Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Privilege: The U.S. Vegan Movement, Whiteness, and Race Relations (part 3)


Introduction
In the
last post, I described some of the reasons how and why the animal and veg*n movement(s) are alienating to people of color. In summary, U.S. vegans present themselves as middle-class, single-issue activists who think they have the one truth which all others should accept, yet, dismiss other humans’ struggle against their own oppression as marginal. Not only do they avoid race by promoting “color-blind” politics (which only makes race issues invisible), some may be explicitly racist and colonialist by targeting an entire country and/or culture for “cruel” practices with little effort or care to assist those within those cultures who are working on similar campaigns. I recommended that middle-class white American vegans need to engage in empathetic dialogue with people of color, the working class, and “foreign” countries/cultures as the first step for establishing better inter-racial relations, respect, and furthering veganism.

In part three and four of this series, I will discuss how, beyond alienating and offending people of color who are not (yet) vegans, “a lack of race-consciousness has [also] made invisible those people of color who are already vegans.” VOC, despite being indispensable fellow members in the AR and veg*n movement(s), are nonetheless persistently marginalized and deeply hurt by how they are identified by fellow vegans as exotic Others whose own everyday oppression must come second for the sake of liberating animals. If there were only one reason—and don’t get me wrong, there are a sh*t ton—many white vegans ought to become more conscious of their race privilege, it is to end the hurt and alienation their ignorance causes their partners and allies to experience.
Read more »