4-12-12 Links Roundup

Several prominent feminist bloggers focus extensively on body acceptance, but their work often goes beyond the singular relationship of gender and fat. Writer and activist Tasha Fierce is a frequent contributor to Bitch and Jezebel and creator of the blog Sex and the Fat Girl, where Fierce documents her experiences as a self-described “fat, queer woman of color.” She is particularly passionate when addressing the intersectionality of fat bodies.

“Our approach to building fat community needs to be a comprehensive and all-inclusive one,” says Fierce. “White cisgender feminists who are fat need to recognize that there are different levels of oppression–not everyone who is fat is only facing discrimination because of their weight.” She pointed to a recent call-to-action by the organization NOLOSE which argues that people of color are too often portrayed as the impoverished, tragic face of a heavily politicized and trending obesity epidemic. Social justice organizers in both the fat-acceptance and feminist communities are responsible for facilitating inclusiveness within their ranks, she says. Fierce shared her insights for creating that environment. “When there are fat activist gatherings, the organizers need to make sure the venues and materials are accessible to those who use differing methods of communication — these are just basics to start with.”

Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie. Sigh.

As an early season crisis goes, this one takes the flan. The Marlins’ worst case public relations scenario. As a new Miami baseball manager, he could overtax his bullpen. He could mangle his pinch-hitting decisions. He could bat the pitcher fourth and the first baseman ninth.

But what he absolutely, positively could not do in south Florida was utter public words of admiration for Fidel Castro, as Time magazine quoted him. That’s 5,000 times worse than wearing an Auburn cap to an Alabama wedding.

“Very stupid,” he called it. That motion is carried unanimously. It was foolish to even address the subject, given he has already been in some soup for seemingly kind remarks toward Venezuela strongman Hugo Chavez.

Rule of thumb: Better to be complimentary about your left-handed pitching rather than left-wing dictators.

The fact that race-based prejudice exists is undeniable. In a 2004 study, co-authored by psychology professors at Stanford and Yale, white people associated stereotypically black faces with higher levels of criminality than they did with those of whites. In addition, whites were less apprehensive about shooting black people, as demonstrated through a video-game simulation.

This bias is expressed and reinforced through the media. Author and antiracism activist Tim Wise has documented that local newscasts over-represent African Americans as criminals, relative to their actual share of total crime, and over-represent whites as victims, relative to their share of victimization. According to Wise, a large percentage of white hostility toward black people can be traced to the overwhelming amount of negative media imagery about them, even after all other factors are considered. And public-opinion polls consistently show that whites express greater fear of crime when in the presence of African Americans and assume greater guilt of African-American criminal suspects accused of crimes than of white criminal suspects accused of the same offenses.

Perhaps even more surprisingly, a 2011 study specifically looking at the impact of interracial friendship on white concern about local crime found that when white people have close relationships with black people, their concerns about crime actually increase. More broadly, when scholars have studied the racial beliefs, feelings and policy views of whites who have contact with blacks as friends, acquaintances or neighbors, they consistently find that the negative racial perceptions of those whites are substantially similar to the perceptions of whites who have no black friends. Friendship with black people — and even being a black person — does nothing to change racial bias. Indeed, almost one-third of black people hold similarly negative views.

I think about this now, in the wake of the killing of Trayvon Martin and in the midst of yet another “national conversation on race.” It’s about time we canceled class until everyone has completed the reading.

It happens after every major news story involving race, and we fail miserably as a nation every time. We now find ourselves asking questions about the lives of young black men — including the lessons that black parents hand down to their sons about how to move in the world that finds them suspicious — and, to a lesser degree, about the perceptions we all hold of black men. While that may sound as if we’re on the right track, given how much experience we have already had with unarmed black men being gunned down for no reason, it raises the question: Why don’t we know the answers yet?

To come back to the metaphor, while we’re all in class, everyone seems energetic and attentive, prepared to engage with the curiosity required to master any subject. But as soon as the 50 minutes are up, we all forget what we’ve learned and fail to do any independent study. The next time we come to class, we have to relearn everything from previous classes before attempting to broach the new stuff.

Yet Islam, as practised by the prophet Muhammad, is refreshingly candid and human in its treatment of sexuality. The hadith literature – the scholarly collections documenting the sayings, behaviours and etiquette of the prophet – provides ample evidence of this. The early followers of Islam bluntly asked the prophet about sex and marriage in order to correctly practise their new religion. Many books have been written by renowned scholars citing the prophet’s healthy attitude towards sexuality, which encouraged foreplay, playfulness and compassion between consenting, married adults.

The prophetic conduct towards sex has been abandoned by several American Muslim communities, particularly those of immigrant descent, in favour of outright silence. Topics including an acknowledgement of realities such as pregnancies before marriage or adultery are rarely mentioned in many Muslim circles; the fear being that acknowledgement would act as an endorsement, validation and inspiration for unislamic sexual deviances.

During a Muslim’s youth and adolescence, many elders promote repression. However, when this individual becomes a single, unmarried adult in their late 20s or 30s, they are bludgeoned with repeated commands to “settle down”. Muslim youth are expected to go from 0 to 60 mph with a spouse, 2.3 kids and a suburban home without being taught how to start the engine and how to maintain the vehicle on its journey.