The following article is adapted from one that was written for the NAAFA newsletter, August 2019

Fatties Against Fascism Rise Up to Close The Camps

By Max Airborne, with Dawn Haney, of Fat Lib Ink and Fat Rose

I was creeped out when I saw the photo. A familiar sense of shame filled my body.

The August 2017 anti-fascist action had been a beautiful, powerful experience, San Francisco Bay Area community coming together in the thousands to successfully drown out a fascist rally. Inspired by the “Femmes Against Fascism” shirts that my fat friend had recently made and distributed, I made two big cardboard signs for me and a fellow disabled fatty to prop on the front of our Travel Scoots: “Fatties Against Fascism.” People cheered when we walked by at the rally. We got so many compliments on our signs. We were loved and appreciated. 

It felt jarring to see a photo from this beautiful experience turned into a meme, designed to induce shame. My friend and I smiling in different directions, the picture secretly taken and labeled, “Antifa Now Has a Tank Division.” The comments were even meaner.

In my shame, I didn’t tell anyone right away. But then I decided to say something, and I posted it on Facebook. “Not sure how I feel about it. Guess I’m doing something right?”

And people said, “Hell yeah, we have a tank division!” People raised their hands proudly, superfats and scooter riders ready and willing to fight against fascism. These people weren’t afraid of getting called names — they wanted “Antifa Tank Division” as a title of honor. People started asking, “Where’s my t-shirt?

And I realized that was another way I could be responding. Even with all my years of fat activism, the trolls had managed to hook my shame. But there is an immunity we build when we do this together. Going out together is self protection. Doing this work together is building our resilience and immunity. When I kept it to myself, I was in a state of shame. When I shared it with others, I remembered that together we are so powerful. Acting together is our medicine against shame.

Acting together is our medicine against shame.

* * * * *

Some Fatties Against Fascism t-shirt printing had already begun, engaging fat people politically in this time of Trump and bringing fat politics into other movements. Fat community’s high powered resistance to this meme kicked t-shirt printing into high gear in August 2018. Over 500 people are now wearing Fatties Against Fascism tees all over the world. We just sent some to Iceland!

With fatties bursting with political energy, in January 2019 we started Fat Rose, a study and action group to get fat people more involved and connected to each other. In Fat Rose, we are working together to frame a fat liberation that is intersectional at its roots, connected to other liberation movements. To that end, we’re building relationships with people in other movements, making connections between fat oppression and other oppressions.

For example, this month we are organizing an action to Close the Camps. Thousands of families are being held indefinitely in concentration camps at the border, an intensified horror of the deportation machine that has terrorized our 11 million undocumented neighbors for decades. Co-organizer Stacey Milbern of Disability Justice Culture Club says, “We are bringing together Fat people, Disabled people, our loved ones, and anyone who has experienced being separated, shut away, controlled, disposed of, incarcerated in prisons, nursing homes, fat camps, psych institutions, or generally told they are the problem for society’s woes to unite in solidarity with migrants.” 

As Disabled and Fat people of many communities, we know what it is like to be considered disposable. We know, in our bodies, that being intentionally starved, institutionalized, and tortured lead to lifelong impairments. These concentration camps are part of a network of racialized state terror with historic roots. They are designed to control and dispose of people. We must rise up and respond.

We come together in action, finding resilience and power. Together, we demand an end to the brutal treatment of migrants, an end to the fascism of concentration camps, and an end to ICE. As Fat and Disabled people, we are powerful in our resilience. We have survived despite a world that wants to reject us, dispose of us, kill us. Just like we refuse to be pushed away and forgotten about, we refuse to let go of our people incarcerated in the camps. NO BODY IS DISPOSABLE!