Brittney Cooper tackles racism, weightism and stereotypes in a gut-wrenching blog post at Salon. During a flight home over the holiday, the woman seated next to her was still texting — rapidly — after the call had gone out to turn off cellphones. Cooper glanced over and caught the last few words of the text: “On the plane, sitting thigh to thigh with a big fat n–ger.”
As we boarded, I noticed that this mom and I would be sitting in the same row, I in the window seat, she in the center. As we sat awaiting takeoff, I finished a text conversation and signaled to the flight attendant for a seat-belt extender, a fat passenger’s best friend. Then just as the call came to shut our phones off, I glanced over at her, and she was still texting, rapidly. I caught a few words of the end of her text that made me look more intently: “on the plane, sitting thigh to thigh with a big fat [n–ger]. Lucky me.”
My breath caught in my chest.
And then there was pain. Humiliation. Embarrassment. Anger.
I still remember the very first time I was called the N-word. It was 1988 or so, and I was in third grade. My classmate, a poor white girl named Vicki, chose to punctuate the end of a childhood spat by yelling, “You DIRTY N******!” Seven- or 8-year-old me was bewildered. And silent. I had never heard that word used that way before. I didn’t know what it meant. Yet I felt its force and its vitriolic intent viscerally.
Read Brittney Cooper’s entire piece at Salon.
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