Friday, July 15, 2016

I got a hoot...

out of this graphic. It humorously summarizes the absolute necessity of examining the focus of and the origin of "knowledge", especially knowledge that has to do with the behavior of living beings.

Like most white people here in the U.S. I grew up being carefully cultivated to believe the notion that "objectivity" was the standard by which to evaluate "knowledge".

Over the past couple of years (weirdly enough, I had reservations about this "objectivity" notion for a number of years, I just didn't have any coherent frame for my reservations) my learning journey has taught me to be very aware that I'm probably being duped whenever the "objectivity" rubric is invoked for knowledges or comprehensions having to do with the behavior of human beings...or all Earthlings for that matter.

Now, whenever I hear the "objective" meme applied to information or knowledge about humans and/or human behavior (or any Earthling) I'm aware that I'm probably being exposed to stuff that is generated by white people (usually white men) and that stuff is probably justifying or upholding the frameworks of oppression associated with race, sex and heteronormativity and class and ability and species and and and.

It's an effective and insidious shtick and one that has kept me rather off-balance for decades. No doubt I'm still off-balance, but hopefully not so much as I used to be.

If you're interested in finding your way out of the dismal swamp of "objectivity" you can start no better place than by reading James Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me. It's a good place to start cracking open the box of incomprehension and distortions (about history)  that we're all exposed to by the media and by the institutions here in the U.S.

Once you've developed a little taste of understanding that we're all drenched in slanted information that masquerades as "truth" and "history" and "objectivity" then you might want to start listening to the voices of marginalized folks. The reason for doing that is the sad truth that those who belong to subordinated groups in frameworks of dominance/subordination tend to be more aware of what's going on than do those who belong to the dominating groups (in part because they simply have to be in order to survive).

Here's a link to a reading list that can assist. Ta-Nehisi Coates is an excellent writer and thinker and he believes all of these books are worthy of attention. If I was only going to recommend one author off of the many on this list...I would urge you to read James Baldwin...also watch the video that's offered that shows a debate featuring Mr. Baldwin. He is a treasure beyond measure.

For those reading this post who are vegan and struggle with grasping what any of this has to do with veganism...consider this...if you wanted to wrap your mind around the enormity of the reality (horror) of "factory farming" would you listen to those who created and run such obscenities or would you 'listen' to the victims?

You also might think about the fact that every major societal institution here in the U.S. (education, government, business, the media, healthcare, etc) is now and always has been controlled by white other words...those with the power (white men) have made things in this country be the way they are.

Also notice that every "reform" that appears to benefit those with less power (ending human slavery, women having the vote, ending legal segregation, protection for people of color voting, etc) has only happened after much struggle (civil war even) by those who were victimized by and/or resisted and opposed oppression. In other words, those in power (white men) only agreed, grudgingly and with great resistance to implement any "improvement".

When have those in power in this country...white men...ever said hey...this sucks for lots of folks and for lots of reasons...let's fix it....without having their feet held to the fire by the victims of oppression and those who objected to oppression? Never, as far as I can grasp it. Therefore...why would you ever look to those in power for knowledge and/or understanding regarding what's going on?

Make sense?


Have Gone Vegan said...

Makes sense to me. :)

My apologies for not commenting for far far too long. No excuse, but it's been a humdinger of a summer (well, spring too), and there's a lot of personal family crap going on in my life right now, so I just haven't been as active online of late. I did at one point manage to get caught up reading most of your posts, and then was going to sort of write an all-in-one inclusive comment, but then got sidetracked, and now am behind once again, sigh.

All of this is to say that my absence doesn't mean I don't appreciate your writing. The opposite, in fact, as your increasing focus on intersectionality and unraveling different but related oppressions is hugely important, and I applaud you for sharing your struggles in comprehending them. And not to be insensitive here, but the fact that not as many people are commenting anymore just illustrates, I think, the great need for vegans to grapple with all this stuff if our movement is going to be of value to all beings.

One concrete example of a concept talked about on your blog (somewhere -- by either you, or one of the many fine authors you've introduced) that has personally helped me is the much better definition of racism. I pretty much thought I knew what racism was (as I imagine most folk do), but the succinct yet incredibly clarifying definition (racism = prejudice + power) was a bit of a revelation for me. Because the second part of that equation isn't always thought about as much as the first, and helps to give lie to, for example, the false notion of reverse racism.

So please continue sharing, and know that I'm at least reading, if not always commenting.

Oh, ran across this meme today (will likely feature in a post soon), and thought you'd like it as well. Sadly, it provoked a lot of defensive reactions (e.g., there's no such thing as 'white privilege'), which just underscores the need for more vegans to be talking about these issues.

Hope you've been keeping well, veganelder, and I'll be back soon! :)

veganelder said...

I'm sorry life has been so demanding of late for you...I hope things calm down soon.

Thank you for your comment...your interest and encouragement are much needed and welcome. My apologies for not checking my "spam".

I'm glad the definition of racism was useful for was a revelation for me. Once I encountered it so much that had been confusing (and misleading) for me snapped into a much more comprehensible structure.

I think one of the mystifications that the dominant group often uses is to present stuff like racism as if it were omnidirectional when in fact it is unidirectional. Things often are presented as being "equal" when they aren't equal at all. I've learned to automatically seek more information whenever anything is presented as "equal" by the dominant group because way too often it turns out that some flimflamming that benefits that dominant group is masquerading as "equality". (when I say dominant group I almost invariably mean white men because that's who controls social institutions)

A friend of mine noted that oppressions like racism (and sexism and and) have a much "higher IQ" than we all are led to believe and very often that which we thought we understood was actually a serious case of ignorance and misunderstanding that was painted up to look different.

I took a look at some of the comments on the linked page you presented. It seemed to be a parade of ignorance and misinformation and even malice...all presenting itself (and likely thought to be by those commenters)as certainty and understanding.

We all...mostly us white people...have a long long way to go. Jeez.

I'm looking forward to more writings from you.