Obama, “veganism and race is not an issue”, and other foolishness
I am reading Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama by Critical Whiteness studies author, Tim Wise. It’s his new book. These are the things I’m thinking….
I’m at the point that if I have friends who are not willing to engage in anti-racist activism and aren’t questioning “whiteness as a pathology”( because it truly is part of the fabric of the USA foundational beliefs), I am going to start kicking them to the curb. Seriously, if you haven’t noticed, your friend Breeze here is B-L-A-C-K! If my real lived experiences of racism STILL don’t convince you that it’s a problem in the USA… and if these covertly racist attacks towards President Obama still aren’t giving you a clue, I can no longer be your friend until you seek therapy for your pathology. I’m also getting annoyed with certain vegans who contact me because they are made uncomfortable that I would DARE research the implications of whiteness and racism within the vegan and animal rights movement. Seriously, people! Seriously…
And I’m not saying I agree with everything that President Obama is doing, but I’m just irritated that he’s being attacked because he is NOT white ( or at least not pandering to the needs of people like Bill O’Reilly, Nancy George, Sean Hannity, and Glen Beck…)
It has been 4 years since I’ve started the Sistah Vegan project and my graduate school research around these issues. I can’t tell you the number of vegans (9/10 are white) who contact me because they are upset, annoyed, confused, etc., that I am doing the work that I do. I’m being told, “Veganism and race is not an issue.” I offer them a reading list that CLEARLY shows that there is a problem with whiteness, racism, etc in the USA and that it’s IMPOSSIBLE that these “isms” haven’t touched vegan and animal rights philosophy! I wonder how many have actually read any of the SCHOLARLY literature that has been produced!?
If I say I’m doing research on race and veganism, suddenly it’s an issue… but I would probably never EVER hear that this is a problem if I were to look at “religion and veganism” or “gender and veganism”.
Here is an excerpt from Between Barack and a Hard Place:
The worst possible outcome of the 2008 election would be for Obama to have won, only to then have the millions of people mobilized by his mantra of change go back to sleep, to hit the snooze button on the none-too subtle alarm clock that has been going off for many a year now, and which signals the crisis at hand. If the throngs who flocked to his speeches, and sent him hard-earned money they barely had to give, and went door-to-door canvassing for his campaign, and voted perhaps for the first time, decide that an Obama presidency will serve as a curative for the nation’s racial ailment, then all the excitement, all the hope, and all the paeans to “Change” will be for naught. This job was never his to tackle, it was ours. In that sense, we might remind ourselves that Obama cut his teeth as a community organizer, and that the role of the community organizer is not to swoop in and solve the people’s problems: rather, it is to help the people see their own strength, their own wisdom, so that they may, themselves,stand up to and fight back against the injustices imposed on them. Nothing could be more dangerous than for us to fall prey to the irrational exuberance that often characterized public reaction to the Obama campaign. While there were many reasons to be excited about his candidacy, statements by persons like Oprah Winfrey to the effect that Obama was the “fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream;’ or something along those lines, couldn’t be more absurd. (Wise 2009, 114)
Scary, but I’m seeing this as I type….