DOCUMENT: Celebrity

Al Sharpton Is A Bigot... Against Fat People

The trim activist loves to mock the overweight

AUGUST 26--Now that the Rev. Al Sharpton has transformed himself from an overweight track suit enthusiast to a svelte dandy, he appears to enjoy nothing more than making fun of obese people.

During weekly meetings at his Harlem headquarters, the civil rights activist, who turns 60 in October, has used his overweight followers as punching bag and punch line. He does this while acknowledging the obesity crisis in African-American communities, which are filled with fast food restaurants and few supermarkets.

The multimillionaire Sharpton--who follows a strict diet that has reportedly helped him shed about 150 pounds--lives in a luxury apartment on Manhattan’s West Side, where he has easy access to fruits, vegetables, and healthy eating choices. In fact, the MSNBC host just has to take the elevator downstairs, where a Trader Joe’s occupies his building’s ground-floor commercial space.

The skinny civil rights leader, who was long the butt of tabloid jokes about his weight, does not deliver his fat attacks on cable TV or during high profile visits to places like Ferguson, Missouri or the violent streets of Chicago. Instead, Sharpton saves his caustic comments for home turf--the Harlem headquarters of the National Action Network, the “Christian activist organization” he heads. In addition to his MSNBC salary, Sharpton banks $241,402 annually from the not-for-profit group.

At his Saturday morning appearances at NAN’s “House of Justice” on West 145th Street, Sharpton addresses crowds filled with obese attendees. In fact, his inner circle includes many overweight individuals, including aides, bodyguards, and family members.

Over the past several months, Sharpton has regularly singled out fat followers for the kind of ridicule that he himself once endured. For example:

* During a March 29 address, Sharpton recalled running into a former classmate from Brooklyn’s Samuel J. Tilden High School. But the woman, now pushing 300  pounds, was no longer the physical specimen of her youth, a fact that made Sharpton rueful. “Ain’t nothing worse than ruining your life over somebody that don’t look that good anymore.”

The woman, Sharpton recalled, “was slim, trim, the finest girl in Tilden.” Now, however, “she obese,” added Sharpton. The reverend then followed with the observation that, “Every fine girl is two big Whoppers away from being obese.”

* On April 5, Sharpton told of an upcoming community fashion show being organized by his daughter Ashley, and noted that some women, due to their size, would not be able to participate.

Mimicking a passed-over candidate, Sharpton said, “Why Ashley didn’t have me model?” He answered himself, “’Cause you too fat! We doing full-body size, but we ain’t doing the oversize.” He added that “jumbo” women would not make the cut.

After laughter subsided, Sharpton noted, “Since I lost weight I talk about fat folk real bad. I like keeping fat folk around me so I can just talk about them.”

* On the day before Easter, Sharpton mocked women anticipating a candy score the following day.  “As old as you are… you overweight, obese, got diabetes looking for some corn candy and jelly beans.” He added, “Talk about the resurrection, you gettin’ ready to have a crucifixion if you eat them jelly beans.”

Later in his address, Sharpton recalled that the last time he flew coach was a 1994 trip to South Africa with other preachers. He recalled being stuck in a middle seat between “two of the fattest preachers” on the trip.

* Chiding a portly aide during remarks in late-April, Sharpton said, “I know how to make you jog. All I got to do is just put a fried chicken sandwich right here.” As he said this, Sharpton mimicked holding the sandwich on a stick as a lure. “And you’ll run as far as I got that chicken sandwich.”

* While urging followers in late-May to attend a rally against Boko Haram at the United Nations, Sharpton said, “A lot of y’all ain’t doing nothing but going to lunch. And most of y’all don’t need no lunch. Y’all need to walk over to the UN and lose some weight anyhow.”

* During June 28 remarks, Sharpton recalled once ridiculing a female diner who ate across from him at Sylvia’s, the Harlem soul food restaurant. After watching the woman devour half a fried chicken, two sides, and dessert, Sharpton recalled, “I just got mad.” When the waitress asked if she wanted anything else, the woman “had the nerve” to ask for a cup of coffee with Sweet'n Low,” said Sharpton. “So I couldn’t take it anymore and said, ‘Miss, lemme ask you something. All of that you took, what do you need Sweet'n Low? I mean, you just make yourself feel better? You might as well pour the whole bag of sugar in the cup.”

As he closed his remarks, Sharpton reminded the audience to attend a panel that afternoon, saying that attendees “don’t need to eat lunch. Swallow hard and stay right here. You too fat anyhow, you don’t need no nothing.”