Through voluntourism, the white savior complex repackages and presents notions of the primitive African that white people use to further colonialism. Trigger warning: sexual assault against and surgical procedures on Black children. By Naila Aroni So there I was browsing Tinder when I
“People are so enamored with white mediocrity they think I should be grateful to sit at a table I'm probably overqualified to be at.” - JerVaeBy Hess Love Everything that we know about “obesity” is an indictment on white supremacy, and everything about who we listen to regarding it is bullshit. The centering of whiteness, especially white women, in the “Body Positivity Movement” recently led Rebel Wilson to tell an egregious lie about being the first fat woman to star in a romantic comedy and then block every Black person who tried to tell her the truth, that plus-sized Black women have starred in romantic comedies before. Women like Queen Latifah and Mo'Nique. But Rebel doubled down. Fat White Women like Rebel Wilson don't see Fat Black Women as forces of body positivity or plus-size representation because they view Blackness in itself as "large". Blackness is already big, vast, and something they want to confine, so they make it both a boogie man and a invisibility cloak. They see Blackness as being beastlike, so to be large and Black isn't defying expectations. In an odd way, it makes our fatness nonconsequential to them, because for them, their bodies defy the dainty expectations of a white, Western femininity. To them, that is braver than being fat and Black. Welcome to the politics of "taking up space." That's why they call the cops on small Black children and clutch their purses when they see even small framed Black men. That's why they won't acknowledge when large Black women already did something they're calling themselves brave and pioneering for just now doing. They take space from us to make room for themselves. Our bravery doesn't count. It can't count when even the smallest parts of us are a threat. There's a “historical view of Black Women as bodies without minds that underlies their invisibility” (Thompson, A Hunger So Wide and Deep, 15). Black women are painted as simultaneously enormous and non existent, our vastness is an enigma that is demonized through purposeful misperception that aims to project the thought that we lack a certain level of conscious deliberacy to understand and liberate the space our existence takes up. Black as big, as beast, as fat, is seen as a default experience for us. In the minds eye of white women like Rebel Wilson, that “default” lacks validity on the rubric of bravery. Fat Black women are tired of our bodies and experiences paving roads and painting it with blood just for white women like Rebel Wilson to trapeze down the pathway and ask if the stories she walks over “really” count. They do. Fat Black Women are the original recipients of “fat bitch” retorts when we dare exercise our right to choose and our right to exist. Whether it was fighting off slave owning forefathers, white men that would later be called medical pioneers for infringing on our largeness and reproductive organs, white women that gawked at our physiques while their accompanying men dreamed of other ways to violate us. Fatphobia is indelibly tied to anti-Blackness. Fat Black women are assigned roles where other people bring “purpose” to us to determine our usefulness, never an autonomous validity. The mammy archetype which bleeds over to freudian sexual fetishism around fat Black femme bodies is another agent that makes our presence on a socio-political front more amenable for erasure and labor. Perhaps this image of impressionability is a result of how fat Black women have had to attempt to diminish themselves in order to navigate certain social and systemic scenes. “The one thing that I do recognize in myself is the need to soften myself for white comfort. I am a fat dark black woman and to some white people that in itself is threatening. So I make sure I'm friendly as to not make them uncomfortable, because when white people are uneasy we pay for it in blood. On the flip side of that I'm seen as a mammy to some white people. Someone they can cast their cares on and be overly comfortable with because I only exist to pacify their fragile feelings and labor them on my back all the way to the promise land.” Brandi Wharton, founder of Magical Fat Black Femmes.
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Colonization is the act of forcefully stripping sovereignty of a country through acquisition of land, resources, raw material, and governmental structures.
My turn to state an equation: colonization = “thing-ification.” - Aimé CésaireThe use of social media as a powerful tool for free education on various topics continually rises, with definitions, experiential narratives, and resources being shared through Twitter threads, short videos, Facebook statuses, and even memes. And while this is a mostly positive phenomena, there seems to be a trend of words, and thus words’ associated theories, being used misguidedly. Often, this is a simple case of fighting character limits and the loss of nuance that occurs through online mediums, and other times it seems a phenomena of genuine miseducation and confusion. Words like intersectionality, decolonize, imperialism, socialism, and other loaded terms that come with decades of jargon are at times applied to everything, and their actual meaning is lost. Observing this pattern is what lead me to the idea of an article series titled “Words Mean Things,” wherein each month I choose a different word and discuss the theories, uses, theorists, examples, applications, and praxis surrounding it. The goal is to do this as concisely as possible and, understanding these will never be wholly conclusive of all definitions, applications, and examples of certain words, to deliver small primers that exist as resources to lead readers to study deeper. I often say that words mean everything, and then anything, just before meaning nothing.
ColonialismColonialism is a system of land occupation and theft, labor exploitation, and/or resource dependency that is to blame for much of our modern concepts of racialization. It is an act of dominance in which a forceful state overtakes a “weaker” state; this means that colonization is the act of forcefully stripping sovereignty of a country through acquisition of land, resources, raw material, and governmental structures. Systems of colonialism are based in notions of racial inferiority, as they as they perpetuate white/European domination over non-white colonial subjects. The most obvious (and broad) example of colonialism is the expansion of Europe into Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and the subsequent creation of colonies. Through violence and manipulation, a relationship of control and influence was exerted economically, socially, politically, religiously, and culturally. In Jamaica, for example, the British empire invaded and colonized the island in the mid-17th Century, and subsequently established British colonial school systems, laws and regulations creating dependency on Britain, and pushed European gender, religious, and wardrobe norms onto the society. There are various forms of colonialism and colonial projects, but all involve some form of domination, control, and/or influence on an indigenous population through violence and/or manipulation. It is also important to note that these various forms of colonialism often intersect and overlap, too. In his 1972 essay “Discourse On Colonialism,” one of the most important pieces of writing I have ever read, writer Aimé Césaire states: “Between colonizer and colonized there is room only for forced labor, intimidation, pressure, the police, taxation, theft, rape, compulsory crops, contempt, mistrust, arrogance, self-complacency, swinishness, brainless elites, degraded masses. No human contact, but relations of domination and submission which turn the colonizing man into a class-room monitor, an army sergeant, a prison guard, a slave driver, and the indigenous man into an instrument of production.”
If Rihanna Wants To Be Styled As Nefertiti, Y’All Can Keep Your Shady Remarks In The Trash Where They Belong
Perhaps Rihanna is a descendant of Nefertiti and this Vogue cover has some divine purpose. The truth is because of the genocide that was the slave trade, we’ll never know.When I first saw Rihanna’s November cover for Vogue Arabia I found her eye makeup mesmerizing. It’s quite possible the makeup artist used her limited-edition Galaxy Eyeshadow palette but I won’t be able to find out until the queue for her products at Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge goes down some. It’s been snaking round the building for weeks. I have been wearing intense, well blended blush on my temples since her look at this year’s Met Gala left me edgeless once again. Her Fenty beauty line is an asteroid that has given us forty shades of foundation from the jump and intergalactic glitters that will have her stans gleaming from here to Pluto throughout the holiday season. Her impact on the beauty landscape has been seismic and to call her a cultural phenomenon would be an understatement. She is shifting tectonic plates EVERYWHERE! [caption id="attachment_48396" align="aligncenter" width="320"] Rihanna on the cover of Vogue Arabia[/caption] The inspiration for the cover is Queen Nefertiti, an Egyptian Queen who heralded a religious revolution. Her image, most specifically her profile, has been worn as a pendant by Black women for decades. Growing up in the 90s, with Pan-Africanist parents, I was made aware constantly that the history being taught in our schools was mythological in parts. That enlightened humanity began with the lightly tanned Greeks was false.
Cuba was the first country I visited where I was able to blend in. Despite my modest Spanish skills, as long as I kept mum, locals assumed I was Afro-Cuban, and other tourists gravitated to paler, more familiar faces for