[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Image via Wikipedia"][/caption]
Everyone now knows that Department of Agriculture employee Sheryl Sherrod was unjustly forced to resign and vilified as a "reverse racist" by the Obama Administration and even the NAACP. Ms. Sherrod, who is Black, was filmed giving a speech at an NAACP banquet in March where she recounted how her work with a poor white farmer taught her to care about the have-nots of this country, regardless of race. This speech was then edited into a version that looked as if Sherrod was saying she discriminated against this farmer because he was white.
And who ran this highly edited and completely untrue version? None other than Andrew Breitbart and our friends at Big Government. The same lovely people who created the total lie that ACORN was not an anti-poverty group, but rather a human trafficking ring! And the result was what? Oh yeah, the defunding of ACORN by Congress, the vilification of the organization in the mainstream media, and the long lasting lesson on the part of the far-right that the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress are so easily scared into submission that all it takes is some bad video and some ridiculous lies to get them to comply.
Over at Big Government, they're not even apologizing for the "mistake" they made with the video. Instead, they're saying there is all sorts of proof that the NAACP encourages racism and that the mainstream media is ignoring it. And although the Department of Agriculture has apologized to Sherrod as has the head of the NAACP, I don't hear the mainstream media that ran with this story- AGAIN- even after they realized the ACORN story was highly orchestrated propaganda- apologizing?
Although CNN and the Atlanta Constitution Journal correctly reported that the video was a misrepresentation of the full speech, Fox News and the right-wing GOP noise machine started the drum beat and the Dems did what they always do- they caved. According to Yosi Sergant, it is time for Obama and the Dems to "grow a pair." Sergant would know what it's like to be thrown under the bus by the Dems and this administration, since he himself was also misrepresented by Breitbart of Big Government when Breitbart misrepresented his work as trying to use the National Endowment for the Arts to support the Obama Administration.
Let's pretend that the Dems are actually capable of learning from their past mistakes (no evidence yet) and say they do learn to "grow a pair" or perhaps more accurately and less sexist- get a spine- and begin to stand up to the absolute hate and propaganda that is Big Government, Fox "News," and the rest of the noise machine. It could involve not just funding good organizations like ACORN and holding onto good employees like Sherrod, but perhaps even not caving on Afghanistan, Iraq, Gitmo, Iran, healthcare, financial reform and whatever other disasters the right seems intent on getting us into.
Now that would be worth the pain of living with this spinelessness. To find that the Dems actually can find their spine and stand up to the ballsy nut jobs over at Big Government and Fox News.
I think it's obvious that the best way to end the white racial revolution taking place in Arizona is to whiteface all the brown and black folks living there. That's the conclusion, at least, of a local elementary school principal in Prescott, AZ. As a group of artists and students painted a mural on the outside of the elementary school this spring, they were met with a constant barrage of name-calling from white people driving by. Apparently disturbed by the images of brown and black children in the mural, the white "art critics" felt compelled to yell "spic" and "nigger" as the children painted. Of course the principal, Jeff Lane, said he was asking the artists to white face the mural for artistic reasons, not political ones.
Lane said that he received only three complaints about the mural and that his request for a touch-up had nothing to do with political pressure. "We asked them to fix the shading on the children's faces," he said. "We were looking at it from an artistic view. Nothing at all to do with race."
But the political pressure was intense when a local councilman Steve Blair got involved and used his radio show to complain that
To depict the biggest picture on the building as a Black person, I would have to ask the question: Why? Personally, I think it's pathetic. You have changed the ambience of that building to excite some kind of diversity power struggle that doesn't exist in Prescott, Arizona. And I'm ashamed of that."
So lightening up all the public art is one good way to fix the problem of white racism. The other solution might be to provide all nonwhite residents of AZ with a Gringo Mask. A Miami-based ad agency has started to produce white, blond-haired and blue-eyed masks in his and hers versions for AZ residents as way of avoiding racial profiling.
What better way to solve the racial tensions bubbling to the surface in AZ than to turn everyone into a lighter, more artistically pleasing version of themselves?
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Image via Wikipedia"][/caption]
All fascist regimes take knowledge seriously. The Nazis loved them a book burning. What better way to create an ignorant populace and a scared-shitless intelligentsia than to put it all in a bonfire, throw some gas on it, and make knowledge disappear. The Soviets were so anxious to control every bit of knowledge in their populace that writers took to publishing underground, a few copies at a time, circulated somehow among hundreds of thousands of people.
It was only a matter of time till the sort of nasty, ugly and yes fascist tactics of the far right wingnuts would stop any and all critical discourse in US universities. Nothing makes the end of knowledge more obvious than last weekend's graduation speech by Sandra Soto, an associate professor of gender and women studies at University of Arizona. If you watch this [youtubevid id="qSppVDbEZkg"] you'll see that as Professor Soto attempted to make a very reasoned statement about the need for civil debate around important issues like immigration, the audience starts to boo and shout her down. Someone yells "That's right, this is Uhmerica... bitch."
What did Professor Soto say that might have elicited this response?
What we so desperately need -- and yes this does put the class of 2010 at a particular crossroads -- is for you to bring every critical thinking skill at your disposal, and then some more, to bring all of the substantive knowledge of history, diverse cultures and societies, ethics and politics -- bring all of these to the table.
The new Arizona law generally known as SB 1070 is considered the strictest anti-immigrant legislation in the country and is explicitly intended to drive undocumented immigrants out of the state. One reason it has instigated a boycott is because to a whole lot of people, myself included, it appears to not only invite but require the police to engage in racial profiling. Before we had a chance to fully get our heads around the implications of either 1070 or of the subsequent boycott, our governor signed HB 2281, which is intended to eliminate any Ethnic Studies classes from public and charter schools in Arizona.
Wow- sounds crazy to me. Oh no, wait, sounds like she's asking people to think carefully about these issues, to bring all their critical thinking skills, supposedly the point of an education, to the table to figure out how to respond to important issues. So the correct response to a call for non-hysterical debate is to try and shut the speaker down- at least under fascistic regimes. And that is just what the audience of our future leaders did- or at least tried to do- since Professor Soto continued speaking despite the outbreak.
This was a graduation speech- a professor, a teacher, a researcher- making a call for more civility and more debate. According to an article in Inside Higher Ed,
Since the talk, Soto said she has received a barrage of e-mail messages, many of them hateful and some of them potentially threatening. Many such messages have also been posted on YouTube and on local Web sites that covered the speech.
Welcome to the University of Glen Beck, a world where any call for a more reasoned and critical debate, a more just and humane world, is seen as sedition. Instead of debate, we should get angry, shout each other down, and never ever listen to someone with whom we disagree. Welcome to the end of knowledge.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="266" caption="Image via Wikipedia"][/caption]
Facebook is evil. Facebook will save us. Which of these two statements is true? And what if they both are?
Let's take two somewhat recent examples from the world of education to examine these seemingly contradictory propositions.
FB is evil. A professor recently got suspended from teaching for making a joke about students on her FB page. According to a report in the Chronicle of Higher Ed,
Gloria Y. Gadsden has been reinstated to her job at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania. The associate professor of sociology returned to work on Wednesday after being cleared by a psychologist.
Ms. Gadsden was placed on paid administrative leave after a student complained about two comments she had made on her Facebook page: "Had a good day today, didn't want to kill even one student.:-) Now Friday was a different story ..." and "Does anyone know where I can find a very discrete [sic] hitman, it's been that kind of day."
I am not fond of Prof. Gadsden's comments. I do not see my students as the enemy or even a homogenous group. Some students annoy me, of course. Some colleagues annoy me too. And I am sure I annoy them. But mostly my students, like my colleagues, are a group of fairly reasonable people who are trying their best to participate in this thing called "higher ed."
I also try not to create any false separation between "students" and "everyone else." Some students are my friends, some my colleagues and collaborators, some I never speak to outside the class room, but I try to be as respectful and helpful as possible in the class room with everyone.
Perhaps this is why, when I was fired by my college a few years back, students (past, present and future) rallied together to create a FB page to figure out how to save my job. They came up with organizing ideas- like letter writing campaigns to board members and taking over the president's office hours to talk about the issue- and wrote testimonials to me and actually turned the process around. These students, no, not students, these human beings also made me extremely grateful to have them in my life, not because I got my job back, but because I learned that the job was rather beside the point.
But now the plot thickens. Although my guess is Professor Gadsden and I are similar in many ways- like being female and sociologists, there is one major difference between our experience of academe and our students. I'm white. Professor Gadsden is Black. Gadsden has written openly about how difficult it is to be Black in predominantly white institutions like the ones she and I both teach in.
To what extent does her experience of her students as Other have to do with their experience of her as Other? What is the effect of being one of a handful of Black faculty at institutions that are all far more white than the general population? I am going to speak anecdotally here, but I have heard many faculty members who are from racially underrepresented groups talk about how they feel the need to exert their authority in the classroom because white students were constantly questioning their expertise. This is particularly true for female faculty of color.
How could it be otherwise when we have a fair amount of data from social psychologists like Claude Steele that shows that white Americans (even ones who consider themselves "liberal" or "not racist") tend to see people of color as "less qualified" than whites?
And so I am left with the knowledge that part of my bond with students is a highly racialized one. I see them as fully human because they see me that way. I see them as highly competent because they see me that way. I don't separate myself from them because I am like them. And so FB saved me even while it put a Black colleague's career at risk.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Image via Wikipedia"][/caption]
Tomorrow we enter a new era with the i-Pad. Everything will be new and different.
Not. Actually, everything old is new again. The Official Preppy Handbook is being re-released for docksider-wearing, pink and green Polo sporting wannabes everywhere. And with the Tiger Woods adultery-o-rama, we get the bad science of "finger length" once again dredged up by psychiatrists as the explanation for sexual desires.
In case you don't remember the first "finger length" science, it was all about lesbianism. Lesbians, we were told, were people whose ring finger was longer than their index finger. These lesbian fingers were more like "men's hands" and therefore indicated that lesbians underwent a "androgen wash" in utero which resulted in a masculinized brain and masculine behaviors, like auto repair and dating other women.
Ten years ago I wrote a piece in Salon criticizing this science. Forgive my solipcistic self-referentiality, but the exact same argument I used then to debunk the correlation between fingers and desire can be applied now to adulterous fingers.
This sort of study uses the existence of a statistical correlation to argue causation. Certain sorts of hands may be more likely to appear on the bodies of women who identify as lesbians (or men who cheat), but isn't that a correlation as opposed to a cause? People with green eyes might be more likely to be accountants, but it is highly unlikely that there is a causal relationship between the two."
Furthermore, as I pointed out then, there is no actual EVIDENCE of the androgen wash in the womb- it's a hypothesis. The only way to test such a hypothesis would be to stick amniotic needles into pregnant women's bellies at various times and then see finger length of the children after birth. Until we end all IRB (research ethics oversight boards) interference with data collection, I am fairly certain we will never have actual evidence for this supposed wash of testosterone that turns some brains manly- let alone evidence that manly brains lead to adultery or lesbianism or even skill in sports or financial success!
Okay, in fairness to the scientists doing this research, their claims are often much smaller and much less inflamatory than journalists and bloggers make them out to be. But the basic impulse to remove CULTURE and EXPERIENCE and even INDIVIDUAL AGENCY from our behaviors, to make everything a result of brain chemistry, is deeply entrenched in American life.
Tiger Woods cheated because he underwent an androgen wash in the womb and it hyper-masculinized his brain and therefore he could not help but tap every woman in a fifty mile radius. Lesbians are really "men" who want to also tap every woman in sight because of their mannish fingers. Wall Street types ruined the entire economy with their greed because they were chemically driven to act aggressively and put all of our futures at risk because of their mannish fingers.
No one is responsible for their behavior, least of all those of us with a ring finger longer than an index finger. There is no relationship between systems of power, like consumer capitalism and commercialized sex mixed with a bit of patriarchy and good ol' white fetishization of Black male bodies to explain Tiger Woods or our obsession with him. There is no relationship between the state stepping back from any regulation of the market that led to the current financial crisis. And whom we desire is completely based on the length of our fingers and some innate need for the "opposite" (i.e. people with mannish fingers- whether lesbians or straight guys- always want someone with a vagina; whereas people with girlie fingers always want someone with a penis; and furthermore, two people with mannish hands, regardless of body parts, can never fall in love)
Nope. All our behaviors are just hard-wired into our finger length. And so we are free to act as we please since we just can't help ourselves. It makes me want to break out the preppie clothes, mix a martini, toast the idea that "greed is good," "adultery is unavoidable," and "homos are born that way."
Apple is wrong. There is nothing new in our society but the toys.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Image via Wikipedia"][/caption]
Founded in 1970, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, is finally shutting its doors and the far right wingnuts are celebrating. After all, the far-right, which represents the interests of a certain subgroup of non-urban, straight white Americans best illustrated by the Tea Party, does not like ACORN and the work they have done. It is not in the interest of white supremacists to have poor Blacks and Latinos registered to vote, campaigns against predatory lending practices, or taxpayer money being spent on rebuilding New Orleans.
Of course, the majority of Americans are not white supremacists. The majority of Americans want everyone to vote, want tax dollars to be spent on creating a more fair and just society, and support the work of organizations like ACORN. Sadly, however, a right-wing smear campaign convinced ordinary Americans that ACORN was bad, worse than Haliburton bad, and had to be shut down.
The height of this campaign happened six months ago when James O'Keefe, the Borat of the Right, released videos that supposedly showed ACORN employees supporting prostitution and tax fraud. Although the employees were fired and ACORN was cleared of any wrong-doing, the mainstream media continued to act as if O'Keefe were a "journalist" and the videos were "reporting." Congress responded by blackballing ACORN from receiving any Housing and Urban Development funds. A judge has since ruled Congress's defunding of ACORN unconstitutional.
But what are truth and the Constitution when it comes to the far-right's effort to shut down democracy? Over at FOX News, they are gloating that
The once mighty community activist group ACORN announced Monday it is folding amid falling revenues — six months after video footage emerged showing some of its workers giving tax tips to conservative activists posing as a pimp and prostitute.
And at Big Government, the site that first aired O'Keefe's "journalism," Kyle Olson suggests that ACORN timed its announcement that it's closing its doors to coincide with the passage of healthcare (for what is unclear? to pacify the right wing-nuts so they don't take up arms... yet?).
ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis acknowledged that the closing was the result of
a series of well-orchestrated, relentless, well-funded, right-wing attacks that are unprecedented since the McCarthy era. Our effective work empowering African-American and low-income voters made us a target. The videos were a manufactured, sensational story that led to rush to judgment and an unconstitutional act by Congress.
But it wasn't just the right that brought down ACORN. It was mainstream media that circulated O'Keefe's work as if it were journalism when they would never circulate Sacha Baron Cohen's work as if it were journalism. And it was Congress's willingness to defund ACORN, despite evidence and constitutionality, that destroyed the group. Ultimately, the people in charge in Washington and in the press are uncomfortable with the promise of radical democracy that ACORN represents. When ACORN registered historic numbers of African American voters and helped elect Barack Obama, they put what is primarily a white media and a white Congress on guard.
Radical democracy involves all Americans voting and all Americans engaged in the political process. That is not something that a lot of powerful people feel completely comfortable with. The attacks on ACORN are evidence of this. Whatever corruption existed in the organization it was nothing compared to military contractors and the banks. And ACORN wasn't making bombs like General Dynamics or a bundle like Citibank. They were trying to help poor and underrepresented Americans get involved and shape their world and our country. They were trying to inculcate democracy.
In other words, ACORN is closing because it was so successful in getting Obama elected. ACORN is closing because real democracy is not something that people in power in the America actually support. I can only hope that from the fall of ACORN, a stronger movement for radical democracy will spring up.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Image via Wikipedia"][/caption]
Abortion is increasingly an issue of virulent nationalism. In Nicaragua, former leader of the Sandinista revolution, Daniel Ortega, has reinvented himself as a nationalist leader through the use of anti-abortion laws and rhetoric. Abortion is now sold as a "foreign" threat to "real" Nicaraguans-- despite the fact that real Nicaraguan women are losing their lives to protect the fetus.
Here in the US, an anti-abortion campaign sells abortion as part of a racist agenda to eliminate Black children. In Atlanta, billboards featuring a chubby-cheeked Black child and the words "Endangered Species."
In Poland, a recent anti-abortion campaign uses images of Adolf Hitler and bloody pieces of aborted fetuses with the slogan "Abortion for Poles: introduced by Hitler, March 9, 1943." According to the group behind this campaign, Fundacja Pro,
It was Hitler who first introduced abortion to Poland, and in several days it will be the anniversary of that event."
These anti-abortion campaigns indicate that there is now an international movement to impose a nationalist fetus program on all of us.
How did the fetus became a nationalist figure? What will the consequences of nationalist fetusism be?
It's not that the fetus was ever innocent. Prior to modernity, Christianity saw the fetus as bathed in sin. Any fetus or child who died before Baptism and the erasure of original sin was condemned to Hell. Medieval theologians, feeling kinda bad about all those babies burning in eternal damnation, invented "Limbo" so that they could go to an "in-between" place where they wouldn't suffer. These theologians also decided to put the good Jews here too since it seemed wrong for Moses to suffer the agony of Hell.
A few hundred years after the child and fetus were removed from Hell, a variety of forces in Western society also removed the child from the world of adults. The Victorians made sure children were not working in factories with child-labor laws. They removed children from the sexual economy with age-of-consent laws. The Victorians also imagined children as "innocent angels" free of all sin (well, some children were angels - white, blond, big blue-eyed).
By the time the 2oth century rolled around, children were "sacred." Again, not all children deserve our protection. Many children work in sweat shops producing our cheap clothes, die of starvation due, or in America's endless wars. Here in the US, 1 in 5 children live below the poverty line and 41% live in low-income families.
But none of this matters in the march toward nationlaist fetusism. What matters is how fetuses can be deployed to incite fear of racial collapse.
In Poland, the reference to Hitler is an interesting one. After all, it is mostly the Jews who died under Hitler. Of course, Poles fought the Nazi invasion (after having made a pact with Hitler) and many Polish citizens died (according to some estimates, about 200,000). But nearly all of the more than 3 Million Polish Jews died during WWII. But nationalist fetusism, like nationalist socialism, is interested in racial purity, not historical accuracy. And it's interested in deploying the fetus to that end.
Which brings us to the beginning. Abortion and the birth control movement began as part of an international ideology of eugenics. Hitler's "Final Solution" was an extreme version of it, but eugenics was extremely popular in the US and Europe. Eugenicists believed that there was something "sick" about modernity, a sickness that produced weak and imbecilic offspring and that the best way to strengthen the nation was to control who was born.
In the US, anti-immigration laws, anti-miscegenation laws, and forced sterilization campaigns were enacted to "save the American race." And yes, the birth control movement was embedded in this sort of eugenicist rhetoric, as were beauty pageants and freak shows and beautiful baby contests.
But birth control became less central to the eugenicist project (even as genetic testing and abortions continue to be used to make sure "mutants" are never born). Instead, birth control became part of a feminist ideology that reframed it as the liberation of women from reproductive enslavement.
Now the paradigm of reproductive freedom is being challenged, primarily by nationalism, but also by the Catholic Church and a variety of international Evangelical Christian movements. Reproductive freedom is rewritten as racial suicide. And the movement of nationalist fetusism saves the unborn even while it eliminates women.
What can we make of the anti-abortion billboard campaign in Atlanta? The billboards feature a chubby-cheeked Black child and the slogan: "Endangered Species."
The Georgia Right to LIfe campaign put the billboards up last week in Atlanta and, according to press reports, the group is also pushing legislation that aims to ban abortions based on the fact that a disproportionate number of Black women get abortions. (According to CDC statistics Black women are three times as likely as white women to get an abortion).
According to the Georgia Right to Life Campaign's website,
Every 4 days in American more black children are killed through abortion than the KKK killed in 144 years. Georgia leads the country in the number of reported abortions performed on black women, 18,901 in 2008 alone.
According to Catherine Davis, Director of Minority Outreach for the group, the number of Black women getting abortions is all part of the diabolical plan set in place by birth control activists at Planned Parenthood. Davis argues that:
Planned Parenthood’s Negro Project is succeeding. They targeted blacks in order to control their birthrate, limiting the growth of populations they ‘don’t want too many"
Here's the propaganda clip they use to convince us that killing black babies is part of the master scheme of birth control activists everywhere.
I'm not going to defend Margaret Sanger's eugenicist attitudes. But the idea that Planned Parenthood is a racist white plot to destroy Black children is paranoid at best, and highly cynical coming from a group of anti-abortion activists who seem, at least from their webpage, pretty white and kinda racist.
One of their members, responding to their "Endangered Species" campaign wrote:
That is Very hard for me to believe!! From my observations and from the articles I have been reading, there Will come a time in the not-so-distant future when white people will be a Minority. Let’s face it, the schools are packed Full of black and hispanic kids, at least in the metro area I live in! It’s very Rare to see white children in a school anywhere Near our metro area!
You can almost feel her white panic bubbling about being a "Minority" and the "black and hispanic kids" who "pack... our metro area."
Also, when I looked at the eleven candidates that Georgia Right to Life endorses they are all blindingly white (and all men).
Let's just give the anti-abortion activists at Georgia Right to Life the benefit of the doubt for a moment and imagine that they really, really care about racism. Then why aren't they working to confront structural racism? Are they outraged at the poverty a disproportionate number of Black Americans live in? Are they working for more funding for public education? Healthcare for all? In fact, the candidates they support are conservative Republicans to a (white) man, who are opposed to healthcare for all, do not want increases in the educational budget, but remain firmly pro-war, which is a different way to kill a disproportionate number of nonwhite persons.
But if these anti-abortion activists are successful, then Black and white women can face the dilemma of unwanted pregnancies together, alone.
Published by Beacon Press in 2010, American Plastic treats cosmetic surgery as if it were the subprime mortgage crisis of the body. The deregulation of banking, the commercialization of medicine, and the targeting of some of America's most vulnerable citizens with high-interest medical loans created a perfect storm of greed and desire that played out on to bodies of ordinary Americans caught in the quest for perfection- or at least a better life.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Image by Getty Images via Daylife"][/caption]
Michelle Obama is under fire for her anti-obesity campaign. Unveiled this week, the "Let's Move" campaign sets the goal of eliminating childhood obesity in a generation.
Although childhood obesity rates have stabilized in recent years, 1 in 6 American children are still obese and 1/3 are overweight or obese. Although the evidence is still out on overweight children- since chubby might be the new healthy according to some recent research- obese children will probably have shorter life spans than their parents and a life plagued with disease. It is certainly a serious issue, one worth the attention of Michelle Obama, or Barbie.
For the 2000 Presidential campaign, the Ms. Foundation and Mattel teamed up to make Presidential Barbie. But what kinda platform could Barbie have? After all, she had to stay within her assigned gender role and not offend any potential consumers. Dismantle the military industrial complex? No. Regulate Wall Street? Forget it. So Presidential Barbie, a white doll with a very Presidential brunette bob, made physical fitness her issue.
Michelle Obama, like Presidential Barbie, was forced to find an issue that fit her assigned gender role (as woman and as mother), but poor Michelle also had to find something that would fit her racial position as well. Having been criticized for being too "angry" and too "forceful" (translation: just too threatening as a powerful Black woman), Michelle hit on the perfect issue.
Because we can all agree that obese kids are not healthy kids. And they oughta move. As the First Lady said herself,
I would move heaven and earth to give my kids all the chance in the world for them to be at the top of their game in every way, shape and form.”
Then, unfortunately, the First Lady went on to discuss a time when her own daughters were considered “overweight” by their pediatrician and she made good choices- like no TV during the week and switching to water rather than soda. Michelle/Barbie made sure the First Daughters got slim and stayed that way.
Mentioning her daughters has become “the issue” for many observers. The Daily Mail even ran the headline “Michelle Obama puts daughters on diet before launching anti-obesity campaign.” The article said that it was Malia, not Sasha, who was turning into a fattie. The blogs at major news sites are full of outrage. The want to know how Michelle could personalize this issue by mentioning her own family’s relationship to food and weight.
Of course Michelle should not have personalized this issue- not because of the so-called traumatic effects it will have on her daughters (isn’t being children in the White House a constant exercise in the control of their self-presentation from what they wear to how they do in school to whether they chew gum or swear or pick their noses?).
No, Michelle should not have personalized obesity because it’s not a personal issue. Obesity - childhood or otherwise - is an issue embedded in race, economy and geography.
Obesity rates are so closely linked to income in the US that it is impossible to deny that they are about a hell of a lot more than getting the kids off soda. Poor neighborhoods often have limited groceries available, with very few fresh vegetables and fruits. Fresh vegetables and fruits and whole foods are far more expensive than the food like substances sold throughout the US and marketed as edible.
When the state- as part of a larger neoliberal move to let the market solve everything- stopped regulating things like food safety, but also whether toxic substances could be sold as if they were actual food, it effected poor Americans the most since they were the least likely to be able to resist the toxification of our foodways.
Poor Americans, who are also disproportionately nonwhite Americans, had neither the time, the money, nor the educational resources to push back the way many middle-class Americans did. The result is that obesity is not randomly distributed through the population. Instead, obesity is about class- and therefore race.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services,
Obesity disproportionately affects certain minority youth populations. NHANES found that African American and Mexican American adolescents ages 12-19 were more likely to be overweight, at 21 percent and 23 percent respectively, than non-Hispanic White adolescents (14 percent). In children 6-11 years old, 22 percent of Mexican American children were overweight, whereas 20 percent of African American children and 14 percent of non-Hispanic White children were overweight.
But this fact- that obesity is the result of poverty and therefore racialized in the US- is something that neither Michelle nor Presidential Barbie could possibly speak about. Barbie because she has a plastic mouth and no voice box; Michelle because she must walk on ladylike pointy toes through the minefield that is being a Black, educated, and powerful woman in the Barbielike role of First Lady.
Instead, both Barbie and Michelle must smile their plastic smiles and exhort us to move. Otherwise, we might not buy what the First Lady and Presidential Barbie are trying to sell us.