Charis welcomes Da’Shaun L. Harrison in conversation with Yemi Miller-Tonnet for a celebration of Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness. Exploring the intersections of Blackness, gender, fatness, health, and the violence of policing. This event is co-hosted by the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History.
To live in a body both fat and Black is to exist at the margins of a society that creates the conditions for anti-fatness as anti-Blackness. Hyper-policed by state and society, passed over for housing and jobs, and derided and misdiagnosed by medical professionals, fat Black people in the United States are subject to sociopolitically sanctioned discrimination, abuse, condescension, and trauma.
In Belly of the Beast, Da’Shaun Harrison–a fat, Black, disabled, and nonbinary trans writer–offers an incisive, fresh, and precise exploration of anti-fatness as anti-Blackness. They foreground the state-sanctioned murders of fat Black men and trans and nonbinary masculine people in historical analysis. Policing, disenfranchisement, and invisibilizing of fat Black men and trans and nonbinary masculine people are pervasive, insidious ways that anti-fat anti-Blackness shows up in everyday life. Fat people can be legally fired in 49 states for being fat; they’re more likely to be houseless. Fat people die at higher rates from misdiagnosis or nontreatment; fat women are more likely to be sexually assaulted. And at the intersections of fatness, Blackness, disability, and gender, these abuses are exacerbated.
Taking on desirability politics, the limitations of gender, the connection between anti-fatness and carcerality, and the incongruity of “health” and “healthiness” for the Black fat, Harrison viscerally and vividly illustrates the myriad harms of anti-fat anti-Blackness. They offer strategies for dismantling denial, unlearning the cultural programming that tells us “fat is bad,” and destroying the world as we know it, so the Black fat can inhabit a place not built on their subjugation.
Da’Shaun Harrison is a Black trans writer, abolitionist, and community organizer in Atlanta, GA. Harrison currently serves as the Managing Editor of Wear Your Voice Magazine, and is the author of Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness. Harrison is also a public speaker who often leads workshops on Blackness, queerness, gender, fatness, disabilities, and the intersection at which they all meet. Their portfolio and other work can be found on their website: dashaunharrison.com.
Yemi Miller-Tonnet (she/her) is a Fat Black Queer Femme liberation strategist, doula, and reproductive justice organizer. Yemi is currently the Local Campaign Coordinator at AMPLIFY-GA where she runs collaborative campaigns to increase abortion access for all Georgians at the local level. Yemi also has a background in intimate partner violence advocacy and abortion care. Yemi has also worked as a bookseller for Charis Books and More, the south’s oldest independently owned feminist bookstore. Yemi began her interest in liberation work as a Comparative Women’s Studies major at Spelman College where she concentrated in Black Women’s Activism. Yemi also works as a full-spectrum doula supporting marginalized folks through their reproductive journeys. Yemi’s lived experiences in a Fat Black body deeply informs her reproductive justice advocacy work.
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