Friday, July 5, 2013

Paula Deen

Okay, listen up because this is the only time I'm going to talk about Paula Deen and the recent scandal that resulted in her being fired. First of all the non fat acceptance parts. I'm tired of seeing people saying that she got fired for something she said two decades ago. That's not what happened. If the accusations are to be believed she still uses racial slurs, forced black employees to use the back door and a separate bathroom, was involved in a scandal which involved physical abuse and sexual harassment in her brother's restaurant, and fantasized about throwing a slave themed wedding (you heard me right) where she hired an all black wait staff to wait on white guests. So, let's stop pretending this is about a single incident in the past (which was also not okay by the way).

Now the fat acceptance parts (which is still tired into the racism parts). The racism and fatphobia I've seen with people defending this vile woman is astounding. The comment "she did more damage to black folks with her food" or "she did more damage to black people's waistlines" has been going around and around many of the threads I've seen on the topic. Do you get that? Do you get what they're saying? That being fat is literally worse than systematic racism, discrimination and oppression. These workers were forced to use a separate entrance and bathroom, were physically assaulted, were paid less, but no, being fat is worse. What does it say when society thinks that being fat is literally the worst thing that can happen to you? Now, there's only so much I can say on this topic because I have white privilege, but to say that racism somehow ranks lower than being fat is just.. mind blowing.

Let me tell you something else, the fatphobia shown in these comments and theads is also systematic oppression. Way to go racists. You're oppressing the black community in two ways now. Don't you feel special? How is it that no matter what the issue, being fat somehow gets dragged into it? I'm involved in a lot of LGBTQI groups (being bisexual myself) and being fat comes up a surprising amount of times. Sometimes the naive passer by expects this community to be somehow liberal and progressive when it comes to all rights, but no, the only rights they care about are their own. Which is ironic because so many people can't see the intersectional issues with homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and fatphobia. Why people don't understand intersectionality in general I don't know. The basic principle? Shit is complicated. No matter what it is, no matter what issue, it's complicated and it involves privileges and prejudices across a wide spectrum that criss cross and mingle and create unique circumstances for everyone involved.

Anyway, rambling again, sorry. The point is that fat acceptance and racial discrimination sometimes go hand in hand. It's simply inevitable that weight would come into the equation when racism is being discussed and not in a positive manner. Because, you see, weight is part of racial discrimination. The image of black people, especially women, as large and loud and slovenly and eating fried chicken all of the time, etc, etc. These are all things that I saw in the discussions of Paula Deen. Black people are fat because they eat fried chicken and lots of butter and other southern style foods. All I can do is shake my head, comment back, and, well, blog about it. Again, I'm white so my views on racism and how intertwined it is with fatphobia pales in comparison to the actual lived experience of people of color. And I would love love love to get some comments from POC sharing your experiences and opinions on the Paula Deen scandal, the racism, the fatphobia and how the two intersect.

That's it. That's all I'm going to say on the topic. Intersectionality is a real thing and shit's complicated. Get that? Good.

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