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Being healthy is racist? CBS News promotes argument fat-phobia is rooted in anti-blackness

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CBS News just erased all doubt that race can really be injected into nearly every issue facing Americans.

A new CBSN Originals documentary focused on attitudes about weight in America and highlighted the argument of a sociology professor who declared that “fat-phobia is rooted in anti-blackness.” Sabrina Strings, a University of California, Irvine, professor later slammed the piece for cutting out much of her anti-blackness and white supremacy narrative.


(Source: CBS News/YouTube)

The documentary titled, “Speaking Frankly | Fat Shaming,” is set to air on CBS News Sunday and, in a description accompanying the clip on YouTube, is focused on “those trying to change the narrative and challenge stereotypes as well as those concerned that we are avoiding necessary conversations about health.”

“My grandmother is a Black woman from the South, grew up during Jim Crow, and for her, being able to eat regularly was a triumph. One time she told me that she got a basket of oranges one Christmas and it was one of her happiest memories,” Sabrina Strings, a University of California, Irvine, professor said in the video.

“But when she decided to move to California in 1960, as a lot of Black people were doing at the time … she encountered for the first time a lot of White women in her integrated community who were on diets, and she was like, ‘What? Why are White women on diets?’ This was something that she puzzled over for years, because no one could really provide her a satisfactory answer,” Strings said.

She was inspired by her grandmother’s stories and went on to research the history of fat-phobia, writing a book published last year called, “Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia.” Strings explained that “skin color was the original sorting mechanism” in the slave trade initially.

Later, she continued, “they decided to re-articulate racial categories, adding new characteristics, and one of the things that the colonists believed was that Black people were inherently more sensuous, that people love sex and they love food, and so the idea was that Black people had more venereal diseases, and that Black people were inherently obese, because they lack self-control.”

“And of course, self-control and rationality, after the Enlightenment, were characteristics that were deemed integral to whiteness,” Strings contended in the CBS documentary, going on to say that “to be of the elite race and to be a Christian peoples,” it was determined that one had to show “restraint” with food.

“We cannot deny the fact that fat-phobia is rooted in anti-blackness. That’s simply an historical reality,” Strings claimed. “Today, when people talk about it, they often claim that they don’t intend to be anti-black … they don’t intend all of these negative associations, and yet they exist already, so whenever people start trafficking in fat-phobia, they are inherently picking up on these historical forms of oppression.”

The documentary featured other speakers as well, such as fitness guru Jillian Michaels, and others who spoke on the issues of “body positivity” and more.

But in a series of posts on Twitter, Strings made it clear she was not happy with the end product from CBS News, claiming it did not represent her views fully and that there was a “lack of medical evidence behind such assertions” made by others.

“I have a hard time watching or listening to anything I’m in. I just saw the documentary for the first time right now and was very disappointed with what was mostly a traditional obesity science approach,” Strings wrote.

“Where was the focus on anti-blackness? Or white supremacy? Most of my interview addressed these issues,” she added.

And while the author and professor did get some sympathy for her plight from Twitter users, there was generally a collective eye-roll from others who slammed the “woke” documentary.

 

 

Frieda Powers

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