away from the racist, classist center, democrats

I’m getting pretty fucking sick of cisgender, heterosexual, professional/upper class white dudes lecturing leftists on how shit our policies are and how little we’ve done for the Democrats. It continues today in the New York Times, in an opinion piece titled, “Back to the Center, Democrats,” by Andrew Stein and Mark Penn. Here is a taste:

Central to the Democrats’ diminishment has been their loss of support among working-class voters, who feel abandoned by the party’s shift away from moderate positions on trade and immigration, from backing police and tough anti-crime measures, from trying to restore manufacturing jobs. They saw the party being mired too often in political correctness, transgender bathroom issues and policies offering more help to undocumented immigrants than to the heartland.

This piece is full of useful advice for Democrats, such as, “restore the sanctity of America’s borders,” “reject socialist ideas,” “give up on both building walls and sanctuary cities” (side note: pray tell when progressives were into building walls; pretty sure that was all conservatives, and frankly, fuck you both for equating xenophobic walls and sanctuary cities), be nicer to the Catholics, and back tougher anti-crime/pro-police bills. You know, if I were going to write a parody of the asinine think pieces about how Democrats really need to get back to the center, it would look a lot like this loose stool Penn and Stein managed to squeeze out. Continue reading away from the racist, classist center, democrats

food justice is reproductive justice

Depressing stories about reproductive healthcare and rights routinely fill the news: four Planned Parenthood clinics close in Iowa due to targeted budget cuts, our ass of a president expanded the global gag rule that prevents organizations that provide abortions from receiving U.S. foreign aid money, the soulless ghouls who make up the U.S. Senate Republicans have created a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare that targets reproductive healthcare,  and the TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale strikes fear into our hearts (I guess this one is only depressing because it’s “too real,” as they say).  In the United States, activists and feminists continue to struggle just to beat back anti-abortion legislation. Unfortunately, this has meant that many of us are stuck in a reproductive rights paradigm. The reproductive rights framework for activism is generally limited to the legal sphere and focused primarily on the legal right for someone to have an abortion. This legal right is, of course, nothing to sneeze at, and reproductive rights are critical to reproductive freedom. However, as a paradigm for movement-building, reproductive rights lacks the capacity to effectively connect with other social movements, and to move beyond a narrow focus on choice and “women’s health.” Continue reading food justice is reproductive justice

why i have trust issues with vegans

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

fuck a fake leftist

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

resolving tensions between animal rights and human-focused social justice movements

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

crime is a social construct

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

come ON, white women: part deux

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