Friday, November 13, 2015

Racist animal activism?

To contextualize this post you first need to read this writing by Lauren Ornelas about a recent experience she had while doing some animal activism. She writes on her blog called Appetite for Justice by Food Empowerment Project. A note on Dr. Breeze Harper's blog led me to Lauren's entry. 

What happened during her activism efforts makes the statement on the graphic: "Proud to be an animal activist" a little dubious.

Lauren ends the piece she wrote on her blog with these poignant words: "I can’t imagine the animals truly wanting us to be so cruel toward one another because, if nothing else, if we can’t live with solidarity among our own species, how can we save them?"

It's a great question. If we think of human animals as if we were a family and the other beings that we share mother Earth with as other we really think that we can behave horribly toward our own family members but pull off the trick of behaving well toward those who aren't in our family?

Readers here are members of the human family, there is also the pig family and the cow family and the sparrow family and so on. It's bizarre to imagine we humans can operate out of a racist framework and/or a sexist framework and/or an abelist framework and/or a heteronormative framework and so terms of our interactions with one another and...while doing all those harmful things and thinking in all those harmful ways...also be able to avoid harm to beings who belong to other families?

In other words do we think we can behave destructively and harmfully toward those we're most closely related to...but be respectful and non-harmful toward those who are relative strangers to us? Maybe so. Maybe we can...but it seems deranged to me to believe something like that. Deranged is actually a kind way to describe my thoughts and feelings about such ugly absurdities.

Wouldn't it be more reasonable and consistent to practice non-harm and respectfulness both with our family and with those who aren't in our family? Why would we want to act like a**holes toward those who are closest to us but be kind and compassionate toward those who are (relatively speaking) strangers to us?

I feel terrible for Lauren. She does good and honorable work with her organization...she's been advocating for animals for nearly 30 years and it is sad that she was exposed to such hateful obliviousness. This white supremacist stuff is ugly and painful...for everyone...and it has tainted all of us. We can do better than this...and we must.

I've come to think that one of the major problems we humans have is the idea that it's acceptable to behave horridly toward one group of beings or another or think one group or another is "superior".

Lauren's post provides much to consider. She questions whether she was correct in speaking out by asking: "But did I do the right thing by speaking up?"

Silence implies complicity. It isn't a neutral stance...if we are in the presence of wrong (pretty much no matter what sort of wrong) and we do not object or interrupt that wrong...then we are...whether intending to or not...supporting that wrong. None of us are exempt from that truth.

Thank you Lauren for speaking up.Your courage and compassion exemplify how we all should behave.

A few months back I wrote about my encounter with the white supremacist mindset that taints many vegan animal activists and about my banishment from a vegan group I helped start up because I objected to "activism" for animals that was racist in nature. I put the quotation marks around "activism" because I have difficulty seeing anything that reproduces oppression as legitimate "activism". Being hateful and harmful toward others, whether obliviously or not, isn't "activism".

Doing harm to the innocent in the name of stopping harm to the innocent is ridiculous. It's just this kind of oblivious recreating of damage that drives much, if not most, human destructiveness.

Please read Lauren's has so much in it that needs to be known to anyone who's vegan...and anyone else, for that matter...who's struggling to escape a colonized viewpoint.  

1 comment:

Have Gone Vegan said...

Forgot to drop back in earlier to say that yes, thanks to you, I had read her post. Good (and awful) stuff. So much harm to undo, or at least, not repeat. Thanks again for linking.