of a POC or a gay man the same way I can talk about being mentally ill or kinky or female or poor, because I AM those things. I don't want to go putting words in someone else's mouth. I don't want to be seen as speaking for someone from a group I'm not part of. I am uncomfortable for very obvious reasons saying "Being a POC is like this. . . ."

    And I don't have any friends who are POC. I admit this. My social circle IRL is pretty much relegated to folks from local fandom, which is very white, and I am basically a hermit with too few emotional/energy spoons for new friends of any persuasion (yes, yes this is legitimately something I have to respect about myself; my mental health requires that I respect my limits). I can make online friends, that's fine. My online circle is narrow, too, though, and I am not sure where to START. I am *not* as acquainted with these issues as I ought to be, and even though I believe that we can't all spend all our energy fighting all the things, and that folks will usually focus more on one kind of thing than another and that's okay, I still know that I am obligated to be better-informed than I am. I want to do better.

    I am afraid, often, of going into a space for POC and interacting, because I am aware that for totally legit reasons I am very likely to be less than welcome. I can't always tell, and I absolutely want to respect those boundaries. Some folks state it outright, some folks have said it but it's buried two hundred posts back, some folks have never said it, it's just understood. I try to use my noggin, but again, seriously, I have no desire to push.

    I learn best about SJ issues by watching people talk to one another, and by reading critical discussions of social issues from an SJ standpoint. Blogs, basically. A good blog-type site is worth its weight in gold because of the *community*. I don't know where the good blogs are that deal with race issues. I feel very stupid saying that, but clearly I've been on the internet for a while now, and if I haven't found it yet, yeah, I probably need some hand-holding.

    So I guess what I am asking is how do we *make* spaces genuinely appealing to a diverse audience? And where can folks who want to educate themselves do this comfortably by watching a community interact with itself, where interaction is welcome? (I am assuming said interaction would be better than 101-level; only occasionally clueless territory, as opposed to totally ignorant; i.e., not a constant burden on the community's tolerance.)

    I am not doing enough, and I know that. It may take me a long time to change. But I *want* to, I truly do.

    Maybe more later as I think about it. Hands tired!

    • Posted March 23, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      “But that doesn’t seem like creating a website that has actual appeal for diverse types of folks. It won’t *bring people in* is what I’m saying.”

      I think the fact that the stuff that you’re listing is something that SO MANY PEOPLE GET WRONG is probably a plus by itself. :P

      • Naamah
        Posted March 26, 2012 at 4:41 am | Permalink

        Thank you. I think so too. I just think it’s important to acknowledge that an absence of hostility doesn’t necessarily make a place inviting. I’ve left plenty of parties because I was bored/being ignored/felt uncomfortable being the only [x] in the room, even though there was zero open hostility.

    • usedtobeavegetarian
      Posted May 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      Hi Naama,

      I’m procrastinating and browsing around reading old comments — thanks for this thoughtful statement! I’m a largish, white, middle-class woman with some (not a huge number) of POC friends. I really enjoy the blog Racialicious and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ writings on the Atlantic Monthly’s site. Both have really smart commentary about race that feels challenging but not unwelcoming. Both also have great links — I’ve learned a lot from them. And I think there is a lot to be learned about race from the internet. It doesn’t make up for, but it might help mitigate, some of the isolated and segregated ways we live.

      Thanks for reminding me to be committed to anti-racist growth.

      Julia

  22. Jayne_SFT
    Posted March 23, 2012 at 1:27 am | Permalink

    This has been an engrossing discussion, and reading it has kept me up way past my bedtime. I’m grateful for the opportunity to realize in what ways my head might be (inadvertently) up my own ass, and to really hear and think about perspectives that I’m not familiar with in the context of my own burgeoning awareness of size prejudice. I pledge to google, and read, and think, and engage, and to work against throwing my shields up out of fear when I encounter criticism. Thanks all.

  23. Posted March 23, 2012 at 3:19 am | Permalink

    This is all exhausting. Thank you Marianne for hosting a 101 post.

  24. Posted March 23, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    I’m quite good at shutting up and listening. I lurk in many places that discuss aspects of racism, ableism, homophobia and transphobia and I’ve learned a lot; I’ve seen a lot of inflighting and conflicting ideologies too. I’ve been reading eloquent and impassioned posts regarding this matter and related issues, from both sides, all day. And, try as I might, all it’s done is give me a raging headache. It’s been pointed out on numerous occasions by many FA bloggers, and those writing about other forms of marginalisation, that it’s unreasonable to expect anyone from any oppressed group to speak for every single member of that group. Surely then it’s unreasonable to expect everyone involved in FA to share the same political agenda, (beyond FA), priorities or worldview?

    Some lack the mental or physical energy to fight more than one fight at a time – or even fight the one fight consistently. Certainly fighting only social injustices that affect one directly can be viewed as selfish, but that doesn’t lesson the validity of the cause or negate the effort put into fighting for it. Even within FA, there are a multiplicity of issues to be tackled. (I’m aware that Atchka is but one aspect of this conversation and I’m scarcely his biggest fan. He’s always struck me as a a loose cannon and oftentimes quite abrasive. However, he just played an active part in a project that got FA serious coverage in major news sources across the world, and much of this was couched in positive and supportive terms. That is a considerable achievement and we should be building on that, not dividing over it).

    While I agree wholeheartedly with many of the points raised in the NoLose letter about the way race and sizeism are currently intersecting in public consciousness, I want to say something about self-education too. When a marginalised group creates a safe space, there is understandably a lot of anger directed towards their oppressors. But, justified as that is, it makes it hard for individuals from the oppressor class who want to educate themselves to do so. When I come across stuff like Die Cis White Scum on tumblr, for instance, I’m more inclined to think “fuck you then” than redouble my efforts to challenge transphobia.

    The fatosphere is always quick to distance itself from skinny-bashing and rightly so. That’s not how you educate people; that’s how you provoke a hostile, defensive reaction – even in liberal types. Likewise harranguing folk about their privilege. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you want my support, tell me how it is for you, not how you think it is for me. Speaking personally, I am affected by several isms other than size and they all intersect with my fat. One of them is ageism, which hardly ever gets a mention on the fatosphere, because most of the prominent bloggers are at least 20 years younger than I am. And it’s annoying sometimes but it’s also understandable. I’m not going to demand that people take my menopausal arse into consideration every time they’re addressing FA. Because, despite the intersectionality, I’m primarily here to discuss fat. Fat is the only thing I believe I can reasonably expect us all to be agreed upon.

    • silentbeep
      Posted March 23, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      You should say something about ageism – you wouldn’t be in the wrong. I’m fat too, and I’m not white (Chicana btw) and I have to tell you I’m usually really careful with my tone most of the time. A lot of this is personal preference, I’m Buddhist, I’m quiet and that’s just how I roll a lot of the time. However, the demand from people who are more privileged than me to be comfortable as much as possible, when I’m telling them they are hurting me, is an exhausting burden. There has to be give and take here – I get real tired of being expected to write and speak with no emotion or hurt expressed what so ever, just to keep the “oppressor class” from feeling uncomfortable.

      • Posted March 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

        I never advocate staying schtum to save people’s feelings, especially if they’re being arseholes. Likewise I know that educating people is exhausting, especially if it involves being confrontative. I’m on my FA soapbox so often I’m sure people duck when they see me coming. I pick my battles though, and try to keep a sense of perspective. There’s a difference between someone saying, “you’ve pissed me off” and “you’re all fucking scum and should die”. The former one can learn from, the latter is alienating and just perpetuates a vicious circle of hatred and mistrust.

        • silentbeep
          Posted March 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

          I’ve seen many explanations of where the phrase “die cis scum comes from” on tumblr – simply put if you aren’t cissexist it’s not about you. IMHO as s cis woman, I don’t think it’s trans folks job to make me feel comfortable, nor their job to quell their justified rage. That’s just me though.

        • Posted March 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

          NOBODY is saying “fuck off and die” though, except some people on an unrelated tumblr apparently, and your invoking that that in a discussion of the letter from Fat POC individuals to the movement is really… something else.

          • Posted March 24, 2012 at 7:46 am | Permalink

            Margarita, I have no problem with the letter, the points it makes or the language it’s couched in. My initial reaction was, as I explained, born of several hours reading around the row that erupted after the initial exchange between atchka and Julia regarding Strong4Life/Stand4kids, which I appreciate is only part of this particular discussion. But, since several people here have also read those exchanges, I assumed what I was saying would be in context.

            As I also said, I read both sides of the shitstorm and I’ve witnessed people who were hitherto allies falling out over it and that’s not good for the movement either. It seems to me that arguments around issues of privilege and marginalisation always boil down to: “it’s not up to me to educate you; educate yourself”. And I’ve always had a problem with that concept because it’s not the way I personally roll when I’ve got my activist hat on. (Incidentally no one has ever told me to go and educate myself so this isn’t sour grapes or high dudgeon or whatever. I have, as I also said in my original post, done more shutting up listening/reading than you probably credit me for).

            It just seems to me that if potential allies lack direction they can – as I have – land in some places where the atmosphere and sentiments, while totally understandable, are not conducive to soliciting empathy.
            I used that particular tumblr as an example because it’s one I’ve seen very recently and because it provoked a very visceral reaction.

        • Posted March 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

          Honestly, if some oppressed people respond to that with resentment and hatred, its not a privileged person’s place to scold them for it. Yes, “die scum” can be a hard thing to hear, but not as hard as the experience that inspired it. The thing to always remember is that they don’t owe you anything. And for all the tone policing that comes up in these kinds of discussions, I think this one in particular illustrates why that’s misguided. The nolose letter was much more respectful than anyone had a right to expect. It went out of its way to eschew what would have be exceedingly fair resentment and anger. Yet, it still inspired the kind of angry and defensive reaction that “die white scum” might have. Bottom line, “die scum” means something totally different when its directed at a privileged group than when its directed from a privileged group and we need to respect that.

          And to be honest, I think the fatosphere is too dismissive of the resentment some fat people feel towards thin people. I agree that its not productive and needs to be addressed, but I fear reactions tend to be very scolding of people for being resentful of their oppression. We need to find ways to respond more constructively, especially when responding to people who we have some level of thin privilege over. Its just not appropriate to scold for feeling bitter about being disenfranchised. Now, that’s not the same thing as saying we must tolerate skinny bashing. But we can make the case against it without dismissing what inspires it.

          • wriggles
            Posted March 24, 2012 at 7:34 am | Permalink

            Thank you so much Brian for yet again putting it so well. Not only was nolose’s letter observant about the racial split in FA and very civil about, it was full of positivity enthusiasm and something else that always set’s off fat,fat haters, LOVE for fat people.

            I can believe that could be turned into hate because of who was saying it, rather than what was being said, because it’s happened to me so often and painfully that I simply refuse to talk to people about it.

            And to be honest, I think the fatosphere is too dismissive of the resentment some fat people feel towards thin people. I agree that its not productive and needs to be addressed, but I fear reactions tend to be very scolding of people for being resentful of their oppression.

            Yeah, THIS is the point I have repeatedly tried to make. Not only have too many slim people sold themselves out to authority and objectified themselves-so there is something more than just mindless prejudice that some people are reacting to.

            The way we scold fatz out of it, TOTALLY makes use of the endless scoldings we’ve been used to as fat people. IOW, it uses fat people’s history of being beat down to shame any hostility out of them.

            Whilst at the same time, endlessly going on about not one iota of untowardness must be shown towards slimz.

            Why can’t they tell the truth? Slim people won’t take that shit from us, because they haven’t had so much of the fight knocked out of them?

            But let’s use fat people’s history of that to manipulate their behaviour just like the “noble liars” who make being fat a living hell, just to get us to do the “right thing” of trying to become anorexic.

          • Posted March 24, 2012 at 8:05 am | Permalink

            I’m not dismissive of the resentment at all. I totally understand it. In case you hadn’t noticed I’m fat and I’ve been part of this movement since about 1985. I’ve seen fat hate escalate to epic proportions since then, particularly in the UK.

            The bodies of slim people are the cosh that fat people are relentlessly bashed with. And the bodies of fat people are the cosh used to keep people of all sizes spending money on gyms, pills, diet books, bariatric surgery and all the bloody rest. It’s not simple and many people do play the situation to their advantage, (notably those who make money from fat and self-hatred), but neither is it some kind of organised conspiracy. I’m not going to blame thin people for my crappy lot. The only people with real power in this situation are those who spread the lies and profit from our misery.

    • wriggles
      Posted March 23, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      The fatosphere is always quick to distance itself from skinny-bashing and rightly so. That’s not how you educate people; that’s how you provoke a hostile, defensive reaction – even in liberal types.

      There is a hostile, defensive reaction even in liberal types. “Provoked” by the permission of those in positions of authority who wish to use them as peer pressure to manipulate our actions. They’ve agreed to go along with that, because it feels empowering and because they feel they aren’t personally responsible.

      Not dehumanizing slim people is an ethical and empathetic stance on the part of many fat people. It’s not PR.

      Slim people have sold themselves out to being objectified as symbols of “health” and all that is good, merely because that looks good compared to fat people.

      They get “bashed” because people respond to them on that level-as extensions of the arm of authority. That is no worse than what many of them are participating in.

      What I’m saying is, if you want to tell people who are under the cosh, that they have to behave at wholly superior level, whilst being treated like shit. Why don’t you just say it?

      • Posted March 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        No, wriggles, that’s not what I’m saying. Nor am I saying fat people who avoid skinny bashing are doing so for PR reasons. I think it’s unhealthy and counterproductive, not least since slim people aren’t any more of a monolith than fat people are. I understand it’s inevitable that any marginalised group will lash out at those society deems superior. I have been known to do so myself, particularly when I was younger. I understand absolutely why safe spaces are hotbeds of aaaaaargh!. But I also believe that, if you want someone to walk a mile in your shoes, telling people to fuck off and die – or even fuck off and educate themselves – isn’t very conducive.

        • silentbeep
          Posted March 23, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

          Ya know I disagree with you and here’s why: it takes a variety of personalities and approaches to reach people. Some people will be “flame throwers” some people will go the “conciliatory” route, some people will do the ultra-detailed, tons of studies and intellectual theory route – it takes all kinds of activist approaches to reach all sorts of people, because different people are swayed by different types of arguments. Not all spaces are meant to do all things – I’d go so far as to say the “aaargh!” spaces may not be meant to “persuade” anyone at all per se, they in fact, may just be a safe space to vent and have like minded people support you. Sometimes people respect being told EXACTLY how it is, with a no holds barred attitudes – it’s amazing what other people, not like oneself, will respond to. Other posts and other people will do other types of work.

          I’m thinking of the below post specifically in mind re: different modes of activist-type communication

          http://genderbitch.wordpress.com/2009/10/03/a-m-o-communication/

          • Posted March 23, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

            Silentbeep, I absolutely take your point. I don’t think the aaaargh! spaces are intended to persuade or convert, though some probably do by happenstance. I’ve just come across rather a lot of them in my own attempts to educate myself and they have the absolute opposite effect on me. Being something of a nuker myself, that probably makes me a hypocrite as well as a defensive git, (which I fully admit I am).

          • Naamah
            Posted March 24, 2012 at 4:37 am | Permalink

            >>[It] takes a variety of personalities and approaches to reach people . . . because different people are swayed by different types of arguments.

            This is so incredibly true. I am highly moved by the personal and viscerally emotional; other people have that response to the solidity of documentation and irrefutable logic.

            This means that all approaches have value, and that is worth remembering.

            >>Not all spaces are meant to do all things – I’d go so far as to say the “aaargh!” spaces may not be meant to “persuade” anyone at all per se, they in fact, may just be a safe space to vent and have like minded people support you.

            That is largely how I run my journal. I will do educating about some stuff — mental health stuff, mostly — but not other stuff — I am not having the abortion/birth control/asking for it/I’m not privileged argument AGAIN. I invite discussion, but not debate, even if it is non-hostile (I have increasingly come to believe that the “non-hostile” debate style — “I’m just asking questions! Why are you so angry?” — is just as destructive as the hostile debate style if what you are trying to maintain a space that has room for people who are vulnerable. In many of my posts, I need to make a place for people to tell their stories so that other people can read them, is what I have concluded. It’s sometimes exhausting and always heartbreaking, but it’s what I really care about, because it’s creating the kind of thing that convinces me. I am sometimes accused of quashing dissent, and I cop to that; of course I do, my goal is to make people feel respected and understood, not to promote debate. I don’t feel like that’s a bad thing.

            Tangent: this is not, incidentally, treating everyone with “kid gloves” or padding everything like my readers are weak little babies who can’t handle debate, many of these people are fucking tigers. What it is, is an acknowledgment that even the tigers are tired sometimes or hurt sometimes or just can’t cope with a certain thread, and a lot of people also aren’t at that strong point yet even if they are pretty fierce — tiger cubs — and I see no reason not to allow them a safe place and lots of room to do their thing and be and be heard just because fighting makes you stronger. It doesn’t, always. Usually it just makes me tired. (But it’s worth it for the baby tigers.)

        • wriggles
          Posted March 24, 2012 at 7:19 am | Permalink

          Nor am I saying fat people who avoid skinny bashing are doing so for PR reasons. I think it’s unhealthy and counterproductive, not least since slim people aren’t any more of a monolith than fat people are.

          There you go again, telling us what its “unhealthy and counterproductive” and that skinny people aren’t a monolith, we know that, but do they? As many of them have sold themselves out as such. Can you notice any bad behaviour from slim people and any good behaviour from fat people, or not?

          Stop selling to us what we’ve already consistently maintained because you want to have a word with other people. It’s erasing of the truth of our ethical standards and our own efforts, pulling us down to the level of others.

          Apart from the obvious debacle, this is another one of the reasons why I’m sick and tired of fat acceptance full of people who do not even recognise fat people yet claim to be “educating” slim people-in what exactly? It’s slim people who could educate people like you in spontaneous collective self respect.

          • Posted March 24, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

            Wriggles, please see my response to your previous comment @ 8.05 a.m.

            Perhaps that might clarify my stance regarding FA. If not, I think we should probably agree to differ.

  25. pinsandbeetles
    Posted March 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been wondering why sexism isn’t coming up as well wrt Shannon. That site just…. feels like yet another white man leading around a bunch of women who defer to him at least in part because he’s a man and he’s loud.

    • Kristin
      Posted March 23, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Permalink
    • The Bald Soprano
      Posted March 23, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      I think maybe why it hasn’t so much come up in this PARTICULAR instance is that, no matter what his assertions to the contrary, the discussion/issue isn’t all about him?

    • LexieDi
      Posted March 24, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      I think it’s a very unfair assumption to say that the bloggers on FFF are there because they need a man to follow. You’re projecting onto me and every other writer there and I don’t appreciate it at all.

      No one has to agree with what happened or like it and I think that things need to happen for their to be positive changes in the FA movement. There have been wrongs done in many cases that we need to address for inclusiveness.

      Don’t attack all associated because you feel one person did something wrong.

      • Posted March 24, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        When the associated are loudly supporting not just the person who is behavior problematically, but explicitly the problematic behavior, then they are open for criticism as well. I’m not concerned with trying to figure out why they are supporting problematic behavior, but that support is a problem in and of itself and is contributing to people feeling disrespected by this whole situation. All of that rallying around offensive behavior created a lot of mistrust and that’s its own problem.

        • LexieDi
          Posted March 24, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

          Of course there’s been problematic behavior and disrespect in this and other similar situations…

          But that’s not an excuse to be disrespectful towards others.

          Saying you don’t support people who support Atchka is fine and totally up to each person to decide for themselves. But I felt that Pins’ comment was implying that I and the other women who blog on FFF are somehow weak and controlled by Atchka and that is certainly not the case.

          Criticizing what people are saying is one thing- saying that they need a loud man to cling to is quite another.

          • Posted March 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

            I’m not the person to defend or critique what pins said, but I am certainly puzzled that it would be outrageous to question the motivations of people defending someone who does nothing BUT impugn the motivations of everyone who has ever criticized him. That’s literally how he responded to the nolose letter. By attacking their motivations for speaking out. Which he’s done to Marianne. Which he’s done to me. Which he’s done to countless individuals who have called him out for his problematic behavior. There is always some reason our criticism doesn’t count. Some ulterior motive that shows we’re not to be listened to. I doubt I’d have said what pins said, but I find no outrage there, either. Just more misdirection in lieu of dealing with the content of the criticism.

          • LexieDi
            Posted March 24, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

            I’m not saying her criticism of what people said or what’s going on doesn’t count. It does count as much as anyone else’s criticism.

            My complaint has nothing to do with Pin’s criticism, only what was assumed about the female bloggers. I feel that Pins implied things about the bloggers at FFF which aren’t true.

  26. Marilyn Wann
    Posted March 24, 2012 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    The 1,000 fat origami cranes project was a wrong, racist, offensive, culturally appropriating bad idea that I should have recognized as a total non-starter. I was horrifyingly prejudicial and hateful in creating the project, working on it, and defending it. When I started the project, I heard from Charlotte Cooper and I wasn’t able to take in the much-deserved criticisms she kindly offered.

    I didn’t know until today about Tara Shuai’s 2008 post on Two Whole Cakes and I have likely missed other online discussions about the project. I only mention this to say that I am very sorry for not responding immediately, and well.

    I take responsibility for the wrong I did.

    I sincerely regret the harm I’ve done to individuals and to community.

    I am sorry that people who participated in the project were following my lead. This is not the kind of leadership I want to offer. I will educate myself and make every effort to do better from now on.

  27. wriggles
    Posted March 24, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Buttercup Rocks @ 8.24, in order to agree even to disagree means you have to grasp what I’m saying and you haven’t. You keep pushing it into your own view and it doesn’t fit.

    I don’t deal in blame and have already explained how I feel about slim people. Holding people to account for their clear and obvious collusion does not equal “blame”. Try to understand that this blaming and shaming crusade does not set all our mental parameters.

    Just because you are fat doesn’t mean you understand other fat people’s actions and motives. As you said, we aren’t a monolith.

    Your understanding can’t overcome a wide disparity of judgement for people according to their weight. Which you have expressed and it’s a shame.

    Because if we keep shoring up the privileging of thinness this way, how can we point fingers at others?

    • Posted March 24, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      Wriggles, as you’ve surmised, I haven’t a baldy clue where you’re coming from at all. That’s why I suggested agreeing to differ.

  28. Posted March 24, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Dear US-based Fat Activists,

    Please to be remembering that not all fat activism happens in the US, also.

    Love,
    A not-quite-white, non-US-based fat activist

    • LexieDi
      Posted March 24, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      That too! Good point!

    • Posted October 5, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      This is an excellent point! Fat activism happens all over the world!

  29. Diane
    Posted March 24, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    This is such an important conversation to have and I’m glad for this post addressing the contemptuous racism that has been spouted by and defended by some in the fat-acceptance community in response to the letter from NoLose. Using racist language and denying racism exists is not the way to show one is not a racist… Oh, and those who defend that person engaging in racism?…They’re racist.

    Being called out on one’s white-privilege, for those not used to being asked to check their privilege can be quite painful and it’s understandable to feel defensive. But if one is part of a marginalized group of people, which fat people are, then it’s not unreasonable to expect that person to be able to look into why they were called out on their privilege and why they’re feeling defensive. It’s the racist reaction to the letter and defensive hostility and refusal to acknowledge any wrongdoing that say’s to me that this person is a fauxgressive and not an ally.

    So what I’ve seen so far in reading various blogs about this—-a derail of every kind from denying racism and white privilege exists to “concerns” about tone, (which I always find amusing as it’s usually always used against the marginalized group of people—not the offenders). There was sexism by referring, under the guise of a question, to the women who defended the man, who spouted such racism, as mindless groupies. That is a silencing tactic used against women all the time. So again, not such a great response to call someone out on their racism with sexist fail.

    There’s a lot of intersectionality between marginalized groups. And spouting some garbage fail and then saying “Well, I’m fat, or I’m black or I’m a woman or I’m gay, and I don’t find this offensive or I don’t have a problem with it”, does not negate that the behavior is indeed racist or anti-gay or anti-woman etc. After all there are a lot of right-wing conservative women who work to take away my and other women’s rights and women who find rape jokes funny. That doesn’t mean that rape jokes don’t continue to assist in normalizing violence against women, in the same way gay jokes normalize violence against gay and transgendered people, and so on. It’s the same when fat people say “fat is the last acceptable prejudice”… Really?… There is a War on Women going on against our reproductive rights, 1 in 6 women are raped, 1 in 3 are sexually harassed and/or attacked. Just a few days ago a black youth was murdered because he was black. So fat is not really the last acceptable prejudice. And those groups of people I mentioned are not mutually exclusive because intersectionality means that a person can be part of privileged and marginalized groups…several at one time.

    From my perspective some people refuse to see that the letter was addressing an overall concern about white privilege and it used the Stand4Kids protest to illustrate their point. Indeed it may be that was what sparked the letter to begin with but the letter goes beyond that protest to address a social norm of deeply ingrained white privilege. Considering the massive fail that is the Kony 2012 video just a week or so ago, it’s a timely letter and a much needed conversation. I’m just sorry that it dissolved into people taking it as a personal attack and refusing to acknowledge that it had gone beyond their personal interaction. It is one marginalized group reaching out to another marginalized group to say there’s something you need to be aware of and check your privilege. That’s a good thing as it helps us to evolve to engender social justice for all of us.

  30. thirtiesgirl
    Posted March 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    I’ve had interactions with Atchka on a size acceptance FB group. My experience of him – how he interacted with me and other members in the group – was to make every comment or criticism all about him, 99% of the time. I’ve also read about other people’s interactions with him in the size acceptance community, particularly women, and it’s been largely negative. My impression of the guy is that he has a lot of good intentions, advocating for and bringing to light many size acceptance issues, but there’s some kind of imbalance that gets in the way and leads him to choose actions that are not to his benefit, and don’t really benefit anyone else.

    After reading the NoLose letter, if it was criticizing anyone in particular, it was Marilyn Wann. I didn’t read any criticism of Atchka in that letter at all. But based on my previous interactions with him, it seems par for the course for him to take it personally and make it all about him.

  31. Medea
    Posted March 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    There is a pair of videos I love that seem applicable here. The one is “How to Tell People They Sound Racist”, and the other is “How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Discussing Race”, both from the blog ill Doctrine. The first video is exactly what the title states–advice for someone calling out racism in someone else. The second hits the other side of the equation–how to be called out.

    For my part, I can remember a time when I was of the “if you don’t like what I’m doing, tell me what you want done about it” crowd. Then some life happened and I became a mentally ill woman in a male-dominated profession. There’s nothing like an invisible, stigmatized disability and a 50-hour work week in which the only other woman is the janitor to give me some perspective on privilege and lack thereof.

    Most people aren’t malicious. They’re just thoughtless. But what people sometimes miss is that while thoughtlessness is an explanation, it’s not an excuse. I’m still responsible for my words and actions even if–especially if–I didn’t think first. I can’t take back the words I spoke without thinking, but I can at least start thinking now that I’ve spoken.

    • Diane
      Posted March 31, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      So true.. Intent is not magic. Someone say’s or does something that hurts another and when called on it the response is “but I didn’t mean it that way” as if that magically erases the hurt their action caused. It also puts the blame onto the person they hurt—so not only are they supposed to deal with being hurt but now it’s their fault for receiving it that way. It’s a silencing tactic used against marginalized groups. It’s right along side “it’s just a joke”, which leads to further remarks such as “you’re over sensitive” and other such garbage responses and behavior.

  32. Creatrix Tiara
    Posted April 14, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Found this blog entry from another post (About building inclusive spaces in BDSM!) and it reminds me of something I wrote a while ago about being inclusive vs not being exclusive:

    http://creatrixtiara.tumblr.com/post/497836296/being-inclusive-vs-not-being-exclusive

  33. elisavet
    Posted June 4, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    i keep meaning to ask if you’ve read this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fattypuffs_and_Thinifers
    :)

  34. Posted April 5, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this. As a bi-racial plus size woman and designer I have wondered about this myself. It’s nice to see it put into words.

  35. Posted May 3, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Come back, Marianne. The internet needs you. (Yes, I know, xoJane. But come back here!)

4 Trackbacks

  1. By Links March 12th – March 22nd | Joss/Arden on March 22, 2012 at 6:15 am

    [...] Dear White Fat Peopleshared: March 21stI came across this post when Marianne tweeted "If fat acceptance does not address its own racism, we are doing social justice wrong" with a link to this post. And really, that tweet pretty much sums up the entire point of this blog post. fat FA race racism blgopost TheRotund [...]

  2. By So It Begins — « Fierce, Freethinking Fatties on March 22, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    [...] Marianne Kirby and Rachel Adams have both officially designated me as such. [...]

  3. By This Week In Fatness II – Axis of Fat on March 26, 2012 at 9:21 am

    [...] Kirby has something to say about the intersection of race and fat. Shannon talks about this issue from a personal perspective. [...]

  4. [...] a LOT of kerfuffle over mis-steps made in the sphere as well.  White privilege, white silence, cultural blinders and downright racisms were brought to light, discussed, examined and, for me, have really highlighted the many ways that [...]

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