Monday, April 6, 2009

Privilege: The U.S. Vegan Movement, Whiteness, and Race Relations (part 5)

After having argued that there is actually quite a bit of racial diversity in the international and domestic vegetarian and animal rights movements, I discussed reasons for why the movements are nonetheless perceived as so white: epistemologies of ignorance (i.e. a whitewashed history, framing veg*nism as a lifestyle rather than a social justice philosophy/diet), disinterest in outreach and collaboration within communities of color, self-fulfilling prophesies about race (i.e. scrutinizing "others" rather than scrutinizing our tactics), and alienating interested persons at events and conferences.[part 3]

Afterwards, I exclusively focused on several ways in which well-intentioned vegans and ARAs alienate vegans of color: They may (obliviously) make blatantly racism comments, treat VOC as tokens to flag in front of the public rather than full-fledged allies, be ignorant of/indifferent to how their discourse and tactics are offensive to VOC, suppress criticism of/concerns about said discourse/tactics ("you're being divisive"), marginalize the emotional trauma/rage triggered by said events (b/c "some good will come of it"), and invalidate their feelings ("get over it"/"you didn't get the message"). [part 4] In this post I will also add the alienation that arises when VOC are "Othered" through discourse of "exoticism."

The remainder of the series, which I will conclude here, will cover additional areas in which white and middle-class privilege go ignored by the majority of the U.S. ARA and vegan movements. Specifically, I'll discuss the greater obstacles and consequences VOC encounter within direct action (i.e. open rescues) and freeganism (i.e. dumpster diving), and why vegans are not "oppressed." In addition, I will briefly discuss the classism present within the dominant discourse of animal activism and veganism. I will conclude by acknowledging the limits of how much privileged persons can understand the struggles those without it face, and the need for them to "liberate" themselves from ignorance before they can become allies in their liberation.
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