In downtimes between work today, I read links off the IBARW del.icio.us.
One was sparkymonster's [IBARW] Fatness and Uplift: Not a Post about Push Up Bras. Excerpt from the beginning:
My father's way of thinking about life was deeply influenced by W.E.B. Du Bois and ideas of racial uplift and the talented tenth. [...] My father's parents emphasized education as the path to freedom. Their views were part of a general belief in racial uplift. By working hard, educating oneself, and generally setting a good example to other black people, we would help all of us get ahead.These ideas weren't unfamiliar to me, but I'd never had them articulated quite so clearly. (And wow it's sad that "articulate" has become such a loaded word that I feel the need to clarify that I'm not intending to say, "Oh look, what an articulate black person," but rather, "Oh look, I found this a really useful articulation of something I have vaguely known/understood for some time, so I would like to preserve it for my own reference and also share it with other people.")
Racial uplift wasn't just about educated black elites giving other black people a helping hand, but also about showing white people that blacks were not a collection of negative stereotypes. The people at the forefront (the talented tenth) had to be smart, neat, clean, articulate, and above all they couldn't get angry about racism. Instead, dressed in your best suit, you presented carefully constructed arguments against racism, knowing that any misstep would be taken as proof that blacks really were inferior.
[...] If negative stereotypes about black people were about them being savage, flighty, ruled by emotion and lacking reasoning, then the way to counter that was to look modern, tailored, and never have a hair out of place.
(And yeah, I should really read W.E.B. Du Bois, among others.)
She linked to a long piece on the term "Sapphire," which is a term I'm not familiar with, though I'm certainly familiar with the stereotype of the Angry Black Woman.
Later in that essay, the author talks about Michele Obama and how she's been criticized -- for example, Mychal Massie said, "she portrays herself as just another angry black harridan who spits in the face of the nation that made her rich, famous and prestigious." The author writes: "Central to these 'critiques' of Michelle Obama is the couched argument that a person who is a successful attorney and administrator living in a nice home has forfeited the right to talk about injustice and inequality." The idea that "only poor people have the right to express concerns about poverty," etc. reminded me of the endemic issue of trying to get people to really care (in an active way) about issues that don't (appear to) directly affect them.
The essayist also talks about who is "allowed" to be angry -- pointing out that when members of a dominant group are angry about something, their right to be angry isn't questioned, whereas when members of a non-dominant group get angry, they're often caricatured and dismissed. Obviously I was reminded of the debates about Tone in the various fandom eruptions about race issues. And the excerpt above stereotypes about being out of control gave me valuable perspective on those debates.
Sidebar: sparkymonster points out that " 'Baby Got Back' is not actually about fat women. It's about women with 'an itty bitty waist/and a round thing in your face,' " which is something I have thought for some time, so I was pleased to see someone else pointing that out.
I think jennyo has posted about how being fat is seen as a sign of poor self-control (which then gives non-fat people the "right" to look down on fat people, marginalize them, penalize them, etc.). And fat-pol is something I've been meaning to get back into (rereading the books I read as a teen and reading new ones and blogging about it). When I do, I hope I remember to pay attention to the racial dynamics as well as the gender and class dynamics.