Remember our petition asking NEDA to end their partnership with the STOP Obesity Alliance? I got an e-mail from NEDA saying “The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) does not have any ongoing partnership with George Washington University’s program, Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Now Alliance.” They have removed the STOP Obesity Alliance partnership from their website. NEDA did the right thing, and they did it with class. They do important, difficult work and I have tremendous respect for them as I stated in the petition. If this is a victory it is a small one, I’m just happy that we got it done. Huge thanks to everyone involved! The experience brought up some interesting things for me:
When I started this petition I got plenty of private e-mails saying one of three things:
- They agreed with me but were afraid to get involved because they feared that NEDA would become upset with them and that it would hurt their careers.
I can understand this. Fearing for your livelihood is a big deal.
- Telling me that it was impossible and a waste of time
This group I don’t get. And I run into these people all the time – people who thank me for my work around fat rights then tell me that we’ll never make progress. If you don’t want to try to make changes, that’s fine, I’m not trying to tell anybody how to live. But if you think what I’m trying to do is impossible you can save yourself an e-mail because I don’t care. My activism started in kindergarten when I was accused my Mrs. Neff of “leading small revolts” because I organized a group of students to protest the fact that we were spending too much time playing and napping and not enough time learning. That started a life of not being scared of power, and not just trying to do things that were possible, but doing things that I think need doing.
I know that we can make change. Change that seems impossible. On June 28, 1969 GLBT patrons at the Stonewall Inn fought back against persecution, oppression, and physical abuse that was not just government sanctioned but government sponsored. A month ago I watched my best friend legally marry his wonderful husband in New York City. If you are 41 or older that happened within your lifetime. On August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. gave the “I have a dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. On January 20, 2009 this country inaugurated its first African American President. If you are 46 years old that happened within your lifetime.
We can make change, substantive change, seemingly impossible change and we’ve done it before in less than 50 years. Things aren’t perfect for the gay community or the African American Community but they are better now than they were 40 years ago and people gave their lives to get that done. Nobody is obligated to continue their work, but what good are you doing telling people who are already swimming upstream that the change they are working for is impossible? I’m happy to argue about the agenda and the message, but hope is not up for debate.
- The third group said that what I was doing was “dangerous” and that I should be “careful” to not upset NEDA
I appreciate their concern but somebody has to be willing to stick their neck out. A couple of days ago I announced that I was taking this blog to a voluntary subscription format and this is exactly why. I got a bunch of e-mails asking why I didn’t just do ads. It’s because I don’t want to be supported by corporations, if I’m going to be supported I want it to be by the people who get value out of my work and feel that it’s worth their support. The idea is that if you read the blog, if you think that you get $10 a month of value from it, and if you can afford it, you can choose to subscribe. The subscriptions support the activism work that I do. I don’t have to worry about corporate affiliations holding me back from doing what’s right, the people who are supporting my work are the people whose opinions I actually care about. This is what allows me to stick my neck out and do things that others think are dangerous.
Like the NEDA thing. Again, a huge thank you to everyone who signed the petition, passed it along, or helped in any way on this. People said that it was impossible and we did it. There’s no such thing as false hope. It’s done, we won, what’s next…