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So It Begins —

March 22, 2012
by

Well, it’s official, I’m a racist.

Marianne Kirby and Rachel Adams have both officially designated me as such.

I have no words for this.

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65 Comments leave one →
  1. Kala permalink
    March 22, 2012 5:39 pm

    Of course you are Shannon. You asked them to remove incorrect insinuations about you, given a misunderstanding. But NOLOSE is just so sure that their worldview is crystal clear and accurate, that any fundamental disagreement with them means that you are somehow intolerant and supportive of oppression.

    I have to say, I did tell you this would happen.

    And it looks like all their ass-kissing groupies are well on their way to each writing some kind of blog post to attempt to discredit you and slander you as a racist.

    “That’s what Shannon Atchka is doing. Atchka is calling out Julia Starkey because she dared to say something critical about Stand4Kids – the fat acceptance response to the Georgia campaign.”

    What planet do these morons live on? And I’m serious, when I say that these vocal activists are morons. The only way this kind of reaction is warranted, is from absurdly overly-sensitive idiots that not only lack fully formed logically reasoning skills, but also have a total lack of empathy for people who are not like them. You don’t communicate in their language, you don’t present your views on the same platter than they do, so of course they’re misinterpreted and you are continued to be slandered. I honestly expect these kinds of mental gymnastics when it comes to reasoning, from Tea Partiers, so of course it’s always extra disappointing when it comes from a more liberally-minded group.

  2. March 22, 2012 5:57 pm

    You designated yourself, sugar. We just said it out loud.
    Xo
    Rachel

    • Kala permalink
      March 22, 2012 8:36 pm

      Yes Rachel. You and yours are the definitive judge and jury on privilege and racism. Clearly your interpretation of the issues is the only valid one, making the descriptors you use totally necessary and valid. What a load of crap.

      • Kala permalink
        March 22, 2012 8:42 pm

        And to elaborate. I think it’s so disgustingly pompous to see how this group of armchair social justice academics really think that they are the end all, be all judges about this issue. That myself, and people like me, who are also progressives who care deeply about social justice, that our view that Shannon is clearly not a racist is 100% invalid. Yet when NOLOSE members say that he is, well that’s not even an opinion, it’s some sort of observation of the natural world.

  3. vesta44 permalink
    March 22, 2012 6:30 pm

    Shannon, don’t you realize by now that what you did wrong was completely ignore the fact that all those fat kids in Georgia were not only white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Native, Jewish, and every combination thereof, they were also straight/gay/lesbian/bi/transgendered and you shouldn’t have tried to do this on your own? You should have said that you didn’t have the knowledge or the skills to help fat kids of any demographic at all, ever, and should have called on NoLose to run the campaign (/sarcasm).

    • March 22, 2012 7:08 pm

      Vesta, what happened with you? I used to respect you.

      • vesta44 permalink
        March 22, 2012 7:51 pm

        Marianne, what happened with me is seeing all the in-fighting and name-calling over something that has been blown completely out of proportion. Everyone is pissed because Shannon told a POC to join the party when he didn’t even know she was a POC!!!!! But no one is remembering that, all they are remembering is that he told a POC he was flying by the seat of his pants, didn’t know what was being done about including POC on the ISTAND project, which wasn’t his, he was a volunteer, but if she had any ideas, she was welcome to join in. But he’s a racist asshole because he told someone, who he didn’t know was a POC, she was welcome to help with diversity and inclusion. Yeah, that’s really fair. You can take your respect, I don’t need it or want it, I have all the respect I need from people who really matter to me, who have really been there for me, who have really helped me in my journey to accept myself just as I am.
        You said you couldn’t help fight CHOA/S4L because you had other things going on in your life that were more important. Well, I had a lot of things going on in my life that were important too – I’m still trying to replace that doctor I fired last year, I’m trying to get my medication worked out for my thyroid that was removed last year, I have physical therapy I’m doing 3 times a day to improve the strength in my knees so I can delay replacing them, plus everything else I have to do to take care of a house, pets, and a husband while being disabled. But somehow, I managed to work in a bit of activism against CHOA/S4L (until they banned me from their Facebook page). Oh yeah, and I’m doing all of this while battling depression too. But ending fat oppression is important enough to me that I’ll work it in somewhere, somehow. So again, I don’t need your respect, I know I’m doing everything I can, even if it’s not perfect, even if it’s not enough for other people.

        • March 22, 2012 8:09 pm

          Hell to the yes! Face it. The fat blogging world isn’t “run” by a small group of extremely vocal bloggers anymore. It’s run by average people who DON’T all think the same way.

        • bronwenofhindscroft permalink
          March 22, 2012 10:19 pm

          Don’t confuse the issue with facts. They don’t want to hear it.

          For the past few days, when I’ve not been combating rampant misogamy in one place, I’ve been calling for people to remember that what is written about Shannon is wrong. I’ve been avoiding stating that it’s an outright lie, but the way that people have been responding, I’m no longer willing to give the benefit of the doubt on this.

          If, as they claim, it’s not about Shannon, then there should not the the calling Shannon a racist now, AND it shouldn’t be so difficult to amend the NOLOSE letter to take out the part that indicates that Shannon knew Julia is a POC when he responded almost 2 months ago.

          And yeah, if this was SUCH a HUGE issue, why *did* it take almost two months for this letter to be written and published? The timing on this is VERY suspect.

  4. March 22, 2012 6:45 pm

    Rachel, I think that what really pisses me off about as much as bigotry is white people who decide they get to choose who and who is not doing the most about racism.

    I had mixed feelings about the NOLOSE letter because I do respect what POC have to say about their experiences.

    But now we have is just white people posturing. Shannon’s work has genuinely made a difference and he was willing to go where a lot of people were not. His work is making a difference in people who truly are not privileged, people who live in poor neighborhoods and go to poor schools and deal with food insecurity and unemployment and other real problems, and yes, people of color.

    He may have not done it perfectly and he may have expressed frustration when he’s leading the charge and no one stands behind him. WHITE ALLY-SHIP IS NOT ABOUT WHITE FOLKS GETTING TO PICK AND CHOOSE WHO IS AND IS NOT RACIST.

    Both yours and Marianne’s blog entries today have made me wonder if I really have time or energy to put up with yet another set of liberals who just can’t seem to contribute, but are perfectly happy to sit back and criticize. Shannon did more in this fight than anyone I know. He gave a lot. Then instead of being told, good job, he was taken to task. Who wouldn’t be shocked and upset This constant desire on the left to turn on its own is exactly why I no longer call myself a liberal or a feminist, even if I share some of their concerns.

    Oh, and feminists complain all the time about how men don’t show their feelings. Shannon expressed his hurt and frustration and all the white feminists have done has been to use the words “disgusting” and “whining.” Isn’t telling a boy that he is whining when he expresses emotions one of the ways gendered behavior gets taught in the first place.

    I had hope that we might learn something from the NOLOSE letter. I wanted to take it in before responding publicly because I believe in listening instead of just reacting. I know Shannon is struggling with what he could have done differently. I’ve been trying to be reflective and measured in my response to the issues raised. The dimensions of gender, race and class are important to me.

    But I will not sit by and let the reputation of someone who is sincerely trying to DO (you know doing is the very definition of ACTIVISM) something instead of posturing. So, how about instead of throwing words around, you try a little compassion and then do something about racism instead of calling someone else racist, especially someone whose actions are, in fact, improving the lives of POC.

    If you were working on the project, you should know better. He spent 3 months of his life working hard without pay. His “undercover” work in getting the Strong 4 Life people to make fools of themselves and reveal their real motives was freaking brilliant. He took risks and he made progress. He inspired others to do so as well.

    I’ve been where Shannon is right now with this movement. I’ve put my heart, soul and resources into projects to have no one show up and have people second-guess me later. In fact, I’ve paid and are still paying high prices for this. I know of dozens of people who just don’t try anymore. They have hung in for as long as they could but the implosion of projects from within took its toll and now they have gone on to more sustainable activities. This movement is hurt because they have been run off.

    The devolution of this conversation in the past few days to Shannon-bashing is really more than I can take. If this is where the movement is going, I’m going elsewhere.

    • March 22, 2012 7:08 pm

      Are you SERIOUSLY saying I have contributed nothing to the movement?

      Excuse me.

      *dies laughing*

      • March 22, 2012 7:22 pm

        No, Marianne, I’m saying you didn’t work on the Strong4Life campaign and he did. You had your reasons. I respect them, but deciding Shannon was racist after he worked so hard, and more importantly, calling him out in the manner you did is a typical white response to racism. It doesn’t help.

        I’m saying you are hurting the fat movement now and the only reason I can think of that you’d want to do that is to show off what a good white ally you are.

        It smacks of an age-old practice in white circles. “I’m a better white savior than you are.”

        Taking my comments out of context, btw, and throwing up such a strawman is a perfect example of derailing.

        If you want to teach about anti-racism, this is not the way to do it. If someone says they are struggling with the concepts and you want to help, then do what ghastly femme did above. Provide resources. Talk with the person. But you’ve decided to write him off in spite of the good he’s done and I don’t respect that at all.

        I am saying writing a blog post about who is and is not racist is not anti-racism. (I don’t even like calling people like Glen Beck racist because I think it is better to point out behavior than call names.)

        I used to respect you and now I see you’ve just decided to sit in judgement on anyone and everyone who doesn’t agree with you. So I ask you, what happened to you?

        • Kala permalink
          March 22, 2012 8:24 pm

          Pattie, you’ve articulated feelings I’ve had that I have had no patience to bother wording out myself. So thank you.

        • March 22, 2012 8:37 pm

          Pattie Thomas, don’t you get it? Liberal feminists are perfectly educated and compassionate people who can’t be prejudiced ever! You big, Republican meanie you!

          Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. Anyway, I’m in the same boat. I identify with feminism the principle, but I all but despise the modern feminist movement, and I feel the same way about progressivism. They don’t represent “the people” anymore.

      • March 22, 2012 8:01 pm

        White contributors on XO Jane: Hannah, Emily, Lesley, Marianne, Craig, Cat, Avory, s.e., Sarah, Rachel, Jessica, Eric, Alison, Julieann, Emily V.,Julieanne, Mary Jane, Sara B., Brittany, Sue, Madeline, Kayt, Molly, Elliot, Somer
        Black contributors on XO Jane: Erica and Bassey
        (unsure – Julie and Noah)
        True, it’s not an activist organization, but there is an Issues page. I found that interesting.
        *Informal survey of contributors listed on the first page of each section, about ten articles down.

        • March 27, 2012 9:34 am

          I missed this comment somehow. Astute observations, Karen.

          Peace,
          Shannon

  5. Ghastly Femme permalink
    March 22, 2012 6:55 pm

    I would like to suggest that you check out Tim Wise as a beginning to understanding these issues. While certainly not an authority, being a white cis gender man, he may be able to break things down in a way that is more relatable to your specific issues. Then perhaps you’ll be ready to interact with POC without being clueless. The FAQ section on this site is a great jumping off point. I particularly like:

    9. I read somewhere that you had admitted to being a white supremacist. What did you mean?

    My “admission” of white supremacy is far less interesting than some have made it seem. A year or so ago I was asked during a radio show whether I was a racist/white supremacist, and I answered yes, because — as I note above — all of us have internalized aspects of racist thinking thanks to years of conditioning in that regard. I felt it would be dishonest to deny this conditioning, which is something liberal and left whites often do, by denying that we have “a racist bone in our bodies.” So I told the truth. Unfortunately, because of the way we sometimes hear and interpret the terms, “racism” and “white supremacy,” some who learn of this “confession” assume I am admitting to being a closet skinhead, or that I don’t really oppose the system of white supremacy, as I claim. This assumption is false.

    I admit that AS IS TRUE WITH ANY WHITE PERSON raised in a racist/white supremacist society, I have internalized certain racist and white supremacist thoughts/beliefs/norms, etc.

    • kokoba permalink
      March 23, 2012 11:53 am

      Thanks for liking to Tim Wise. It seems kind of patronizing and awful to hear a white cisgendered male lecture about race relations, but he’s a good and helpful speaker. I hope people take the time to give his words a perusal.

  6. Cam permalink
    March 22, 2012 7:39 pm

    You aren’t a racist because they said so…. You are a racist because you are a white person in America who participates and benefits from systematic racism and oppression. Period.

    • March 22, 2012 7:45 pm

      Yep. That. That is, in fact, what I meant to say but was too overcome with the sheer absurdity of how this issue has evolved to find those words.

    • March 22, 2012 7:58 pm

      This is misleading. Whites are privileged whether they are racist or not because of their skin color. Bigotry is a choice. So is ignorance. But being “a racist” goes beyond simply benefiting from the system. It is an attitude and a set of actions. “Racism” is different from “racist”.

      A couple of sources that could help: http://firstpersonpluralweb.com/White%20Privilege.pdf and http://www.slcan.org/whiteness_handouts.pdf

      There are a lot of white people who work actively to end racism either directly or indirectly. They are not racist, but they do benefit from racism and white supremacy. It is an important distinction. As a white person, I do not negate my privilege by simply declaring I don’t mean to be racist. I must recognize my privileges and work towards changing a system.

      My objection to the recent events is that there is very little “I” thinking and a lot of “you” statements happening. Posturing isn’t going to help. Neither is picking and choosing what work counts and what doesn’t. We don’t all have to approach problems the same way or have the same style. We are all learning and we can all improve. But the two articles referred to in this post are accusatory, misleading and, to put it plainly, mean-spirited. Such things don’t improve race relations or human relations. We crossed a line today and it has made me angry and sad.

    • Queenie permalink
      March 22, 2012 10:13 pm

      ok, I don’t usually comment here, but that is way too stupid to let go. you’re seriously calling everyone who is white in america a racist? i can’t even find the words to articulate how fucking stupid you sound. so basically you’re all about the poor oppressed people of color because they were born black, but you’re calling me a racist because i was born white?

      go fuck yourself.

        • March 22, 2012 10:52 pm

          I wrote about this above but for some damn reason my comment is “awaiting moderation” (probably because I linked to two .pdf files). Cam, the problem with your statement is that you are confusing two ideas.

          A racist in the way it has been used today is a person who practices racism in their personal attitudes. Even the article you quote makes a distinction between benefiting as a white person from institutionalized racism and white privilege. Recognizing, marking and working to eliminate that privilege is the work white folks should do in anti-racism.

          All white people benefit from racism in the United States, but not all white people are racists. The point of this distinction is not to accuse all white people of being racists. It is make them aware of the problem. Your language shuts down conversations and defeats the whole purpose of making this distinction.

          • Cam permalink
            March 22, 2012 11:06 pm

            Hi Pattie,

            I hear what you are saying. I personally am not interested in always making conversations about racial privilege and racism easier for white people to stomach. These are not easy conversations. Why should we feel coddled in them?

            Maybe if we are trying to create safe spaces for learning and making mistakes, but the series of completely violent and disgusting blog posts on this website are not very conducive to that.

      • Cam permalink
        March 22, 2012 10:58 pm

        Also, I am white. And I know that I am racist. I am working towards anti-racism, but I definitely benefit from being a white person in our society.

        Yes, you are a racist because you were born white. And because you were socialized as a white person. And you receive the benefits of our racist society. Even if you are poor (though you also experience classism), even if you are LGBQ (though you experience heterosexism), even if you are an immigrant (though you experience xenophobia), even if you are diff/dis-abled (though you experience ableism), even if you are transgender (though you experience transmisogyny, transphobia, and cissexism). And even if you are fat and experience sizeism.

        Racism is not just a mean act or a slur. It is not just lynching, or a burned cross. Most white people like to believe that being a racist is the same thing as being a white supremacist. Or the same thing as being a bad person.

        Racism is embedded in every institution in our government. It is taught to us from the earliest age. It is insidious. And as long as we only identify racism and racist behavior as being overt and intentional, it wil continue to exist.

        Intersectionality is important because it helps us realize that we are all affected by systematic oppression.

        I’m sure that my incredibly stupid words (how you so eloquently described them, Queenie) will fall on deaf ears, and that’s fine. I hope that somebody learned something, though.

      • March 22, 2012 10:58 pm

        Oh man. I typed a ridiculously long reply to you and then wordpress ate it. So this is slightly less eloquent, but here we go.

        Anyway, this is some 101 level shit but I’ll bite.

        All white people in America are racist. ‘Tis true. No matter how good/liberal your upbringing. Power + privilege = racism.

        When you are white in America, you get certain benefits inherently, no matter what you do, no matter how much you don’t want them, no matter how many black/asian/hispanic friends you have. These benefits – privilege – are sometimes hard to see, particularly if you are marginalized in other ways (fat, poor, female, queer, etc.), but they exist.

        And simply by existing and benefiting from the supremacy of white skin in America, you are co-signing and inherently racist system and are, in fact, participating in that racist culture. Your participation in white supremacy may be overt (like getting a bunch of skinhead tattoos and calling people the n-word) or it may be more subtle (like never worrying about being harassed/hurt by the police or being able to freely wander in and out of expensive stores without being given the once over). Even those more subtle methods of exercising your white supremacy in a racist culture hurt POC.

        That makes all white people in America racists. It makes me a racist. It makes Shannon a racist.

        If being called a racist makes you angry, it might be a good moment to sit back and think about why that makes you feel angry and to begin to learn about why we are saying that. Start by reading blogs from POC that deal with racism. Start by listening.

        I would recommend this beautifully written piece about the murder of Trayvon Martin as a start as she lays out in heartwrenching detail a lot of the shit sandwich POC in the US have to eat that white folks don’t even know about.

        http://blacksnob.com/snob_blog/2012/3/20/no-apologizes-on-the-killing-of-trayvon-martin-and-being-goo.html

        • March 22, 2012 11:53 pm

          Being called a “racist” doesn’t make me angry, it makes me frustrated. These nuances are important because if we are to overcome this we must understand that racism and privilege are NOT a matter of attitude, but a matter of historical and social systems.

          Yes, every white person in America does benefit from racism. Yes, every white person in America has internalized racist practices and attitudes by being reared in this culture. This is an uncomfortable fact of life and if racism is to change, white folks need to confront this fact. If we leave this on the level of intent (“you ARE a racisT”) rather than at a systemic level (“you receive privileges from racisM” “you have internalized “racisM”), then we will never confront the nature of the problem because we will be bogged down in the kinds of conversations that have been occurring: “No, I’m not!” “Yes, you are!”

          I am not making this distinction because I want a more comfortable conversation. In my opinion, this IS the more comfortable conversation. White folks get to feel all proud of themselves because once again they get to pick the label. Bickering about white people are and are not is an easy and safe game and we get to remain the center of attention.

          I am making this distinction because we need to examine the system and our part in it as white folks.

          I do not believe it is accurate or helpful to call myself a racist, but I do believe it is helpful to understand the extent to which racist attitudes and practices have been internalized by me and to mark them and change them when I discover them. But this is no where near enough.

          The work that needs to be done does not end with making a white person change his or her mind. That is truly arrogant. We white folks are going to fix things by admitting them. Big fucking deal.

          We have deeply ingrained systems of racism that need to be marked and removed. Doing this is the really uncomfortable work. Every person that lives in the United Stares owes whatever material goods they have to slave labor and native land resources. All wealth of this country derives from that history. Until we are willing to figure out how to right that wrong, we live with a growing cancer that will ruin us. The poverty that Africa faces today is directly related to this history, so we owe Africa as well. European imperialism throughout the world has taken from non-whites and benefited whites. Fundamental changes in economics, politics and societies need to be made to clean up this mess. But this is an inconvenient truth and so many white folks settle for “changes in attitudes” and pat themselves on the back.

          I don’t want to avoid the hard conversations. I want to get to those conversations. And what’s been going on in the fat community the past few days and more generally on the left is window-dressing designed to make liberal whites feel good about themselves.

          So, please, don’t condescend to me with the hurt-feelings argument. I don’t care about who is offended. I care about truth and about justice. Equating the actions of Nazis and KKK members with all white people is not going to cut it. There is a difference and it is an important difference because it is true, not because it is comfortable.

          BTW, I also care about actions over talk and that is why I have a problem with how Shannon has been treated in the specific case. The campaign he helped defeat with tireless dedication and sacrifice was racist to the core. Most of his critiques could have done something more to help out and they chose not to do so.

          My first reaction to the NOLOSE letter was that it raised an important issue about the fat community activism, but I wish they would have picked another example. But I didn’t and still don’t believe the correct response to complaints by women of color would be to tell them what they should and should not be doing. So I didn’t make public comment. They picked the one they did and the issue has been raised. My response must now be to listen and to do some soul-searching and to think about what could be done differently in the future.

          What I really hate is all this white posturing that has broken out in the past day or two. I am way more angry about the above blog entries and their support than the original letter. I think what happened today is a couple of white feminists hijacked some real concerns expressed by POC and decided to go on their own vendetta. I’m going to have a hard time forgiving or forgetting that.

          • March 22, 2012 11:57 pm

            “critics,” not “critiques” == where’s the damn edit button when you need it?

          • faycinacroud permalink
            March 23, 2012 1:26 pm

            I have nothing to add to this. I agree with you.

  7. romham permalink
    March 22, 2012 7:46 pm

    Y’know, you’re not the only one who has done work on this campaign, but you’re one of the only people (aside from some of your commenters) i’ve seen creating and perpetuating this story about how you’re being singled out and specifically targeted instead of being critiqued on a seeming inability to look at some of the deeper issues the NOLoSE POC Caucus raised in their letter to white fat activistS <—-note the plural.

    Although i knew little of it, i got in on the campaign early, in large part because i knew from personal experience that disabled bodies like mine would hardly if at all be represented. Then i started doing some of the editing work (i.e. editing the backgrounds to make them ready for the templates). Plenty of us have worked on it. Plenty of us could have spoken up. Plenty of us have lots to learn. Plenty of us are included in that letter. But the ONLY person who is DIRECTLY EXPLICITLY named is Marilyn Wann. Not you. Yet you prefer to scan the document searching for any tidbits connecting you specifically. Why? What is in it for you to find yourself named-yet-clearly-unnamed deep between the lines? Aren't we white fat activists all included? Haven't many of us done the same shit?

    You're not a special case, you are simply one more white person seemingly uninterested in dealing with their privilege (and quite willing to hold people hostage over it i.e. i'm-holding-my-breath-and-not-doing-anything-else-until-people-agree-with-me! Does that usually work for you?). Anyways, you're not the only one. Get in line buddy. Get in line, because it's long and been winding its way round blocks for centuries. If you choose to continue to only see yourself being called out in that letter, go for it, but there is a whole other world out there of people trying to recognize their place in this racist system and trying to do better, taking the gifts that are given to us in the form of callouts and using them to do better, dusting ourselves off and working towards the kinds of communities we keep saying we want.

    • March 22, 2012 8:02 pm

      Read the whole story before you speak — Shannon WAS called out in that letter and the fact that they didn’t name him is either a genuine mistake or a ploy, but in any case, it doesn’t negate the fact that the authors used him as their whipping post.

      Also, others may have worked hard on this campaign, but Shannon was the first to really do much against it and he should be praised for that, not given this much shit.

      Calling him out on this is like telling the kid who defended himself that he started the fight because it wasn’t a fight until he fought back.

      • romham permalink
        March 22, 2012 8:15 pm

        i HAVE read the whole story, more than was necessary in fact. i know what he’s saying, i’ve read all the posts surrounding this, seen his behaviour on the facebook allies group, other posts about this issue, and on this blog. i don’t need more information, i simply disagree with his conclusions.

        • March 22, 2012 8:25 pm

          I will take your word on what you have and have not read, but I don’t think you “simply disagreed.”

          You have drawn some pretty rough conclusions about a person who I see as honestly grappling with what this all means. I will grant you that Shannon’s style is rough at times, but his honesty is refreshing in a world that likes to sugarcoat things. I think he will learn a lot more from this whole fiasco than his accusers.

          Perhaps, if you like you say, this was aimed at everyone working on the campaign, you might share with him what you are learning about white privilege instead of calling him out. Maybe we could have a real conversation somewhere about the campaign and what it needs to improve.

          But, of course, it is way easier to posture and accuse than to do the hard work.

          • romham permalink
            March 22, 2012 10:51 pm

            wow, you really have missed so much of what has happened. Time and time and time again people attempted to reach out to him, and time and again he brought everything back to his own specific concerns. im done here and done being told that because i disagree with this guy that that must mean ive somehow not given him a fair shake LOL.

        • bronwenofhindscroft permalink
          March 23, 2012 2:21 am

          Yeah. The facebook allies group, which is extremely problematic, in that the name of the group was stated to be issue ridden, by somebody of the demographic the facebook ally group was trying to … protect, is that right?

          The “ally” group was set up, as white only space, to protect the POC from the effects of our whiteness as we were angsting over how terrible it is to be white in this culture.

          And nobody sees the issue with this, right? Am I the only one who sees the irony here?

          I seriously had an issue with that idea even before I read the comments of a POC who stated she did not like the term “ally”, as it has more to do with white people claiming status than it had to do with really working on the inherent racism in the system.

          I mean, seriously. You (and by “you” I mean all of Shannon’s detractors here) call him arrogant, and yet you insist on naming a group by a name a POC stated was extremely problematic, AND you infantilize other people by saying they need to be protected from our whiteness.

          If that’s not arrogance, I don’t know what is.

          If that’s not epically acting out exactly what we should be fighting against, and exactly what you claim Shannon is doing, you know, white people doing their own thing in the name of POC, then I don’t know what is.

          Check your judgement by the door, until you can get that plank out of your own eye, why don’t you?

          • romham permalink
            March 23, 2012 4:27 am

            Wow. You have seriously misunderstood and are it seems intentionally misrepresenting the entire point of the group and the process in general. i’m done here. Good luck with whatever it is you’re doing.

  8. March 22, 2012 8:06 pm

    I have multiple disprivileges. Not just in how I identify, but in my economic/social station in life. I saw liberals as my ally. I used to identify as a progressive liberal until I joined the liberal blogging world. Within months, I abandoned progressivism wholesale and started identifying as moderate/conservative.

    There is genuine racism, sexist, and other forms of prejudice out there. At the same time, I feel that people use that as an excuse to shut down discussions they don’t agree with. Words mean something. They mean something specific. Just because you don’t get something you want, and you happen to be a numerical minority, does not mean you can claim that the person who denied you is ___ist. Having to deal with people who disagree with you isn’t a form of oppression. It’s life. And when you overuse powerful words such as ‘racist,’ they lose all meaning.

    Another thing that I’m getting sick of is the popular liberal notion of diversity. Many of them (NOT all of them) seem to assume that the whole world has the social dynamics of wealthy, white nations. I no longer count most liberal spaces as safe because of this. They tend to assume that, because being “white,” male, and Protestant (because there are no other Christians out there, and they’re all the same anyway) is a privilege in America that it’s a privilege everywhere. Well, that’s not necessarily true in my background or my family’s home country, so you can get off your high horse.

    Oh, and by the way, I hate the term POC. Some people of color are considered by population researchers to be Caucasian. Likewise, “looking white” does not meant you actually are white, nor does it mean you are Anglo-Saxon. To erase ethnicity and culture to that degree strikes me as extremely racist. No one’s perfect, but for people who claim to be so culturally sensitive, and who attack people the way Atchka is being attacked now, this is inexcusable.

    What it comes down to is liberals can be prejudiced, too, sometimes far more so than conservatives. Some of these people would do well to admit that instead of doing what they always accuse other people of doing-derailing.

    Anyway, I support you, Atchka, and I’m sick to death of everything turning into a blowout. We don’t all agree. We’re not always going to agree. You need to just let go of some things.

  9. March 22, 2012 11:13 pm

    Well, I don’t know what to say other than I’m shocked, but I’m going to give this a try. This has turned from helping fat people overcome seemingly endless prejudice, into a battle over who’s the most racist. I think it would benefit everyone if we got back to helping all fat people.

    I understand people were hurt, but you can’t blame Shannon for not knowing what he didn’t know. What is happening right now, isn’t doing good for anyone. Shannon did not intend to be racist, he didn’t go out of his way to insult the POC community, it was an accident.

    So really, you’re going to call anyone, even someone who unknowingly didn’t treat a POC with kid gloves a racist? Did you consider it might be racist, to suggest people who are POC must be treated in a “special” way? I have a mental disability, and I know how it feels to be infantilized by people. In a round about way, aren’t you suggesting POC can’t handle things on their own, and us nice white people should always be their to hold their hand and guide them? Wouldn’t that make you racist then?

    • faycinacroud permalink
      March 23, 2012 1:30 pm

      You make a lot of sense. I also have mental health issues and I despise being treated as if I am a stupid child.
      Saying something out of ignorance is not the same thing as making a racist assertion with deliberate intent. I honestly did not see the original post in question but it seems to me that there has been a huge misunderstanding.

  10. March 22, 2012 11:21 pm

    You know Shannon, this is exactly what I was talking about in the comments at Marianne’s post. People have criticisms. Your response to these criticisms could be “Sorry, I could have handled that better, here is how I plan to address/am already addressing these criticisms.” Or it could be “I don’t think it is really an issue.”

    Instead you are acting like a petulant child trying to convince their parents they didn’t break a vase. (That no one even directly accused you of breaking.) You complain about misrepresentation, you complain about how other people treat you. Where is your responsibility here? is there nothing you could have done better?

    In my time as a blogger I had a lot of trouble with saying stuff that was ableist, and other things. And I learned that when someone bring something to my attention all I have to say is “Sorry, i’ll try harder.”

    Non-Troll people don’t criticize a movement, or a person because they hate it, or want to victimize it, or disrespect it, or for any other reason. It’s not about vilifying. Criticism, like what NOLOSE said about racism as an issue in FA, isn’t a condemnation. It’s an opportunity for all of us to grow and see how we can improve.

    As long as you see any critical words as an “attack” you will never be able to grow as a person. And I’m only taking the time to type this out because I believe that you are capable of that growth.

    • bronwenofhindscroft permalink
      March 23, 2012 2:04 am

      It is extremely unfair to ask him, “Is there nothing you could have done better?”, when, in fact, he has asked, over and over, in a few different forums, “Please help me understand what I could have done better.”

      And been told, “We’re not going to give you the answers.”

      At one point, he was specifically told, “There’s NOTHING you could have done differently.”

      So, really? You are going to put on him that he should be talking about what he could have done better, when he’s been told there’s nothing he could have done differently (yes, I know, those are two different words, but if he’d done something differently, maybe it would have had a better outcome).

      Y’all have put him in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t position.

      • March 23, 2012 9:00 am

        There is a whole vast internet out there to provide information. Lots of people have written lots of stuff on this topic. The topic of diversity and racial issues in small activist communities has been TALKED TO DEATH already. It is annoying to have to go over this again and again every time someone can’t be arsed to do a little reading.

        And it’s possible there was very little he can do. We do live in a racist society, but no one is saying that is his fault. They are saying it something to be aware of, to fight against, not to dismiss and then get all petulant when someone points it out.

        • bronwenofhindscroft permalink
          March 23, 2012 11:48 am

          So, every time somebody who is new to the idea that “we live in a society where every white person benefits from racism,whether they believe it or not, whether they consciously act on it or not” and who’s not even thought about what they can do to reduce their contributions to privilege is going to be told, “There is a whole vast internet out there”?

          I understand people feel that everybody should just *know* all this shit, but it comes down to expecting people to be psychic and knowing what they haven’t been told is codependent as hell.

          “And it’s possible there was very little he can do.” So, we’ll put somebody into a no-win place, call him on racism and apply it wasn’t just unconcious but rather outright, and then tell him there’s most likely nothing else he could have done.

          Rock>Shannon<Hard place.

          Yup. But of course, he should never be upset or outraged that he's accused of doing something, where it's let be implied that he did something so much worse, yet HE'S not supposed to get defensive about it.

          Have I summed it up correctly?

          And you don't see how this might have contributed to the fail that has been happening for the last few days. Not at all? Really. 0.o

          • bronwenofhindscroft permalink
            March 23, 2012 11:49 am

            *apply should be imply

      • March 23, 2012 9:01 am

        Also, I”m telling him right now, the thing that he could have done the most better was to not get defensive about it.

        • bronwenofhindscroft permalink
          March 23, 2012 11:42 am

          So, the thing he could most have done better is not be human. Gotcha.

          Somehow, I don’t think that’s a reasonable request to make. YMMV.

  11. March 23, 2012 10:19 am

    Shinobi, it’s difficult not to be defensive in this situation, especially when he was blind-sided like that. Twice, that has happened to me. I was lied about then ostracized by persons who had more power. No one in those circles believed my side of the story. Except for one friend who basically said, “yeah, you’re screwed by this.” I was devastated and withdrew totally, and it took time to move past the betrayal I felt.

    • faycinacroud permalink
      March 23, 2012 1:32 pm

      It’s happened to me too, and looking back at the situation, yes, I could have handled it more maturely. But at the moment I was feeling attacked and thus acted defensively.

  12. March 23, 2012 11:50 am

    Oral Communications 101: Use clear rhetoric that respects your audience.

    You all know that the word ‘racist’ is inflammatory to most people in our culture. To willingly use such vile rhetoric and then hide behind a variant of the “OMG I DIDN’T MEANT I THAT WAY!!!” strategy is beyond sad and hypocritical, not to mention disingenuous.

    Not everyone knows, uses, or cares about your highly specialized, obscure, politically motivated definition of the word ‘racist.’ Your use of it is offensive to many, including those you are trying to help.

    Face it. Not everyone agrees with the college-educated, hyper-liberal viewpoint that permeates the fat blogging world. Not everyone uses the same language, and we don’t have to. Unless you seriously want to insinuate that only college educated, privileged liberals are qualified to do anything, and the poor oppressed rubes should just accept it because that’s what’s best?

    You don’t rule the fat blogging world anymore. Get over it.

  13. lifeonfats permalink
    March 23, 2012 7:09 pm

    I as a POC shouldn’t have to ask to become part of this community. I jumped in with both barrels and was instantly accepted. I don’t need people like Marianne and Rachel to treat me like I’m an ignored child needing acceptance. They can take your patronizing and shove it where the sun don’t shine. Part of their problem is they apparently don’t talk to the very same people they’re vigorously trying to defend. Just like anti-obesity groups don’t talk to fat people to ask about their experiences.

    I know racism when I see it and hear it. Shannon is not a racist.

    Part of me wonder if this public attack is more jealousy and resentment. A white male decided to become a fat blogger. He got a group of other bloggers to join him in his activism. He doesn’t walk on eggshells with his posts. He got noticed with his efforts to bring down Strong4Life. And now the so-called “queens of the Fatosphere” aren’t getting the attention they once did so they try to be big and bad and become popular again by starting a viral witch hunt.

    Well ladies, congratulations, you’re making a name for yourselves once again. You must feel so proud of yourselves. Personally, I think you’re nothing but a bunch of immature mean girls who need a crowd telling you how wonderful and right you are. Joanna DW is right, you don’t rule the fat blogging world anymore. Get the hell over yourselves and deal with it. Now there’s some 101 for you.

    • March 23, 2012 7:32 pm

      Marry me. Please! Lol, I have noticed this trend since 2008 and I was terrified to join the fight because of it. Now I see that I’m not alone and I have no problem telling them to fuck off.

      And by the way, I used to respect the need to include people, and I still do. But now, when I hear the terms ‘racist,’ ‘sexist,’ etc. I almost want to laugh. They have lost all meaning and they have become shorthand for ‘anything that hurts my little feelings.’

    • March 23, 2012 7:37 pm

      I don’t care if you’re Caucasian, African-American, Asian-American, Native-American, non-American or from outer space; I fucking love you for saying this. The idea that bloggers should presume to speak for people whose race they don’t share has always seemed pretty insulting to me. You can, of course, always have an opinion, but when one’s opinion runs directly into the face of someone’s real life experience, one’s opinion should probably shut the fuck up. That’s how my world works, anyway.

      • lifeonfats permalink
        March 23, 2012 7:52 pm

        Exactly.

        And we’re always going to need advocates in society. But good advocates know how to help the people they are working with and for by not patronizing them and treating them like they don’t know the situations they’re going through, and publicly attacking those that choose not to join in on the patronizing.

      • Marilyn permalink
        March 24, 2012 3:27 am

        I’m furious about this whole thing. I think Shannon is doing a great job of bringing this campaign to an end. He’s educating people. There is one race, the human race. We need to stop dividing ourselves. My boyfriend who has a lot more coloring in his skin than I never calls himself black, African American or a person of color. He has jokingly said that all people are people of color. He should know. He’s in a field where he’s in the only “Black”. It has never been an issue in his career.

    • March 23, 2012 9:46 pm

      Thank you lifeonfats for speaking out. 101 indeed.

  14. March 23, 2012 9:12 pm

    BTW I just read the comments on the Rotund post “Dear White Fat People” and someone actually said that FFF is made up of a bunch of women tht only follow Atchka because he is an aggressive loud man. The obvious implication being that we are weak-minded and crave domination.

    Massive sexist fail douchebag. Oh and by the way not all of us are women. I’m a fat queer thanks.:)

    • March 23, 2012 9:17 pm

      Are you fucking serious? Are you serious right now.

      I am so angry I’m shaking.

      FUCK YOU, MARIANNE KIRBY. FUCK. YOU.

      • March 23, 2012 9:26 pm

        No lie. Someone actuall said that.

        To be fair, it wasn’t Marianne but she seems to approve of that sentiment and that’s just as bad.

        • March 23, 2012 9:29 pm

          She still allowed it to be posted.

          I gotta step back or I am going to have a fucking meltdown. And I refuse to let those stupid [insert derogatory term here]s do that to me. They’re worse than anything they profess to champion.

          • March 23, 2012 9:40 pm

            Oh I agree. There’s no excuse for it to even be on there. Don’t you just love the s&m overtones? Big bad man leading women around? Charming ladies.

        • drpattiethomas permalink
          March 23, 2012 9:40 pm

          She literally approved the comment to be posted. My understanding is that she moderates. I would have considered such an assertion trolling and would not have let it through. So yeah, I’m holding Marianne accountable.

          • March 23, 2012 9:49 pm

            No arguments here. I’m as repulsed as you are and I’m sure there are others that feel that same way but have’nt posted it publically. I wonder if she’ll take responsibility or if she will just try to say it’s not her problem because she didn’t actually make the comment.

    • March 23, 2012 9:49 pm

      Oh and I told my husband 20 minutes ago that I was being described as weak woman who only listens to men and he’s still laughing. Yep, that’s me. Don’t have an independent thought in my brain.

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