Tuesday, December 14, 2010

All the "-Ism's" Are NOT Alike

Why is every case of discrimination in America compared to racism automatically? Am I the only one that thinks this marginalizes what the black race has been through, and continues to go through on a regular basis?

I feel like I should first start this post off by saying that yes, I am biased. That's right. I'll admit that I'm human and I'm more sympathetic towards certain types of people. Everyone is. I honestly can relate more to someone who is in the same position as I am economically, physically or emotionally. For instance, in a conversation where parents talk about their children and how hard it is to be a parent, I have no input and truthfully I can't relate. My entire opinion on the subject is, "well maybe you shouldn't have had children". That's it. I'm single, and that same line of reasoning occurs when a friend calls me and complains (this doesn't happen much anymore either) about how much his wife is getting on his nerves. Well, maybe you should've thought about that before you got married. Those are the breaks. So when it comes to bigger overlying social issues, I am willing to admit that, yes, I am biased in how much I can really empathize with people who are dissimilar to me. However this knowledge means that I personally feel that I should put forth more effort to learn about how hard it is for people who are not like me, so that at the very least, I can have an informed opinion, and not just say something ignorant or biased.

As a black man, I am well aware of the many social struggles of my race. As a child, I was told first person accounts of the fight for integration, and of how even after segregation was no longer legislated, it was still enforced in a much more covert and subversive way. Am I scholar on the trials and tribulations of the black race as a whole? No. But I do have a thorough understanding of what happened in that time period. So when I see articles where some pundit comparing a form of discrimination to the struggle by black people for equality in America (a fight that is still ongoing)it bothers me a little. Here's why.

I didn't choose to be black. I was born black. I can't pretend that I'm not black. And most importantly, there's nothing I can do about being black. If you can't insert your discriminated against group into all those sentences, then their plight is not similar. Am I saying that these groups don't have the right to equality, that they don't have has hard a fight? No. What I am saying, is these groups are cheapening the struggles of black people by using them as their rallying cry.

What started me on this rant is an article i read in The Week (which by the way is one of my favorite news journals. Its fairly objective. In my eyes at least). In an article speaking about fattists and how a growing number of people are being discriminated against because of being "overweight" or "obese" (which coincidentally, fat people activists, or fativists, feel are socially loaded terms) it quotes Josh Shahryar as saying letting a former anorexic write about a television show depicting fat people is "like asking an on-again-off-again KKK member to critique Roots." (Read his full statement here)

Really? So discrimination against fat people is comparable to what black people underwent? Really Josh Shahryar? I don't think a history lesson is in order, but I have yet to see anyone hang a fat person. I don't think anyone's burned a cross in the yards of the new fat neighbors. Am I saying they're not being discriminated against? No. I agree wholeheartedly that we as a nation really do come down hard on fat people, and they are mistreated. My race is much maligned, but right now, being black is far more accepted than being fat. So I get it. But a KKK member, to this day, would tie me behind a pick up truck and drag me behind it until the asphalt ran red with my blood. To compare being fat to being black in this context is to cheapen what black people have gone through, simply to prove a point, which didn't even require an example that extreme to prove.

And last I checked, being fat was a health issue. It may very well be genetic. But you know what? There are procedures and programs to help people who are fat to come to terms with weight control. I don't care how much I run, work out, or have surgery, I'm still going to be black. I'm not black because I've gotten too black to try to lose some of this black, I was black when I was born and I'm going to be black when I die, which coincidentally could probably be at the hands of some racist police officer who didn't like the fact that I'm black. So, Josh Shahryar before you start shooting off your pen and writing in uprage about how much like racism fattism is, remember this: racism isn't some history book chapter that we can all look back on and laugh. Racism is still happening. And to belittle it so that we'll take mistreating fat human beings as equals more seriously is even more offensive than a cross burning in my yard, or a job not hiring me because they don't feel comfortable around black people. Its the same type of ignorance, and for someone who is a self-described activist you sicken me.

To fat people who have stumbled on this blog, I say, I respect you as human beings, and as long as you are humans, I won't make fun of you, judge you, or discriminate against you. But please understand this: my struggles as a black human are not your struggles as a fat human. They are not lesser or greater, they are simply not the same. Please don't cheapen what I go through, or what my family members went through by asserting that they are the same.


Vanity said...

I agree with you about fativists but I think homophobia can be compared to racism

Javann said...

I think comparing the two cheapens the struggles of both. To an extent being black and being gay both carry a strong stigma but ultimately they are different.