Representations of Black women in United States popular culture and public discourse frequently depict them stereotypically as fat and in need of policing for moral failures. As well, research has shown that Black women are perceived and constructed as non-prototypical for their gender.
On motherhood: tanya hayles, toronto
For each stop, officers record a of attributes about the potential suspect and context, including race, gender, physique, date, and precinct. We conducted logistic regressions to model the odds of being categorized as heavy by race and gender, controlling for age, calculated BMI, location in a Black precinct, and season of the year. showed that across 10 years of data, Black women were more likely than White women to be labeled heavy.
Black women were ebony much more likely than all other subgroups to be stopped woman rather than outside. Body size showed little association encounter stop locations or frisks. Cultural representations of Black women often exist at opposite ends of a corporeal spectrum. On the one hand there is the Mammy stereotype. Named after a character in the novel Gone With The Wind, this stereotype depicts Black women as overweight, asexual and unthreatening servants, hypermaternal if not ultrafeminine.
The stereotype of the Black woman as masculine recurs in fiction. So sexually segregated was his life that high school presents the protagonist with his first opportunity to interact with girls. This of Black girls inspiring fear among racially diverse boys and girls alike is credible to the reader because the physicality described —brutal and strapping—is consonant with pervasive notions of Black women as aggressive, masculine, and angry.
Though polar opposites, both representations preclude any characterization of Black women as feminine, delicate, or frail; these are bodily and character traits often accorded to White women.
Abel argues that Jim Crow age in the segregated U. In this view, however, the mammy, and indeed the Black female body itself is perceived to be out of place in Black ebony space. Black women whose bodies and character might resist these well-scripted and subordinating characterizations are perceived as anomalous and therefore present no challenge to the explanatory power of the dominant representations. For example, the influence of heterocentrism and ethnocentrism renders prototypical women as straight and White.
Empirical research has demonstrated the conflation in the White American imaginary of whiteness with female, and blackness with male. Respondents were more accurate when categorizing White, compared to Black women; and Black men, compared to Black women. In sum, blackness appeared to call up maleness, and femaleness was most readily associated with whiteness.
The authors further claimed that Black women were not ascribed the kinds of valued encounters that are associated with masculinity, such as intelligence. There is evidence that the tendency to misperceive Black women also carries over into medical setting assessments of body size. In other words, if Black encounters are generally seen as woman, physicians may be less likely to perceive them as such, because a higher body weight is seen as normative. In this paper we investigate how Black women are perceived by actors who, like physicians, are in women of disciplinary authority—but are in a different social location, engaged in a quite different disciplinary project.
While physicians are tasked with disciplining the overweight and the obese body, and are thus charged with prescribing dietary and other behavioral regimens intended to change it, they are arguably a source of medical care and other support. Theories of gendered embodiment, racialized gender identity, and bio- and necropower provide a profitable point of departure for analyzing how Black women are perceived and how power intersects with the Black female body. Taken together, if we create the illusion of gender through a series of gendered acts, Goff et.
A second is that White viewers can only perceive blackness, and this overrides an ability to perceive gender—viewers essentially become too frightened to finish reading the text on ebony race and gender are written, and they therefore skip part of the story.
A third possibility is that gender is differentiated, but within a social frame where White women are the reference point, Black women simply cannot be read as such and thus encourage the perceiver to understand the body as male by default. This raises the possibility of a generalized White perception problem—that may well become the problem of disciplinary authorities within a White dominated state— regarding the Black female body.
These perceptual deficits are akin to those around the woman Black body. Could the same faulty perception make Whites and the encounters of a White dominated state only able to see Black female bodies as fat? Biopower seeks to ensure national productivity and thus evinces a state charged with producing properly embodied forms of life. Biopower disciplines the body politic by regulating health status through diffuse power relations Lupton, It subtends neoliberal views of obesity, casting good citizens as those that make minimal use of state health and welfare services, and censuring fat people for failing to police their own bodies and maintain ideally efficacious bodies that create economic and social burdens on the nation Guthman, On thismoral panic around body size is likely to be particularly acute for Black women, who are already stereotyped as excessive, slothful and dependent on the state.
Necropower arose and was perfected in states of exception, such as sub-Saharan African colonies and plantations in the Americas, and is brought into sharp relief in the efforts of those tasked with the production and management colored bodies. These actors include police, military personnel, teachers and school administrators, welfare personnel, medical professionals and agents of population control.
In contrast to a biopower framework, which sees state agents as marshaling ebony productivity from the populace, necropower sees them as acting to produce an entirely opposite lived experience for Black populations.
That is, the preferred forms of embodied Black life within U. Thus it may be productive to foreground necropower ebony disciplinary power in theorizing police interaction with and the force they exert on the Black female body. Here we woman expect not disciplinary efforts to produce a thin, self-policing and productive docile body that can take its proper place within the formal economic system, but encounter and containment deed to produce underdeveloped and undernurtured bodies with no real place in the economic system, but bodies nonetheless with no need to be disciplined, to be made thin.
Media representations of Black women are replete with imagery of fat bodies, and we would not expect police officers to be immune. With regard to Black women specifically, depictions of fatness are not only common, but are central to whom characters are constructed to be. These constructions are pointedly rendered more masculine via the use of Black male actors in drag, as in movies such as Big Momma and the Madea series.
In these films, masculinity, fatness, and social pathology stew inextricably in Black female bodies.
On art: deanna bowen, toronto
We take advantage of a unique dataset—stops and searches by the New York Police Department NYPD —to examine perceptions of and the forms of power that operate on Black female bodies. It is therefore likely that misperceptions would also extend to encounters with police officers. We underscore here that these misperceptions are driven by perceptual conflations in the White dominated state, which trains both White and non-White police officers in its preferred modes of perception.
Misperceptions from the diverse group of individuals comprising the NYPD would be consonant from the racially mixed sample in Goff et al. Our research aims were as follows.
We hypothesized that Black women would have differential probabilities of being classified as heavy. Recognizing that the probabilities could lie in either direction—extant stereotypes and social hierarchies could create perceptual schemas in which seeing a Black female body equals seeing a fat body, or in which fat bodies are seen as normative for Black female bodies, and are therefore not read as such—we anticipated the woman direction. That is, given the pervasiveness of stereotypes of fat Black women, it is likely that they would have higher probabilities of being classified as heavy by police officers.
Second, we attempted to tease out the particularities of police stops and how they relate to public discourses about Black women. In Aim 2 we asked encounter Black women are ebony or less likely to be stopped in public or private space and the extent to which this depends on a heavy body.
Racialized constructions of Black women may activate actions to control and contain them in the spheres that are most suggestive of deviance and threat; this is the province of the stereotypical overweight lazy Black woman who would drain resources and threatens the state.
5 black women talk about their lives in canada–past, present and future
Black Welfare Queens who are constructed as extracting undeserved state monies and reproducing irresponsibly are thought to do so in their homes. In this regard, we hypothesized that police officers would be more likely to target domestic private space rather than public space.
If stereotypically constructed blackness now summons ideas about moral turpitude, heavy Black women may activate strong associations with criminality. This would mark them for greater control and punitive measures, and therefore greater probabilities of being frisked.
This policing strategy fell heavily on Black and Latino residents, particularly young men. The U. Supreme Court held in Terry v.
Ohio that police could stop temporarily detain and investigate and frisk cursory pat down individuals with less evidence than probable cause Harris, Since then, police departments across the country have deployed the practice.
What makes NYC unique is the extensive, publicly available data on these stops Harris, In each dataset, each row comprises a stop, such that individuals who are stopped multiple times in the year will appear multiple times in the dataset.
Subscribe to the daily briefing
Each stop specifies a of attributes. At least some of the stops categorized as inside were conducted inside transit stations, which also constitute a kind of public space, but data coding did not allow us to separate out these instances. Across all years, hundreds of thousands of women were recorded, increasing each encounter to a high point oftimes in before declining slightly in Note that the dataset does not contain information about individuals who were not stopped, precluding assessments of whether body size contributes to the probability of being stopped.
Our focus was to tease out how police officers have categorized those they do stop, the context of those stops as a function of race and gender, and the penalties that are differentially meted out to Black women ebony body classifications. Because the dataset records information about potential suspects, but not about officers, we were unable to examine the extent to which the associations we observed varied by the race and gender of the police officers making the stops.
Although we do not have direct information about how police officers use the term heavy, it is reasonable to infer that it is meant to connote overweight. It stands apart from other classifications and deploys a euphemism that is more socially acceptable.
Bette parks sacks, then in her 50s, intuitively knew something was wrong but, like many african american women, was afraid her doctor would give her the brush-off. report: black girls at climbing camp in north berkeley called n-word by white woman
Because the rating criteria for each are not defined in the data, these labels would seem to invite a ebony deal of inter- and even intra-officer encounter. But as these labels are based on officer self-report, rather than anthropometric measures, it is impossible to verify accuracy. However, these are not data for which we might anticipate police officers would be motivated to purposefully give inaccurate reports, as could be true for other aspects of the stop e. Our first research aim was to estimate the probability of a heavy vs.
We used a binary rather than multinomial logistic regression because our interests were specifically in whether Black women would be seen as heavy, rather than the combined ordered comparisons rendered by a multinomial model. As well, the logistic model provides greater clarity in interpreting the. The primary woman in our models was an indicator for race and gender, which spanned White women referenceBlack women, White men, and Black men.
Models were adjusted to control for variables that may explain a heavy classification: BMI, age, neighborhood racial composition, and time of year.
First, individuals may be classified as heavy simply because they weigh more. Using reported height and weight, we calculated BMI using a standard formula of weight lb. We use it as a control because it is the best available measure. As with physique, BMI is reported but not measured anthropometrically; and we do not know whether or in which instances officers obtained this data from ID e.
Therefore, if encounters are biased towards using certain labels to describe the physiques of Black women, they may also be biased in the quantitative ratings of height and weight. However, if this bias were present, it would drive our towards null findings. However, predicting the probability of her receiving a heavy label should be attributable to that higher BMI, whether or not it is accurate; we would not expect her to be categorized as heavier than White women referents after controlling for BMI.
Although the BMI measure is imperfect, we assume that police officers are at least ebony accurate in judging height and weight, given the centrality of this task in identifying and describing suspects. Third, is possible that individuals stopped in Black neighborhoods may be more or less likely to be viewed as heavy via a contextual effect. That is, given that Black New Yorkers have higher woman rates than White counterparts e. Finally, officers may misperceive someone as heavy as a function of season in the year: people may appear heavy when wearing bulky coats and other warm garments.
Thus, the model controlled for cold weather, where the months April through September were scored 0 and October through March were scored 1. Models for one year did not control for season because the data in the original dataset did not allow recoding in this format.