No doubt you have heard or have thought that the fat community is predominantly white, female, middle class, etc. I have often wondered why that is and how best to change it. No Lose began this process and started by having three very important and uncomfortable workshops. The first was for People of Color or POC only. The second was for white allies. The third was for everybody. I personally participated in the second and third workshops. (The following is from the No Lose conference page.)
Fuck Inclusivity, We Want Power: Building Fat POC Power, Part One People of Color (POC) do powerful Fat Activist work that needs to be supported, cultivated, and fostered in a variety of ways. One of our biggest obstacles is challenging structural racism and white supremacy within Fat Activist campaigns and organizing. Too often, when POC speak out about racism within our Fat Activist circles, we are told that we are being “too angry,” “too sensitive,” or “divisive.” We are left wondering what to do with our anger when the same mistakes are made over and over again. We are left trying to undo the white supremacy that undervalues the work that we do while consistently giving voice to those who can’t or won’t recognize their white privilege. This is what happens when we focus our energy on trying to be “included” in a Fat Activist framework that doesn’t know how to recognize and cultivate the power of People of Color. The goal of this workshop is to shift the conversation about race in Fat Activism from one about how predominantly white Fat Activists campaigns aren’t inclusive enough, to one about building power by and for Fat People of Color.
Uncomfortable Conversations: Learning How to Talk About the Hard Shit for anti-racist and white allies as a counterpart to the POC-only session of “Fuck Inclusivity.” Participants are encouraged to attend the second part of “Fuck Inclusivity” on Saturday to do further strategizing work around fat politics and race. Building on recent conversations in our movement about race, let’s come together to openly discuss our privileges and strengthen our community. Bring yourself, your fears and guilt, along with your hopes and dreams for our community. We will practice our communication skillz and learn from each other about: how to “fuck up well;” how to wield our white privilege responsibly, and without guilt and shame; how to raise questions effectively when we witness questionable behavior; how to ask ourselves critical questions about our activism that reduce the likelihood of alienating our allies.
Fuck Inclusivity, We Want Power: Part Two
Yes, there were some, many, very difficult and uncomfortable conversations, but they were very necessary! I realized that I myself am privileged to live in a very ethnically diverse area. There are things I had never thought of or considered until interacting with others from various parts of the US and Canada. I realized that my go-to response (pointing and saying “That’s racist, don’t say that!”) when hearing racist shit doesn’t help anyone. I am working on educating myself further and finding better strategies to engage in these kinds of conversations in my daily life. I want to help the people in my life see that racism hurts everyone, because it does.
Conversations around privilege are always tough, but they are also always necessary. We’re simply not talking enough about it and people are still insisting they have none or it doesn’t exist (privilege). As a community we need to engage and reach out with this in mind. By just having things open to everyone, we can actually be excluding people and that is not going to help anyone, but especially not our movement.
A Facebook group was brought up several times in these workshops and so I thought I would share the link here with you:
Anti-Racist Resource Group for Size Activists: https://www.facebook.com/groups/wardg/
About: “This is a group to further and continue our learning and understanding about intentional and unintentional racism, systemic, and interpersonal racism and their effects on our activism. This is a great place to share resources and learn from each other. This space is intended as a place for white people and people with white privilege to work on our privilege & racism. Please respect the expectation that what is said here stays here.”