Vegans of Color

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

morrissey calls chinese people “a subspecies” September 7, 2010

Filed under: vegan — xmabaitx @ 1:06 am
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Did you see the thing on the news about their treatment of animals and animal welfare? Absolutely horrific. You can’t help but feel that the Chinese are a subspecies.”

Morrissey has been called a racist before for lyrics in songs such as “Bengali in Platforms” and “Asian Rut,” and for the anti-immigration comments he made to NME music magazine in 2007. But he’s apparently standing by these comments, saying later in a statement:

“If anyone has seen the horrific and unwatchable footage of the Chinese cat and dog trade – animals skinned alive – then they could not possibly argue in favour of China as a caring nation. There are no animal protection laws in China and this results in the worst animal abuse and cruelty on the planet. It is indefensible.

(sigh) I confess that I LOVE the Smiths. I perform an acoustic cover of “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” for my partner and my dog in my living room on a regular basis. I, however, AM SO DONE WITH MORRISSEY.

I am furthermore exasperated by the constant conflation of the existence of animal cruelty within a given geographical region or national boundary with ETHNIC CULTURAL PRACTICE. I stay on the PETA e-mail listserve because I don’t mind getting some animal rights schwag every now and then, be it stickers or veg*n brochures (that are not idiotic), but I vomit in a mouth a tiny bit whenever I see a call-out for an action to be staged in front of, say, the South Korean Consulate in order to protest th lax enforcement of laws against the consumption of dog-meat in that country. My nausea only worsens as I imagine the phalanx of white, hipster, petite-bourgeois animal rights activists carrying around fake blood stained placards baring the colors or likeness of the South Korean flag. C’MON NOW! FOR SERIOUS?!

Look, I get that Morrrissey or any other white vegan/animal rights activist is not thrilled about certain practices regarding animal rights situations in certain parts of the world (I’m not either), but to demonize an
entire nationality or ethnic group or refer to an entire nationality or ethnic group pejoratively as a SUBSPECIES. Dude… completely unnecessary, completely uncalled for, SHUT THE F-RONT DOOR!

Probably my two biggest gripes about these near-sighted race politic expressions of animal rights are that:

1) they really perpetuate, particularly amongst people of color, the misnomer that veganism can only be narrowly defined as a white, middle-class subculture and that;

2) vegans of color are further marginalized within the discourse of animal rights whether or not we cry foul at the egregious white-supremacist twists on these representations of animal rights politics.

As with Morrissey as well as the rest of the white animal rights crowd, here’s a itsy-bitsy tip when attempting to articulate a discourse about animal rights: a little nuance goes a long way in figuring out where the root of the problem lies and where the solution can begin. The intersection of race and ethnicity between veganism is much more complex than you might make it out to be.

And oh yeah… Girlfriend in a coma? More like Morrissey’s racist brain in a coma. That joke isn’t funny anymore. It’s too close to home and it’s too near the bone.

Thanks to Angry Asian Man for the link and pic.

Here’s the original article from the Guardian.


Joint Statement by a Group of Abolitionist Vegan Feminists for International Women’s Day March 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 1:42 pm
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Check it out here (& there’s also a video). A lot of issues bloggers here (& elsewhere) have raised about sexist AR campaigns are addressed in this statement, which begins:

As abolitionist vegans and feminists, we oppose the use of sexist tactics in the animal advocacy movement. Ethical animal rights veganism is part of the logical conclusion of opposition to the exploitation of all sentient beings — both human animals and non-human animals. Opposing speciesism is incompatible with engaging in sexism or any other form of discrimination, such as racism, heterosexism, classism, and other forms of oppression.


Pragmatic? January 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 2:56 pm
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Newkirk published a defense of Peta in the Guardian on Thursday.

Her defense is of two different arguments used against Peta: 1) Their use of what Newkirk calls gradualism, and 2) Their offensive ads.



Don’t Use Classism and Anti-Sex Worker Rhetoric to Protest Fur December 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 3:05 pm
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Fur is for beautiful animals & scary hookers, claims an incredibly fucked-up post at the Vegan Shoe Lady. She cites a Guardian article where Ingrid Newkirk is quoted as saying, “Fur has lost all its cachet. It’s yesterday. I see prostitutes in Atlantic City wearing fur.”

The Vegan Shoe Lady then takes this idea & runs with it, suggesting that if we see a woman wearing fur in public, we should make loud comments like, “She’s probably a hooker. Tacky coat, lower-class manners – no one respectable presents themselves that way.”

Her other suggestion, should you see a person wearing fur standing outside holding coffee, is to drop change into their cup, implying that they look like a homeless person. She offers this caveat: “Please treat actual homeless people with respect – they are human beings, and many of them have untreated mental illnesses. More than 80% of young homeless people are forced to leave home, often due to abuse. True compassion extends to disadvantaged people, too, so be nice.”

True compassion extends to disadvantaged people but apparently not sex workers. Or people at the lower end of the class system. Why should we play into the prejudices of certain segments of the fur-wearing population? The post points out that wealthy fur-wearers probably don’t care about environmental or animal rights issues, which I imagine is true. But I refuse to believe that perpetuating stereotypes, prejudice, & shame is the way forward either.


Some thoughts about companion animals December 13, 2009

I know adopting homeless animals is a contentious issue for some vegans; Vincent Guihan recently pondered this eloquently: Caring for other animals: does the personal adoption of other animals harm the movement?

For the Pits wrote about a man killed by a pack of dogs in Australia. The post talks about the racism & classism often evident when people think about attitudes towards companion animals among POCs/the poor/indigenous people/etc.

I re-read Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation & The No Kill Revolution in America this weekend. I was as moved, infuriated, & shocked as I was the first time around. For those of you who haven’t read the book, another reason why PETA sucks is their hypocritical behavior regarding animal rescue (Nathan has two posts about this).

(& really, PETA apologists, don’t waste your time commenting. Any such comments are prone to deletion &/or mockery.)


Raising the environmental footprint of veganism… November 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 4:05 pm
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Fake Plastic Fish reports that PETA is promoting plastic wishbones for Thanksgiving.

Ugh. The company says they are recyclable, but like most plastic items that are technically recyclable, I am sure most communities in the US won’t have the facilities to take these, even if people were to actively seek to recycle them.

It’s not like I don’t partake in plastic-wrapped cookies & things (which I hate — most of our garbage can is full of plastic wrappers, I think). Though I do make an effort to avoid things like individual plastic cups of pudding or yogurt (I can make the former, & could make the latter too, I suppose — at least with yogurt I try to buy the massive containers, which can at least be re-used for food storage or for planters etc. so at least a teensy bit better, I suppose).

It does bum me out, though — a lot of go-vegan rhetoric* is focused on showing that we can have the same heavily packed, heavily processed food as omnivores: fake beef jerky, individually wrapped! Packages of marshmallows! Microwaveable dinners in plastic trays!

There’s something to be said for convenience, of course — & like I said above, I certainly end up buying things wrapped in plastic. I just wish it wasn’t so inevitable sometimes. (& really, while no one “needs” individual servings of vegan yogurt, definitely no one needs a freaking plastic wishbone!)

Yeah, yeah, I know the average environmental footprint of a vegan will be much smaller than an omnivore. That doesn’t make me feel much better about knowing that plastic I use today will outlive me many times over. It’s disgusting.

(I don’t know what’s up with my posting flurry either, btw!)

* In the US/UK, at least, which is where my experience is from. Thank you to commenter Soj for reminding me that of course, this is not a universal experience.


A bunch of links & a query… November 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 2:50 pm
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I’m really bummed I haven’t been able to post more here in the past few months — more about that later, maybe, but for now, a few links:

First of all, check out the blogroll (on the right hand side of the blog — click over if you’re reading via RSS feeds!). I keep stumbling on new awesome vegan blogs but also even more excitingly, more blogs by vegans of color!

Secondly, a link I’ve had open in a browser tab for literally months: Self-Delusion and the Lie of Lifestyle Activism. This argues that the impact of individual changes such as building a compost pile or recycling are generally not enough to make a difference (& in the case of the widespread habit of recycling, can be counterproductive because of the emphasis on recycling as opposed to reducing waste). This is partly because, the post argues, modeling a behavior is not generally enough to get other people to adopt it. I read the full post months ago & didn’t wade through the plethora of comments, but I’m sure being vegan would be something that the author would put under that category as well. I don’t agree with everything — though there are some good points made there — but I think as vegans & vegan activists there is a lot to think about regardless.

Thirdly, I saw the other day that Battlestar Galactica‘s Grace Park is now shilling for PETA. Sigh.

Right, now my query. This is generally not an easy time of year for me, between the darkening of the days (& the declining temperature) & the holidays. I’m doing a lot of work just to keep myself on any kind of even keel, but one thing that often gets put on hold is, well, doing activist things or even feeling excited or inspired by the issues. It’s not as if I’m contemplating stopping being vegan — that is most definitely NOT the case — more just that I haven’t had the energy or inspiration to go trawling through all the vegan blogs & campaigns & stuff that I used to do.

What do you do when you find yourself in kind of a rut? I know for burnout taking a break is a good idea, but it’s not that I’m burnt out (well: not in terms of veganism, although I did have a huge disillusioning infuriating situation earlier this year [related to other issues] that has made me really pissed off with certain aspects of the activist crowd where I live). I’m just kind of… maintaining at the moment. I want to be inspired & invigorated again (note: shock tactics won’t do the trick, so no one suggest I watch Earthlings, please). Suggestions?


i’m not going to make a price is right pun August 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 11:34 am
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Before I begin, perhaps I’ll just state (as I have over and over again) that I’m for the abolition of all cages and all exploitation.

I saw a headline today that caught my eye: Bob Barker asks Cherokee chief to end NC bear pits.

“Fantastic.” I was glad someone was actually asking Native people instead of telling them.

Then I actually read the piece.

Oh, well. One could always hope.

Seems Barker and PETA are teaming up to force the closure of these bear pits and ship the bears to Cali where they can live in a sanctuary.

So how did Bob find out about these bear pits in the Smokie foothills? As he says in his CNN blog his good friends Bill and Beverly Young.

Beverly saw a sign that said, “Come Feed the Bears,” so they stopped at a roadside zoo. She described what she saw as “sickening.” There were six to seven bears in concrete cubicles. Their fur was hanging off, they were begging for food, and an employee was tossing one bear cub around by the scruff of his neck. Beverly said she had an uncomfortable confrontation with the person who was mishandling the cub and was asked to leave.

I agree that sounds sickening and something should be done (if this is the case). I wonder what Beverly Young, Bob’s good friend, had to say herself:

“We treat terrorists in Guantanamo better than these bears are treated, and these bears didn’t do anything to us. We invaded their land.”

Um. What?

But maybe Beverly and Bob are right. We’d all rather be at Club Guantanomo where the treatment is so much better. The statement also says that the bears have done nothing while all of those who were and are held in Guantanomo are completely guilty. You know, guilty of being brown. But at least we didn’t invade their land!

So who does Bob call. His “friends” at PETA. I’m starting to wonder about Bob’s friends. Maybe he’s not the best judge of character. But you know what they say: birds of a feather.

So PETA and Bob show up in North Carolina, detailing the horrible atrocities these bears face. Turns out he ain’t asking for shit.

“Things are going to change on the Cherokee Reservation, I promise,” Barker, a longtime animal rights advocate, said at the conference. “This is going to be a blight on tourism. Americans love animals, and all they have to know is that animals are being abused.”

Fantastic! We’ll boycott an entire nation, because we know that those folks love sticking bears in holes. Except… these menageries are privately owned. How about aiming the boycott a little. Besides, Barker was told by representatives from the Eastern Band that the zoos pass legally, both the feds and the Eastern Band have inspected them. So as far as zoos go, they pass the minimum that Bob is apparently ok with most of the time.

But we shouldn’t worry. Bob isn’t racist. He can’t be. Bob, and the AP, are quick to point out that Bob is part Native American himself.

Being part Native American myself and having grown up on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, I appreciated their interest in Indian culture. –Bob Barker

Barker, who is part American Indian and grew up on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. -AP

We all know some blood quantum gives everybody free pass on being racist. So obviously Chief Hicks is over reacting:

“I’m appalled by his behavior and him accusing the Cherokee of being barbaric,” Chief Mitchell Hicks tells the Asheville Citizen-Times.

I couldn’t find where Bob said this, but there is no reason to believe he didn’t after two days of discussion. Especially when he gives choice quotes such as:

“We feel it’s a problem for the city of Asheville having this Third World spectacle happening right at its doorstep.”

Because everyone in the Global South commits animal abuse. But we don’t. If we want to talk Third World spectacles that people accept happening right next door.

PETA claims this campaign is just getting rolling, and I can already see what sort of mystical-fetishization campaigns those folks are gonna come up with. Or came up with already:

Although no promises were made at yesterday’s meeting, PETA won’t rest until the black bears are retired to sanctuaries. After all, according to Cherokee legend, black bears are the keepers of dreams. No doubt all of these imprisoned bears are dreaming of their own freedom.

Yep. I’m going to predict some spirit-animal-totem-Great-Father amalgamation mumbo-jumbo. Whatever it ends up being the PETAphiles are gonna love it.

I’m just going to hope that Bob and PETA respect some tribal sovereignty (and that Bob gets his white-privileged ass back to Cali).

“We’ll have ongoing conversations” with these businesses, Hicks said. “There may be opportunities for us to help them expand, but we’re not going to close the door and not be open to ideas.”Hicks said it was offensive for Barker and PETA to threaten a tourism boycott.

“It’s best for Bob Barker to stay in California and let us do what we know how to do here,” he said.


EDIT: I’m adding a link from cherokeebydesign that has an interview with the owners of one of the zoos.


Cages, Vick, and Cherry July 26, 2009



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


wtf seriously August 12, 2008

Filed under: vegan — Noemi M @ 2:31 pm
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PETA wants to advertise vegan message on border fence

While many view the contentious border fence as a government fiasco, an animal rights group sees a rare opportunity.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans today to announce an unusual marketing pitch to the U.S. government: Rent us space on the fence for billboards warning illegal border crossers there is more to fear than the Border Patrol.

The billboards, in English and Spanish, would offer the caution: “If the Border Patrol Doesn’t Get You, the Chicken and Burgers Will — Go Vegan.”

“We think that Mexicans and other immigrants should be warned if they cross into the U.S. they are putting their health at risk by leaving behind a healthier, staple diet of corn tortillas, beans, rice, fruits and vegetables,” said Lindsay Rajt, assistant manager of PETA’s vegan campaigns.

The Department of Homeland Security is working to meet a deadline to complete 670 miles of fencing and other barriers on the Southwest border by Dec. 31. The fencing operation has run into stiff opposition by landowners fighting government efforts to obtain their land through condemnation.

PETA says its billboards would picture “fit and trim” Mexicans in their own country, where their diet is more in line with the group’s mission. Another image on the sign would portray obese American children and adults “gorging on meaty, fat- and cholesterol-packed American food.”

PETA’S offer to the feds is expected to arrive in a letter to Border Patrol officials today.

But a government spokesman in Washington said the request will be rejected because it would limit visibility through the fence. And Border Patrol does not allow advertising on its property or installations, the officials added.

“The fencing being put in place is, in many cases, mesh fencing to allow our officers to see what’s happening on the other side and to better secure the border,” said Michael Friel, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

One property owner on the Texas-Mexico border laughed at PETA’s proposal.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Noel Benavides, who is contesting the construction of a fence dividing his family’s 145-acre ranch in Roma on the Rio Grande. “I can’t see the point of something like that.”

But Rajt said the rent money they’d pay would help offset the huge costs of the fencing — and the advertising message “might even be frightening enough to deter people from crossing into the U.S.”

PETA has often been criticized for its aggressive animal rights crusades. It’s used billboards to push many of its controversial positions such as “Buck Cruelty: Say NO to horse-drawn carriage rides” or “Feeding Kids Meat Is Child Abuse.”

I have no coherent thoughts on this right now.