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“Our bodies, they move, they morph, they shift. We do things with them, we show up with them. They do hold things that they shouldn’t have to hold, that they can’t hold… They have all these assignments, but who are you?”

Da’Shaun L. Harrison

“Who are you outside of your body?” — This is one of my favorite questions that has ever been asked, and it’s one that Da’Shaun L. Harrison tasks us with unraveling often. When we sat down to discuss their forthcoming book, Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness, I reflected on how I feel this question reverberating in every chapter. What Da’Shaun drives home with Belly of the Beast is why the question is so important, why it should be asked again and again, because there are so many things invested in us seeing ourselves as only a body. 

In this conversation, we dig into many things: the limitations and failings of Body Positivity, the violent ways that Black fat beings are policed and violated by police, how fatphobia convinces us to police ourselves, parallels between the COVID-19 pandemic and the general ways Black fat beings are engaged by the medical industry, gender, humanness, abolition, capitalism, diet culture, the impossibility of “health” for Black people, the cannibalistic nature of whiteness, and more. 

RECOMMENDED: “Belly of the Beast” Excerpt: The War on Drugs and the War on Obesity

“‘Health’ is something that was created with the very intention of keeping Black folks out.” 

Da’Shaun L. Harrison

Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness is scheduled for release on August 10 and is currently available for pre-order.

Da’Shaun’s Reading List:

  1. Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia by Sabrina Strings
  2. Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
  3. Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity by C. Riley Snorton
  4. Gender Trouble by Judith Butler 
  5. Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World by Zakiyyah Iman Jackson
  6. Hunger by Roxane Gay 
  7. “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book” by Hortense Spillers 
  8. Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America by Saidiya Hartman 
  9. Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Y. Davis 

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Sherronda (she/they) is an essayist, editor, and storyteller writing pop culture and media analysis through a Black feminist lens with historical and cultural context. They often find themselves transfixed by Black monstrosity, survival, and resistance in the horror genre and its many fantastical narratives, especially zombie lore. Read more of their work at Black Youth Project.

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