Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

I wanted to pose this question for people engaged in justice and compassion work for animals and who also think regularly about animal rights. So I've spent many years striving for animal liberation, trying to figure out what that means for animals on their terms. As a black woman with very little access to resources, it's been a struggle, to say the least. For the most part, racism and sexism are treated as outside events beyond the scope and concern of animal rights, but at the same time, AR leaders refer to these institutions regularly as if 1. they are a thing of the past and 2. they give momentum to animal rights struggle. And since most of the leaders we tend to recognize and refer to in the AR movement are white men (not because there are no women leaders or that there are more men leaders than women), we allow them to get away with reproducing white supremacy and patriarchy over and over again "for the sake of the animals." But is it really benefiting animals for us to put up with and reinforce white supremacy and patriarchy as a means to "animal liberation"? Many activists don't think so, but where are they voices?  Where are the conversations opening new spaces in this movement to challenge white supremacy and patriarchy?  There's a growing number of folks under the umbrella of critical animal studies, but there are very very few doing organizing, activist work.  When a handful of active white women and people of color mention this, whether it's in an online forum or at the AR Conference, we get other people, including other white women and persons of color, telling us that we're complainers and making a big deal out of everything and being too disruptive because the real issues are about the animals.  But is this narrow view really all about the animals?  Often what we think is human supremacy is really white supremacy and patriarchy unnamed and unchallenged. In this view, what makes a lone wolf leaving Yellowstone Park and Trayvon Martin all that different when both are gunned down without hesitation by white men for stepping out of place, when both receive no justice, and when both deaths don't nearly hold the same weight of loss in the public imagination because white supremacy and patriarchy teach us over and over that their lives (and those who look like them) don't really matter. Last night, I attended a talk by author and activist Chris Crass who just recently published a book titled Toward Collective Liberation.  He emphasized as a white hetero middle-class male how it important it was for him to help others with similar backgrounds awaken to how racism and sexism, in particular, hurt white men and makes everybody's lives hell. In the animal rights movement, we do a lot of comparisons of speciesism to racism. But do we really know racism in our own lives, never mind at a systemic level, to compare? He emphasized how racism and this notion of white supremacy is so engrained in us that we don't realize how we're holding it up and keeping it going, how deluded working class white folks are in thinking that by investing in and protecting white supremacy, they will live well, be safe, and their children will have good futures.  But before I go any further, I'm posing this question as a question of value.  I have my own thoughts on this but I want to hear from other people first.  Honestly, be honest, have you ever considered racism and sexism, in particular, enough to see how it harms animals? Do you care?

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