Vegans of Color

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

Speciesism, it’s complicated July 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 9:21 am
Tags: ,

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.


11 Responses to “Speciesism, it’s complicated”

  1. johanna Says:

    Royce is my hero this week!

    I think the last time we got this many awesome posts from you in a row you said you were procrastinating school stuff… is that true again? (if so, would it be mean of me to encourage you to procrastinate more? Hehehe…)

    • Royce Says:

      Well now school stuff often coincides with VoC stuff.

      Though I’m definitely procrastinating right now.

      I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on (and a tiny bit of research for) my thesis, which is going to be a multi-genre work that deals with animals, food, and people of color.

      • johanna Says:

        a multi-genre work that deals with animals, food, and people of color.

        !!! Would you feel okay to share it, or parts of it (whichever is more appropriate/comfortable/etc.) at some point? Sounds fantastic.

      • Great Royce about the thesis work you are doing. My dissertation work is multi-genre as well, and I too will be dealing with nonhuman animals, food, and people of color. It is tentatively titled, “Race as a Feeble Matter”: The Meaning of Racialized Consciousness in the Construction and Praxis of ‘Ethical’ and ‘Cruelty-Free’ Philosophy in the Mainstream Animal Rights and Vegan Movement in the USA”. Both your (Royce) and Anonymous2’s dialogue have been very very helpful for my own work and just for me to generally think about the intersections of it all– whether we all agree or not.


      • Royce Says:

        I think I will definitely be sharing my thoughts as I work on it, as well as portions and excerpts. And if anyone could help me think of a good title, that’d be great, because right now I’m thinking of calling it “Animal/Vegetable/Other: Excavating Metaphors,” but I think that lacks pizazz.

      • johanna Says:

        Yaaaaay! And Breeze I definitely want to hear more about your work as well!!

  2. emfole Says:

    wow! great post!

  3. Anna Says:

    I second that: great post.

  4. fu Says:

    veganism is a liberal, moralistic, ahistorical, counter-logical indulgence of the middle class and drop out youths in the imperialist countries. it is fully implicated in white privilege and has no role on the left and in fact should be purged from all leftist movements. killing animals is a basic fact of human genetic, cultural, and biochemical existence. killing animals for food is an uncontroversial fact of human and planetary evolution. veganism is also a phenomology of unresolved mother-child anxieties and as such represents nothing more than a mental form of immaturity. it is also a strategic idiocy for anyone trying to do real organizing; it effectively blocks any contact between the holier than thou vegan moralists and the revolutionary communities in the first and third worlds. it is also a totalizing identity which prevents a practitioner from hanging out — or doing anything political — with non-vegans. after the revolution, we will force feed local, organic, grass raised meat and dairy down the throats of vegans. or, we will simply ban and criminalize the misuse of land for soy and wheat monocrops, which form the foundation of vegan diets. get out of your lame ass childish bubble.

    • Royce Says:

      You know what else is an indulgence of the middle-class? Pseudo-scientific explanations for the status-quo and psychoanalysis. Explain to me how me not eating animals stands in the way of ME doing solidarity work in the First, Third, or Fourth Worlds? Also, I’m fairly certain I hang out and organize with people with various diets.

      I hope your authoritarian revolution never comes because I don’t want your disease causing livestock forced down my throat. How about besides eliminating huge monocrops (which I’m sure veganism could find a way to survive without) we also get rid of livestock which cause disease, need monocrops to be raised in large numbers, and frankly probably don’t want to be eaten by you.

  5. veganarchistX Says:

    I am so happy to find this blog. I am so sick of white speciesists tryin to tell people that speciesism is not, and can never, be similar to racism. This site came up in a search I did for speciesism. I would love to hear what everyone thinks about it. Much love and intersectional solidarity!

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