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My Skin is My History

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White Woman: We need to keep the Civil War monuments in public spaces because we need to remember the Civil War.

Me: Do you need to have a Hitler monument to remember the Holocaust?

White Woman: No.  I am appalled.

Me: (Blank Stare) I don’t need to see Civil War monuments in public spaces every single day to be reminded of the Civil War.

White Woman: But it is art.

Me: Would those monuments of Hitler generals be art if they are in public spaces in Germany?

White Woman: I would leave the country.

Me: (Blank Stare) I am four generations away from a plantation.

White Woman: Oh, that is recent.

As a black woman, I have not been vocal about taking down the Civil War monuments that were erected during the Civil Rights Movement in predominately African American areas.  I enjoy history, so I appreciate the value in understanding the history of the Civil War.  I, actually, enjoy reading history books and gaining a stronger understanding of the complicated history of those who were apart of the earlier days of the United States.  I am intrigued.  Yet, it is this conversation that made me second guess my position.

I often wondered about the Civil War monuments because I wondered if it is possible to tear down every racist, slave owner, Confederate soldier monument.  In addition, is it possible to even tear down every monument or rename every school since American history is a bit complicated?  Yet, this woman gave me a perspective that people really do believe African Americans need to be reminded of the Civil War.  This led me to emphatically explain this, “Every day I wake up, I am aware of the Civil War because I look at my skin.  I cannot divorce history from my skin, which is a lens of my perspective.”  This statement was said eye-to-eye.

We do need to remember the Civil War, but maybe I don’t need a monument to remember it.  Maybe the predominately White neighborhood needs to remember it.  I will trade the Robert E. Lee Middle School in the Black neighborhood to go to the predominately White neighborhood while we will rename the school to be Robert Kennedy, Jr. Middle School in the predominately Black neighborhood.  My proposal is a bit cheesy, but I want you to realize that these artifacts are continual reminders of the Civil War and the years of oppression Blacks have endured then and now.

If these monuments are just “art,” then why did it take over a decade of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. to sell bricks that would fund the misquoted Martin Luther King, Jr. monument in Washington, D.C.?  Our America would not fund the monument 100%, so with Alpha Phi Alpha leading the way, the rest of the African American fraternities and sororities donated to pay a portion for that monument to be erected.  These monuments, clearly, have value and significance.  

American history needs to be taught.  We should be able to walk in a monumental mall and see the history of the Civil War.  We should give tours that explain the troubled, darker history of the Civil War.  It is not a dark history because we are still living in the shadows of the Civil War; therefore, it is a darker history.  These monuments should not be dispersed around the cities in America, so we can “appreciate” these lives.  One way to start respecting each other is to begin to understand each other’s perspective and the skin that they live within.

 

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For The Culture

Modern Day Christopher Columbus Who Called The Police On Black Woman at Community Pool Loses Job

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White Walkers have been working extra hard this summer to colonize pools with the help of their allies, the police. Several videos have shown white pool goers upset at Black people for just existing; so much so that they have felt the need to call their favorite customer service number: 911.

This time a colonizer might want to freshen up his resume as he joins the list of a few others who feel the need to question if a Black person was supposed to be in their space.

Adam Bloom, a reincarnated Christopher Columbus from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, called the cops on Jasmine Edwards, a black mother, & her child because he didn’t think they belonged in the community swimming pool…even though she clearly had her pool pass. Bloom in a video that is being shared on Twitter questioned a Black woman at a community pool on whether or not she had a pool pass even though there is no sign asking for it to be visible. Bloom doesn’t work for the pool and won’t be working at Sonoco Products after resigning from the company. A Twitter user shared the info with a video tagging the company’s official Twitter account.

Jasmine Edwards, the Black mother, was questioned by police about whether or not she had her pool card. When Edwards asked for an apology, Adam Bloom just walked away.

In a statement released on Friday, Bloom’s attorney, John Vermitsky, said his client was only trying to enforce the rules of using the pool, which is only for the Glenridge neighborhood, and “feels terrible for the pain” he caused the woman, Jasmine Edwards.

Bloom resigned Thursday as the “pool chair” and as a board member from the homeowners association of Glenridge, his community in Winston-Salem. The association apologized in a statement and said that Bloom “escalated a situation in a way that does not reflect the inclusive values Glenridge seeks to uphold as a community.” via NBCNews

 

We love the smell of white tears.

 

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The Conflict Between Thick and Fat

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theadipositivityproject.com
Written by: Da’Shaun Harrison

 

In the last year or so, there has been a (re)emergence of the term “thicc.” On social media, it has been almost impossible to scroll through your timeline without someone being referred to as “thicc,” “thick,” or some other variation of the word. As celebrities like Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, and others began to gain weight, headlines began to circulate where writers were celebrating the celebrities’ “thickness” and not their fatness. It is for this reason that I have grown a strong disdain for the term “thicc/k” and am adamant about being clear in the fact that using the term “thicc/k” as a compliment while still actively denying fat people our humanity, our right to love, and proper medical care, housing, and jobs is anti-fat.

Mainstream—whereby I mean hegemonic—powers have created a dichotomy between “thicc/k” and “fat.” Anti-fat domination determines who gets to be the former and who is always understood as the latter. This is how desirability/beauty politics show up in our language. The reality is that these two terms are the same; thicc/k is fat, fat is thicc/k. How one defines and understands beauty is what informs their language around other people’s weight and appearance. Said again, how someone’s fatness sits on their body determines whether they are read as “thicc/k” or “fat,” and I posit that this plays a major role in anti-fat discrimination/oppression.

thicc/k is fat, fat is thicc/k

When discussing anti-fatness, people oftentimes reduce this form of oppression to discriminatory, brutal language—most notably referred to as “fat shaming.” Language does, in fact, play a role in anti-fat oppression. It is why, for the most part, fat people prefer terms like “thicc/k,” “big,” “big-boned” because “fat” has always been weaponized against us. Many fat people have anecdotal tales about the times we’ve experienced anti-fatness in the workplace, in school, in the medical field. However, anti-fatness does not begin and end with anecdote. In fact, anti-fatness’s reach extends far beyond the language that reinforces its existence. It is systemic. According to North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO), in 1999, a 14-year-old girl by the name of Gina Score died due to anti-fat biases and prejudices. It is said that Gina, who had been part of a camp run and operated by military veterans, had been tasked with a 2.7-mile run. She fell on the ground, gasping for air. After four hours of her instructors laughing, drinking soda, and accusing Gina of faking, a doctor came and called for an ambulance immediately. Gina’s organs had failed. She had died. Just a few years prior, Canadian doctor and columnist, Kenneth Walker, wrote in a popular and well-cited newspaper column that “For their own good and for the good of the country, fat people should be locked up in prison camps.”

In a study performed by Steven L. Gortmaker and other scientists, it was proven that fat men were eleven percent (11%) less likely to marry and fat women were twenty percent (20%) less likely to marry. In 49 out of the 50 US states, it is legal to fire someone for no other reason than their fatness. In other words, unless a fat person is fired for being fat in Michigan—the only state with a law which protects people who are overweight—they can be fired and nothing can be done about it. Fat people—women and queer folks, specifically—are so often not given the space to discuss their histories with sexual abuse away from desire. We are met with “why would anyone want to rape you?” People read our bodies, be it consciously or not, as undesirable and, thus, do not understand what would compel someone to violate us sexually—even though rape is generally about engaging sex as an avenue through which one can maintain power over a person/place/thing. Herein is why we do not hear fat people’s #MeToo stories.

When Black Panther was released earlier this year, many people celebrated the casting of a “thicc/k” Winston Duke, who played leader of the Jabari Tribe, M’Baku. Folks wrote on the barriers someone of his stature would break in a film of Black Panther’s magnitude; many lusted after Duke on social media, noting his height and “massive thighs” as something they looked forward to seeing in the film. At one point, Winston Duke even went on record to thank Black women for helping him “heal” from the scars associated with his size. While I recognize that a Black man who towers at 6’4” with 250 pounds resting on his body likely does have a lot to heal from, I am more thoughtful of the many people whose weight does not rest so easily on their bodies. I am forced to think about the darkskin Black man who also towers at over 6’, but weighs 600 pounds, and how that leads to him being antagonized, and not celebrated, on social media. I am forced to think about Black women like Roxane Gay, who stands at 6’3” with over 400 pounds on her body. I am mindful of my own nonbinary body; a body that is 6’ and well over 250 pounds.

With our bodies in mind, I am unable to give as much thought to bodies like Winston Duke’s; the rest of the world will already do that. I am all-too-aware of the fact that this room which Winston Duke is given to discuss his insecurities with his size happens at the expense of fat people without his money, fame, or frame. It is this reality—a reality that dehumanizes and otherizes poor, darkskin, fat people—that would play a role in the murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. For darkskin Black people with fat bodies that are undesirable, we live knowing that we are at a higher risk of experiencing violence at the hands of the state.

To assign language like “thicc/k” to what can otherwise be understood as fat is to manipulate the pleasure-economy under capitalism—by which I mean the actualizing of new structures in which we find pleasure. Click To Tweet

There is a particular currency in thickness that is not found in fatness. To assign language like “thicc/k” to what can otherwise be understood as fat is to manipulate the pleasure-economy under capitalism—by which I mean the actualizing of new structures in which we find pleasure. This is, as it stands, a way to specifically remove any ability to locate desire in a body that is outright fat and place it solely in bodies with weight that is “proportionate.” For those of us who will never be seen as anything other than fat, we are being told through this use of “thicc/k” that our cages, as Roxane Gay calls the body, are not desirable; that only a particular type of fatness is capable of being beautiful/desired/whole. Not just desirable in the sense of beauty, love, and sex, but desirable as it affects and pertains to our health, our education, our livelihoods.

So, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and others assigned “thicc/k” as a label get to have others celebrate their weight gain—albeit, not void of misogynoir—while women and femmes like Roxane Gay, Jamal Lewis, and Ashleigh Shackelford continue to fight for bodies like theirs to be seen as valid. Winston Duke gets access to money and healing while boys and men like Mike Brown and Eric Garner meet death. This dichotomy is anti-fat. This is anti-fat violence, and it is this that makes the use of “thicc/k” anti-fat.

I am aware that, even after reading this, many people will not stop using the word “thicc/k.” Nevertheless, it is my hope that through this it is made clear that whatever desire someone locates in a body they deem “thicc/k,” what they find attractive really is fatness. We need to be honest about that to destigmatize fatness and fat people’s bodies. This is truly the difference between life and death.

To continue dissecting anti-fatness, both on a personal and structural basis, I suggest following these beautiful fat people with beautiful fat politics on Twitter:

[email protected]hoesculture
@yrfatfriend
@tommysantelli
@ashleighthelion
@Ic0n_2
@fatfemme
@KivaBay
@THATFATTYBITCH

 

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Dear Black People: Don’t Be White People about the Current Immigration Policy

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Let me start with a ‘NOT ALL WHITE PEOPLE,’ so you ignant n*ggas hear me…

A few days ago, I’m scrolling through Twitter, and I notice that someone has posted a screenshot of a Facebook post from some fool named Ivory Robinson, in which this fool implores black people to stay out of the current shit show that is the Trump administration’s policy to forcibly separate children from their parents who are seeking asylum (which means they are trying to leave some super terrible shit and end up here facing some more terrible shit) by crossing the border “illegally.” So, the parents go jail and then, presumably, back to the terrible shit they were attempting to escape from, and the children go to whatever baby prison is available, which could be as far away as New York or even my hometown, Baltimore.

When I saw this message, I thought, surely this must be one of those Russian bot accounts because I know black people, who were ruthlessly stripped from our African tribes and history and shipped all over these United States (and honestly still to this day, racial disparity exists in child welfare systems which makes black and Native American children more likely to be removed from their home, some of which is explained by high rates of poverty in these communities, you can read more information here); surely, black people are not on Beyoncé’s internet advocating for standing idly by while Trump’s bloodthirsty administration spearheads one of the most heinous and sociopathic endeavors since they killed Jesus. Black people, if no one else, have to feel some level of empathy because we, deep down in our DNA and collective memory, understand this type of pain.

And then, it happened. This young man in my real life, who prior to this conversation I thought was of reasonable intelligence, repeated, damn near verbatim what this other young man (presumably, because I don’t know how Ivory Robinson identifies) said in his Facebook post. I had to take a step back because the sheer stupidity of what he said literally took my breath away.

This young man, father to a 5-year old, said, “Man, Mexicans wasn’t jumping out to help when police were murdering us.

I said, “Oh, well what did you do? Did you protest? Did you even vote?

You can imagine what happened next – stumbling over words, something about Latinos appropriating the n-word, voting doesn’t matter anyway. Wooo chile, the stupidity.

I need Black people to care, my spirit needs it, and not because we could be next, not because of other black immigrants in the diaspora that you can racially relate to. You need to care because they are got damn people. Click To Tweet

If you are one of these Black people who feel like this isn’t your fight, I don’t know what it will take to change your mind but let me offer this. First, several very smart people have put together quite a few examples of how our Latino brethren throughout history have stood as allies in the struggle. Use the search function on Twitter and educate yourself. Second, I would like to remind you that even though media are hyper-focused on placing brown faces on this tragedy, these policies have the potential to affect our Haitian, Jamaican, Guyanese, Bermudian, Nigerian, etc. brothers and sisters too. Check out Angela Rye’s podcast “On the One with Angela Rye,” episode title – DACA for Dummies released September 6, 2017 and educate yourself. Third, don’t let these mofos manipulate you. On that episode, Angela Rye plays snippets from an advertisement dating back to October 2012 meant to shape how black people view immigration. Ugh, I hate to even mention the Young Turks who are indeed trash dressed up as allies, however, this clip should be watched. I mean, it’s like what they did when they hired Bruce Carter, former Bernie staffer, to persuade black voters to support Trump or not vote at all.  

And finally, n*gga, these are kids. On one hand, we, as marginalized people, have been daily traumatized by the Trump administration and their continuous assault on our freedoms. Believe me, I understand how it feels to be so righteously angry that you just want to see everything burned down to the ground. They make it so easy to forget your humanity, son. But we cannot turn into white people about this. We cannot wear our IDGAF jackets every day.

Melania Trump wears a jacket emblazoned with ” I Really Don’t Care Do U?” to visit detained children who are separated from their families as they seek asylum.

Side note: Black men, y’all, for real are going to get enough of caping for this white woman. Toure’ and Van Jones and all the rest of you looking for an angle to absolve Melania for her complicity in everything happening right now, up to and including, sliding her Slovenian arms into that jacket with that deplorable message spread across the back. Let us not forget Melania who can hardly speak English because she too is an immigrant was riding hard next to Trump when he started his “I need to see Obama’s birth certificate” campaign. She’s a terrible racist too, and she surely does not care anything about your black ass, which means, you have decided to trade in whatever credibility you have left with your core group of supporters for Melania “IDGAF about babies separated from their moms and dads” Trump. The shame.

Anyway, I need Black people to care, my spirit needs it, and not because we could be next, not because of other black immigrants in the diaspora that you can racially relate to, not because they want you to not care. You need to care because they are got damn people.

The day we turn into a white people about this shit, is the day they’ve won.

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