WhIte Vegans Must actIvely Support black LIves Matter
“Part of activism is finding yourself in a new space of confusion, allowing yourself to step into new conceptual terrain. When you abandon commonly held oppressive beliefs, you might not exactly know what to do afterward, and that’s where more activists need to be”. – Aphro-ism
I do not profess to be an expert in issues of racial inequality. I would, however, like to speak to White vegans about the importance of expanding our activism. Haven’t we, as a vegan community, already learned how to see the destructive biases and injustices that lurk beneath beloved cultural institutions? Without the ability to see through the marketing, tradition, and comfort of habitual choices, we might still be eating, wearing, and exploiting animals. It should not be a stretch for White vegans to look beyond our own personal experiences in society, such as those with law enforcement, and see that our Black friends, family, and neighbors are living in a totally different reality. It should not be hard for us to lift the veil of our own experiences to empathize with the suffering of Black and Brown people. We should want to do it because we have already changed our lives in order to better align with a vision of the world that is rooted in radical empathy with those who are different than us. If we do not extend the same courtesy to members of our own human community, how can we be in alignment with the values that veganism espouses?
Over the past few weeks, businesses, non-profits, and individuals have declared their staunch opposition to racism and prejudice. It is important that the animal welfare community do so as well. Michigan hosts one of the strongest vegan communities in the country. With Black people becoming vegan at rates much higher than other demographics, declaring our opposition to racist ideology, policing and conduct is not just the abstract work of helping an outside cause; opposing anti-Black oppression is part of protecting our own community. Black vegans have the added burden of living with the day to day violence of racism and systemic oppression, in addition to facing criticism from their friends and family for following a lifestyle that is far from mainstream. We must loudly declare that Black Lives Matter and have the wherewithal to recognize and advance the fact that Black Vegan Lives Matter.
Vocally and unequivocally opposing racism within our own community is a logical piece of our work to create a more humane world. There are many resources that we can draw from to learn more about these themes and how we can better understand the intersection of race and veganism. Our community will only grow stronger by opening our arms wider. Veganism alone is not the pinnacle of compassionate living. We can always learn more, do more, and commit more to oppose injustice in all its forms.
-Molly Tamulevich (Board Member for Attorneys for Animals)