Ethics Quiz: What Is The Ethical Response To This…?

…because I honestly don’t have the slightest idea.

Hunter Ashleigh Shackelford describes her non-binary self/themselves as “a Black fat cultural producer, multidisciplinary artist, nonbinary shapeshifter, hood feminist, and data futurist” who  “illustrates the relationship between Blackness, fatness, desire, queerness, afrotechnology, and popular culture.”  She says she is the creator and director of a Southern body liberation organization, Free Figure Revolution, which focuses on decolonizing antiblack body violence.

I have no idea what that means.

She does trainings, lectures and workshops, and gets paid for them. Ashleigh’s website says that  New York University, the University of Richmond, Pendle Hill Quaker Retreat, The Movement for Black Lives, and the City of Richmond, among others, have contracted with her to “share her brilliance” on such topics as the body, antiblack violence, hoeism, sociopolitical issues, consent, fat hate/ shame, racial justice, body liberation, empowerment,  healing antiblack misogyny,  reproductive justice,  and Black feminist thought.

Here she is at a recent appearance:

The Ethics Alarms threshold question for ethics analysis is “What’s going on here?” Since I can’t seem to answer that question, I’m stymied. All I have is more questions, like:

  • Why would any white people go to a training like the one above/
  • Why wouldn’t a racist statement like “all white people are racist” prompt a mass walk-out, and maybe a hardy, “Fuck you!”
  • How does someone like  Ashleigh—if indeed there is anyone like Ashleigh— get to a point that supposedly respectable organizations will pay her?
  • How does someone become like Ashleigh?
  • At what point did elements in our society start being receptive to what she does and says, and why did this happen?
  • Is this another symptom of what Ann Althouse calls our “national  nervous breakdown”? Or what I call “The Great Stupid”?
  • Or am I culturally estranged, narrow-minded, and too rigid and archaic in my world view to be enlightened by bold this visionaries like Ashleigh?
  • Am I missing something to think that it is ironic that the same people who support such trainings call President Trump a grifter?

When I first saw the second photo, my initial reaction was to engage in merciless mockery, which I am experienced and skilled at. But I hesitated. Was that reaction unfair? Racist? Sexist? Lookist? Something-ist?


32 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: What Is The Ethical Response To This…?

  1. “How does someone become like Ashleigh?”

    Just spitballin’ here, but a lifetime of poor choices; choices she’s been reassured, nay encouraged, to be brilliant, empowering, and life affirming.

    • Yup. Not nearly enough people, throughout her lifetime, have been willing to look her in the eye and say, “Sorry, but that’s really stupid.”

      “Black fat cultural producer, multidisciplinary artist, nonbinary shapeshifter, hood feminist, and data futurist” = “words to make me seem orders of magnitude smarter than I really am.”

  2. No. The response to this should be laughter of the most derisive and condescending quality. I also do not think you should be bothered about being called an “anyhing-ist”? The ascriptions have lost their meaning, relevance or sting. If anything, considering the cultural atmosphere, any of those ascriptions should be a badge of honour.

  3. It appears to be yet another get rich quick by doing seminars and time/money wasting self-help? and ‘consciousness raising’ training for gullible people/companies.

  4. Many years ago, sociologists observed that many criminals seemed to suffer from very low self-esteem. From this, they surmised that should these criminals gain an improved self-image, they might be more successful at finding suitable lawful employment, and might turn away from their criminal habits. Prison programs were developed and implemented to that end. Their net result: Criminals that felt better about themselves, but continued in their criminal behavior. It turned out that criminals don’t actually suffer from low self-worth as much as from _misplaced_ self-worth, where they take pride in their criminal abilities more than from qualities such as integrity, reliability, or their work ethic.

    It looks like this woman suffers from a similar lack of perspective. She clearly isn’t lacking in self-confidence, but does not distinguish between those attributes worth taking pride in and those which others would see as incidental or even character flaws. I agree with her that the benefit of obsessing over one’s weight or sexual identity may be limited, but think she’s foolish to make such attributes the most major parts of her public identity.

    I also question the judgment of any organization that hires her, since the information she seemed to be showing that class seemed likely to undermine office harmony more than to inspire it. There is a difference between recognizing potential sources of injustice and demanding that everyone accept an outsider’s foreordained conclusion that such problems are the force driving any “inequitable” outcome.

  5. When organizations rely on image conscious, litigation fearing, mediocre talent HR directors any amount of frontier gibberish relating to trending issues will have them contract with anyone from Bizarro world so they can check the box indicating the company took steps to prevent (fill in the blank).

  6. Certain whites go to this because they feel a sense of guilt. Someone like Ashleigh can get away with moronic and competing interests like “hoeism” and “antiblack misogyny” because mostly white elites within the social justice millieu have decided to make her one of their (always temporary) cudgels or “advocates.” Once upon a time I was a darling to crowds like this. It stopped when I started asking too many questions and found being a professional mascot less than satisfying.

    Your not stupid Jack. Saying “all white people are racist” while encouraging them to donate to your PayPal account is race/gender/fat/hoe/pro-abortion pimping done in a “feed five birds with one seed” kind of way. Who needs to bother going to five different minority led workshops, especially if you wish to assusage yourself of such guilt in a jiffy.

    Ashleigh is simply a salesman/woman/nonbinary profiting off the very people who she probably doesn’t even really believe hates her/them/whatever. I hope some of those dumb enough to fall for her schemes wakes up and tries to get their money back.

  7. I am “spitballin'” just like Paul. And, saying basically what Paul has already said: people “become this way” (like Ashleigh) because of systemic glorification of ignorance and foolishness. (I had to “be inclusive” of “systemic” in hope any lefties read.)

      • Uh-oh! Paul – Dear Paul! Did I create a misunderstanding?

        I was not trying to say anything about you “being inclusive.” I was confessing that I was forcing myself to be inclusive (but only temporarily), by using the word “systemic.”

        I mean, no one can reasonably expect to have any luck with getting a message through to lefties these days, unless you speak “inclusively” of some grievance about something that is systemic. It’s a symptom of so many of the American society’s illnesses today: so many “systemics,” so few healers and cures. I hope this clarifies my use of “being inclusive.”

        In the bigger picture – and, present comic genius excluded (see what I did there, Paul? I like you. I’m not scamming you for your beer – I just…I love ya, man!), it seems impossible for humans not to be inclusive.

        Paul, I am all the way “with”* you, about the club acceptance thing – that kind of inclusiveness.

        It’s just impossible for me to be anything but inclusive when I say the truism: “Each of us is unique – just like everybody else.” *(See what I did there? I just can’t stop being inclusive! DANG me!)

        [hanging my head in shame]

  8. On the left notepad, I see she wrote some assorted social justice vocabulary words without elaboration. That may be to help people remember them later, so that’s fine.

    On the right notepad, however, she wrote “all white people are racist” and then immediately under that wrote “PayPal me / AshleighTheLion”. I’m sorry, I can’t take that seriously for several reasons.

    1. People are supposed to send her money in exchange for what? The company should have already paid for her performance. She should be emphasizing what services she can provide in the future, not soliciting donations for herself.
    2. Soliciting future business should come at the end of the presentation, not in the middle.
    3. If this is the end, then why does it end on such a general, vague, ambiguous, non-constructive, and non-actionable point as “all white people are racist”?
    4. Under no circumstances does it look good for her to put both of those statements on the same sheet of paper together like that. That just looks like a clumsy attempt at a guilt trip.

    • Yeah, this is blatant guilt tripping. It reminds me once as a teenager I attended a Christian conference that wasn’t inexpensive to my unemployed self. Near the end, they passed around hundred page pulp books “free, at a twelve dollar value”, then immediately passed an offering bucket. With $6 left in my pocket, I shoved their “free” book into the bucket instead, reasoning that they valued it more than I did.

        • Intent wasn’t to trash Christians, but the tactic of asking for donations after providing something not asked for. Surely you’ve received your name on a set of address labels from a charity? How about a nickel?

          I was put in the position of paying for this book after I already paid to get in the conference, but felt shamed for not bringing enough cash to cover it’s “value”. It wasn’t the “free gift” that it was labeled as, but a marketing ploy.

          In contrast, Matthew Kelly sent me his most recent book “The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity” but no corresponding request for money. I have it on my lap right now if you’d like me to photograph it with the letter that it came with. I can’t vouch for it’s content as I’ve not read it yet, but a cursory flip through hadn’t revealed any scriptural references but looks like something Tony Robbins would write.

          My carbon footprint is between me and God. I suggest you pay more attention to passages about the beatitudes, casting stones, and turning the other cheek.

    • Her lack of actual belief in her own blather is on display right in that photograph. “AshleighTheLion?” A lion is a tawny and highly athletic creature. If she was truly unashamed of her fatness she would proudly wear the moniker “AshleighTheWalrus.”

      Instead she fantasizes, envisioning herself as a lion. Female lions do almost all the hard work of hunting in service of their patriarchal male pride leader, who then eats first. That’s like, the opposite of everything she stands for.

    • Sad to say that I watched part of the video associated with that picture and it makes the notepad on display there look somewhat tame.

      Basically what she said several times was ‘I believe that white people are born into not being human.’ Seriously. And then something along the lines of Sorry, but you have to deal with the fact of being monsters. Meanwhile the camera is panning much of the room, revealing an overwhelmingly white audience not saying a word.

      You cannot make this stuff up.

  9. This looks like a particularly virulent intersection of finding self-worth and espousing a Cause that has undesirable consequences. For someone railing against capitalism, can we assume she gives these seminars for free and not hefty fees?

    I suspect this grew out of self-worth issues being turned on their head and becoming militant. Fat-shaming is a thing, and worth morally and skill-wise should not be tied in as it has been through my lifetime. But while shaming is no better than any other prejudice, neither is it something to be celebrated and encouraged. It just is.

    I think the data-futurist and afrotechnology terms are to make her sound more progressive and wired, as race, gender issues, and weight hold all her spoken focus. She has found a way to convince others to pay her for her in-your-face insults and prejudice. I doubt she 100% believes all she says, she must know people who have had obesity consequences, but there is a grain of truth that medical people will blame any problem, up to a railroad spike in your ear on obesity. But blaming white people for weight bias is silly when whites are obese too and have the same problems she bemoans. Once she became militant for one area the others aggregated to this mess. By combining all those causes, only the tiny minority that matches her will be truly influenced. Because anti-white is so strong, she loses all the fat whites. If she’s a shapeshifter, I guess her natural crew is people like Odo on Voyager? Too small a demographic and excludes too many.

    She wants to protest lots of things to feel the power of leading a mob, but lack of focus will keep her small fry.

    • I bet she believes in science and insists the CDC’s dictates must be followed to the letter, even the conflicting ones. And yet she scoffs at any possibility that being morbidly obese at a young age will lead to all sorts of dire health outcomes in her near future. Glorifying and normalizing obesity is a really insidious development, but it’s just another example of “Hey! I can’t do that! You’re wrong for expecting me to even try to do that! There, that’s fixed!”

    • Great comment, Marie! I just added a comment here involving shaming – self-shaming. I am probably too well-practiced at it (and, its opposite – I’ll just call it “foolish pride”) for it to be constructive in my life. But, oh well – I am old and not long for this earth. Observing people like Ashleigh makes me suspect that constructive self-shaming is becoming a lost art in American society.

      In this country there seems to be a dire and urgent need for all persons to become especially more skillful at discernment, such as seeing the difference between truth-telling and deception – “cutting through the BS.” Presentations like Ashleigh’s strike me as particularly over-hyped, over-valued, insidious exhibitions of noise-making.

      When I see a paid educator and “conversation”-leader (and the embracing of same by corporate and other “thought leaders”), who posts assertions like “All White People Are Racist,” I think to myself: “Mygosh! I really need to be more watchful about Marxism-inspired social engineering, inclusive of gaslighting. But more than that: with the time on earth I have left, I need to be exceptionally industrious at pointing out that ‘engineering.'”

  10. I wonder how many of these seminars are sponsored by companies to fulfill their HR quotas in an effort to blunt workplace discrimination claims. The company gets sued for some sort of discrimination or hostile workplace environment. The company then responds that it is actively engaged in diversity training to ensure complaince with state and federal law, pointing to programs put on by the likes of this individual or similar people. They get to tell the EEOC that that employee conduct does not meet or represent the company’s commitment to diversity. Do they are not liable for fines or damages.

    I know a woman who puts these stupid programs on, and is paid for her pearls of wisdom. When I asked why the organization sponsored the dumb seminar, I was greeted by a knowing stare and then invited to lunch where we talked about other stuff. It is probably the same reason why organizations have diversity directors.


  11. All of your questions are great questions but the one that is the most important is this one…

    At what point did elements in our society start being receptive to what she does and says, and why did this happen?

    Here is my answer in part…

    When you have one stupid person ranting in public it’s easy for the public to shrug it off and explain it away to others as “it’s just a wacko”, but what happens when that wacko’s rantings become mainstream and there are hoards of stupid people publicly parroting the same irrational emotionally driven nonsense…

    I wrote that June 17, 2019 in my blog post Apathy Fertilizes A Breeding Ground For Stupidity after watching what has happened and realizing that societal apathy from rational thinking people across our society was wide-spread and people just hid away under their rocks focusing on their own lives, actively ignoring what’s been going on around them and thinking thoughts like “just ignore the wacko’s, they’ll go away”, “don’t get involved”, “I don’t want to be sued”, “I won’t want to be canceled”. People have forgotten what the word “enable” means.

    So, the Jack asked the question “At what point did elements in our society start being receptive to what she does and says, and why did this happen?” the answer is, when society became apathetic to the stupid people, tunnel visioned their self-centered lives and gradually allowed stupid people to gain power. We’re ALL at fault! Years of apathy from rational thinking people has given the hordes of totalitarian minded stupid people credibility, street power and they are intimidating themselves into positions of power; rational thinking is deemed quaint, evil, racist, etc.

    “Many observe that we are in the middle of a revolutionary change in the patterns and the processes of human endeavor.” John C. Hillary 1991

    “The objective of education is to measure and diagnose the child in order to prescribe a program to develop his feelings and emotions, values and loyalties toward predetermined behavioral objectives. Drawing it right down to basics, we are talking about conditioned response in human terms.” Charlotte Thompson Iserbyt 1972

    Cognitive Dissonance: Disorganization of thoughts, mental confusion, and emotional tension caused by behavior modification which conflicts with one’s values. Such manipulation causes many to rethink and modify their values in order to conform to expected behavior.

    Emotional Training Determines Thinking: The direct and indirect emotional training that an individual receives that determines the way they think. The like button in Facebook is an great example, the user sees others getting instant gratification with emotional “likes” and that subconsciously trains the individual to think similarly to get similar “likes” and enables the individual to easily set aside critical thinking in favor of getting “likes”. Pavlov trained dogs.

    In her own way Charlotte Thompson Iserbyt wasn’t incorrect back in 1972 when she wrote about The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America.

    Ignorance or Societal Brainwashing?

  12. Jack,
    If you scroll through the rest of her website, the text suddenly switches to Latin, It would seem she used Latin text to check the layout appearance during testing, and never went back to fill in all the missing copy. Either that, or she’s also a classical scholar.

  13. It was a Netroots workshop in 2018. Once I found out the location, I stopped asking why none of the women walked out when they were called non-human.

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