Friday, March 20, 2009

Privilege: The U.S. Vegan Movement, Whiteness, and Race Relations (part 4)

In part 1 of the Privilege series, I examined a particular case of when vegan outreach goes wrong (i.e. the public juxtaposition of images in which "animals" and people of color are being oppressed) and discussed how such tactics generally alienate people from the cause rather than welcoming them into it. In part 2, I delved into the issue of race relations a bit more by discussing how many white AR and vegan activists are oblivious to their white (and sometimes class) privilege and thus unintentionally oppress others through their rhetoric and discourse. In part 3, I documented how, despite the overall whiteness of the movements, people of color are active in vegetarian and animal advocacy around the world and how epistemologies of ignorance make it seem otherwise.

In each of the aforementioned parts, I concluded by emphasizing the importance of inclusiveness, empathy, and partnership. In part 4, these three criteria for effective and appropriate outreach/relationship with people of color come together and it becomes clear how white ARAs and vegans can alienate their allies. Racism comes in many forms. Here we will see it in the form of blaming, stereotyping, suppressing, marginalizing, fetishizing, and reversing victimization.