In the spirit of Black History Month and elevating Black experiences, the OAC wanted to highlight a few of our members and volunteers this month and give them a platform to share their stories.
The below perspective is written by Dana Rosser, OAC Member and volunteer for the OAC’s Inclusivity and Diversity Task Force. Learn more about Dana in the “About the Author” section below.
As an African American woman, sadly I deal with racism almost on a daily basis. Not that I’m looking for it; it has just become a part of my life that I’ve grown accustomed to and have learned to manage.
However, watching my husband deal with racism and weight bias EQUALLY was a very big pill to swallow (pardon the pun). Sadly, it didn’t matter that he was a world-renowned laparoscopic surgeon, or that he had developed his own surgical instruments, or that he was on the cutting edge of new surgical techniques. No – the only thing some people saw was his VERY DARK SKIN AND HIS WEIGHT, which at the time was 460 lbs. So much so that one of Butch’s colleagues went to a surgical instrument company stating that they shouldn’t support him because Dr. Butch didn’t fit their image/brand because of his weight. Thankfully, that surgical company dismissed their concerns and had a beautiful working relationship with my husband, despite his colleague’s unwanted grievances.
There were PLENTY of times I witnessed people dismissing the fact that Butch couldn’t possibly be a doctor – a surgeon nonetheless – because of his outward appearance. Strangers would ask in jest what NFL team he played for, or they would mistake him for a famous preacher (TD Jakes) or rapper (Biggie Small), both of who happened to be overweight. They assumed that because he was black and stricken with obesity, he had to be an athlete, rapper, or preacher…how sad is that?
As his spouse, my heart hurt for him. Why couldn’t people see the magnificent, funny, and smart person I fell in love with? I reflect back on a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King: “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” I so wish that I could rewrite that quote today: “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin OR THEIR WEIGHT, but by the content of their character.” Wouldn’t that be a glorious day?
About the Author:
Dana Rosser is a passionate OAC Member who frequently lends her perspective as a spouse and family member to someone affected by obesity. She is dedicated to educating people on how to support a loved one’s challenges with obesity and leading other caregivers and supporters out of seclusion to address their emotions and help them navigate these delicate issues. Through her efforts, Dana hopes to strengthen communication within the family unit as they learn to conquer this obstacle together.