Quick hit: Racism and victory daps

The next time someone tells you that fatphobia differs from racism in being a “socially acceptable prejudice,” kick them over to this post. It’s a hilariously written but chilling roundup of histrionic reactions to the celebratory dap — sorry, GANG SIGN — between Michelle and Barack Obama last week, courtesy of Drive-By Assholes on the Internet. Here’s some of their more charming brainfruit:

It is more evidence of the penetration and corruption of our dominant culture by the minority.

I love the idea of a racist mullato being president. History has shown repeatedly, when Whites set up new countries and then give the control to the blacks, or any non-White race, it will soon collapse into another third world catastrophe.

I can’t be denied that just about all their dance moves , walks and crazy handshakes mimik some kind of animal motion. What’s next? the knee in the crotch-hands above the head greeting?

Another dispaly how Black “keep it real”-real dumb. Picture Obama and wife having to meet world dignitaries. 1st of all this Punk of a wanna-be presient doesn’t even salute his OWN flag. that will look retarted when the national anthem is played as he stands in front of other world officals.

You got to be kidding, The fist “bump”, .America “WAKE UP”, You are getting your first taste of what it is going to be like electing Barack HUSSEIN Obama for president. Next you are going to see southern fried chicken, black-eyed peas, corn bread, and watermelon as your daily meal. Let’s not forget what Obama’s middle name is, funny thing, he never wants to use his middle name on his campaign.

Racism may not be socially acceptable among the people we choose to socialize with. But there are entire communities of bottom-feeders among whom it’s a major social currency. Fatphobia is unusual, though not unique, in that progressives will be gleefully fatphobic, while they’d be ashamed to express racism overtly. But that’s progressives. There’s a lot of folks on this internet, many of them with real-world counterparts, who aren’t the least bit ashamed to be blatantly racist.

I read some of these aloud to Dan, including the one about having fried chicken and cornbread as your daily meal, and he said “hey, that doesn’t sound so bad.” He’s right — it wouldn’t be my first choice of menu, and it might get a little tedious, but compared to a bungled war and a tanked economy it looks pretty desirable. But this person didn’t namecheck fried chicken and watermelon because they were awful; he or she did so because they were racist stereotypes of food preferred by blacks. That’s how “socially unacceptable” racism is for some people — they’re more interested in just saying something racist than in saying something that actually conveys meaning. The idea, in theory, was originally to say something menacing about an Obama administration, but that goal is totally secondary. The real goal is just to be as racist as possible as quickly as possible without stopping for any reason. And these people aren’t doing this out of a self-flagellating desire to be socially shunned. They’re doing it to get accolades — but not the dap, that’s WAY too black — from like-minded bigots.

I know this isn’t news to most of you, but it’s a useful illustration of why official policy around these parts rejects the “last acceptable prejudice” bohonkey. Virulent prejudice — racism, sexism, homophobia, fatphobia, transphobia, ablism, stop me any time — is more socially acceptable across the board than many of us could ever imagine, or would ever want to imagine.

77 thoughts on “Quick hit: Racism and victory daps

  1. So true, FJ. If you hang around liberals a lot, and live in a basically “blue” area, it’s easy to forget how many people really do have ear cheese for brains out there. I mean, somebody has to be listening to Limbaugh, Savage, et al, or they wouldn’t be syndicated in every frigging city and advertisers wouldn’t buy time on their shows.

    Aaaand if you hang around liberals a lot, over time you realize that they have their own brand of xenophobia. They’ve just learned a shitload of modulation and code. Like Paul Campos says, snarking off on the fatties is a great way to get to be racist, classist, etc., while still looking like a Concerned Citizen.

  2. I certainly agree with you, and all the fatties out there who refuse to call fate-hatred the last-acceptable prejudice, since so many other /isms are perpetuated on a daily basis, and are socially acceptable in certain communities. The thing that just always ticks me off is when I try to explain fat-hatred, and use one of the other -isms as merely a reference point, and usually get the immediate response of “well that’s not nearly as bad as *insert -ism here*, I don’t see how you could even compare the two.” It makes me wish that people were required to take women’s studies classes, or ethics of diversity classes, and finally come to realize that “my oppression is no greater than any other’s oppression.” Though this is just my occasional spark of idealism speaking.

  3. That is very true. I work with adults with developmental disabilities, and I’ve personally run into ablism in my job. I’m hearing impaired, and I was written up for speaking too loudly. Hello! If I could hear properly then I wouldn’t have this issue! Anyone who says that fat is the last acceptable form of discrimination is lucky to have been so sheltered.

  4. I have yet to work in a shop in my industry that isn’t overrun with rampant, overt prejudice. I’m always stunned when I hear anyone say any type of prejudice is universally unacceptable.

  5. Wow. Just, wow. That’s so incredibly nauseating…

    I know this probably marks me as incredibly naive and sheltered…but it blows my mind that people not only think that kind of stuff but SAY it so bluntly and flagrantly and shamelessly. I mean, I’ve seen prejudiced attitudes towards plenty of different people, but it’s always kind of covert and under the radar, where it seems more unconscious or at least like the person doing it knows it’s something that should be hidden b/c people will disapprove. I just don’t see how it’s possible to have that few brain cells in your head. Seriously. Thanks for posting this–it’s a bit of a wake-up for me to the fact that there’s a whole world out there that has a level of prejudice I’m not exposed to at all.

    As for Barack & Michelle, I just thought the two of them were cute–having a nice little private/public personal human moment. I mean, political spouses who actually seem to LIKE each other? What’s next, world peace?!? Who the hell wants THAT????

    (And I’d totally take the aforementioned meal over the Iraq war, hehehe. Minus the chicken–meat grosses me out. ;-) )

  6. Wanna be presient is going to look retarted, hey?

    I can only assume one of he meant “prescient”. I spell poorly, too, so I feel for the guy. I mean, that ‘c’ comes out of nowhere.

    Still, how Obama’s wish to be foresighted is going to lead to multiple pie incidences is beyond my ability to follow.

    This is some high level analysis, here.

    (( Does anyone else ever despair that it’s never going to get better? ))

  7. Rhiannon: I’m hearing impaired, and I was written up for speaking too loudly. Hello! If I could hear properly then I wouldn’t have this issue!

    Wait, what? How does you being hard of hearing cause you to speak loudly? Shouldn’t that cause other people to speak loudly?

  8. Another thing people have trouble understanding is that different forms of prejudice manifest themselves in different ways. For example currently fat jokes are more acceptable than race jokes in film and TV, but that does not mean that racism isn’t still a huge issue in areas like employment discrimination.

  9. Oh dear. Looks like this election is going to be drawing out America’s ugly side for all the world to see. And I thought that’s what Bush had already done…

  10. The timing of (my finding) this post is uncanny. Not 20 minutes ago, I was having a conversation with my 7-year-old about one of her friends. She’s Asian (Indian, Pakistani, one of those Asian ethnicities) and she gets made fun of at school. Why? Her skin color. That’s the ONLY reason. And apparently she’s not the only one, because my daughter rattled off a list of names of kids in her school that are Asian and get made fun of.

    Now, because my daughter is only 7, I didn’t mention the word “racism” – because she wouldn’t understand what it means. But I did tell her that I thought it was stupid to make fun of somebody because of the color of their skin. “It’s like making fun of somebody because they have a different hair color than you,” I said to her. “Or they have a different eye color.” I was trying to put it into words that she would understand. The thing is, because we’re progressive (I guess you would say) in our house, this is the first time she’s been exposed to this kind of prejudice. She doesn’t understand why some kids would make fun of other kids for something as silly as skin color.

    And I’ll admit, part of me was shocked that my 7-year-old daughter would be witnessing racism in her school. I’ll admit it: I’ve been naive. I always saw racism as an older generation’s prejudice – I didn’t know anybody my age that thought that way. But most of the parents at my kids’ school ARE my age (and younger!)… and these kids have to be learning this somewhere.

    I came home from dropping them off at school (time difference, remember) feeling shocked and dismayed that in 2008, my children are witnessing stuff like this at school. Maybe I’m just stupid, but I really thought we, as a society, would have gotten our collective heads out of our collective asses by now and realized that diversity is a good thing.

    Once again, I prove that I really am as strange as I think I am…

  11. I am Canadian and people here are “polite” when it comes to “isms”. They would never say it to your face, that would be “rude”.

    As a fat queer person, who is a mom, the looks, tsks and whispers (cause no one can here them) that I receive are too many.

    So as to the last (outwardly) acceptable “ism” I can somewhat understand, people just say all the nastiness behind closed doors, because what would the neighbours think.

  12. I agree.

    I understand what people mean when they say fat is the last acceptable prejudice, though. It’s different because it’s blamed on us as a character flaw, that we need help and messed up our lives, instead of something we’re just born with. In that way it’s kind of like homophobia.

  13. Love this post. I’m going to give you a longer comment in a bit, but I wanted to link dump a little for people who want to read more on the topic.

    What white privilege is
    “I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps,”
    http://seamonkey.ed.asu.edu/~mcisaac/emc598ge/Unpacking.html

    Check my what? On privilege and dealing with it.
    http://blog.shrub.com/archives/tekanji/2006-03-08_146

    “How to suppress discussions of racism” It’s an illustrated guide and it’s fucking hilarious.
    http://coffeeandink.livejournal.com/607897.html?thread=6608281

    “Being top of the pile means that whites are peculiarly and uniquely insensitive to race and racism, and the power relations this involves. We are invariably the beneficiaries, never the victims. Even when well-meaning, we remain strangely ignorant. ”
    http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0920-06.htm

    And the always awesome “How not to be insane when accused of racism, a guide for white people”
    http://www.amptoons.com/blog/archives/2005/12/02/how-not-to-be-insane-when-accused-of-racism/

  14. I am always amazed at the intelligence level of people who spew things like this online. The last comment was slamming Obama’s blackness, yet s/he reminds us of his middle name… Um, did I miss a connection there? Is Hussein a “black” name? Oh, right. Middle Eastern or Muslim decent is no better – how silly of me.

  15. UGH. How awful.

    I do have to disagree with this point in your post, though:

    Fatphobia is unusual, though not unique, in that progressives would be ashamed to express it overtly.

    I’ve been pretty upset to see how much fatphobia seems to be expressed on some progressive sites.

  16. I’ve been a member of a Republican online community (still am, but stopped posting so often after my then-boyfriend was banned in a purge) and I’ve been banned at Liberal sites, for simply saying that maybe, you know, all Republicans don’t deserve to be tarred and feathered and then burned to death in the streets. Most people I know who are conservatives- even those who listen to Rush and Savage (I actually read Michael Savage’s books- when there’s an editor involved, and time he realizes “hey! my stream-of-consciousness diatribes don’t make any sense. I have to explain what this rant means!”)- don’t hate Obama because he’s black. They don’t even hate him. They disagree with his policies, think he’d be a bad POTUS, think he’s too young, even some fears that his Muslim background would make him too sympathetic to our enemies (disclaimer: these are not necessarily my views, but views that other people hold. I do not endorse these views), etc. But not hate or “he’d be a bad POTUS because he’s black!” (Unless there are some here who hold the view that any criticism of Obama’s politics MUST actually be a criticism of his blackness, an assertion with which I respectfully disagree) Most Republicans consider the foaming-at-the-mouth racists to be like the KKK-lite and try to disassociate from them, and give the rest of us a bad name.

    <3 Angie

  17. Fatphobia is unusual, though not unique, in that progressives would be ashamed to express it overtly.

    I’ve been pretty upset to see how much fatphobia seems to be expressed on some progressive sites.

    Yes, that’s because I wrote this at one in the morning and meant WOULDN’T be ashamed. Off to fix it now.

  18. “I’m hearing impaired, and I was written up for speaking too loudly.”

    *smh*

    “Wanna be presient is going to look retarted, hey?”

    They’re mimiking aminal moshun

    Influential people seem to be the most quietly racist (as someone upthread put it, racist in code).

    I most immediately fear stupid racists; they are the ones most likely to be violent.

    I most long-term fear the intelligent racists; they are the ones most likely to put structural barriers in place that are the most difficult to undo.

  19. Sarah, boy, my thought process really got away from me… I had elided two ideas and had to do some triage to make it actually work. Thanks for pointing that out!

    Angie, we’re talking about racists. You’re the only one making it about Republicans.

    Julia, thanks for the links — those should be required reading.

  20. Fat Angie, what does this post say about Republicans? A criticism of people being racist at Obama does not de facto mean a criticism of Republicans.

    My fave thing about that Sadly, No post is the illustration. I also love the Ali G/Pat Buchanan pic Liss has in her related post.

  21. I understand what people mean when they say fat is the last acceptable prejudice, though. It’s different because it’s blamed on us as a character flaw,

    Ehh, I think when most people say “fat is the last acceptable prejudice” they mean “fat is the last acceptable prejudice”, and they’re wrong. And yeah, fatphobia is somewhat unique in some ways, but as Kristen pointed out, different prejudices manifest in different ways.

  22. Someone brought up Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage, so I assumed that the stereotype of the Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage listeners being racist, foaming-at-the-mouth Republicans applied. I apologize if this is not the case. However, I have seen in other communities “Republican” and “racist” being synonymous, and conversations about disagreements with Obama’s politics become accusations of racism, especially when the person disagreeing with said presidential candidate is a white Republican. Please, please forgive me for preparing for such a case.

  23. I understand what people mean when they say fat is the last acceptable prejudice, though. It’s different because it’s blamed on us as a character flaw, that we need help and messed up our lives, instead of something we’re just born with. In that way it’s kind of like homophobia.

    I feel like they mean exactly what they are saying. They don’t consider racism to be a “real” issue any more because they associate racism only with its most overt forms, not with the common systemic oppression of people of color.

    Also, racism, like homophobia, is often phrased as a character flaw. Blackness is seen as savage, lawless, “jungle like”, etc. Black people need to overcome their flaws of being lazy, over sexed, less intelligent, etc. etc. Oh and stop being so mean. Of course.

  24. I believe the actual quip by the Fox News anchor was “terrorist fist jab”. I don’t know about the rest of you, but apparently I know an awful lot of terrorists.

  25. Alice: (from way back) If you can’t hear yourself speak, you don’t have any internal way to gauge your volume.

    Sorry, if I’m jumping in for Rhiannon, but I have this problem myself and I’m not even considered hearing impaired (yet, I understand it gets worse with age).

  26. Rhiannon, I’m not deaf; but I think I can explain. When we speak, we self-modulate our voices based on what we hear around us. Naturally, hard of hearing people can’t do that, so they can speak either more loudly or more softly than is easy for hearing people to do. It sounds like an ADA violation to write someone up for that to me. It’s a simple enough accomodation to make.

    I’ve mentioned before that atheists often make the same comment; about being the last acceptable prejudice. It’s not true for them either. I suppose for a big whomp against someone: how about a fat female black atheist running for Prez? Wonder how many votes she’d get.

  27. Their conclusions remind me of the posts you’d find at fstdt.com from those who don’t believe in evolution. It’s fine NOT to believe in it, but not beliving in it because you’ve never read a single thing about it is just plain ignorant.

    This post reminds me of the same sort of ignorance it takes to claim evolution isn’t a scientific theory. This or these posters come to simplified racist conclusions based not on personal experiences with people of color, but rather on a perceived or assumed stereotype of what people of color are suppose to be like. To spew such uninformed opinions and hate nearly makes these/this poster laughable.

    The post reeks of undeserved privilage. I am white, I am superior. Nevermind the fact that Michelle and Barack have received a higher education. Nevermind that Barack is the democratic nominee for president. Nevermind that neither Michelle or Barack can be pigeon holed into a simplified racist view on “what a black person is”.

    So though fatphobia may not be as insidious as racism is, the overall platform that these people – the ignorant, the fearful, the hate filled, the rage filled – operate from is no different. There is no real association on their part with those they actively use hate speech against.

  28. I think what people mean by “acceptable prejudice” is more that everyone can do it, and it’s funny and ok. 95% of the time if you make a fat joke everyone will laugh and you don’t gotta worry about being over heard…

    However as a white person if you want to see just how real racism still is in this country date a man(or woman depending on sexual preference) of color, or don’t just spend a day or two with them. You’d be amazed at how often people say nasty things to you… and how often you get pulled over by the cops, or stopped by the cops while out walking after dark(the richer the neighborhood the more you get stopped)

    One shining moment was walking through the mall and being called a “n***** lover” sitting down cuz I was kind of shocked, my boyfriend standing up over me(cuz by now he’s just plan used to it) and having a cop come over and ask “Is this man bothering you ma’am?”

    However….

    I do LOVE the fact the racist idiots can’t spell president correctly. Or the fact they still believe Obama will sympathize with our enemies… by sympathize, they mean talk and try to come to an understanding I’m sure. And we all know the only way to stop hate is with hate right?

    I do hope Obama wins, he definitely has my vote and the vote of as many people I can convince. As a matter of fact I’m volunteering on election day to drive people to the polls :-)

  29. I, like most of us, have been watching the election coverage carefully, and it seems that even if one’s true reason for disliking Obama (or Clinton) comes down to policy matters, many still somehow couch it in terms of racism (or sexism).

    It obscures the point a bit.

    Now that Obama is the presumptive nominee (barring a miracle), we get to sit back and watch the racism come out. Yippee. /sarcasm

  30. Re: Vocal Volume

    I see; I hadn’t thought of the role the relative volume of one’s surroundings would play. Thank you, Piffle.

  31. I think it’s kind of adorable that most liberals are now hearing the shit I hear directed to me about once-twice a month (although substitute beans and tacos for fried chicken, as I’m Mexican).

  32. Angie, I understand what you are saying. Many people don’t make the distiction between racists and conservatives because it’s generally easier that way. But most people nowadays appear to be mixed, they like certain conservative views and reject others. They also do the same with liberal views. I hope that most people on this board wouldn’t have a black/white pov and thinking but analyze thougtfully.

    I wanted a female president and I like Hillary. However, we’ll see what happens. I don’t know what Obama’s policies will be but he can’t be worse than Bush idiot. But ya never know till you live with ‘em.

    Being racist is not good, being realist is not the same.

  33. It’s still amazing that these idiots automatically think he is a terrorist sympathizer because of his middle and last name. Even if my name were Lucifer Satan, that doesn’t automatically make me a demon worshipper. Just like with all things fat, correlation does not equal causation.

    I do feel sorry for the Obamas. Everything they do and say will be under scrutiny with the media and paranoid racist asshats from now til November, and if they get in the White House. It’s scary to think many of these people hold jobs, raise children, and vote.

  34. think what people mean by “acceptable prejudice” is more that everyone can do it, and it’s funny and ok. 95% of the time if you make a fat joke everyone will laugh and you don’t gotta worry about being over heard…

    http://www.racialicious.com/2008/06/09/old-timer-racism-what-would-you-have-done-in-this-situation/

    Also, ponder how white people react when people of color bring up that maybe, just maybe, they have some white privilege and should address a manifestation of that.

    http://kateharding.net/2008/06/05/look-at-my-boobs/#comment-56829
    http://www.fatshionista.com/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=182&Itemid=9

    Urgh. And I still haven’t had a chance to make the longer comment on FJ’s post. Maybe after lunch. *crosses fingers*

  35. I read some of these aloud to Dan, including the one about having fried chicken and cornbread as your daily meal, and he said “hey, that doesn’t sound so bad.”

    That, and what you said after it, were totally going to be my comment, too. OH NOES WE’LL ALL HAVE TO EAT SOUL FOOD. Are these assholes even listening to themselves? (A: Of course not. And of course you’re exactly right that it’s an example of someone saying something racist just for the sake of being racist. My problem is looking for internal logic in this shit.)

  36. I think what people mean by “acceptable prejudice” is more that everyone can do it, and it’s funny and ok. 95% of the time if you make a fat joke everyone will laugh and you don’t gotta worry about being over heard…

    Right… and in some social circles, you can’t do that with racist jokes. But in a lot of social circles, you still can. Hell, my own family still makes racist jokes and laugh about them. (And when I speak up, I’m being a wet blanket and over PC). That was FJ’s point with this post… just because your friends wouldn’t laugh at racist jokes or make overtly racist statements, doesn’t mean nobody would.

    Of course, whether it is socially acceptable to use slurs and make jokes is only one part of prejudice. It’s really not a marker of how much that prejudice still goes on in society and we shouldn’t try to make it one.

  37. What a pack of morans. Jocks do the fist-bumping stuff all the time. Even some macho business types do it. In the midwest, where I live, nobody even thinks of it as a racial thing, much less gang banger stuff.

  38. My fervent wish for our world is that one day we could have a strong presidential candidate who is fat; black, Asian, or of Spanish descent; a lesbian; neo-pagan (or heck, agnostic or even atheist); with a pet pit bull that has his CGC; and missing a limb… and have NONE of those issues come up during the election process, and have this person either win or lose entirely on whether or not people think she’d be a good prez.

    I wish I could say I’m surprised people are stooping to such lows and acting as if it matters one whit politically what freakin color this guy is, either for good or ill. I’m pretty much tempted not to vote in this election. Think I’ll go have a coffee that day instead. I’d like to think once, just once, we could have a campaign that doesn’t involve shit-slinging by the politics monkeys. Honestly, if you are a presidential candidate, I don’t give a rat’s patootie about what you think of the other guy, or what your stupid party thinks of the other guy (I hate the Dems policies and Repubs policies with equal fervor). I just care who you are and what you wanna do as a president. You just tell me that, and I’ll use my own little lump of gray matter to figure out whether or not I want you in my White House, mmmkay?

    Sigh. This is why I try to avoid talking politics. I’m probably going to get it now… I always end up saying the wrong thing… I do NOT have popular views… but darnit, that is how I feel.

  39. Becky I know, I was just saying as a devil’s advocate side… believe me my mother’s side of the family thinks it’s hilarious. Just saying as a general public rule(with few exceptions) you’d be viewed as an arcane moron with more mouth then brains. Again most as I’m sure the “Safe Crackers” sports bar(Umm no I’m not kidding) you can probably drop racial slurs every other word and no one would bat an eyelash… Most people think of prejudice in regards to polite society…

    Which of course racism is still there, but it’s thinly veiled.

    SugarLeigh, I agree and disagree…. I think it just flat out shouldn’t matter… But it does to alot of people. I don’t like the dirty campaigning either, it leaves me feeling dirty at the end of the day. I don’t think the ends justify the means and everytime I see a candiate slinging mud I want to cringe and I lose a great deal of respect for him. Especially when it’s personal. I can see saying “This is So-and-so’s policy and well that’s messed up. This is mine” type deal that is politics but personal attacks on family, race, gender, sexuality, religion etc etc leave me feeling irritated as well.

    But don’t let it detour you from voting! It’s one of the greatest rights we have in our country, I firmly believe that. If you don’t voice your opinion you let people make the decisions for you….

  40. I’m having a hard time figuring out my reaction to those racist comments. On the one hand I’m disgusted; on the other my ego is (I hate to say it) puffed up because I feel like my friends and I are clearly more intelligent than and therefore superior to the racists with the bad spelling; and on the other hand, I’m thinking… Oh my word, what if this is the thing that makes those nuts start just killing people?

    Also, I know nearly everyone here knows this, but I think it’s worth saying over and over and over again that what makes the Obamas’ dap acceptable is not that the first bump has been co-opted by white people enough to render it non-scary by removing its association with blackness. I mean, if white America breathes a collective sigh of relief based on the fact that preppy white frat boys and Ivy League schools totally bump fists too, like, all the time… well, shit.

  41. Great post FJ, esp this last line

    Virulent prejudice — racism, sexism, homophobia, fatphobia, transphobia, ablism, stop me any time — is more socially acceptable across the board than many of us could ever imagine, or would ever want to imagine.

    Yes. I really believe none of us can truly be free, while one of us is oppressed. Ignoring forms of oppression because they make us uncomfortable helps no one. We have to face our own internal prejudices and deal with them.

    A friend of mine commented it’s a lot easier to say “I’m not racist” than “I’m working on my racism.” Admitting you have internalized prejudices is an important step towards dealing with them. I know I have internalized many oppressive messages. Working on dealing with them isn’t fun, but not getting rid of them is worse

  42. Maybe it’s just me, but I thought the fist bump was cute. I’m not even a fan of Obama, but when I saw that picture I said “Aw, a husband and wife fist bumping each other, how cute.” The racism that’s bubbling to the surface because of that picture is appalling.

  43. Let’s not pretend that progressives are immune from racism, though. They may know better than to talk about watermelon and fried chicken, but I have seen some incredibly racist things from people who considered themselves totally progressive and not-at-all racist.

  44. What Emily said.

    Also, I think perhaps when people talk about “last acceptable…” they’re talking about “acceptable among people who otherwise claim to be progressive.”

    I think most of us accept that there is a very large contingent of people in the US (not to mention the rest of the world) who are virulently racist. I don’t think anyone would claim that overt racism doesn’t exist, nor would they claim that covert racism doesn’t exist, even outside of the Usual Suspects.

    But I think what folks are getting at with that claim is more the idea that we all know the environmentally conscious, gay-marriage supporting, Darfur-orphan-rallying uber-crunchy progressive who nonetheless sees not a damned thing wrong with haranguing someone based on his or her weight. It’s an especially common phenomenon among young progressives.

    In my experience, the problem is twofold:

    1. Some people understand that Bigotry Is Bad, but only think it applies to specifically protected and publicized categories of people. Someone who would never dream of using a racial slur, for instance, sees nothing wrong with telling jokes about “midgets” because they’ve never been specifically taught that little people are discriminated against.

    2. Some people insist they’re not a bigot, because Bigotry Is Bad, but have learned so little beyond that that they have no clue how bigoted they really are. This is the kind of person who will say, “I’m not a homophobe, but…” It’s quite unfashionable to be a bigot, and heaven forbid one accuse one of these mindless twits of such (I’ve actually been told that I’m being a bigot for calling someone on their bigotry! Gah!) But they have very narrow definitions of what constitutes bigotry (most of which come down to things like violence and denying someone a job.)

    And of course, we also have folks in that latter category who insist up and down that they’re not bigoted because they personally have never actually attacked someone in a protected category, but who see nothing wrong (and certainly nothing bigoted!) about voting for people and policies that reinforce institutionalized bigotry. I unfortunately know a couple of those myself. One tells me all about how supportive she is of same-sex marriage but then insists it’s far more important for her to vote Republican because (terrorists! taxes! tigers! oh, my!)

    Anyway, my point (which I am getting to, really!) is that I think most thinking, educated people understand that certain types of bigotry are bad and to be avoided, but because the media coverage of bigotry has been so limited to just a few kinds, and has very rarely gone into specifics, we’ve all just kind of gotten this idea that we only have to fight off Nazis and the KKK and that’s it.

    It’s easy for people to stand up and rail against the banjo-pickin’ Amurrika First stereotype. It’s far harder for each of us to look at ourselves and figure out where our own prejudices and bigotry lie, and to call ourselves and our friends on those things when we must.

  45. Can we please dump use of the word retarded (or ‘retarted’ as spelled above) for comedy effect? Ablism is also really unattractive.

  46. Dear Tal,
    *daps at you*

    Dear Curvygirl,
    Good call on reminding us to not use “retarded”

    Dear Emily H
    So true on the non fun awkwardness of racism among progressives.

    Dear Becky
    Good point that “being able to make jokes about X group without a glare” is not a good measure of oppression.

  47. Yesterday at work I overheard the administrator of my office share with my supervisor that her only hope is that Senator Obama would be assassinated. And I wonder two things:

    1. Does her dislike of him have anything to do with his policy? or is it with his supposed religious beliefs and skin color?

    2. Would she ever wish that a white nominee would be assassinated?

    I’m very sad by her comment. It wasn’t meant for my ears, but I should have responded. My children are black and they deserve a mom who will stand up for what’s right.

  48. Yeah, and until I was diagnosed with Asperger’s, I didn’t realize how big a problem “curebie-ism” is out there regarding those of us on the “spectrum.” On paper, progs might feel “sympathy” for those “poor kids with autism,” but there’s absolutely no nuance to it, it’s all about “how do we find a cure so the kids can be, or at least act, neurotypical?” rather than, “how can we help them make progress and alleviate their pain in a society that’s hostile to them?” There’s also very recognition that there’s vastly different degrees of actual disability in people “on the spectrum”; it’s more like a 0-100 neurotypicality scale rather than “you are aspie/autie or you aren’t.”

    Even though I keep on with the idea that we have to convince more people that fat isn’t a choice — and I still do believe that’s a crucial step — it won’t be enough, Because after getting people to agree that conscious control over people’s weight (whether by individual action or collective action) is very limited, the next step will undoubtedly become “finding a cure” for those poor, beleaguered fatties.

  49. Two things: Yes! One of the things that makes me crazy when people try to distinguish between racism and fatphobia–sorry, “concern for people’s health”–by saying that “black people can’t help being black”. WTF? So…if they could, then it would be right to harass them? The hell? That point of view is supposed to be NOT racist?

    Other thing: Slightly off topic, but raised by Fat Angie’s comments: I once attended a function at my university’s women’s center. I was a member of an all-female a cappella group that was singing there, and after we performed we were invited to mingle and whatnot. I sat down with a group of women from the center (mostly undergraduates, but a couple of grad students and a women’s health advocate–all of whom worked at the center) to do a little mingling, and out of nowhere the whole group launched into a truly venomous tirade about Republicans, Libertarians, and anybody who liked anything about President Bush. What should’ve been a great chance to get to know some really committed advocates for women turned into one of the most alienating experiences of my life. They just assumed that because I gave a shit about women’s rights, I was in full agreement with their particular assemblage of political opinions.

    People can be really glib and cruel about social, economic, and political beliefs without really understanding them. I’m relatively new to politics at large and social justice in particular, so I may be the lady who doth protest too much. It’s difficult, however, as a not-Democrat, not to be offended by Meowser’s comment, “If you hang around liberals a lot, and live in a basically “blue” area, it’s easy to forget…”–seeing an implication that if you don’t, it’s racism central.

  50. Meowser: Even though I keep on with the idea that we have to convince more people that fat isn’t a choice — and I still do believe that’s a crucial step — it won’t be enough, Because after getting people to agree that conscious control over people’s weight (whether by individual action or collective action) is very limited, the next step will undoubtedly become “finding a cure” for those poor, beleaguered fatties.

    But if they succeeded, and the treatment was cheap, easy, and low-risk, wouldn’t that simply negate the basis of your argument by making fat a conscious decision? Unless, of course, the basis for your argument is not the basis for your belief

    I am reminded of gay rights. A lot of it focused on how being gay is not a choice, but when I was hearing about it as a fairly young child, I thought, well, shouldn’t it be ok even if it is a choice?

  51. Medea: I cannot believe that you are using the comments here to try to claim oppression based on your choice of a political party.

  52. Alice: Cures for anything are rarely “cheap, easy, and low-risk.” Even if people claim otherwise. I suppose if there were an “anti-fat” pill that were as cheap and easy and safe and accessible for most people to take as, say, aspirin, that would open up a pretty huge can o’ worms. But then, even aspirin isn’t tolerated by everyone.

  53. Elusis– I’m sorry I left you with that impression. I’m not saying I’m oppressed based on my political opinions (which aren’t party-affiliated, incidentally); this isn’t about me personally at all.

    It’s just that it’s hard to listen to a person’s message when they’re being (varying degrees of) vile about something not particularly relevant to their point. It’s difficult begin learning about (and perhaps converting to) other political/social/economic ideas when their advocates are making virulent assumptions about you, your ideas, your friends, and your actions.

    Fillyjonk avoided that beautifully in this post; but I can see how Meowser’s comment would (unintentionally, of course) have that effect–particularly if you’ve been sensitize to it by having people give you a hard time about it over and over in the past.

  54. Also, Medea: No, not all liberal/progressive types are “Democrats.” But in a “blue” area, even the non-Democrats (including libertarians, and even some Republicans) tend to be much more liberal on social issues than people in “predominantly red” areas.

  55. Obviously this wouldn’t happen any time soon, but hypotheticals, even implausible or far off ones, can put things in sharper relief if the implications are considered. That is largely the basis of “serious” science fiction. So, admitting up front that this is an overtly sci-fi scenario, what do you think of the resulting “can o’ worms?”

    What this thought experiment tells me is that social arguments that would become completely irrelevant after one plausible, if extremely unlikely, medical breakthrough cannot be counted on. “They can’t help it” might not always be true, and is ultimately dishonest to the cause. For me, FA is about the idea that people shouldn’t have their moral worth calculated based on superficial traits, or even many non-superficial traits. As such, whether or not they chose to be that way is largely besides the point, because if we decide that it is acceptable for someone to be a certain way, presumably that should include people who elected for it, if it really is all that superficial, which fat is.

  56. Also: Having lived in “red” areas, being a “blue” person — and also having a mother who is “blue” and has lived in “red” areas for a long time — I’m NOT down with the “Fuck the South” stuff at all. It’s not so much that most people in “red” areas are overt racists, I don’t think that’s the case at all. It’s more that the overt racists tend to cluster in red areas.

    Which is not to say they don’t exist in blue areas, either. I just heard some guy go on an extended rant on the streetcar the other say about how his nephew can’t get a fast-food job because they told him “we have to hire Mexicans,” and…well, you probably don’t want to hear the rest of it. I found myself fervently wishing for some “cool” thing to say that would get him to change his mind (without inciting him to stab me in the neck for it, which he seemed like he probably would have).

    And I think I was pretty clear that “overt” snark certainly isn’t everything. Are people who say it out loud more prejudiced than people who don’t? No way to know for sure, really.

  57. Alice: As for me, no, I don’t think anyone should be “required” to take any “cure” for anything, even if it’s supposed to be “safe and cheap.” But then, I also think it’s ridiculous to make women wear tons of makeup and nylons and heels to work in order to look “professional” when men don’t have to do it. So maybe I’m the wrong person to ask about what the prevailing view of an “aspirin cure” for fat would be.

  58. Alice, I agree that it’s irrelevant whether people can choose to be fat or thin (or gay or straight or black or white or whatever). But the argument that we can’t choose is sometimes effective in getting people to stop, think, and look at fat people as people rather than stereotypes. Once they’re at that point, then we can work on convincing them that it doesn’t actually matter whether we chose or not, or meet the stereotype or no, we deserve to be treated with respect regardless. But unfortunately, just starting out with: “all people deserve to be treated with respect” just doesn’t work very well. I wish it did.

  59. “It’s easy for people to stand up and rail against the banjo-pickin’ Amurrika First stereotype. It’s far harder for each of us to look at ourselves and figure out where our own prejudices and bigotry lie, and to call ourselves and our friends on those things when we must.”

    Comment of the Day, anyone?

  60. “Are people who say it out loud more prejudiced than people who don’t?”

    Not necessarily by any means.

    As I’ve said sufficient times on this blog that I’m sure lots of people are sick of reading it, institutional ****isms are insidious, frequently invisible as acts (although not as impact) and therefore much more difficult to call out and combat.

    I like my prejudice right out front where I can see it.

  61. Maybe the difference lies in that while there is still racism, it’s widely accepted as a prejudice, and the societal mores dictate it isn’t right. Even if there are parts of society that participate in it, the mainstream at least *says* it’s wrong. And it’s a standard word in the language, a concept that is widely recognized and accepted as existing, whether or not you think it’s right or wrong.

    Most people haven’t even heard the terms “sizeism” or “fatphobia.” Or they laugh the terms off, saying it’s just a bunch of lazy fatties who don’t want to change whining that the rest of the world won’t stop and let them be their obviously lazy and smelly fat selves. In fact, my computer doesn’t recognize them as words, as red squiggly lines appeared under each of them.

    And once I used the word on a forum and someone replied with “the fact that someone made up the word ‘fatphobia’ is sign of the problems in our society.” Basically meaning that the problem isn’t people being fatphobic, but that the fatties complaining and calling people out on their prejudice are causing all the trouble. I guess that’s what I get for using an imdb message board, lol.

  62. Also, I’ve gotta be frank. I don’t feel bad for people who claim oppression for being Republicans. Because, wah wah, it happens to both ends of the spectrum at some point in time.

    The past 8 years have been spent trying to make “liberal” a dirty word. When I lived in Georgia, people would say to me “you’re a liberal aren’t you?” (with condescension) and with my response of “you’re goddamn right I am” the basic tone of any conversation would be that my opinion simply didn’t mean anything because I was, after all, just a liberal. This was in casual, mixed conversation, not at any politically or cause-driven event.

    (And Meowser, that wasn’t a “fuck the south” comment. I lived in GA for five years, and while I didn’t particularly enjoy it, I’m not lumping everyone together. This is what actually happened to me, and frequently.)

  63. I snicker a bit whenever anyone mentions a “last acceptable” prejudice because I’ve heard about a dozen things described that way, including “persecution” of Christians in American and “bigotry” against rich, white guys with really great jobs.

    Here’s a website about a form of prejudice I’m betting most of us rarely think of:

    http://www.albinism.org/about.html

    Interesting, no?

  64. That last quote, about the food just made me cross-eyed. How could someone be so freaking ignorant to say that.

  65. Alice I just read that article you linked to, I find it ironic when someone who is Albino said, “They think we’re lucky, we’re not.” Yeah…I wouldn’t associate being on someone’s kill list with luck. What is with people?

  66. I don’t know for sure if the comment about whining about being oppressed for one’s political views was directed at me or not, but my response to “red vs. blue areas” and “Michael Savage/Rush Limbaugh listeners” was a once bitten/twice shy reaction for me. I don’t think that I’m “opressed” in any way- I’m not being banned, I’m not doing anything that should be offensive, I’m just taking issue with the idea that conservative = racist, and I thought that I did so in a respectful manner that did not connote whininess. If it did, this was not my intention and I sincerely apologize to all of you if it seemed that way.

  67. Not just you. I don’t really have sympathy for anyone who claims it, since we’ve all been there.

    I had the red state blues as a red state blue for 5 years – the same 5 years during which the government and pundits tried to make “liberal” a dirty word.

    I moved, and there’s some combination of living in a liberal city (*sigh* I heart NY) and a shift in the general climate of the country where it rarely if ever happens to me. And I’m over it.

  68. Okay, I just want to say that I have done approximately one million daps in the last two days. The celebrity host at an event snubbed my coworker, giving her an open hand instead of knuckles (my theory was that he thought “oh shit, black person doing a black thing, I better tread carefully here”) so as she got drunker she insisted on more and more daps from everyone. It was extremely hilarious and it made me think of this post and y’all. Glad to see that conversation was meaty in my absence!

    Alice, totally agreed on the “shouldn’t it be okay even if it is a choice” thing; if fat rights play out anything like gay rights did, the “people can’t help it anyway” point will be a stepping stone, moving people away from the rhetoric of sinful choices and giving them room to consider whether the thing is really inherently wrong.

  69. Southern fried chicken, black-eyed peas, corn bread, and watermelon sounds damn fine to me. I wonder if any of these losers actually realise that “world dignitaries” aren’t all white American men? I’m sure Bazza will get on just fine with people like Nelson Mandela, Ban Ki-Moon, Angela Merkel, Michaëlle Jean, Quentin Bryce & many many more

    Hanging out with sane people sure can insulate you from some of the worst of the world.I only recently figured out about watermelon-eater being an insult, I mean, wtf?? And I was totally taken aback when someone used “kike” as a real honest-to-god intended insult on a message board. I mean, isn’t that like, quaint history?

  70. Sure don’t want to be an Albino in Africa, thank goodness the people here don’t hunt fatties for good luck body parts. The witchhunt is thankfully only psychological/mental. :)

  71. Sure are some ignorant folks out there! The only thing different about most liberals in blue areas is that they learn to hide it. I’d say, also, that homophobia is quite popular, not hidden, even in CA, judging by how fast a ballot initiative against gay marriage is happening.

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