Archive | January, 2011

Hey White Vegans, Let’s Get Over Ourselves: Race Matters

31 Jan

The current issue of the Journal for Critical Animal Studies is entitled Women of Color in Critical Animal Studies.  Of particular note is Amie Breeze Harper’s contribution, which addresses the notion that race is “feeble matter” in veganism.  This excellent paper truly connects the dots, critically analyzing the mainstream, white animal rights/vegan movement and its failure, and resistance, to acknowledge and examine the racialized dynamics and contexts that inform our choices and strategies.

Near the end of Harper’s paper, and in her references, we are pleased to see that there are many people connecting the dots, in addition to Harper herself.   We also know that there are more connectionists out there.  Even so, it’s not enough.  While vegans of color connect the dots (unseen, unacknowledged and often bemoaned as “nonexistent” by the mainstream, white vegan world), white vegans need to get over ourselves and look inward.  So many of us already think that we are doing so well, we are vegans, we acknowledge that speciesism exists, how could we possibly still be complicit in oppression?   We’ve overcome!

The fact is, we haven’t.  When people like Harper bring up the possibility of racism in the movement and encourage a critical analysis of whiteness in the movement, we scoff, we bristle, and we defend.  In essence, we attempt to silence the voices that challenge us to examine the movement, our approaches and strategies.  This is a function of racism – we use our privilege to guarantee our comfort so that we do not have to look at the world, and ourselves, through a racialized lens.  This may make us feel good, but it does us no favors.  Not only does it support a racist cultural context, but it also guarantees that we will fail.  That is the basis of Connect the Dots – all oppressions are interconnected.  We will not end one form of oppression without simultaneously working to end all others.  They are inextricably linked.

So, seriously, fellow white vegans, let’s get over ourselves.  If we aren’t willing to truly examine whiteness in the movement, then we aren’t capable of promoting the well-being of animals, our stated goal.  It’s that simple.

Click here for links to Amie Breeze Harper’s other works.