You should not affect to be colour-blind. The BAME person, fat person or trans person cannot be blind to their minority status.

I wondered about the use of the word “fat”. You cannot say that, said R, who is a bit fat. It is pejorative. However it is descriptive, and many words are more than descriptive- twee, like “plump”, or euphemistic, like “well-upholstered”, or judgmental, like “overeater”, which has self-control as the implicit answer to a problem, or medicalising, like “obese”. So “fat” is the word.

From my mother’s clothing catalogue I translated “classic clothes for the fuller figure” to “unfashionable clothes for fat women”. I remember that most of them were beige. It seemed to me that I could avoid the potential offensiveness of the word “fat” by not referring to it at all, unless necessary. The simplest task of ally-ship is challenging offensive language or bullying. It should not be just the fat person, or even the dietician, challenging fatphobia. I could do that. I remember a poem from childhood, where one child does not laugh at the child who fell on the floor, though all the others, adults too, found it uproarious. Why not laugh? Because “That poor little child was me”. We need allies. I should not need to be the one challenging when I am excluded. I may not find the courage to challenge when I am excluded because I fear the exclusion spreading.

A more difficult ally task is inclusion. Why are there so few BAME people here? At the CAB we talked of “difficult to reach” clients, but that has since been reframed from the client’s point of view, and I cannot remember the words. I am not “colour-blind”, I notice the monochrome whiteness of the crowd and see this as a problem- others missing out on our campaigning and us missing out on their talents. One answer is to seek out leadership of BAME people, like the Labour party committee which will include the BAME person with the most votes, wherever they come in the list, and the other person with the mo-

I find that hard to put elegantly. The two people with the most and second-most votes will be elected, unless both are white, in which case the person with the most votes and the BAME person with the most votes will be elected. I understood the concept, but how to say it is complicated.

I read that I should not expect the minority to teach me how to be an ally, as they have agency and might decide what to do with their time. I do not want always to be explaining trans issues to people, or at least while I am glad people want to be helpful, and I want to answer their questions, sometimes I don’t have the energy. Worse is speaking to a person about ones good intentions to be an ally. How should I respond to that? I don’t necessarily feel that grateful. It shows that I am at a disadvantage. But it is not me at the disadvantage, but society, because not everyone’s talents are being used to the full. This is a problem for everyone, and everyone should take part in dealing with it. Why should I be grateful, when someone is not doing the minimum necessary because they do not know what that is? You’re too late! You should have started years ago!

I enjoy advantages because of the colour of my skin. BAME people’s effort produces lesser results. The wind is at my back at least that far, though against me as a trans person. And I don’t know how to act on that.

4 thoughts on “Blindness

  1. “We spend ourselves.” Well … we “own up to” the selves that we can be most authentically as we disclose worlds. You should be proud of yourself, Clare. Your world disclosure is first-rate. There’s always a tension between what is and what shall be, and feeling it as deeply as you do is simply the price you must pay for your authenticity.


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