Monday, March 1, 2010

No Fat is not the same as Nigger

But apparently the folks at Huffington Post have decided that Fat is indeed the new Nigger.

I have to say that as a person that bears the weight of both of those words on his shoulders let me assure that they are not the same.

As a man of color, specifically a man of African decent, I know what its like to have someone use my heritage as a basis for attack. Now I think it is worth mentioning that while this word can be used to refer to a person of any race (Dictionary.com) this word is most prominently used as a way to insult, attack, and harm those of African decent. To attack a person's race is one of the deepest wounds that can be inflicted. The fact that even though it is not as used anywhere near as openly and commonly as it once was it still extremely damaging and painful (or perhaps it is still extremely damaging and painful because it is not used as openly and commonly). Such hatred doesn't do anyone any good.

As a fat man I what it is like to have the shape and size of my body used as a basis for attack. To be teased, attacked, humiliated, and berated simply because one does not meet a set of arbitrary limitations on body size and shape is painful. Such commentary doesn't seem to reach that far back into the past but let me tell that it is alive and kicking today and there are a lot of people out there that ready, willing, and able to use it.

Both are painful. Both do damage. Both can cause a person to internalize a sense of self hatred over their race or body size/shape. However they are not the same thing. And its not because one is worse than the other. Yes you can go on about how one has a longer and more offensive history than the other but allow me to inform you that when either of those two words are used (against me at least) I'm not thinking about which one hurts more all I'm thinking about is that they simply hurt.

Ultimately I think this is the result of someone trying to sound hip and politically correct. I mentioned awhile back that trying to do so can easily not go as well as you intended. They recognize that the word fat and the hatred that comes along with it being used in such a way is hurtful to a lot of people. But I think they got so caught up in the desire to call attention to this that they didn't realize what they were really saying. I'm not trying to excuse their behavior, just trying to figure out where is came from (because unless we flesh out what causes this behavior how are we supposed to confront and eventually eliminate it).
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