Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness
**The 2022 Lammy Award Winner in Transgender Nonfiction**
Exploring the intersections of Blackness, gender, fatness, health, and the violence of policing.
To live in a body both fat and Black is to exist at the margins of a society that creates the conditions for anti-fatness as anti-Blackness. Hyper-policed by state and society, passed over for housing and jobs, and derided and misdiagnosed by medical professionals, fat Black people in the United States are subject to sociopolitically sanctioned discrimination, abuse, condescension, and trauma.
Da’Shaun Harrison--a fat, Black, disabled, and nonbinary trans writer--offers an incisive, fresh, and precise exploration of anti-fatness as anti-Blackness, foregrounding the state-sanctioned murders of fat Black men and trans and nonbinary masculine people in historical analysis. Policing, disenfranchisement, and invisibilizing of fat Black men and trans and nonbinary masculine people are pervasive, insidious ways that anti-fat anti-Blackness shows up in everyday life. Fat people can be legally fired in 49 states for being fat; they’re more likely to be houseless. Fat people die at higher rates from misdiagnosis or nontreatment; fat women are more likely to be sexually assaulted. And at the intersections of fatness, Blackness, disability, and gender, these abuses are exacerbated.
Taking on desirability politics, the limitations of gender, the connection between anti-fatness and carcerality, and the incongruity of “health” and “healthiness” for the Black fat, Harrison viscerally and vividly illustrates the myriad harms of anti-fat anti-Blackness. They offer strategies for dismantling denial, unlearning the cultural programming that tells us “fat is bad,” and destroying the world as we know it, so the Black fat can inhabit a place not built on their subjugation.
Praise for Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness
“This modern classic relishes in collapsing conventional and clichéd orthodoxies. As formative as Harrison’s proclamations are, it is Harrison’s pacing that gives the book the lingering feeling of the most sensual whisper.”
—Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir
“Belly of the Beast is written with poise and lucidity. It pushes us to think past the pablum of telling fat folx all they gotta do is love themselves to enacting a movement that addresses the source and ramifications of societal anti-fatness as anti-Blackness. Harrison forces us not to look away, reminding us that all too often ‘health’ and ‘desire’ are used to annul Blackness. In a ‘post bo-po’ world, desire and the sheer right to life can be rooted in something other than all the things named non-Black.”
—Sabrina Strings, author of Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia
“Da’Shaun Harrison is an insightful visionary, world-builder, and ingenious writer who brings us into deeper understandings and frameworks of the intersections of anti-Blackness and anti-fatness. Belly of the Beast brings us closer to ourselves because it brings us closer to the truth—that anti-Blackness
is the foundation to how violence shapes our relationships to our bodies and each other. Harrison not only intervenes in the terror of white supremacist paradigms but develops the tools to imagine and build a new world. Belly of the Beast eats, and it leaves no crumbs.”
—Hunter Shackelford, author of You Might Die for This
“I am continually blown away by Da’Shaun’s ability as a writer to wrestle so deeply and expertly with questions many of us would never even think to ask—whether they be about our world, our politics, our selves, or our bodies. Every page challenges us to expand our imagination and reconstruct the ways we think, talk, and theorize about fatness, Blackness, gender, health, desire, abolition, and more. Belly of the Beast is a gift and a groundbreaker.”
—Sherronda J. Brown, editor-in-chief of Wear Your Voice magazine