|—||Arundhati Roy (via counterstorytelling)|
Written for Black Girl Dangerous by Jackie, Sara and Asam of the It Gets Better Project
For many of us, queer or not, it doesn’t get better - it gets fatter! Instead of hating ourselves or clinging to false platitudes about how much better its going to get in some vague far off future land, we want to celebrate ourselves and our bodies the way they are now. We want to create a space to talk about how important (and how fucking hard) fat positivity can be in this horribly, offensively fatphobic world. And since people of color are socialized in entirely different ways from white folks when it comes to our bodies and the ways we relate to them, we think it’s high time we had a space to really talk about what that looks like.
The most disturbing thing about fatphobia, apart from how many of us face it in our lives in so many small and not so small ways, is just how deeply and insidiously entrenched it is. We grow up our entire lives being given these messages from almost everywhere - messages about how many different ways our bodies are wrong for simply existing in the form that they happen to exist. Most of us have never even been told that its okay to be fat. And because fatphobia is so often tied to (faux) concerns about one’s health, the idea of questioning these incessant messages that tell us what our bodies should be doing or what they should look like seems almost unthinkable to most people.
This project was born out of the frustration and the isolation that a lot of fat, brown queer folks face in their communities, and in an attempt to find a way of feeling less alone in ours. While there is a thriving online community of white fat people, we know that there is something uniquely different about experiencing fatness as a person of colour. For instance, Sara, being a fat brown visibly Muslim woman, has heard incessant commentary and opinions that not only criticize the physical space she takes up as a fat person but also how she is supposed to represent herself as a Muslim woman.
For so many of us, divorcing our multiple identities from each other is simply not possible. Because of “single issue politics,” so many movements that have been based on eradicating a single oppression have always left some of their similarly (but not identically) oppressed siblings in the dust. Homophobia movements have often left behind people of colour, poor people and trans* people, for example. For us, the It Gets Fatter Project tries to acknowledge the intersectionalities of oppressions while still being focussed on a broad topic like “body positivity.”
We also wanted to talk about a different analysis on fatness, one that doesn’t try to talk about how it’s OK to be fat if you’re healthy but rather deconstructs fatness and health and tries to separate the two to make a less ableist discourse. We wanted to start a project like this simply to get people to accept the idea that different bodies exist in different shapes and sizes and that they always will - no matter how much we are taught to hate certain bodies and no matter how much we are taught to hate ourselves for being embodied in a way that seems unacceptable to the dominant discourse. Fat bodies are always under attack not because everyone cares about fat people’s health but because, in their very existence, fat bodies present a kind of challenge or danger to the status quo simply because they ‘fail’ to conform to the many ways we are required to police our own bodies. This is why we believe this project is so important - we want fat people to be proud of the many different ways their very existence radically undermines ideological configurations of what the “healthy” or “beautiful” body is supposed to look like.
Being fat positive and unlearning the body shame that each of us has grown up with is so important if we are to begin reclaiming our bodily autonomy. Self-love and self-acceptance are super difficult things that we all struggle with every day, but what gets us through 90% of the time is the emotional support we receive from the people we love, the amazing stories we read from fellow fat people of color, and knowing that those people live and exist and struggle just like we do. It is so incredibly healing to hear and share each other’s stories - and that is one of the most important goals of this project.
We are so excited about everything that has come out of the It Gets Fatter Project so far. Feeling like we’ve been able to connect with fat folks from around the world has been truly life changing! We never expected this project to get so big, and we’re so stoked to see where it will go in the coming months (and maybe even years!).
If you want to know more or get involved, go to http://www.itgetsfatter.tumblr.com
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by Mia McKenzie
Dear Fellow Folks of Color,
I am writing to tell you that I’m in love with you. I would have said it to your faces, but I don’t have that kind of travel money.
What I love about you, POC, is…well, there’s a lot.
First of all, I love that, despite what you may have heard, your ancestors pretty much built or invented everything that was ever built or invented in the world. They built the pyramids. They built the United States (this includes buildings, roads, bridges, and the entire economic system that came from the cotton of the South and which made this country a world power). They invented chess, jewelry, sculpture, dance. Air conditioning, the fire extinguisher. Guitars, horseshoes, rock and roll, mailboxes, motors, refrigerators, traffic lights. They invented chopsticks, spoons, and forks. To eat the food whose domestication they originated: rice, chocolate, potatoes, carrots, coffee, wheat, ice cream. I could go on. The first game of soccer was played by them. The first songs sung with the human voice were sung by them. By you. I mean, how could I not love you? (Also, I’m pretty sure you invented love.)
But that’s really not even the half of it. POC, I love you because you are fierce. Because you are strong. Because you are hella resilient. Because despite living in a country that finds some new way every single day to tell you that you are less, you somehow continue to be more and more and more. Despite racism and xenophobia and poverty and white women’s tears and Mitt Romney, you still manage, somehow, to hold it together. Even though every Arab movie terrorist is played by an Arab dude but the hero “Prince of Persia” is played by Jake Gyllenhaal; even though some people think “reverse racism” is a real thing; even though API folks are like .003% of the characters on US TV shows right now and most of them are on Glee, you haven’t just given up and started speaking gibberish and throwing your feces. Which, under the circumstances, would be really understandable. No, instead you find more and more ways to survive, and not only to survive, but to thrive. Despite your children being gunned down by cops like every single day, despite your mothers being sent to prison for “stealing” public education, despite your sisters dying in the heat of the desert while “sneaking” into a land that belongs to your own ancestors, not to mention being deported from that same land in record numbers, despite the CONSTANT beatings inflicted on your souls, you somehow still have souls. That’s fucking amazing. I mean, I’m not surprised. Your ancestors couldn’t have survived slavery and genocide without some damn serious sturdy genes. But still. It’s impressive.
I love you for all of these things.
I love you, too, for the way, despite all of this, you continue to love each other. I love you for knowing what community really is. I love you for understanding what family means. I love you for the way you lean into each other when you laugh, the way you rock when you hug, the way you cook and fight and die for each other. The way you forgive. The way you remember.
I love your thick lips and your thick/curly/kinky/bone-straight hair. I love your slanted eyes, and your round and not-round asses, and your high cheekbones and your big/tiny feet. I love your brown eyes. I LOVE your brown skin.
I love the way you do math (which you also invented), the way you dance, the way you talk. I love your fire. I love your anger.
Folks of Color, I am so fucking in love with you. So in love with us.
Call me, k? ;)
*The Black Girl Dangerous Writing Workshop for queer, trans*, and gender-non-conforming writers of color is OPEN. Join us in Oakland or online!
Mia McKenzie is a writer and a smart, scrappy Philadelphian with a deep love of vegan pomegranate ice cream and fake fur collars. She is a black feminist and a freaking queer, facts that are often reflected in her writings, which have won her some awards and grants, such as the Astraea Foundation’s Writers Fund Award and the Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award. She just finished a novel and has a short story forthcoming in The Kenyon Review. Her work has been published at Jezebel.com, and recommended by The Root, Colorlines, Feministing, Angry Asian Man, and Crunk Feminist Collective. She is a nerd, and the creator of Black Girl Dangerous, a revolutionary blog.
*Although this post is US-focused, I realize there are Folks of Color holding it down everywhere in the world.
Support the Black Girl Dangerous Writing Workshop for queer, trans*, and gender-non-conforming writers of color! Click the DONATE button at the top of this page! :)
i am part of a collective called the Rabble Rousers, made up of people of color. We have started a project called Self-Destruct to Reconstruct, a youth violence intervention program in Chicago. We formed because of the staggering rates of homicide and shootings since March, where there were 60-something shootings in a 10 mile radius within a two day period. The violence has continued to rise as the days get hotter with at least 10 murders each weekend, many of them victims under the age of 21
- We, as a group, recognize that the individuals perpetuating this violence are acting as a direct result of the way they have been failed by our system
-WE’ve narrowed down the neighborhoods with the most violence: Englewood, Austin, Lawndale, South Shore, and Humboldt Park.
-These hoods have been historically underserved by their schools and have the SMALLEST concentration and access to community resources
All of us, as Rabble Rousers, are from these neighborhoods and we have put together the SD2R project, where we have gathered volunteers to set up anti-violence arts workshop pop-up spots in these neighborhoods. It is important to us that WE be the ones doing the work, as people of color who know the dynamics of these neighborhoods, vs outside sources/well-intentioned folk who don’t understand the community (but usually have the $$)
In each neighborhood we’ve contacted a community space to utilize so that our volunteers can host 1 hour workshops using the arts as a way to encourage social change and community change, starting with our participants, who are mainly youth between the ages of 8-18. The 2nd hour will be dedicated to providing the participants with information on resources outside of their community that they can utilize (affordable housing, healthcare, arts programs, tutoring, counseling, etc)
We have workshops on
-self-love / self-care
-using the internet/technology as a resource
-DJing and sampling
- identity & pride in your ethnic background
& more. Workshops just started this week and will span all summer.
We must pay each site location 250$ to compensate for using their space and for materials, which means we need to raise about $2000. About $1,000 will be granted to us via grants/community funding.
If you can afford to donate, even if it’s a dollar, it would be greatly, greatly appreciated.
You can donate here: http://theprofessionalrabblerouser.wordpress.com/donate/
Here’s more info if you want to read more: http://theprofessionalrabblerouser.wordpress.com/sd2rhotspots/what-is-the-sd2r-project/
“Rabble Rousers have organized 6 Hot Spots, 54 workshops, and the involvement of about 50 Black and Brown people to continue in the efforts of taking back our streets.”
Please donate!! I love that people are doing this work, but I hate that it has to be done. I’m from Chicago and am always stressing about things going on there.
A white girl named Cassie slapped me in my face in 6th grade. She did this in the middle of class & my white male teacher defended her. When I was 21, a white female acquaintance slapped me across the face & laughed about it. She said, “I felt like slappin’ someone.” She left a small bruise on my face. I am a Black queer man & never dated a white chick but I have a history of them puttin’ their hands on me & in my face. The next time I goin’ to mace the fuck out of any white woman who puts her hands on me. PERIOD.
WHITE WOMEN, KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF PEOPLE!!! YOU ARE USING YOUR PRIVILEGE TO PERPETUATE AGRESSION & VIOLENCE AGAINST PEOPLE OF COLOR!!!
All of my domestic violence experiences have been cis white women physically attacking me in front of other white people, but that’s because I don’t date cis white men. Trust, I’ve had them physically abuse me plenty, as well.
by A.D Song and Mia McKenzie
White people who are confronted with their white privilege and the white supremacist acts they perpetuate have been known to cry, “You’re being a reverse-racist!” That is completely true: people of color have the power and control to create, perpetuate, and maintain brutal systematic reverse-racism that oppresses white people every day. As such, we have created this handy list on how to continue this oppression.
1. Enslave their bodies.
Ship them from Germany, Sweden, and other exotic countries. Force them to build entire cities, roads, bridges. Force them to plant and harvest all the food everyone eats. Let an entire economic system be built on their backs, with their blood and sweat. Later, deny them access to the system they have been used to build, and accuse them of being extremely lazy.
2. Steal their land.
If they were here before you, steal their land. This is essential. Basically, just go in there and take it. If you have to kill some of them to get it…no worries. If you have to kill almost all of them to get it…shit, no worries. After you steal their land, make sure you create laws to keep them from ever returning to it. If they try to return anyway, build fences, and let bands of POC vigilantes patrol the borders with guns. If they somehow get past the borders and into your country, no worries, you can always just deport them.
3. Enslave their minds.
From these systems, build a long lasting institution of reverse-racism until all the violence and microaggressions make many white people into suspicious people with a lot of internalized self-hatred, health problems, and mental illnesses. Then deny them access to adequate mental health care. Or, adequate health care of any kind, while you’re at it. ‘Cause, you know, fuck ‘em.
4. Wipe out and/or appropriate their customs.
Since many of their customs are savage and unworthy of preserving, wipe out their traditions of eating mashed potatoes and meatloaf, playing miniature golf, buying khakis at Banana Republic, and sleeping with thousand-count Egyptian cotton sheets. For the customs you think are kinda cool, culturally appropriate from them. Sometimes wear a beret and lederhosen, because Swedish culture is really exotic even though it’s inferior to ours.
5. Break their espresso machines.
With baseball bats or large hammers. Or, you know, just unplug them all.
6. Call them “cracker”.
As people of color, we have been rightfully accused of being racist to white people, especially when we call them “cracker”. As we all know, calling them “cracker” is egregiously offensive and horribly shocking because of this long, violent, reverse-racist history.
7. Just keep being terrible to them.
Do everything you can think of to make it so that white people make less money; their children are shot by cops; white women are at higher risk for assault and they are exotified until they no longer seem human; white men are beaten and thrown into jails because they look “suspicious” and “threatening”; they are racially profiled everywhere they go.
8. Make sure most representations of them in the media are negative.
They should almost always be portrayed as pasty, stringy-haired, rhythm-less, sexless, uptight, and booooring. Also, there should be very few representations of them and when they’re portrayed at all, they should always only be the comic relief, the silent exotic sex object, the Debbie Downer, or the incompetent sidekick. They are only allowed to be easily forgettable, one-dimensional characters. Sometimes use POC actors in white-face to portray these white people. By presenting this ONE image of them all the time, you will be able to convince the rest of the population that all white people are like this, thus ensuring a widespread belief in their inferiority.
9. Keep telling them how beautiful they are not.
White people know they will never be beautiful with their boring sour cream complexions and blonde hair (that was actually caused because of mutations). Plaster people of color on every magazine, show them in every television show and movie, and praise them as the most beautiful. When white people cry at these injustices, bottle their tears and sell them as health creams for people of color. Nothing like a soothing lotion made from the pain of white folks!
10. Go bananas!
Force them underground and away from the sun to become even whiter, while you laugh manically like the cruel, bloodthirsty, oppressive person of color you are! Take their thousand-count Egyptian cotton sheets to make POC-supremacist flags and hoods and march through the streets, spreading fear and terror. Every time a white person thinks your behavior is unfair or wrong, tell them that they should stop being so sensitive! We live in a post-reverse-racial society now! Jeez.
*Digging this blog? Support it and queer, trans*, and gender-non-conforming writers of color! We need you! Please go HERE!!
A.D Song is an API student activist interested in QTPOC politics and sprinkling glitter everywhere they go.
Mia McKenzie is a writer and a smart, scrappy Philadelphian with a deep love of vegan pomegranate ice cream and fake fur collars. She is a black feminist and a freaking queer, facts that are often reflected in her writings, which have won her some awards and grants, such as the Astraea Foundation’s Writers Fund Award and the Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award. She just finished a novel and has a short story forthcoming in The Kenyon Review. She is a nerd, and the creator of Black Girl Dangerous, a revolutionary blog.
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My reaction as I read this brilliant ass post.