Awful “Dear Fat People” Vlogger Back With Message For Black People
Hello, White People? Conference time — gather ‘round.
I need you to listen up: Not. Every. Thing. Is. About. Us.
This is going to be painful for some of you, but it’s time you TOOK A SEAT. Here, I saved you one next to me.
We’ve had quite the run, us white folk. Centuries of doing and saying whatever we wanted, traipsing across continents that don’t belong to us imposing our will upon anyone who didn’t look or speak or act like us — almost consequence free! In fact, while the occasional individual among us is taken to task, as a group we’re running things unopposed. This whole country and most of the world is a white people party — white men at the forefront, of course, but us white women have it significantly better than our sisters of color in every conceivable way.
So when I see that lily white YouTube video ranter Nicole Arbour (best known for that awful “Dear Fat People” video) has opened her trap again, I assume the privilege flowing from her lips will be an abhorrent sight to behold that I should avoid at all costs. The title of this latest atrocity invoked the words of Elon James White which rang in my ears over the screeching of her voice:
Yes, Nicole. You could just say nothing.
I get that advice like Elon’s is basically impossible for a self-important, Glamour Shot holdover like Arbour. I don’t expect her to change or be sorry; I expect her to double down if her reaction following her fat shaming video is any indication. My words today are directed not at her, but at the rest of my white brethren.
(You can get “Dear White People” on Netflix; if you choose to watch Arbour’s six-minute nightmare, I suggest having it loaded and paused to cleanse your eyes, ears, and soul.)
I am not surprised that a white chick who adheres to all the societal norms and beauty standards thinks she can demand the attention of an entire group of marginalized people so much as I am offended as a human being and a comedy fan. First rule of comedy: punch up, not down. Punching down makes you an asshole and is why Dennis Miller’s hard right turn ended his comedy career and turned him into a thesaurus spewing, pontificating jerkbag with like five total fans.
The opening “hands up don’t shoot” bit isn’t so problematic on its own — it’s that Arbour uses it as a shield to deflect the expected cries of racism. You know, the sort of thing that her 800,000 Facebook, 240,000 YouTube, and 64,000 Twitter fans will use to call you a racist when you unfriend one of them for putting it in front of your eyeballs when they post it on social media.
Next up — don’t worry, I’m not going to play-by-play all six excruciating minutes — she really compares the widespread enjoyment of pickles on hamburgers to appropriation of black culture. “That’s appropriating Polish culture!” She’s “not even mad” about the pickles, so why can’t black people get with it? Chill the fuck out, already, Nicole is tired of hearing about your struggle! She says your style gets replicated becaue “your shit is just cooler.” And those air quotes she’s making around “appropriate” and “steal” are totally made with respect — CAN’T YOU SEE THAT?
The “how do you wipe your ass” thing about the length of black women’s nails? COMEDY! She’s just creating a parallel so you understand how she feels when she’s laughed at ordering jerk chicken “not too spicy,” obviously. If you can go to Starbucks — the embodiment of “everything that is white” — she should be able to go to “your places” and not be hassled.
The last point I’m taking on and then I’m stopping because, honestly, I can’t keep rewinding this trainwreck to get her shitty diction correct in quotes, is her pay equity bit. (Also at this point she devolves into 10 second segments of random buzzwords and false equivalencies.) Arbour thinks that because she gets paid less than a man for the same work, she TOTES KNOWS ABOUT INEQUALITY. And, frankly, suggesting otherwise is racist. Of you. Racist of you.
At the risk of having all of her fans descend upon me with cries of white-on-white racism, here are the facts about pay inequality that Abour couldn’t give two shits about via RH Reality Check reporter Emily Crockett:
“The analysis by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) finds that most women of color make even less compared to white men than white women do. In comparison to white, non-Hispanic men, Hispanic women in 2013 made 54 cents on the dollar (the widest gap), African-American women made 64 cents, American Indian and Alaska Native women made 59 cents, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander women made 65, and Asian-American women made 90 cents. White women made 78 cents on the dollar, more than every racial and ethnic group other than Asian-American women.”
That 77 cents on the dollar stat about what “women” make as compared to “men” is white women compared to white men. White women are ranked right behind white men and then pretty much everyone else comes in after us, so saying you “know the struggle” because dudes make more money than you is offensive, not funny.
As her rant devolved she “proves” that she says she can see how racist the prison industrial complex is (“Did you think I didn’t notice?”) — while perpetuating the stereotype of the absent black father and shitting all over black mothers by saying a house without a dad will OF COURSE cause kids to “act up.” There’s no time to take on how heteronormative those 15 seconds are; other problematic aspects of Abour’s “work” will have to wait for another day.
Which brings me to why I even bothered watching her self-important ranting. I was going to ignore this bullshit, but I saw my friend Ijeoma Oluo tweet this just as I was about to click the box to close the window on Arbour’s video:
She’s right, of course (she usually is.). If I’m exhausted just knowing this video exists and will be widely watched and reposted by people matter-of-factly parroting her “I’m just saying what everyone’s thinking” responsibility disclaiming, I need to sit here for just a few minutes in my pasty white skin and consider HOW FAR BEYOND exhausted my black friends are every damn minute of every damn day of their lives.
I’ve said to a couple of my closest friends on occasion that I don’t know how they get out of bed in the morning. Black women have the kind of compounded bigotry and hatred hurled at them that I have no way to even begin to imagine. We fundamentally disregard black women’s voices and needs at every turn in our culture; the entire system is designed to silence and shame a group who has withstood everything we as a society have thrown at them for hundreds of years. The weight of that is something I can never know.
In her piece at The Establishment titled “America Doesn’t Care About Black Women And Girls,” Oluo writes:
“Those of us who are black women, those of us who love black women, those of us who depend on black women for survival—we beg of you: see us. See us and our humanity. Care about our suffering. Care about our success. Stand with our women and girls. Be outraged at our rape, our murder, our neglect. Be heartbroken at our loss. Be inspired by our resilience. Be awed by our creativity. Be stunned by our beauty.
And then do something.”
I have only my voice and my vote; with both, I honor your strength and your struggle. And when you ask me to collect my own I promise I will do so in this, the modest platform at my disposal as well as in my personal life where there are no microphones or cameras and the risk of alienating friends and family is much higher.
So, to Arbour who’s offended to her core that “Y’all pick and choose which stereotypes you actually want to keep” and is tired of hearing about slavery because she, like, totally wasn’t a part of that! and doesn’t appreciate having it shoved in her face:
Maybe not everything has to be about you all the fucking time. Take your pickles and go home.
Katie Klabusich is a contributing writer for The Establishment and host of The Katie Speak Show on Netroots Radio. Her work can also be found at Rolling Stone, Truthout, RH Reality Check, and Bitch Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @Katie_Speak.