Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

Pollution in the city July 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 5:18 pm

In some New York City neighborhoods, kids may be set back in school long before they ever enter a classroom, thanks to dirty air. A new study by the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health draws a connection between prenatal exposure to neighborhood air pollutants and future IQ scores.


FNB, racist?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 1:41 pm
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I once went dumpster diving with the FNB chapter at my school. All we found was moldy lettuce, and went back to school and got drunk. I’ve been to presentations given by FNB folks multiple times including one by one of the founders. I’m always annoyed by Food not Bombs folks, they are generally the drop-out culture Crimethinc-esque “radicals.” The sort that are largely middle class and white and steeped in their own privilege, but refuse to deal. That said I found a rather angry, reasonable, and readable critique of FNB.

Food Not Bombs is a white supremacist movement. If you can’t see that you still have your blinders on. Fuck you is my response to white charity. All your romantic rhetoric about blurred lines between the servers and the served quickly enters the wastebin of reality with every chapter formed. For all those FNB chapters that rely on dumpstered food, I flip a finger to all you white college kids and middle-class punks hiding in drop-out culture, get your fucking privilege out of my face. Did it ever cross your mind that people of color cannot do as you do? Did it cross your mind that dumpster diving is a practice that comes with risks for people of color you know nothing about? And quit fucking up the dumpsters. Some people rely on them for survival; and boo on you that I have to point this out, but they shouldn’t be made to go to your once or twice a week “picnics” to get fed. Fuck corporations but fuck you too for controlling the underground food supply. White people, you’re still stealing.

It seems people also just assume that Kilwaii is insane (Funny for folks who read poststructralism and use that to deny racialized identities).


Earthlings: sado-masochism? July 29, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 8:56 am
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My first year of college the Vassar Animal Rights Coalition had an event in one of the larger spaces. There was a screening of Earthlings, and free vegan food from Zarona’s Middle Eastern Restaurant down the street. My friends and I went a little late, and found all that was left were a few balls of falafel and a tiny bit of baklava. We sat on the floor of the room with around 70 other college students and downed our food while Earthlings played on a huge (15 feet high or so) screen. That is the first and only time I have ever watched Earthlings, I refuse to ever watch it again.

Multiple times VARC has had events that involved watching Earthlings. When I was involved with the group I even sat at a table with a macbook playing the movie in the college center, but I positioned myself behind the computer. I just listened to Joaquin soothing, monotone voice. I was bothered by the upset looks of people walking by, people who looked upset at suddenly being assaulted by images of mutilated bodies.

One of my friends loved Earthlings, to the point of watching it on her own time.  Other memebers of VARC were happy to show Earthlings as many times as possible. There were a complex set of situations that led to me leaving VARC (omnivores in the group, the intense hegemonic whiteness,  the welfarism, and the lack of any activism), but the fetishization of Earthlings also contributed.

Question: Why do many vegans and AR activists watch Earthlings. To be informed. Why do many vegans and AR activists watch Earthlings more than once, twice, three, ten times? For pleasure?

Watching films like Earthlings becomes like watching pornography. Instead of sexualized, (de)human bodies the viewer watches tittilating visions of violence against nonhuman animals. How much information can be gained from watching a pig killed?

I know Earthlings is informative. Earthlings is also sensational. It attempts to create feelings of disgust/anger/sadness for the purpose of turning up your activist-libido. Do we need it, is it even good for animals?

If you’re the type that subscribes to personhood for animals, how can you watch Earthlings? I’m legitly curious. A film of humans dying isn’t something most people want to watch. So why is it different with animals? Should the disgust we feel in our bellies be a warning? The porn addict needs something more hardcore to get it up.  Do we require more and more intense images of animal suffering just to reach the same level of outrage? Are we depersonifying animals by showing images of their pain and suffering for our own sado-masochistic activism?


2010: Year the Seal? July 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 10:05 am
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So I generally don’t like talking about PETA, but they have a campaign going on about the slaughter of seals in Canada that caught my eye. Good for them. That said they are attempting to use the Vancouver Olympics, and the IOC, as leverage against the Canadian state (Olympic Shame 2010). It also seems rather pointless, as PETA isn’t actually protesting the Games. There is no call for the boycott of the Games as far as I can tell. Meanwhile, there are groups who are protesting the Olympics completely (and with a more rounded critique that I can get behind).

If tomorrow Canada said, “Damn you, you’ve embarrassed us enough. We’ll get rid of seal hunting.” Would all of these folks in the PETA slide shows suddenly be ok going to the Olympics?


NYT on the Kamayurá July 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 2:23 pm
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NYT on the Kamayurá, and other indigenous folks:

Cultures threatened by climate change span the globe. They include rainforest residents like the Kamayurá who face dwindling food supplies; remote Arctic communities where the only roads were frozen rivers that are now flowing most of the year; and residents of low-lying islands whose land is threatened by rising seas.


International Blog Against Racism Week

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 1:31 pm

It’s International Blog Against Racism Week again. I haven’t seen a lot of posts in the past that deal with nonhuman animal issues (except for some from this blog!), but perhaps some more this year? And hopefully vegans & animal rights activists who are still learning about how race & racism works will take this chance to listen to others discussing these issues.

Announcement from here:

For 2009, IBARW will take place between July 27 to August 2.

IBARW collects links to participating posts during the week; we try to get posts from people who blog about racism all year round and from people who habitually blog about other topics. As with rydra_wong’s link spam, all posts regardless of content are linked to, so there may be fail appearing. If you discuss IBARW in your post and do not want it to be linked to, please mention it in the post and we will respect your wishes.

How to participate:

1. Announce the week in your blog.

2. Post about race and/or racism: in media, in life, in the news, personal experiences, writing characters of color, portrayals of race in fiction, review a book on the subject, etc. (Linking back here is highly appreciated!) The optional theme this year is “global.”

3. Let us know by bookmarking your post on Delicious with “for:ibarw,” or comment with a link to your post in one of the link collecting posts.

For inspiration, here are the previous years’ IBARW posts and last year’s POC in SF Carnival IBARW edition. You can also check out this post or delicioused recommended reading for further resources.


Speciesism, it’s complicated

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 9:21 am
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Speciesism is easy. Humans oppress non-humans.


What if it gets more complicated? Numerous bloggers on VoC have questioned the way that vegans, AR activists, and everyone else respond to the oppression of some animals over others; the oppression of whales, simians, and pets (as defined in the North/West) as oppossed to livestock (as defined in the North/West), deer, and bugs.

The way we see, and judge, speciesism is shaped by our own socio-cultural contexts.

The closer an animal is to us (physiologically or mythologically) the more we care. We value animals we have deemed to be smarter over the dumber ones. The cute over the ugly. The human-esque over the alien. Animals that we used to eat are less important than the ones we always pet.

There is a hierarchy of the harm one does to animals as well. Vivisection is ‘better’ than dog fighting. A zoo is ‘better’ than animal husbandry.

Intersection Ahead: Racism, classism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, (and on and on) color our perceptions of animal oppression: Our families don’t whale, they don’t dog fight, they don’t experiment on apes (Our great cousins!). Our neighbors may hunt and go to circuses, but they aren’t doing anything as alien as whaling! Our families may eat cows and chickens (Happy meat? Even better) and go to zoos, but that is something everyone does, and it isn’t as barbaric as somethings that those people do like eat dogs.

Those people, over there, actually eat (whale/dog/cat/guinea pig/monkey).

(Sexism)How often do we talk about the fact that livestock are raped on an unprecedented scale. Hypothesis: a human rape culture, leads to the rape of nonhumans as well. A human rape culture allows us to overlook this rape as insignificant.

Science is a hegemonic force. We often give (‘legitimate’) science extra chances. After all, despite how horrible animal testing is (‘especially on apes’) we got so many things from it, or so popular mythos tells us. Science also helps tell us which animals deserve saving more. Hint: The ones most similar to us.

We create a complex hierarchy of animal oppression based on our own biases (and utilitarian thinking). The more accepted by the Allfather (the big ol’ white patriarch) the less we touch it. It is easier to attack the practices of the Other/others either because one doesn’t recognize their biases, or because one seeks to side with the One in order to get more support.

But tackling speciesism isn’t supposed to be easy.


Something is Off in this Picture, or Yahoo’s Endangered Species July 26, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 4:15 pm
Hint: Something here doesnt belong.

Hint: Something here doesn't belong.


Cages, Vick, and Cherry



I remember, as do most people, a couple of years ago when Michael Vick was sentenced to prison. I also remember that a lot of the talk about him revolved around him being a brute (beast/monster/animal/Black) who gained pleasure from torturing dogs. The nail in the coffin for Vick was of course his abuse (murder/torture) of animals that Good people cuddled with, instead of the numerous animals that most of americans are cool with killing for pleasure (meat tasting so good and all). It was, of course, many of my fellow herbivores who went nuts with the racialized and brutal imagery.

The monstore of lore

The monster of lore

A 17 year old Black girl from the Bronx is going to jail. She did a horrible thing: baking a cat (yet again if only it had been a chicken). Everyone really dislikes her because Cherry also isn’t remorseful. Do I find it strange that a woman from Levittown would travel to the Bronx to watch a Black person (“monster”) sentenced to prison as if it were an event for celebration. Nope, it actually seems quite in character.

Vick is out of prison (his cage). He’s also working with HSUS to stop dogfighting or something (help his image, reach ‘troubled inner-city youth’). If you look around you notice a lot of things. Vick has been thoroughly pathologized (You hear? He’s a psychopath!). He’s still a monster, just like Cherry. Static, unchanging. It is impossible that he could have possibly changed (because he is a brute/animal, a Cartesian automaton?).

“We are all Michael Vick.” He is humanized by Gary.

Cheyenne Cherry will never be humanized in the press. She is too defiant as she goes to prison. “It’s dead, bitch!” And a sticking out of the tongue. Morally superior folks hate when there is no begging, no remorse. She’s too uppity/rebellious/evil. More ‘sympathy’ if Cheyenne is apologetic (speaks in yessuhs, yessums?).

I grew up in a neighborhood where dog fighting happened. Imagine riding the school bus every day with kids your age who raise dogs to fight each other. I’m still afraid of strange dogs. These kids, my friends and neighbors didn’t think it was a big deal, not any more or less strange than hunting or eating meat. I would also never want these folks, my folks, to be thrown in something as horrible as the prison system.

The celebration of the incarceration of Black bodies is not something I can ever take part in. An animal liberation (rights/welfare/abolition) movement can not attempt to abolish cages for the cute and furry and then celebrate the prison system. I’m tired of cages period. An anti-speciecist politic that doesn’t include prison abolition can never include me.

“How fucking silly can you be, trying to free Willy– motherfucker free me.” — Da Lench Mob


New Study Finds African-Americans are the most obese group in US July 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alicia @ 10:46 am

I know we spend a lot of time on this blog talking about the multiple reasons that obesity is so high in our communities but I just had to post this article. The source of the study for this article is a recent CDC Study.

On a positive note there are people out there making strides to eliminate the disparities that make it harder for minorities to each good quality, affordable, healthy foods. Here’s an article from the Chicago Tribune that highlights a new program by black churches in the area to start selling fresh produce from local farmers at black churches in the community,0,6966754.story .

ATLANTA — Nearly 36 percent of black Americans are obese – much more than other major racial or ethnic groups – and that gap exists in most states, a new federal study finds.

About 29 percent of Hispanics and 24 percent of whites are obese, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday. Overall, about 26 percent of U.S. adults are obese.

Racial differences in obesity rates have been reported before, and health officials were not surprised to see larger proportions of blacks tipping the scales.

But the new CDC report is the first to look at the gap state-by-state, finding blacks had significantly higher obesity rates in 21 states and somewhat higher rates in many others.

Experts believe there are several reasons for the differences. People with lower incomes often have less access to medical care, exercise facilities and more expensive, healthier food. In many places, minorities are disproportionately poor.

“Poverty is a very strong driver of obesity,” said Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

Attitudes about weight also are believed to be a factor, said Dr. Liping Pan, a CDC epidemiologist. Researchers cited a 2008 study that found black and Hispanic women had significantly lower odds of being dissatisfied with their body size than white women.

“Black and Hispanics are more accepting of high weight,” Pan said, adding that heavy people who are satisfied with their size are not likely to diet or exercise.

However, it could be that over time as people struggle with poverty and environment “they come to accept the higher weights,” Brownell said.

Obesity is based on the body mass index, a calculation using height and weight. A 5-foot-7-inch adult who weighs 190 pounds would have a BMI of 30, which is considered the threshold for obesity.

The data comes from a national telephone survey of more than 1 million Americans over the years 2006 through 2008.

For blacks, the highest obesity rate was in Maine, where 45 percent were obese. Tennessee was the state where Hispanic obesity was most common. And West Virginia was the fattest state for whites.

But generally, obesity was most common for both blacks and whites in the South and Midwest.

The study also broke down the groups by gender, and found black women were the heaviest, with 39 percent counted as obese. Black men were next, at 32 percent, then Hispanic women, 29 percent, Hispanic men, 28 percent, white men, 25 percent and white women, 22 percent.

The study is being published this week in a CDC publication, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.



The Associated Press
Thursday, July 16, 2009; 7:38 PM