Sunday, January 3, 2016

Ruby Hamad writes truth.

You can access more writings by Ruby Hamad here or on twitter or facebook.

The quote above contains a perspective I've thought about often in the past few years...for instance I can recast it into consideration of families. There is the human family and the cow family and the dog family and the woodchuck family...and so on. Being complicit in practicing oppression (whether knowingly or "unknowingly") in your own family (the human one) while spending effort and time advocating against oppression toward the woodchuck family (and other families) seems a little, well, warped, when you think about it.

For more clarity...let's imagine my family. We'll pretend I'm a young man (actually I'm way past young) who's married and has a wife and two children (this is imaginary). I am a tyrant at home (whether a nice one or a jerky one) and dominate and oppress my wife and the two children but...I'm vegan and advocate against oppressing living beings who do not belong to the human family.

See the problem? I'm not resisting oppression or domination or the horrible treatment of living beings...I'm just being against the bad treatment of certain groups of living beings. I'm not objecting to a**holey behavior...I'm just against it when certain beings are targeted by it. I'm not seeking to interrupt the oppressive framework itself...I'm just saying be selective in picking those who are targeted by oppression.

Which is pretty sad when you think about it. I'm saying to my family (humans)...hey...I don't really much care about you...and that is...when you consider it...probably a pretty poor way to get humans to join in the cause of ethical veganism.

All I've written sounds reasonable and true, at least it does to me, but there's a problem...a big problem. And that problem is, in a way, exemplified by the graphic I shared in my last post. It's a recognition problem. It's the problem of "good" intentions. It's the problem of obliviousness. Way too many of us who advocate for veganism attempt to avoid complicity in human oppression by believing that all we have to do is not wear white sheets and pointy hats and we're good to go. I can assure you, especially for we white identified people, that it is much more difficult than that.

I'm struggling to write something that's been much more eloquently written in many places by many's one:

"It is virtually impossible to view one oppression, such as sexism or homophobia, in isolation because they are all connected: sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, ableism, anti-Semitism, ageism. They are linked by a common origin-economic power and control-and by common methods of limiting, controlling and destroying lives. There is no hierarchy of oppressions. Each is terrible and destructive. To eliminate one oppression successfully, a movement has to include work to eliminate them all or else success will always be limited and incomplete."

Those words were written by Suzanne Pharr who has spent her life struggling against oppression. Anyone notice an "ism" she neglected to include? This past year has taught me one thing for sure...and that's that this oppression or "ism" stuff is insidious and smart and slippery and able to morph into invisible forms almost instantly. It can be right in front of you (me too) and not be comprehended. Read what this excellent human writes about it.

To be continued...


Have Gone Vegan said...

"Anyone notice an "ism" she neglected to include?"

Yep, the most invisible ism of them all. Yet when noticed, the most vigorously defended one as well. I remember my sister-in-law pointing out to me a few years ago, "yes, but a cat, for example, is not a person" as if that said it all. Human supremacy is not only taken for granted, but argued as a given that can't be challenged.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting HGV. Your observation that speciesism is the most vigorously defended is well taken and yet I've come to have great appreciation for the formidable array of obfuscations and evasions that are encountered when contemporary (and even historic) manifestations of racism broached.

It seems to me that many/most white people have been conditioned (I include myself) to identify racism and racist happenings with overt instances of such harmings but to be oblivious to and to also be strongly avoidant towards deeper examination of the implementations of race and racism.

Aph Ko wrote an excellent blog post along with a video about the connection between animal oppression and anti-racism that touches on some of these elements. It's all much more convoluted and well-defended by the dominant culture that it might seem at first glance.

You can see her post here: