Recently(ish), I wrote about how primarily animal-centered activists and primarily human-centered activists can and should be working together towards a future without oppression, violence, or systemic hierarchies and dichotomies. Despite the rampant racism, classism, and sexism in mainstream animal rights activism, I think that the principles underlying racial/gender/economic justice movements are present in some food justice and animal rights movements, and that those coalitions should be expanded.
I still believe that, but I want to provide a (semi-)topical example of someone who makes that kind of coalition-building difficult. Casey Affleck, Oscar winner, (alleged) sexual harasser and assaulter, and vegan/animal rights activist, represents a lot of the problems with mainstream animal rights activism and food-based social movements. It’s very hard for anti-racist and feminist activists to be open to food-based social movements that are truly progressive and radical when Casey Affleck and others like him continue to be the most public faces of veganism and animal rights activism. Casey makes this particularly difficult, both because his activism is simplistic and oppressive and because of the interpersonal violence he himself has perpetrated. Continue reading why i have trust issues with vegans
Thanks to Cosmo’s prolific readership, many of us may have already read at least one analysis of the two progressive white men who recently commented on the politics of abortion and reproductive justice, arguing that, to win elections, Democrats should back off on abortion to appeal to segments of the population that typically vote Republican. One of these men was a professor of theology* at Boston College (and is from Ireland, a notoriously anti-abortion nation); the other was Bernie Sanders (who is from America, also a notoriously anti-abortion nation) (LOL!).
But these are just a couple of misguided left wing white guys! It doesn’t mean there’s a deeper problem.
Sike!!!! Racism and sexism have been problems in leftist movements led by white men since modern leftist movements have existed. Leftist movements were supposed to be spaces that were supposed to be more progressive than the “real world.” Unfortunately, it turned out to be impossible to leave the real world behind, especially when the power structures of that world were recreated within the movements, with white men leading and expecting people of color and women to do caring labor without credit. Identity politics were created in response to the oppression that existed within those movements.
Continue reading fuck a fake leftist
I had a phone call with my mom the other day, and she told me she had listened to a podcast that talked about the animal rights framework and the animal welfare framework. She said that she isn’t really on board with animal rights, if by animal rights, we mean that animals and humans are entitled to the same rights and that we should not legally or morally distinguish between animals and humans. She wants to prioritize humans; she thinks that because we have so many problems with each other already that need to be addressed, why add a whole other axis of oppression to fight? Continue reading resolving tensions between animal rights and human-focused social justice movements
I’m writing this because Tr*mp issued 3 executive orders related to law enforcement yesterday. These orders increase penalties against those found guilty of assaulting officers, increase information sharing between law enforcement agencies to fight “drug cartels,” and create a task force (under the Attorney General) to address drug trafficking, illegal immigration, and violent crime. These orders seek to empower racist law enforcement and intimidate opposition to racist law enforcement agendas. The president’s reasoning (and the reasoning of all “law and order” legislators who are “tough on crime”) is that there is a lot of crime and that increasing the power of law enforcement and punishment will lower levels of crime.
This belief isn’t true, and what I’m about to write about it has already been said many times by scholars and activists; they have said it better and longer. This is just a philosophical introduction to why crime is a bad way to measure morality and why, therefore, we should not be using crime rates as justification to further criminalize poor bodies of color. Continue reading crime is a social construct
Post-Women’s March, I’m disappointed in white women. Again.
At the marches this past weekend, millions of people turned out in Washington, D.C. and sister marches around the country (and the world!) to protest D.J.T.’s ascendance to the presidency, sexism, racism, economic injustice, xenophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, and homophobia. Sounds incredible, right? In many ways, it was. It was likely the biggest protest in U.S. history, and while the march got off to a shaky start, the official platform of the Women’s March ended up being intersectional, radical, and inclusive.*
This intersectional and inclusive approach was reflected in some of the signs at the marches. Unfortunately, some of these signs were perceived as being too harsh and divisive in a time when unity is paramount. Signs with slogans like “White Women Voted for Trump” really rattled white women who thought the march, and feminism in general, was supposed to be about unity. Critique is uncomfortable, and I know it’s easy to be defensive. However, the white women who worry about the feminist movement becoming divided don’t understand that feminism has always been divided because feminist movements were started by wealthy white women, many of whom actively perpetuated systems of racism and classism.** Continue reading come ON, white women: part deux
I am Asian American. I’m not a model minority. I am queer and a woman. I’m not a reason to go to war or economically devastate another country. I made these specific signs because my people, my groups of people, have been used in service of oppression. Continue reading DO NOT WEAPONIZE US
The anthropology of food class at my college was a senior spring joke class, taken by people who actually care deeply about systems of oppression and movements for resistance. Not once in my Women’s and Gender Studies education did we do a unit on growing, preparing, or owning food, in the context of gender, race, class, or nationality. There were never any units on food sovereignty movements in my elementary, middle, or high school history classes. The only communities that were connected with food in those classes were First Nations/Native communities, and in that context, food was treated as an anachronistic cultural quirk, rather than a) a necessary part of survival, b) a serious and central part of any culture, and c) a tool that can be used in the service of both oppression and resistance. We glanced over farm workers’ movements (discussed only as labor movements), talked briefly about black and brown domestic labor, and perhaps mentioned that women tend to cook in the home more than men do (ah, the problem that has no name).
Even now I have a hard time getting my head around food sovereignty and food systems. We* just never talk about it! We do not talk about food as a serious political issue. We take issues of oppression seriously when they involve certain social identities (well, some of us do); we take money seriously, even though it’s made up.** But food, which none of us can live without, which enriches our lives in so many ways, is not a central part of a formal American education, nor is it a part of most (at least mainstream) conversations about oppression and injustice. Continue reading where’s the food?