On being fat and liking creators who have done anti-fat material

making-of-fat-bastard

I love some of Tina Fey’s work. But she tells fat jokes, including a sketch where she appeared in a fat suit.

I love The Simpsons, but soooo many fat jokes.

By far my favorite MCU work is Jessica Jones, which had a nasty fat joke in the first episode.

I love some of the Austin Powers movies, but the fat jokes (and the fat suit) – ugh. The worst of the worst.

Bill Murray apparently makes more fat jokes on screen than any other actor, but I will love Groundhog Day until I die and then i hope they bury me with a video player playing Groundhog Day on infinite loop.

I love Evan Dorkin’s “Eltingville Club” – it’s brilliant cartooning, and a great satire of the darkest side of fandom – but it’s a trashfire of cruel fat jokes, and in the early installments, at least, it doesn’t read like Dorkin sees a problem with that.

In the TV show Maya and Marty, Martin Short wears a fat suit for a sketch full of “fat people are gross” jokes at least once per episode. That won’t stop a liberal site like Vox from loving it – they won’t even find that worth noting.

I love love love the show Grace and Frankie, created by Marta Kaufman, who also created the fat-joke-filled sitcom Friends. (To tell you the truth, I like Friends, too, although it did so much so wrong.)

I’m a big Joss Whedon fan, especially of Buffy. Hey, remember this travesty of a fat suit from Buffy? It’s nearly the only time any fat character has appeared in a Whedon production.

I could go on, and on, and on, and on. Honestly, comedy is so saturated with anti-fat ideology that you can pretty much safely assume that everyone in comedy has done it. And entertainment as a whole is only a little better.

So do I think we should all stop watching works by these creators and more? No.

I’m not willing to harm myself by refusing to watch entertainment by people who have made or participated in anti-fat jokes. If other people want to cut these folks and a zillion others out of their entertainment menu, that’s fine, but I’m not going to do that. Nor do I think others should do it; nor do I think that thin people are bad allies if they enjoy works by creators who have made anti-fat jokes.

I don’t think Tina Fey and Joss Whedon and all these other folks are bad people. Or that they hate fat people. I think they come from a society in which anti-fat beliefs are the norm, and that’s reflected in their work.

I’m all for criticizing the anti-fat ideology in their work. But I’m not going to call them bad as people, and I’m not going to call anyone else bad as people for enjoying their work, and I’m not going to call myself a bad person for enjoying their work.

Posted in Fat, fat and more fat, Popular (and unpopular) culture | Leave a comment  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Empty Chairs At Empty Theaters Edition

  1. In praise of ambivalence—“young” feminism, gender identity, and free speech | Practical Ethics
    A post criticizing how leftists have responded to Alice Dreger and Germaine Greer. There’s some back-and-forth between me and the author in the comments.
  2. A discussion of the phrase “Not All Men,” again with me participating in the comments.
  3. A Feminist Defense of Cinderella
  4. Harrassment, Racism, & “Harmless Torturers”
    Also really interesting to think about in light of “what does it matter if I vote?” arguments.
  5. Trope Anatomy 101: Your Body Is Not Your Confession | The Book Smugglers
    Really good essay on how fat people are presented in media.
  6. The 2016 Hugo Awards: Two Weeks Out
    If the price tag isn’t too high and you’re interested in the Hugos, please don’t sit this year out. It’s okay if you haven’t read everything.
  7. Beyond Panic and Punishment: Brock Turner and the Left Response to Sexual Violence | Common Dreams
    Argues that calls for harsher jail sentences aren’t where the left should go.
  8. Ghostbusters Enjoys $46m Opening Weekend Entirely On Strength Of Guys From The Internet Sitting Alone In Empty Theaters With Their Phone Cameras
    Overall, it seems that Ghostbusters is neither a huge hit, nor a huge flop. Which is fine with me. I’m bugged by so many people being so eager to see this film flop, though.
  9. Zero Tolerance: Censored by the Left | Alice Domurat Dreger
    By “censorship,” Dreger means that a website declined to publish her article. Because that’s totally what censorship means. It’s not as if “Everyday Feminism” has a free speech right to choose what and what not to publish.
  10. Worthwhile Canadian Initiative: What’s wrong with Airbnb?
    ” Overall, it’s really hard to say whether the net impact of Airbnb is to reduce overall income and wealth inequality or increase it. To the extent that Airbnb diminishes the Hilton family fortune, while making it cheaper for tourists from Tulsa to visit New York city, it may actually reduce inequality in income and wealth.”
  11. Meet Dani Mathers: The Playboy Playmate From Hell – The Daily Beast
    She took a photo of an unwitting nude woman in the locker room and made fun of the woman’s body on snapchat.
  12. Sexual Harassment Is Invisible to Half the Population – Bloomberg View
    “If you rarely or never see sexual harassment, then it can be hard to believe a group that says that it’s really common and that legal redress is required.”
  13. Box Turtle Bulletin » Today In History: 1962: New York’s WBAI Radio Broadcasts Talk Show Featuring Eight Gay Men
  14. Firing Roger Ailes and exiling Milo Yiannopoulos isn’t going to fix much of anything — Quartz
  15. Matte Shot – a tribute to Golden Era special fx: THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY MATTE ART: Part Two
    The matte paintings used to create the city in Mary Poppins are especially beautiful.
  16. Ash’s Regency | Gerhard Art
    Cerebus background artist Gerhard’s stunning new drawing of the Regency Hotel’s back side.
  17. Urban Myth: Black Lives Matter Protests Kill Girl Waiting for Transplant in Memphis
    Snopes is on the case.
  18. Same-sex couple denied a birthday cake by local bakery
    I think the bakery owner honestly wants the drama. I AM MAKING A STAND!!!!!
  19. Anatomy of An Iconic Image: How this photograph of a protester in Baton Rouge could come to symbolize a movement – Salon.com
  20. Police, Prosecutors and Judges Rely on a Flawed $2 Drug Test That Puts Innocent People Behind Bars – ProPublica
  21. Spideyzine,” a 20-page Spiderman fan comic, is one of the best Spiderman comics I’ve ever read, and you can download it for free.
  22. Gamasutra – Opinion: Being sexy and not sexist – a look at Bayonetta and objectification
    Although this is about a character in a game, the discussion is applicable to fictional characters in general.
  23. Help Support a Harassment Victim | SINMANTYX
    Years ago, Chanty Binx was caught on camera yelling at MRAs. Years later, they are still harassing her. She’s crowdfunding to hire a lawyer.
  24. Why the new ‘Ghostbusters’ is Gamergate’s worst nightmare | The Daily Dot
  25. Google deletes artist’s blog, along with a decade of his work | Fusion
    Yes, it was foolish of him not to back up, but still.
  26. The case of the $629 Band-Aid — and what it reveals about American health care – Vox
  27. US Rep. Steve King preaches literal white supremacy on national television – Vox
  28. Who is this man who seems to die in every terrorist attack?
    The answer: He’s alive, not a victim of a terrorist attack, but several people he knows are engaging in an oddball revenge scheme.
  29. FBI: No Evidence That Orlando Shooter Was Gay : snopes.com
  30. Whole Health Source: Two huge new studies further undermine the “obesity paradox”
    I don’t think these studies are the be-all and end-all, but they’re interesting, and worth linking to because they contradict some of what I’ve argued in the past.
  31. In Memoriam: The VCR, 1956 – 2016 | ThinkProgress
  32. Distributors of Anti-Vax Film Are Trying to Keep an Autistic Rights Advocate From Criticizing It
  33. Woman Cosplays To Work To Beat Stupid Dress Code
  34. In 1995, Wal-Mart Got in Trouble for Pulling a T-Shirt Promising ‘Someday a Woman Will be PRESIDENT!’
  35. 6 Ways I Was Taught to Be a Good Fatty (And Why I Stopped) — Everyday Feminism

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RIP Jack Davis, December 2, 1924 – July 27, 2016

Jack Davis was one of the all-time great American cartoonists, and one of the best renderers ever to work for MAD. Here are some panels he drew in the earliest issues of MAD.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Comics I Like | Leave a comment  

Cartoon: Where Am I Supposed To Pee?

where-to-pee-teaser-image

My new cartoon, co-written with our own Grace, is now up at Everyday Feminism! Please check it out.

(If you enjoy cartoons like this, you can help me make them by supporting my Patreon.)

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Transsexual and Transgender related issues | 1 Comment  

I’m Asking You For A Peer-Reviewed Study Showing That A Typical Fat Person Can Become Sustainably Non-Fat Through Deliberate Weight-Loss

Fernando-Botero-Painting

Hi!

If you’ve been directed to this post, it’s probably because we’re discussing if there’s any practical, sustainable, healthy way for a typical fat person to choose to no longer be fat. As part of this discussion, I’ve asked you to refer me to peer-reviewed studies demonstrating that a typical fat person can become sustainably non-fat through deliberate effort (whether you call that a “diet” or a “lifestyle change”). Since so many people believe this to be indisputable fact, I don’t think it’s out of line of me to ask for good-quality evidence.

Let me explain what I’m not looking for. These are things that are not evidence that becoming and remaining non-fat is reasonably possible for a typical fat person.

NO ANECDOTES PLEASE

I’m not looking for anecdotes. I’m looking for peer-reviewed studies.

Obviously, thousands of fat people have become non-fat, perhaps including yourself. And that’s fine. I sincerely wish that all of those ex-fat-people find sustained happiness and health.

However, since millions of people diet and fail to become non-fat, that there are many such anecdotes of weight-loss doesn’t actually tell us anything about what would happen for a typical fat person. Your own personal experience (or that of people you know, or people you know of) may not be generally applicable.

SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF WEIGHT LOST

To count as evidence, a study would need to demonstrate that a majority of fat subjects were able to become so-called “normal” weight1 – that is, they’re no longer fat – through intentional weight-loss.

Most studies about weight loss have extremely forgiving standards of “success.” A study demonstrating that most fat subjects were able to lose 6 pounds or thereabouts isn’t what I’m looking for. Fat people are still fat even if we lost two to ten pounds. A study demonstrating that fat people can lose a few pounds doesn’t establish anything at all about if a typical fat person can become non-fat.2

See, for example, this study, which declares “research has shown that 20% of overweight individuals are successful at long-term weight loss when defined as losing at least 10% of initial body weight and maintaining the loss for at least 1 y. ” Well, I weigh 330 pounds. If I lost 10% of my weight, that would make me 297 pounds – which is to say, I’d still be fat.  (Also, a 20% success rate is not very impressive.)

WEIGHT LOSS WHICH LASTED AT LEAST FIVE YEARS

Another problem with that study I just quoted? “For at least 1 year” isn’t a very impressive claim, if we’re looking for evidence of sustained weight loss. I’m asking you for studies showing weight loss that’s maintained for at least five years, and a ten-year follow-up would be better.

This is important, because almost any weight-loss plan works for a few months or a year – which is the length of follow-up many, if not most, weight loss trials use. For the purpose of asking if sustainable weight loss is possible, it’s not meaningful unless the study can show the loss is sustained over the long term.

MOST PARTICIPANTS DIDN’T DROP OUT

I’ve seen a lot of studies claiming to show a successful weight-loss program – but when I look at the details, 75% of the study’s subjects dropped out before the study was complete. This is a problem because the people who drop out of a weight loss program are not a random selection – they are more likely to be the people who found the program wasn’t doing anything for them.

NOT A STUDY OF ONLY SUCCESSFUL DIETERS

Suppose I did a study of professional basketball players. My study shows that a typical NBA player exercises a lot and practices at basketball a lot. Therefore, I say, a typical person can become an NBA player by exercising a lot and practicing basketball a lot. That would be self-evidently ridiculous. The people who can successfully become NBA players are outliers; we can’t assume that a typical person who follows Lebron James’3 exercise and practice routine would experience James’ success.

Yet very often, when I ask for evidence that a typical fat person can stop being fat, people cite studies using data from The National Weight Control Registry. The NWCR “is a research study that includes people (18 years or older) who have lost at least 13.6 kg (30 lbs) of weight and kept it off for at least one year… On average, registry members have lost about 70 pounds and kept it off for five and a half years when joining the registry.”

In other words, to be part of the NWCR’s data, you must have already successfully lost weight. That might be a legitimate area of study – but it can’t tell us anything about whether a typical fat person is able to stop being fat.

PLEASE DON’T TELL ME ABOUT THERMODYNAMICS

That’s not a study, and not what I asked for.

Look at it this way – suppose I had asked you for an example of a spaceship that can successfully take living human beings to Venus and back. You might have many reasons, rooted in an understanding of physics, to believe that such a spaceship is definitely possible. But that’s not the same as demonstrating that such a ship has actually been built and successfully operated.

I’m not asking you for what’s possible in principle. I’m asking for documentation that there is a weight-loss approach that has been tried in the real world, and has been shown to successfully cause most fat people to stop being fat people, in a sustainable fashion.

Thanks for reading! Now that you’ve read all this – and thanks, sincerely, for your patience – I look forward to seeing your evidence.

Related reading:

  1. Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift | Nutrition Journal | Full Text
  2. Medicare’s Search for Effective Obesity Treatments: Diets Are Not the Answer [eScholarship]
  3. Miller, W. C. How effective are traditional dietary and exercise interventions for weight loss? Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 31, 1129-1134
  4. The science is in: exercise won’t help you lose much weight – Vox
  5. Diets do not work: The thin evidence that losing weight makes you healthier.
  6. Odds of a severely obese woman becoming “normal” weight: 1 in 677. For men, 1 in 1290. | Alas, a Blog
  7. Why the “war on fat” is a scam to peddle drugs – Salon.com
  8. The Case Against Weight-Loss Dieting | Alas, a Blog
  9. Do 95% of Dieters Really Fail? | Dances With Fat
  10. Seriously, Weight Loss Doesn’t Work | Dances With Fat
  11. Why Don’t You Like My Studies? | Dances With Fat
  12. Why Do Dieters Gain Their Weight Back? | Dances With Fat
  13. National Weight Control Registry – Skydiving Without a Chute | Dances With Fat
  14. The Fat Trap – The New York Times
  15. All diets work the same: poorly | Shapely Prose
  16. Calories In/Calories Out? Science Says No | Dances With Fat
  17. Why You Can’t Lose Weight on a Diet – The New York Times

Top image: painting by Fernando Botero.

  1. “Normal” weight, in most studies, refers to people with BMIs of between 18.5 and 24.9. I have issues with BMI, but for the narrow purposes of this post, I’ll accept that standard. []
  2. If you want to argue that losing those few pounds is nonetheless worthwhile, that’s fine; but that still doesn’t demonstrate that it’s possible for most fat people to stop being fat. []
  3. I know the name of a basketball player! []
Posted in Fat, fat and more fat | 50 Comments  

Friday Read! “Remembrance Is Something Like a House” by Will Ludwigsen

Remembrance Is Something Like a House” by Will Ludwigsen:

Cheniere_Caminada,_Louisiana_Ruined_House

Every day for three decades, the abandoned house strains against its galling anchors, hoping to pull free. It has waited thirty years for its pipes and pilings to finally decay so it can leave for Florida to find the Macek family.

Nobody in its Milford neighborhood will likely miss the house or even notice its absence; it has hidden for decades behind overgrown bushes, weeds, and legends. When they talk about the house at all, the neighbors whisper about the child killer who lived there long ago with his family: a wife and five children who never knew their father kept his rotting playmate in the crawlspace until the police came.

The house, however, knows the truth and wants to confess it, even if it has to crawl eight hundred miles.

Read here, or find an audio version here.

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Bigots Attack Melania Trump With Misogynistic, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Sex-Worker Comments

anger

I’m all for laughing at Melania Trump (or her speechwriters) plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s speech, but of course, there are a lot of awful people who have to ruin the fun with disgusting bigotry. Aaaargh.

GET OFF MY SIDE MISOGYNISTIC ASSHOLES!

Even if you don’t like Melania Trump, that’s no excuse. Attacks like these don’t just hurt the target; they hurt women, and immigrants, and sex workers. And mail order brides, for that matter. These people don’t deserve bigotry and free-floating contempt just because people don’t like Donald Trump.

I checked out a few of these accounts – some of these people have thousands of followers.

Most of these images I got from this Tumblr post compiling them. This tumblr user comments specifically on how many of the comments are insulting to sex workers.1 And Funereal-Disease comments:

“Leaving everything you know and marrying a foreigner you’ve never met out of economic desperation is hilarious and you should be punished for it.” Jesus, this is gross.

CW, obviously.

  1. I originally used the word “whores,” following the practice of many sex workers I’ve read – which was not smart thinking on my part, since I am not a sex worker. After responses in the comments, and after reading this post, I’ve edited the post to use “sex workers” instead. []
Posted in Elections and politics, Feminism, sexism, etc | 9 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Aged Typewriter Edition

typewriter-aged

  1. For My Son, In The Event That The Police Leave You Fatherless
  2. Confidential Informants – CBS News
    Police unfairly pressure kids in their late teens or early twenties to wear a wire, in some cases leading to the informant being murdered.
  3. Mortality inequality: The good news from a county-level approach
    “… the health of the next generation in the poorest areas of the US has improved significantly and the race gap has declined significantly. Underlying explanations include declines in the prevalence of smoking and improved nutrition, and a major cause is social policies that target the most disadvantaged.” I’m not sure how they established that last bit.
  4. Travesties in Criminal Justice That Are Mostly Ignored – The Atlantic
    “The criminal justice system is the part of society least affected by the Civil Rights Movement. 95 percent of all elected prosecutors in this country are white.”
  5. New study proves fetal tissue needed for research | Dr. Jen Gunter
    The title is a stretch, but she still makes some good points.
  6. Clarence Thomas Has His Own Constitution – The New Yorker
    “He is so convinced of the wisdom of his approach to the law that he rejects practically the whole canon of constitutional law. It’s an act of startling self-confidence, but a deeply isolating one as well.”
  7. New Jersey declares a state of emergency over its crummy roads – The Washington Post
    “…responsibility lies with the majority of people of New Jersey who don’t want to pay for one of the most basic amenities of modern society. In a democracy you get the roads you deserve.”
  8. Here’s How To Do Free Trade Right | Mother Jones
  9. The Typical College Student Is Not Who You Think It Is – The Atlantic
    Our cultural image of the typical college student is wildly unrepresentative.
  10. Abigail Fisher Isn’t an Asian American | Reappropriate
    “Justice Alito mentions white people only ten times in his fifty-one page dissent, and not once does he use the word in reference to Fisher herself. Yet the words ‘Asian American’ appear sixty-two times in his dissent. […] Asian Americans have become a proxy group for white Americans.”
  11. The Anti-Abortion Movement’s Fetal Imaginings
    Images of third-trimester fetuses, or even born babies, are used to discuss the vast majority of abortions – even though most happen in the first eight weeks.
  12. There are too many lawyers in politics. Here’s what to do about it. – Vox
  13. Military Ends Transgender Ban
    Hell yeah!
  14. Sexual harassment and public shaming in the academy | The Incidental Economist
    A case where public shaming might be an appropriate response.
  15. Federal Court: The Fourth Amendment Does Not Protect Your Home Computer | Electronic Frontier Foundation
  16. The Most Liable Place On Earth: Disney Faces Strong Tort Claim In Child’s Death | JONATHAN TURLEY
  17. Textbooks and the Civil Rights Movement – Lawyers, Guns & Money
    “We should replace this limited narrative, these scholars argue, with one of ‘The Long Civil Rights Movement,’ a national Black freedom struggle rooted in struggles of the 1930s and extended through the 1970s…”
  18. Massachusetts School Sued Over The Use of “Commonwealth” In Its Name | JONATHAN TURLEY
    For your rage-reading needs.
  19. Unfree Labor in American Seafood – Lawyers, Guns & Money
  20. The interesting thing that happened when Kansas cut taxes and California hiked them – The Washington Post
  21. Deriving evil, with reason
    “…if you wake up every morning to listen to right-wing talk radio, or Fox News, or to read Stormfront or white nationalist literature, the inputs to your mind are all skewed. Those outlets are committed to presenting a terrifying picture of the world, in which you, your family, your tribe, your race, your whole damn species is in peril.”
  22. This congresswoman wants the rich to take drug tests to get their tax breaks – Vox
  23. A Very Brief Timeline of the Bathroom Wars | Mother Jones
    “The culture war is one of our grandest achievements of the past half century.”
  24. New Obamacare Rule Prohibits Discrimination Against Transgender Patients
  25. Zootopia – A Physical Accessibility Near-Utopia – Scrappy Deviation
  26. Ex-Fox News Host Gretchen Carlson Sues Roger Ailes For Sexual Harassment
    Striking example of how even great career success and prestige aren’t proof against sexual harassment. UPDATE: Six More Women Allege Ailes Sexual Harassment — NYMag
  27. Hillary Clinton just borrowed Bernie Sanders’s big idea on college costs – Vox
    Another example of why it’s good for there to be a left-wing challenger in Democratic primaries.
  28. This dude freaking out over a chicken sandwich is a Men’s Rights Reddit thread come to life :: We Hunted The Mammoth
    Often when I read the ruder MRAs and cringe I think “well, I’m sure he wouldn’t act that way off the net.” Then I see a video like this… And you know, I hope he’s embarrassed by this video. I think his behavior deserves mockery. But I hope nobody doxxes him and then spends years harassing him.

whoisagoodboy

Posted in Link farms | 43 Comments  

Friday Read! “Useless Things” by Maureen McHugh

Useless Things” by Maureen McHugh:

Sleeping_baby_doll,_Musée_du_jouet_de_Colmar

I wake at night sometimes now, thinking someone is in my house. Abby sleeps on the other side of the bed, and Hudson sleeps on the floor. Where I live it is brutally dark at night, unless there’s a moon—no one wastes power on lights at night. My house is small, two bedrooms, a kitchen and a family room. I lean over and shake Hudson on the floor, wake him up. “Who’s here?” I whisper. Abby sits up, but neither of them hears anything. They pad down the hall with me into the dark front room, and I peer through the window into the shadowy back lot. I wait for them to bark.

Many a night, I don’t go back to sleep.

But the man at my door this morning weeds my garden and accepts my bowl of soup and some flour tortillas. He thanks me gravely. He picks up his phone, charging off my system, and shows me a photo of a woman and a child. “My wife and baby,” he says. I nod. I don’t particularly want to know about his wife and baby, but I can’t be rude.

I finish assembling the doll I am working on. I’ve painted her, assembled all the parts, and hand rooted all her hair. She is rather cuter than I like. Customers can mix and match parts off of my website—this face with the eye color of their choice, hands curled one way or another. A mix-and-match doll costs about what the migrant will make in two weeks. A few customers want custom dolls and send images to match. Add a zero to the cost.

I am dressing the doll when Abby leaps up, happily roo-rooing. I start, standing, and drop the doll dangling in my hand by one unshod foot.

It hits the floor head first with a thump, and the man gasps in horror.

“It’s a doll,” I say.

Read here.

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From “Am I Alive Today Because I’m White?”—An essay in progress

I am at work on an essay about white privilege that I am tentatively calling “Am I Alive Today Because I Am White?” It’s actually something I started trying to write about a year ago, after Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri by Darren Wilson, a white police officer and Eric Garner was essentially strangled by Officer Daniel Pantaleo and his colleagues. One of the things I am trying to write about is a troubling (to me at least) aspect of how some well-meaning white people talk about white privilege. These paragraphs-in-progress start to deal with that. They reference the now-moribund #CrimingWhileWhite hashtag that started in response to the killings of Brown and Garner, Tamir Rice and others, because part of the essay talks about why I ended up not writing what I was trying to write back then. Here are the paragraphs:

….I did not want to be one more voice in what was beginning to seem like a chorus of white voices expressing outrage without actually taking responsibility, without somehow holding myself accountable—though for what precisely was something I had a hard time putting my finger on. Better, I thought, to listen, learn, and wait to see if a moment presented itself when it would make sense for me to speak.

#CrimingWhileWhite at first seemed to be that opportunity. Here were white people telling our stories, albeit in much abbreviated form, in a conscious attempt to make visible, from our perspective, what it’s like to be on our side of this country’s racial dynamic. Still, the more I read through the Twitter stream, the more skeptical I became as to what the hashtag was actually accomplishing. I do not want in any way to diminish the importance of white people taking responsibility for how differently we are treated–or, and the difference is subtle but important, how we are treated differently–not just by the police, but by almost any sector of society through which we choose to move. Reading the #CrimingWhileWhite tweets made clear to me, however, in a way I had not understood before, the limitations of stopping there. It wasn’t just the way the Twitter stream devolved, as Twitter streams are wont to do, into self-indulgent irony, name calling, attempted hijackings, tit-for-tat argument, accusation and more; it was rather the way that even those tweets which had very obviously been posted in the original spirit of the hashtag seemed neither to connect to anything larger than themselves nor to cohere into the collective truth-speaking I think the hashtag was intended to facilitate.

I don’t want to make the mistake of expecting tweets to be more than they can be. Twitter’s 140-character limit will put a serious crimp in anyone’s attempt to be more subtle and nuanced than a soundbite. Indeed, that limitation is very likely why the overwheling majority of the tweets I read focused attention not on the interior experience of being white, of what it feels like to have your life shaped by your own whiteness, but rather on the experience the white people who wrote the tweets had of being treated more professionally, politely, leniently, casually by the police because they were white. How, in other words, the police officers in question responded to the surface of whiteness. It was as if the authors of those tweets were trying to hold up these manifestations of white privilege as a mirror in which they hoped other white people would see ourselves, recognize the privilege we all shared, and be motivated by the obvious unfairness of having such privilege in the first place to begin the work of substantive change.

Ironically, though—or so it seemed to me—the #CrimingWhileWhite focus on the outward manifestations of white privilege, important as it was (and is), had precisely the opposite effect. The more I read, the more the hashtag seemed to function not so differently from white privilege itself, or at least its more liberal version, deflecting attention away from what is at stake for white people in being white and pointing instead towards a definition of fairness in which white privilege–though of course we wouldn’t call it “white” anymore–would be extended to everyone. To put it another way, to the extent that white people’s call to end white privilege remains merely a call to end the unfairness of that privilege, then all we are really calling for is the now-discredited ideal of the “color blind society,” one in which citizens somehow “do not see” skin color when dealing with people of other races or ethnicities.

Posted in Race, racism and related issues | Leave a comment