In the anti-racism work that I am privileged to be a part of around the country, I often have people (usually white people) say to me, “I don’t understand what the big deal is. Racism is on the way out! We’ve elected a black president. There are laws against segregation. We are post-racial.” Indeed, many white folks seemed to think that the election of Barack Obama would lead to some sort of “post-racial” reality in the United States where past wrongs would be forgotten and present injustices would be wiped away, but what that seems to imply is that we white folks are simply sick and tired of hearing people of color complain. It’s almost as if we’re saying, “We threw you a bone! We elected one of YOU PEOPLE! Move on!”
The reality, though, is that racism is just getting harder and harder to identify as those (or should I say those of us) who perpetuate it are more and more covert in our racism. I thought of this last night as I was at a training to volunteer with an amazing program called Reading to End Racism. We were discussing some potential books that folks could read with their students in the program, and our trainer, Daniel, highlighted An Angel Just Like Me by Mary Hoffman, a story about a young black boy who looks around at all of the white angels on trees and in stores during Christmas time and begins to wonder whether there are any black angels. Upon hearing about this story, I couldn’t help but think, “That’s the heart of racism today! It’s hard to put your finger on it, but it’s all those subtle things that establish some people as lesser than others, as inferior.”
I don’t know about you, but I want to be healthy, and I want my friends and family to be healthy! It’s super important to me. More and more I find myself reading labels on food packaging, trying to find the products with the fewest, simplest ingredients. I find myself trying to cut back on fatty foods while eating more nutrient-dense foods (Yeah Kale!). I find myself thinking a lot more about the amount of exercise I am getting. I also find myself encouraging those I love to keep an eye out for their health as well.
As I have conversations with friends about healthy living, though, so often I find that the conversation comes back to one thing: lbs lost or gained. When the conversation turns to weight, I definitely start to feel uncomfortable. After all, I have always been taught and felt that health has a lot more to do with how you feel and how you live than how much you weigh, yet our society seems to focus almost exclusively on dropping those pesky pounds. I had never paid much attention to the array of weight-loss television shows (The Biggest Loser, Dance Your Ass Off, Weighing In, Celebrity Fit Club, etc) until I received an email from a family member, asking if I would like to join a local version of “The Biggest Loser” where we would weigh in at the beginning, commit to working out and eating regularly, and then win prizes for those that lost the most weight. I thought this weird, so I started to look around, and I started to notice it everywhere! My apartment complex is even hosting its own version of “The Biggest Loser!”
Now, this is troubling to me on the base level that weight loss can, in most cases, be a really crappy way of measuring healthy living, especially as different people gain or lose weight differently in ways that can be both healthy and unhealthy based on their lifestyle choices, their body type, and their family histories. In fact, someone can be making an amazing transition to a healthy lifestyle (eating really well and exercising regularly), but their weight may not change – as they build muscle which weighs significantly more than fat or because they have a genetic constitution that does not lend to weight loss.
Normally I try to avoid talking about the same general topics two weeks in a row, but the Republicans and a few Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have forced my hand. Misogyny strikes again!
While there are many problems with HR3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion” Act, the Republicans in congress have faced a firestorm of criticism over one particular section:
‘The limitations established in sections 301, 302, 303, and 304 shall not apply to an abortion—
‘(1) if the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest; or
‘(2) in the case where the pregnant female suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the pregnant female in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.
Nowhere in federal law or in the remarks of the bill’s proponents has anyone defined “forcible rape,” which begs the question: When is rape not forcible? Further, by the bill’s own language, statutory rape is no longer considered rape unless it is “forcible” (whatever that means) or incestuous. In essence, this clause has the potential to leave women who are drugged, inebriated, or who do not openly resist (whether out of fear or inability) without federal protection and with few options for terminating a pregnancy resulting from rape if they do not have the funds to pay for an abortion.