Vegans of Color

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

gimme some of that identity politick August 10, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 10:24 pm
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Something a commenter said a while back stuck in my mind. I’m not gonna go look for the exact comment, because it was a while back, and the specific of it don’t matter that much for what I want to talk about. The gist of it was about how VoC must secretly be run by Republicans (the most liberal-bougie insult I can personally think of) and how this person didn’t want us to speak for them.

I don’t want to speak for anyone (and truthfully if they cared, they could have asked to be a blogger here as well). I don’t think I, VoC, or anyone else, could be the Authoritative voice for people of color who are vegans. I’d also question anyone who could believe that vegans, people of color, or vegans of color (and every other identity) is a monolith that could be spoken for by one person or group.

So if one is rejecting essentialism, what’s the point of identity? When I can’t speak for Black folks, men, or any of the other identity groups I share commonalities with, then whats the point of joining under the banner of ‘vegans of color’ (or people of color, Black people, etc– you get the idea). I’d argue that the number of issues VoC has brought up over the past few years could make part of it obvious.

The only commonality that all vegans share is the abstention from animal products. The only commonality that all vegans of color share is abstaining from animals while also bearing the weight of systemic racism. We all bear it in different ways, but that allows us to give a multitude of viewpoints that can’t be seen from the center.

Because we must explicitly speak in multitudes (while the amorphous One speaks in unison) there is no vegan of color viewpoint. Only viewpoints. Viewpoints that often get overlooked/stomped on/overshadowed by the One.

So when I speak please don’t think I (and I’d assume most of the bloggers here as well) speak for you (seems to me thats the white patriarch in your head talking). I speak only as a Black, queer/questioning, able-bodied, working-class rooted, college-educated, cisman/questioning Southern vegan in North america with horizontal politics named Royce. I’m only one in a multitude.


G-Force, war, and capital

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 8:30 am
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G-Force is Disney’s latest misanthropomorphic movie about secret agent guinea pigs who are not only bipedal, but rational, English-speaking companion animals, bearing arms in protection of the nation just like the rest of us American mammals.

That is how Los starts out the latest post over at hudsonvalleyvegan.

The post covers a lot of topics, but a quick rundown:

  1. G-force will cause a lot of guinea pigs to be abandoned.
  2. The movie depends on misanthropomorphism (creating fictional similarities and ignoring real ones).
  3. Animal usage and war have been connected for a long time.

I found it a fantastic read, and it seemed to focus on a lot of things I had been thinking about lately.


animal studies

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 6:20 am
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This summer I’ve read a number of books that fit into the grouping of animal studies. Interestingly most of these came from Columbia University Press. A year ago I didn’t even know that animal studies existed, and now it seems to be popping up everywhere: example one and example two. Hell, even my school is offering an animal studies course without actually calling it as such:

Animal Metaphors. When humans place themselves above and beyond nature, they are more likely to engage in practices that are destructive to the environment. The purpose of this course is to discover how and why humans so often define themselves in opposition to the animal world, and to use both art and science in order to explore alternative identities that would help us come to terms with our own “animal” being. As we consider stories about animals in various works of literature and film, we study humans themselves as a species to which evolution has bequeathed a host of traits and capacities, including the capacity for story-telling. Readings in cognitive science and evolutionary psychology help us to reframe questions of human identity in relation to animals. Towards the end of the course, we examine ways in which various cultural narratives, including ecocriticism, have been transformed by a more scientifically informed appreciation of animals as metaphors, and of humans as “metaphorizing animals.”

So I began looking around to see if there were any animal studies programs, and all I could find was the graduate specialization at Michigan State. Does anyone know of any others?

I’m really liking this trend towards multi- and interdisciplinary explorations of subjects (most of the courses I’ve taken in school were in urban studies, women studies, media studies, and american culture), and I’m also glad to see that many manifestations of animal studies are largely critical with an eye towards improving human and nonhuman interactions.

The most disappointing aspect of animal studies so far?

You guessed it: the field is dominated by white men. Which could help explain why so many of the books coming out are boring explorations into the same Derrida text (I love Derrida, but let us do something new). I want to see some queer theory, feminist theory, critical race theory, crip theory, postcolonial theory and so on and so forth intersecting with animal studies.