I’ve had some thoughts whirling around in my head over the past week and I’m going to attempt to share them here… hopefully what I’m trying to say makes sense. I just really think its important to remember that biases and prejudices don’t always show up in the form of a disgusting act that makes the news. Sometimes those things are found in the everyday ways that we treat people. And maybe if we were a little more mindful, we would treat people better.
As I watched the footage of Eric Garner’s murder I started thinking about my experiences at the intersection of size prejudice and racial prejudice. Some of you may identify with some or all of my experiences, some of you may have no idea what I’m talking about and that’s totally fine.
I’m big, I’m black and I’ve become well aware of how those things shape the way people see me, what they assume about me and how they treat me.
On Being Big…
My first vivid memories of body shame came in fourth grade. At nine years old, I was both tall and chubby and that year for whatever reason, at recess kids in my class were constantly jumping on my back for piggy back rides without my permission, I guess they assumed I could handle their weight. They thought it was fun, I hated it.
One day we all filed into our cafetorium for a music assembly. As I sat giggling with my friends, a smaller girl from my class complained to the teacher that she could not see anything because she was sitting behind me. My teacher promptly instructed me to sit in the very back, behind all of the other students so that they could see the show. I sat in the back row alone, put my head down and cried.
Between the piggy back rides at recess and being sent to the back row, the body shame began to set in. I felt like I was being punished for my size. Now that I’m older, I wonder why the teacher didn’t move the smaller girl to the front row, instead of banishing me all the way to the back.
On being black…
I went to a predominantly white school and I’m pretty sure I spent all of third grade being racially profiled by my teacher. As an eight year old, it was hard to understand why Mrs. [Redacted] was always Continue reading