It is highly disconcerting and offensive to be told that you are unconscious of what influences your attitudes and beliefs about the world. The insinuation that unrecognized socialization was largely responsible for my thinking and my actions struck at the heart of my sense of individuality and freedom.Next time you broach veganism to a non-vegan and get blasted with an inordinate amount of unexpected and bewildering anger and upset, think back to that passage above and see if it doesn't help you to comprehend what just happened.
I'm thoroughly enjoying the book, along with several others that I'm reading about white privilege. Another one I found is called Bootstraps (From an American Academic of Color) written by Victor Villanueva, Jr. Well, 'enjoying' is maybe a misleading term...more like excited and dismayed at the same time. As I read, I find myself asking "where have I been, why haven't I read about or been aware of these ideas before?"
There are many observations and perceptions in these works that are significant, not only in terms of the deplorable manner in which we white people in the USA have avoided coming to grips with racism but how very very similar our pretenses about 'race' are to the pretenses we've fashioned to blind ourselves to speciesism.
Human animals in the USA live in a white supremacist culture that denies it is such, just as we live in a human supremacist culture that either denies it is one or freely admits it is one and blithely asserts that that is "just the way it is and it is supposed to be that way". It most commonly asserts that human domination and/or exploitation of our sister/brother Earthlings is "natural" and "normal". The current "normal" way of dealing with speciesism is so very reminiscent of the way race was thought about (and dealt with) 200 years ago here in the US.
It's eerie and, for me anyway, more than a little stunning and scary. Look at what we've done with racism. We've essentially said that since we passed some laws about civil rights and voting then it's all taken care of. Poof. We don't have to worry about it anymore. And, I'm not letting myself off the hook here, I pretty much blundered around with some of that same attitude for some time...at least until I started serving as a liaison (for mental health services) with the American Indian Tribal unit where I worked. Then I started coming out of the culturally induced dream of "all is well". It isn't...in many ways it's worse than it was before the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s.
Awakening from that dream prepared the way for my being able to grasp the totally disorienting movement toward veganism. I've been in a state of greater or lesser bewilderment ever since. Things are not what they seem in terms of how life is lived for non-human Earthlings nor are things what they seem for how life is lived for non-white humans (at least in the USA), just as things are not what they seem for how life is lived if you are not male. They're not what they seem for white males either but since that group (white males) don't suffer atrocities and/or horrors (beyond mental/emotional deformation) because of membership in that group...their suffering is qualitatively different from those they subjugate.
It's hard to write about this, to think about this, to feel about this...and I'm struggling to find firm ground to stand on. I do know that living as an oppressor is no good way to live nor is living as one being oppressed. We can do better than that...we must do better than that. From what I can see now, unless one is living as a vegan...then you're an oppressor. No matter if you strive to be non-racist or non-sexist or non-whatever-terrible-thing-you-try-to-avoid. You can be a sexist and a vegan or a racist and a vegan or a racist-sexist vegan...but...you can't live as a non-oppressor without living vegan. Or so it seems to me.
Being vegan doesn't mean you're not an oppressor...it just means you're trying not to oppress those who aren't members of the human species. You still benefit from the historical and current societal and institutional oppression of other animals just as (whether you're personally racist or not) you benefit from the historical and ongoing societal and institutional oppression of those who are non-white. If you're a male, even if you personally strive to be non-sexist, you benefit from historical and current societal sexism. Jeez, it makes me want to grab my head and run out in the street and start screaming. I don't know what the hell I would scream though...something incoherent and incomprehensible probably.
I'm in a state of flux now and looking back at my recent posts shows that. The flux has accelerated however over the past several months. New thinkings and ways of understanding are coming hot and heavy as of late and not much firm ground is available. One the one hand I really like it...on the other hand...it's thoroughly upsetting and disconcerting.
There is one source of solace and safety though...living vegan...that's something that seems about as hardcore OK as it gets. Whew, it's a bumpy ride, all this waking up and stuff...it's hard on us old people. Better never to have never been lulled into uncomprehending numb-nuttedness than to have to awaken from it.