My aim in this series on privilege is to examine the (not so) invisible whiteness of the “vegan” movement. In the subsequential posts, I hope to educate fellow advocates who have not thought much, if at all, about white privilege and how it not only ostracizes vegans of color, but also alienates potential vegans and allies from joining the movement. The first post in this series will focus on one of the most controversial (and obvious) demonstration of race-relations gone wrong, then the following ones will delve more into the dynamics in everyday vegan advocacy.
“Are Animals the New Slaves?”
In the summer 2005, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PeTA] began a traveling exhibit entitled "The Animal Liberation Project" [NOTE: This is an updated version of the ALP. Also see the UK versions] in which it was asked, “Are Animal the New Slaves?” The original exhibit, composed of images from the Cambodian genocide, exploitative child labor practices, and enslaved and lynched American slaves to photos of nonhuman animal bodies in like contexts, attempted to manifest the conceptual connections between the oppression of human groups and the oppression of animals in the minds of its audience. However, after only a month on the road, the exhibit was suspended after major outrage ensued in New Haven, Connecticut.
Not only did students begin shouting at PeTA’s staff that the exhibit was racist, but predominant Afro-American organizations joined in the outrage at the juxtapositions being made. For instance, Scott X. Esdaile, the president of the regional NAACP, arrived at the exhibition in order to demand its removal. He declared that “[o]nce again, black people are being pimped. You used us. You have used us enough." 
Vakiya Courtney, executive director of America’s Black Holocaust Museum was particularly outraged, as Dr. James Cameron, the founder of the museum, was one of the men in a noose being juxtaposed to slaughtered steers. "How can you possibly compare the brutality that our ancestors... that people like Dr. Cameron had to overcome," she asked, "to animal cruelty?" 
Dr. Cameron, the only living survivor of a lynching in America, acknowledged that he was "treated like an animal" at the beginning of the century, but that "there is no way we should be compared to animals today… You cannot compare the suffering… I experienced to the suffering of an animal." 
In response to one person’s outrage, Ingrid Newkirk, the president and cofounder of PeTA, wrote that she can and should make such comparisons despite the outrage of millions of Afro-Americans “because it is right to do so and wrong to reject the concept. Please open your heart and your mind and do not take such offense” . While PeTA’s exhibit may have been created with good intentions, Newkirk’s remarks, on the contrary, were strikingly insensitive toward the Afro-American community whose ancestors were enslaved not 150 years ago and who still to this day struggle with dehumanization and subordination in America. Later, Newkirk went on to "unequivocally apologize for the hurt" after realizing that "old wounds can be slow to heal and for not helping them to heal, I am sorry." [1*] The NAACP spokesperson, John White, in response to Newkirk's decision to continue the project said simply, "I'm not surprised." [1*]
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