Sunday, July 12, 2015

I, racist

is the title of an essay by John Metta that you can read here. I've shared it with a number of people, I've printed out copies so I can hand them to white people when I get into a discussion with them and I see their eyes starting to glaze over as I struggle to explain how all of us white people are complicit in a racist system. I don't have a great deal of confidence that it will make a difference...but...the essay is so piercingly true that it should be shared widely. And...just maybe...it can help to break through the obliviousness of normality.

Every vegan that I know has had the unsettling experience of having someone get upset when it was pointed out to them that living a "normal" life here in U.S. America meant they were being cruel to animals who weren't human. Most see themselves as non-harmers of living beings...even as they routinely eat "animal products" and "meat". The cruelty has been invisibled and making that cruelty clear is most often experienced as a personal attack instead of an effort to expand perception and comprehension.

Most vegans have learned that truth telling, no matter how gently or kindly or eloquently it is expressed, usually ends up being rejected, ignored, denied or...quite often...with a non-vegan human being upset and angry at the vegan who was audacious enough to point out "normal" cruelty. Exposing this awfulness almost invariably results in hurt feelings because the previously oblivious person feels like you're saying they are "bad". Their feelings get hurt and since you are the one who's sitting across from them...you must be the cause.

Expose awfulness to someone who "normally" participates in awfulness generally means the speaker gets branded as awful. It's as if it is immediately recognized that there's something awful going on and that awfulness becomes a hot potato that has to go somewhere...someone is responsible for it...and the quickest and easiest thing to do is toss it back onto the one who brought it into awareness. It's a variation on the "he who smelt it dealt it" observation.

Each of us can can participate in and support oppression and horror while seeing ourselves as virtuous and kind and compassionate. In fact, that is, horribly enough, what passes for "normal" in any culture where eating our sister/brother Earthlings is accepted. Which is most all cultures.

In addition, the normalized oppression that's meant by the term speciesism, isn't the only routine awfulness we get indoctrinated into here in U.S. America. You get stuck into complicity with sexism too....whether you realize it or not. If you have white skin you get stuck into complicity with racism....whether you realize it or not. And on and on...that's a big part of how the "isms" of oppression just keep rolling along.

Hell, you get stuck into complicity with racism even if you don't have white skin...it's just that you have a much greater chance of becoming de-oblivioused to that routine racism if your skin isn't considered to be white because not only will you be a "normal" participant in that oppression...you'll eventually be a target of it too. And...as noted in this post...if you suffer from an oppression you are much more likely to clearly comprehend and be aware of that oppression.

Please read I, racist...it's one of the most excellent pieces of writing I've ever read. It wonderfully works at "saying it well enough". My thanks to the author of I, racist, he's given everyone a marvelous gift.
 

2 comments:

Have Gone Vegan said...

Excellent piece indeed. I'll link to it for sure.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting HGV. Glad you enjoyed and thanks for the link.