UC San Diego Talk: “On Being and Not Being the Wretched of the Earth” on November 30 2011

This is the talk I gave at UC San Diego on November 30, 2011. Talking about veganism, whiteness, etc. This is a chapter in progress from my dissertation in critical food geographies and critical geographies of race, which is tentatively titled, “Situating Racialization, Racisms, and Anti-Racisms: Critical Race Feminist and Socio-spatial Epistemological Analysis of Vegan Philosophy in the USA.”

This is similar to the talk I gave at Vassar College in 2011 October. However, my memory card only had 50 minutes on it and the camera didn’t record the entire Q&A for this San Diego talk.

19 thoughts on “UC San Diego Talk: “On Being and Not Being the Wretched of the Earth” on November 30 2011

  1. Hi Breeze, your talk raises many interesting issues for me.
    At the beginning you say ‘I’m using veganism to look at all these different aspects of race’ and at the end you say ‘it’s not really about veganism it’s about race consciousness’
    ‘Queen Afua.. her veganism is nothing to do with animals it’s about understanding about how black woman have been screwed over’
    ‘…this upset white vegans who were only doing veganism for animal rights’
    Well, if veganism isn’t about animal rights, if it is used as a tool to raise issues of race then this suggests to me a dysconscious speciesism or perhaps dysconscious anthropocentrism. With your suggestion being that this is the position of the non-white vegan community.
    This produces is an epistemic relativism that we see with the example of the Ingrid Newkirk quote ‘We’re all animals get over it’. As you know, we humans are in fact apes. Are we to censor science in case it offends a particular group. I think there is a parallel here with the banning of teaching evolution in schools in case it offends religious fundamentalists.
    I see another product of dysconscious anthropocentrism when you talk about the cruelty to the indigenous people who produce and harvest the tomatoes. These people are surely not vegans themselves and therefore (perhaps unwittingly) cruel and speciesist. Furthermore there is much less net suffering by being vegan because the sheer numbers of animals saved is so much higher than the people involved in vegan food production.

    1. Peter, This is the thing (and I think I have tried to say this a lot of times in reference to my dissertation work). The dissertation is not and cannot be about promoting a particular consumption philosophy. I am not in a discipline in which I am supposed to promote veganism. Sistah Vegan, the book, took that direction. As a PhD Candidate in Critical Food Geographies, I need to explore particular food practices and use a chosen theoretical framework. My dissertation is about exploring how race manifests in veganism. My dissertation is NOT the Sistah Vegan anthology. These are two separate things (connected, yes), and the former is the ‘scholarly’ approach to understanding a particular consumption philosophy. The latter is more my personal belief of how veganism is the best ethical choice to prevent non-human animal suffering.

      My Queen Afua chapter is nearly 70 pages long, but I only read half of it and do discuss that while Afua and Afrikan Holistc health oriented veganism is race and health conscious, they do engage in speciesism (not even dysconscious) in the way that they explain why certain animals shouldn’t be eaten. For example, I have heard the argument by plenty of black holistic health vegans and raw foodists that one shouldn’t eat pigs because they are disgusting, filthy, dirty animals and are so stupid that they eat garbage. The animal is demonized and seen as dirty, so that is the logic behind not eating a pig, versus the logic of, “Well, maybe it’s just messed up to put a pig through so much pain and agony to turn it into a ‘food’ for human being. Maybe that’s just too damn cruel and that should be the reason that black and brown folk should stop eating pigs.”

      But I think overall, your comments suggest that I SHOULD NOT be taking a critical race approach to understand how vegan consciousness manifest because its anthropocentric. What I am doing with the combination of both my dissertation work and the Sistah Vegan Project and book is showing how speciesism manifests amongst anti-racist people of color and how whiteness and racism manifest amongst largely white people in the vegan/ar movement.

      1. Breeze, A far greater suffering is being caused to non-human animals than could ever be caused to humans, even including all the racism, sexism, hetrosexism, ageism ableism and every other social injustice put together. To focus those who try not to cause unnecessary suffering to animals in their personal life and to use their veganism as a tool to look at critical race issues is anthropocentric. And because anthropocentrism is the very thing that veganism is fighting is there not a problem that your position is biased and partisan from the start?
        You say you are ‘…showing how speciesism manifests amongst anti-racist people of color and how whiteness and racism manifest amongst largely white people in the vegan/ar movement.’ But from the selection of your titles and subtitles that I’ve seen there are many mentions of whiteness and racism but nothing about speciesism of non-white vegans of colour. Perhaps I have to read/view more of your work but it seems a bit one sided.
        The other thing that I am unsure about is the validity of the examples you give of whiteness/racism. I’ve heard you mention Ingrid Newkirk saying ‘we’re all animals’ to black people. Then there is a white vegan is coming into a black/brown neighbourhood with lettuce in his teeth, lecturing non-whites about veganism, when it is a indigenous people’s thing anyway. In another example you tell us it’s wrong (racist /whiteness) to say ‘eat tomatoes’ without considering the human suffering in the food production. None of these, as far as I can see, are examples of racism in the vegan movement. On top of that, they have nothing specifically to do with veganism at all.
        There’s a sense that epistemic relativism is being promoted and that ‘all narratives are equally valid’, which I find hinders anyone trying to understand the natural world.

  2. Peter, Breeze’s theories raise “interesting issues” for you because you don’t understand them and you are interpreting them incorrectly. I can tell from your comments that you are basing your conclusion on small pieces of information. You’e never taken the time to examine critical race theory.

    honestly can’t give any of your argument validity because you have no idea what you’re arguing. Do you have any idea how insane this is? I’m stunned that you would believe its academically appropriate to prepare a logical argument when you don’t have a clear understanding of the theories being presented.

    Using your approach, I might as well read pieces of Steven Hawkins articles and then argue that his theoretical understanding of the universe is wrong, even though I never read all of his works.

    You need to check your ego and stop the intellectual masturbation.

  3. Peter:

    > Breeze, A far greater suffering is being caused to non-human animals
    > than could ever be caused to humans, even including all the racism,
    > sexism, hetrosexism, ageism ableism and every other social injustice
    > put together. To focus those who try not to cause unnecessary
    > suffering to animals in their personal life and to use their veganism
    > as a tool to look at critical race issues is anthropocentric.

    This is just silly. Are you saying that because animals are suffering,
    vegan humans should never be scrutinized because they are alleviating
    animal suffering? This is akin to say that a vegan child molester or
    abusing parent should not be looked at because he’s not killing the poor
    bunnies. Common.

    Of course it’s anthropocentric: we are human, other humans are part of
    our world and will always have the priority against other sentient
    being. Putting those priorities against each other, as if they are
    incompatible, is counterproductive to the vegan cause, and incorrect.
    Read “Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog?” by Gary L.
    Francione, for a good book debunking this false dilemma

    > And because anthropocentrism is the very thing that veganism is
    > fighting is there not a problem that your position is biased and
    > partisan from the start?

    Veganism doesn’t fight anthropocentrism, it fights speciesm. These are
    two different issues. And anthropocentrism is not bad per se, and
    certainly not incompatible with animal rights and anti-speciesm. See
    previous paragraph.

    > The other thing that I am unsure about is the validity of the examples
    > you give of whiteness/racism. I’ve heard you mention Ingrid Newkirk
    > saying ‘we’re all animals’ to black people. Then there is a white
    > vegan is coming into a black/brown neighbourhood with lettuce in his
    > teeth, lecturing non-whites about veganism, when it is a indigenous
    > people’s thing anyway. In another example you tell us it’s wrong
    > (racist /whiteness) to say ‘eat tomatoes’ without considering the
    > human suffering in the food production.

    Ok first, these examples are examples of racism. The fact that you can’t
    perceive it that way doesn’t change it. They will not be perceived as
    such by many white people, which is precisely why the work of Breeze is
    so interesting and important. Most People of Color will recognize those
    examples as racist, and in the case of isms, the line is drawn by the
    oppressed, not the oppressor. So what you are exemplifying is that white
    people fail to see and/or recognize when they are being racist, and it’s
    ok because they don’t see it. So if I hurt you, but I fail to see your
    pain, then you are probably not really hurt…

    Also, veganism is a movement against the oppression of non-human
    animals. However, one must recognize that oppression brings oppression,
    and there is no hope to ever bring justice to animals if we can’t even
    bring (social) justice to humans first. As long as child labor, slavery,
    and other forms of abuse exist in our society, we are basically sending
    a big message saying: it is ok to exploit other being (which as humans,
    we should consider equals) for profit without regard for their right,
    welfare, etc.. In such a world, animals will never be free. If humans
    feel it’s ok to exploit their peers, how can we expect them to feel for
    animals.. Therefore, animal liberation and social justice are deeply
    intertwined, and all forms of oppression must be fought together. It is
    not fair to say that fighting one form of oppression goes against
    fighting another form of oppression: all forms of oppression, whether
    they impact humans or animals, are equally unacceptable and deserving
    attention.

    > None of these, as far as I can see, are examples of racism in the
    > vegan movement. On top of that, they have nothing specifically to do
    > with veganism at all.

    You can’t be serious.

    1. Ajeziah- By your rationale, you yourself should not comment on my beliefs and views because you have not read my body of work and my influences. I’m basing my comments on posts that I’ve read here and the intellectual value of my comments relies on their content not on the academic fascination with what I’ve previously read.
      Julien- I didn’t say vegans shouldn’t be brought to question for their other views, I was raising a philosophical question about anthropocentrism. However, your chosen language reveals your dysconscious speciesism when you sum up the plight of non human animal suffering as, ‘… because he’s not killing the poor bunnies’. Why is anthropocentrism not bad per se? Why will we ‘always have priority against other sentient beings’?
      To suggest that it is racist not to see that ‘veganism is an indigenous people’s thing’ is a fine example of epistemic relativism. Using animals as resources is not culturally relative.
      Finally, I see it the other way round, there is no hope of bringing social justice to people if we don’t bring it to animals first.

      1. Hi, Peter

        I obviously don’t know how you came to veganism, but assuming you weren’t born with your current views, I think it’s great that you challenged your perspective at some point and came to a new understanding.

        I think you have an important opportunity here to challenge your perspective about privilege and oppression. You are the only person who can do this work. As people have pointed out numerous times, it is not reasonable to judge these things solely on the basis of your own experience or from perspectives that are fundamentally shaped by white privilege.

        Breeze has shared lots of great resources for understanding whiteness, but it is not her job to convince you of the ways your perspectives are shaped by privilege. You can do this yourself though, if you are willing to investigate. I am doing this (a white person), and so can you. And then I think you will be better able to understand what Breeze, ajeziah, Julien, and others have said.

        At this point, it seems you are repeating the same things each time someone responds. Breeze and commenters have given a huge amount of space for discussing your points. An important discussion about white supremacy in the context of the Occupy movement became a thread about your perspective on animal rights. The same thing is happening here.

        Chiming in with ajeziah– it’s like you’re trying to educate Breeze and others about how they should be understanding veganism without having honestly tried to understand critical race theory or anything else about where they are coming from– and without stopping to consider if the way you are expressing yourself fits into a white cultural framework that constantly rejects the experiences, voices and perspectives of POC, while constantly demanding that they make room for our white experiences, voices and perspectives.

        Please try to understand, you are behaving like a bully.

  4. Peter, I’m just going to call you out on your bullshit. You are absolutely and with no doubt, doing the EXACT thing that Breeze’s dissertation work wants to investigate: you are actually performing whiteness in how you frame your communication, logic, etc. But unlike Breeze, I’m not going to ‘polite’ and just going to call you out on some serious entitled bullshit you are displaying…

    You come in as the ‘expert’ on HER dissertation work. She clearly stated that she is a critical race theorist AND a vegan. She had clearly stated that she HAS engaged in and critiqued not just whiteness in AR and veganism, but is also looking at how specieism manifests amongst people of color doing racial justice work. She can’t do every thing or take all perspectives. Your take on animal liberation has been done by a billion other white male ‘experts’ on the subject for decades and it’s really only attracted WHITE MIDDLE class people. If you ever sat down and wrote a social science based dissertation, you would know that you have to do a literature review, show all the work that has already been done in the subject you are interested and then you say how you will talk about what you see is MISSING. Your arguments have been regurgitated numerous times but thus far, no one has engaged in critical race analysis of veganism… or really much queer analysis…. or even disability studies or fat phobia. Breeze is bringing a spin that has simply not been done yet at the scholarly level in the academy of the West. Your response is so indicative of WHY Breeze is pursuing what she is doing. I’ve been following her work for a long time. Despite going to the ‘best’ universities, getting top awards for the Dartmouth College undergrad thesis, and her Masters thesis at Harvard (both engaging in some form of black feminist and critical race theorizing of subjects that most white people say she should not be looking into race), people like you who have never ever read critical race theory, decolonial theory, etc still feel entitled to EDUCATE Breeze on how she SHOULD be looking at veganism. How arrogant of YOU. And how arrogant of you to actually tell Breeze whose suffering is more important than others. Your style of communication would HARDLY be adequate to persuade non-white people in the USA to go vegan, yet the way Breeze has merged critical animal studies, critical race theory, and black feminist theory has opened the door and made veganism more palatable for people like Breeze who DO suffer from structural racism and simultaneously couldn’t see the connections to ‘white framing of animal rights’ to their own suffering UNTIL they encountered Breeze’s work. If you read comments on her blogs and just read how mostly black and brown women received her Sistah Vegan book, you’d know that a lot of them say they couldn’t understand how connecting with animal suffering would help them see connection to their own suffering at the hand of racist human beings. She provided a way to make veganism applicable to their lives and just see, overall, that you can’t ignore ALL suffering, be it from racism, speciesism, sexism, etc.

    I changed my perspective about animal suffering because of Breeze and not someone like you who clearly dismisses the pain and suffering someone like myself (black male) has endured because of racism and white supremacy in the USA. Yes, many people of color do participate in exploiting animals, but why tell us that our racialized pain is nothing in comparison to animal suffering? With that logic, you could say you don’t care about the suffering of polar bear whose infant was just killed by hunters because that polar bear just ate a baby seal for dinner. I would feel for the suffering of both the polar bear and the mother seal whose baby was eaten. I mean, damn, are you serious!?

  5. Breeze, your name befits you. Hearing your words is just as refreshing as the ocean spray. I have been so grateful today to learn this phrase “dysconscious racism,” to begin being able to share with friends, family, loved ones why I call myself a racist working to change that within myself. Your work is empowering me with so many tools!

    Regarding responses to your posts, a whelming tide of which must be in your inbox each day, I am reminded by Bobby Seale’s analysis on recognition in his book Seize the Time. I do not have it with me presently, but I remember his description of haughty attitudes which people of whiteness take on when they are not recognized for the work they do; meanwhile generations of people of color continue to be swept under the rug for the vast amounts of work they are engaging in each day.

    How many problems could be mended within cultures which maintain whiteness as the dominant paradigm if the need for recognition could be lessened a little! If I want to be recognized for the work I am doing in my life, I need to see it in myself rather than displacing my agency onto someone else who can affirm and validate me.

  6. > Julien- I didn’t say vegans shouldn’t be brought to question for their
    > other views, I was raising a philosophical question about
    > anthropocentrism. Why is anthropocentrism not bad per se? Why will we
    > ‘always have priority against other sentient beings’?

    As I stated before, you mixed and matched speciesm and anthropocentrism,
    which are two different issues, as if they were the same. I don’t
    believe your argument made even logical sense but tried to address it
    nonetheless.

    It is a perfectly normal and I would argue a biological AND moral
    imperative to favor one’s specie in cases of conflicts. I would however
    argue (see Introduction to Animal Rights) that such conflicts are
    extremely rare, and saying that anthropocentrism somehow hinders
    anti-speciesm is thus nonsensical.

    Every specie’s imperative is to reproduce and to allow it’s kind to
    survive. While we can consider all species ‘equal’ in the moral realm,
    they are never equal from any individual’s perspective. Any animal will
    always save his kind (ie children) before saving anybody else. That
    doesn’t imply that we should leave anybody else to die or suffer.
    Anthropocentrism has no value judgement, it is simply a fact statement:
    as human, our view of the world is necessarily human centric, there is
    nothing wrong with that. The term ‘speciesm’ is the one used to talk
    about discrimination. While one has to account his own view point in a
    discrimination debate, one ALWAYS has a view point of sort, and it is
    ridiculous to want to dismiss it or consider it harmful _because_ it is
    a viewpoint and not an absolute objective. Therefore, anthropocentrism
    is natural, not bad, and while it can have an impact on one’s speciesm,
    it doesn’t have to define it.

    > However, your chosen language reveals your dysconscious speciesism
    > when you sum up the plight of non human animal suffering as, ‘…
    > because he’s not killing the poor bunnies’.

    I was being ironic. Probably not my best use of language. The
    overstatement was indeed unnecessary, though deliberate.

    > To suggest that it is racist not to see that ‘veganism is an
    > indigenous people’s thing’ is a fine example of epistemic relativism.
    > Using animals as resources is not culturally relative.

    I think you totally miss the point. Veganism in the United States is by
    large a white middle class movement, and those white folks activism and
    evangelism often feels like white people “invented” veganism in the 20th
    century. It is racist because it is therefore felt like cultural
    colonialism. It is basically as if white ecologist hipsters went to
    native Indian tribes educating them about how the earth is a living
    organism, how they need to respect the environment and patronizing them
    while doing it. It is insulting and it IS racist. White people didn’t
    invent shit. This general attitude of white vegans is one of the
    reason people of colors are so put off by veganism, and why a
    different approach, a more respectful one, is necessary for those
    communities.

    This has nothing to do with epistemic relativism and has everything to
    do with respect.

    > Finally, I see it the other way round, there is no hope of bringing
    > social justice to people if we don’t bring it to animals first.

    For the vast majority of humans, animals are a commodity. They barely
    care enough about their neighbor, how do you expect them to care for
    what they consider “things”. Social justice is a battle that must be
    fought *along* animal liberation. If people accept human slavery and
    child labor, why would they not accept animal exploitation, when the
    value they give to animals is FAR inferior to the value they attribute
    to their fellow men.

    This is in many ways similar to the problem of ‘single issue’ campaigns,
    like fighting against animal use in medical experimentation. If people
    consider it OK to eat animals for pleasure (which is completely
    unnecessary), they have no logical reason to refuse animal use for
    something that feels necessary (or is at least advertised to be).

    Again, to take an example from Gary Francione, it is akin to tell a bike
    enthusiast that it is OK for him to drive his bike for pleasure
    (eating), whenever he wants, but if he ever needs it for an emergency
    (medical experimentation to cure cancer for example), then it’s morally
    wrong to use it. It doesn’t make sense.

    Following the same line of reasoning, this is why for most people,
    social justice must come first.

    Now this doesn’t mean that animal liberation must not be fought until
    social justice is attained, it simply means that animal liberation is
    first and foremost a fight against oppression. And fighting oppression
    necessarily requires fighting all forms of oppression. As long as one
    form of oppression is accepted, then oppression is accepted and we’re
    fucked.

    1. Julian – just imagine if anthropocentrism was a form of speciesism, we could not object to racism from an anthropocentric point of view because both would be equally unjust. Now, I am suggesting that anthropocentrism is a choice that we make. I am saying that because I challenge my anthropocentrism every day ( as many others do) and try to see things from an animal’s point of view and do what’s best for the animals.
      I know that you say that,’Anthropocentrism has no value judgment, it is simply a fact statement: as humans, our view of the world is necessarily human centric, there is nothing wrong with that….’it is perfectly normal and I would argue a biological AND moral imperative to favour one’s specie in cases of conflicts’.
      Well, that’s a pretty good difinition of speciesism don’t you think? I think you would agree that if I said I would favour my race in times of conflict that would be racist, similarly to favour my sex in times of conflict would be sexist.

      On another point, I’ve been accused here of repeating myself but every time I object to the statement that ‘veganism is an indigenous people’s thing’, I’m told in no uncertain terms that it’s not a white people’s thing. You yourself say,’white people didn’t invent shit’. I’m not saying it’s a white thing but it’s blindingly obvious that indigenous people were not vegans.

      1. Peter, the point of the video about ‘veganism is not a white people thing’ was how the author was framing his own concept and history of veganism, and his problems with how the mainstream vegan movement in the USA can be very white-imperial-colonialist in how they communicate ‘the virtues of veganism’ to non-white racialized communities. You have mentioned that “I” keep on saying that ‘veganism is not a white people thing.’ I want to correct you and say that I am not saying this; this is what the author of the piece is saying that I read on the video. After the video, I explain that what the author of that piece (and many others who contributed to the book) are irritated by is a white colonialistic framing of holistic health in general (whether it be veganism, vegetarianism, etc). Many, such as the author as well as Queen Afua, believe that the concept of a plant-centered diet and respecting Earth’s natural resources is not a ‘new’ idea that is being promoted by the mainstream media. The point of the content of what I read was that they are trying to explain that many non-white racialized people who were colonized, DID practice a plant centered diet BEFORE colonialism. For me, the entire point of what I read (and the consciousness behind the writing ) is that the editors and contributors are explaining their frustrations with how everything is framed through whiteness . This framing has erased the contributions that people of color have made to ‘green’ living and health because the mainstream media are always showing that brown and black people are ‘hopeless’ and ‘helpless’ when it comes to figuring out how to be healthy.

        I think what would be helpful is if you read the entire 2 volumes (800 pages long) to get a better understanding of where everyone is coming from in “Hood Health”. That excerpt I read is just a little slice of a non-Eurocentric framing of veganism, health, etc. This doesn’t mean they all agree or I agree with everything said, but my point of reading it is to show how being subjected to racism, whiteness, and eurocentrism pushed certain non white people/vegans to want to reframe veganism and raw foodism, etc within a language that resonance with their lived experience of living in an anti-black/anti-brown white settler nation.

        Also, I think I won’t explain more to you about what I am doing with my dissertation work and hope that you will invest time in reading the hundreds of articles and books out there that are about critical race, critical whiteness, and decolonial theories. The work has already been done, so please do explore that if you have more interest in understanding why my dissertation work is framed the way it is.

        Best
        Breeze

  7. > Julian – just imagine if anthropocentrism was a form of speciesism, we could not object to racism from an anthropocentric point of view because both would be equally unjust.

    Can you reformulate? I really don’t understand what you are trying to say.

    > Now, I am suggesting that anthropocentrism is a choice that we make. I am saying that because I challenge my anthropocentrism every day (as many others do) and try to see things from an animal’s point of view and do what’s best for the animals.

    I guess I understand what you mean. I think we have different definitions of anthropocentrism. To me, as humans, our world view is naturally human centered, and while we can decide to exercise different view points, our natural focus is necessarily through a human lens. To me anthropocentrism is a statement of fact, to you it’s a choice of lens.

    > Well, that’s a pretty good definition of speciesism don’t you think? I think you would agree that if I said I would favour my race in times of conflict that would be racist, similarly to favour my sex in times of conflict would be sexist.

    I disagree. The main reason why it is not speciest resides in the term ‘conflict’. As I stated before, conflict is in reality extremely rare. I’ll take two extreme examples to demonstrate it:

    1. Animal experimentation. Many argue that animal experimentation is _necessary_ for advances in human health, and create a conflict there: humans or animals. In reality, the conflict doesn’t exist: there are many ways to do research, and animal experimentation is only one of them, often with poor results compared to different approaches, and with the added suffering of animals. The book ‘Introduction to Animal Rights’ has a chapter dedicated to this very question, with more references and scientific background on the alternatives.

    2. Again from ‘Introduction..': a house is on fire and there is a child and a dog inside the house, you can save only one. In this case, which is a real conflict, you will save the child, 100% of the time. Nobody would argue that doing so is speciest.

    The same reasoning does not apply for racism and sexism. There is no moral justification for saving a person of one race versus a person of another race, and idem for sexes.

    > On another point, I’ve been accused here of repeating myself but every time I object to the statement that ‘veganism is an indigenous people’s thing’, I’m told in no uncertain terms that it’s not a white people’s thing. You yourself say,’white people didn’t invent shit’. I’m not saying it’s a white thing but it’s blindingly obvious that indigenous people were not vegans.

    While I do not know of any culture pre-20th century that would present veganism, I am not versed enough in history to confirm or disprove this point.

    Breeze expressed my sentiment in much better (and calmer) terms. In the particular case of veganism, the resentment from people of color comes from the ‘plant based diet = health’ part of veganism, framed as a new idea, whereas it’s old wisdom. (cf Breeze’s comment) At large, this resentment is amplified by the fact that white people often ‘hijack’ or ‘re-appropriate’ parts of other cultures, with no respect for or understanding of, those cultures. What used to be sacred becomes ‘hip’ and ‘cool’, and it feels like white people just invented water. This happens over and over and over again (though white people are blissfully unaware of it), and has built over time a strong distrust of white people from POC. Therefore, the vegan message is lost, because the messenger is patronizing and offensive.

  8. Breeze Luv your Vid !

    “To all the commentors(anthropocentrism/speciesism) on this”

    “The Mountain”

    If you travel the North road, another takes the South, East or West, it matters little. The main goal is that we all reach the “Summit”. Some come for spiritual, some for health, some for animal welfare, it means nothing. We all end at the “Summit.

    We may not see others reasons and may disagree on the path we take ? But deep within our goal is the same. Semantic all we like, the “Summit” is where it’s at… “TRUTH”…

    We all appeal to “Veganism” in our own way…

    And we all support each other(even if we don’t realize it) in this.

    Nuff said, for I am far to radical in my ancient(Karmic) view of “Veganism”…

    “All Life is Sacred”…

    We will create a more compassion­ate people, the violence that we perpetuate on each other, will diminish as we remove slaughter from our culture….

    As will the diseases that plague humankind…..

  9. Julian – let me just understand you correctly. If I’m white and my world-view is white centred and my focus is through a white lens then this is racist. If I am a man and my focus is on my own sex then this is sexist. But if I am human, ‘our world view is naturally human centered, and while we can decide to exercise different view points, our natural focus is necessarily through a human lens.’ This isn’t speciesist?
    And this is because it rarely has to be brought into question, only in times of ‘conflict’.
    ‘…a house is on fire and there is a child and a dog inside the house, you can save only one. In this case, which is a real conflict, you will save the child, 100% of the time. Nobody would argue that doing so is speciest.’
    What then if white firemen rushed to save white people as a priority? Here’s your answer:
    ‘The same reasoning does not apply for racism and sexism. There is no moral justification for saving a person of one race versus a person of another race, and idem for sexes.’
    My question to you is, what is the MORAL JUSTIFICATION that allows us to save one’s species over another species?
    I would also add that it is not just in times of conflict that we act in an anthropocentric/ speciesist way… after all it’s our world view.

  10. > Julian – let me just understand you correctly. If I’m white and my world-view is white centered and my focus is through a white lens then this is racist. If I am a man and my focus is on my own sex then this is sexist. But if I am human, ‘our world view is naturally human centered, and while we can decide to exercise different view points, our natural focus is necessarily through a human lens.’ This isn’t speciesist? And this is because it rarely has to be brought into question, only in times of ‘conflict’.

    It’s Julien, not Julian.

    This is not what I’m saying. What I’m arguing is that because we are human, our world view is human centric. It doesn’t mean we can’t change it, adopt another one or be conscious of it. It simply means that this where we start, and thus where our center is. Now I totally agree with you that we must adopt other lenses/world views to better ourselves, but I’m arguing that denying that our starting point is human centric is ridiculous. Also to draw the parallel between anthropocentrism/speciesm, from my perspective:

    * anthropocentric -(discrimination)-> speciesm
    * racialized -(discrimination)-> racism
    * sexualized -(discrimination)-> sexism

    What I am saying is that whether we like it or not, our view of the world IS human centric, dependent on our sex, race, social status, religion, etc.. The first step to overcome discrimination is make this basic acknowledgement, then only can we step out of our shoes into someone else’s.

    But terms can be used in many ways. As a European for example, my view of the world IS Eurocentric. It doesn’t mean I can’t try to adopt other world views or that I don’t want to, but saying that my view point is American-centric would simply be lying. I don’t have the cultural background, understanding of the culture, and view of the world. So in this case, stating that my world view is Eurocentric is pure fact. From there, I can choose to look at other world views and understand how they operate, etc.. Now the same word can be used very differently, as a form of discrimination:

    – [outrageous statement]
    – This is a totally Eurocentric view of the world! (i.e., the whole picture is very different and/or the picture from my perspective is very different).

    I hope this clarifies what I was trying to say. Maybe my definition of those words is wrong, and not the globally accepted definition. I tried my best to convey my understanding of them, and I’m sorry if I was not clear enough.

    In any case, the whole point whole this semantic debate was your initial statement: “To focus those who try not to cause unnecessary suffering to animals in their personal life and to use their veganism as a tool to look at critical race issues is anthropocentric”. It seems to me in this sentence that you are using anthropocentrism as “it’s bad, it’s biased” (correct me if I’m wrong). Breeze stated very clearly, numerous times, and also explained very clearly in her first response to you, that her work is “using veganism to look at racial issues”. It’s a work about race. Veganism is not the main thing, it’s only a tool to explore race. So her dissertation is CLEARLY human centric, it IS about race, not veganism. To me, it felt like you were saying: this is not what veganism is about, you should be looking at animals, not humans, whereas the work clearly stated its purpose.

    > ‘We’re all animals get over it’. As you know, we humans are in fact apes. Are we to censor science in case it offends a particular group. I think there is a parallel here with the banning of teaching evolution in schools in case it offends religious fundamentalists.

    Breeze was trying to explain how Ingrid Newkirk failed to adopt other races perspective on the interpretation of the ad campaign. The statement “we are human, get over it” basically denies the fact that race can play a part in how her message was perceived and received. It says: “your race shouldn’t matter to your understanding of my ad”. In this case, it did matter because black Americans in particular have a different relationship to the world “animal”, due to slavery, than white people do. Breeze was not trying to say that the ad should be censored but that there should be an acknowledgement that it could be perceived differently by different group of people, and the refusal of Ingrid Newkirk of this basic truth. Since you insisted so much on how we need to look at the world in a non-anthropocentric way, and put ourselves in animal’s shoes, then you should understand that there is a similar need to look at the world in a non-white way, and that it is equally important.

    > I see another product of dysconscious anthropocentrism when you talk about the cruelty to the indigenous people who produce and harvest the tomatoes. These people are surely not vegans themselves and therefore (perhaps unwittingly) cruel and speciesist. Furthermore there is much less net suffering by being vegan because the sheer numbers of animals saved is so much higher than the people involved in vegan food production.

    Again, what are you trying to say? That it is anthropocentric to consider human suffering? Yes it is, so what? Is it morally acceptable that those people suffer? Is it more acceptable because they are not vegan?

    As for the fact that there is much less suffering involved because of the number of lives saved, this is also questionable on a moral standpoint. The suffering of one being and the suffering of 1000 beings is equally unacceptable, and both must be fought. The framing of your sentence seems to imply that we should not fight social justice because we can save more lives (in numbers) through veganism, than we can through social justice. While it may be true in numbers, I still fail to see the point. Both are still equally unacceptable to me, and both should be fought. Different people have different interests in life, and I’m happy that whoever is doing activism is doing work in the area they feel the most connected with. The end goal is to end suffering and oppression for all beings, not just animals.

    > ‘…a house is on fire and there is a child and a dog inside the house, you can save only one. In this case, which is a real conflict, you will save the child, 100% of the time. Nobody would argue that doing so is speciest.’
    > What then if white firemen rushed to save white people as a priority? Here’s your answer:
    > ‘The same reasoning does not apply for racism and sexism. There is no moral justification for saving a person of one race versus a person of another race, and idem for sexes.’
    > My question to you is, what is the MORAL JUSTIFICATION that allows us to save one’s species over another species?
    > I would also add that it is not just in times of conflict that we act in an anthropocentric/ speciesist way… after all it’s our world view.

    Simply a biological imperative to do so. In a way, I guess you could even extend it by saying that if a house is on fire, and there is a woman and a man, you should save the woman first (because she is the reproducer, and males can be replaced more easily). However, this type of cases where it’s really one specie or the other, and you HAVE TO make a choice is almost inexistent. Most of the time, what looks like a conflict (it’s us or them) can often be resolved with an alternative solution to the benefit of both parties.

    But if you want to dot the I, I agree with you: in the grand scheme of things, humans don’t have a higher moral value than other species. And frankly, the Earth couldn’t care less about which specie strives or dies. We are a life form, and we don’t deserve to live more on this earth than dogs, cats, cows or dolphins. However, this is not a reason to argue that we should simply all die out voluntarily. Like every other sentient being, we have an interest/desire in life, and thus the specie at large as an interest in surviving. All species can happily survive together, it’s not an either/or battle, it can be a win-win situation.

    CONCLUSION.

    To be honest, what I feel sad about is that this debate seem to not be a debate of ideas, but a debate of words. You seem to have a misunderstanding/misinterpretation of my statements and Breeze’s statements, and I seem equally incapable of understanding what your are trying to say, what is your point in all this… This is fruitless. It would be worth it if we debated different view points, but it’s not worth it to explain to each other over and over again the same thing, with different words, because the idea was not conveyed properly, or fails to reach. On this note, consider me done.

    1. Julien, you completely back pedalled here when Peter defeated your argument. You were taking as a given that Humans would prioritise other Humans, i.e. privilege their own species over another. This isn’t a priori fact as you contend, a single person having the ability to feel differently disproves its biological basis. You are indeed being speciesist in your contention.

  11. Breeze,

    Thank you so much for this presentation. I learned *a lot* and loved your alternating between a “formal reading” and “informal conversation.” Great format!
    Contrasting your mom’s and husband’s experiences at the supermarket illustrated and brought home a lot of your points for me.

    Happy New Year….!

  12. Gah! I wish the video didn’t cut off there when you are making such an excellent point about selective views on what makes harming/killing of an animal acceptable.

    I think you made so many important points here and especially pertaining to the really white/westernized mentality that seems to go hand-in-hand with so much that has to do with veganism.

    I would be considered white (my parents are Armenian) and I think that I have grown up knowing what it’s like to be white and also knowing what it’s like to be the only white in a dominantly non-white environment. I can’t say that this gives me any jurisdiction to know what it’s like to be a person of any other race, but that it did help me understand that there is a somewhat underlying hypocrisy in the way that most white people view things. I’ve never been able to come out and call myself a ‘liberal’ or an activist of any kind because I have such skepticism towards the people who are the heads of those parties.

    The phrase ‘we’re all animals’ indeed is a phrase they should have understood to be offensive. It is easy to say something like ‘we’re all animals’ when you have never had to work in a field, or a warehouse or a factory, or to not have it anywhere in the history of your people where you *were* actually treated as an animal of labor and nothing more.

    I think the work you are doing is immensely important and I hope more people get the chance to hear you. I had never even considered farmer’s markets or frozen vegan foods before as organizations that might have cruel labor practices behind them. And I had *no* idea about the Nestle Corp or Pepsi Co. practices because I simply never bothered to look it up or indeed it never crossed my mind. Though now that I know, I don’t think I can ever drink flavored soda again.

    There is so much in this world that I don’t know and I feel like it would be irresponsible of me as a human of reason to just ignore that.

    I don’t know what it’s like to be black, I can’t pretend to know. I know it must be very different from being white. In my heart I still see people as people, but I can’t pretend that ’till now I have lived completely free of all prejudice.

    I think unfortunately that most white people have a very set way of how things have to be presented in order for them in order for them to accept it. I feel like I have a good sense of what that is: It’s this utopian world where equality has already been achieved and the only bad things left are drugs, murder and iphones falling into toilets. And much of the world now I think has adopted this mentality as well (whites and non whites alike), making themselves more ‘American’. It is more fun to play with a shiny toy than to have to think about where it came from and how it was made. I think that the empirical mentality which you mentioned, is in the mind of many non-whites too. The need to believe in god, the lack of consideration or wonder as to how everything convenient is *so* convenient, the addiction to lattes and hair products and the aesthetics of individualized microworlds we build around ourselves.

    We have more than any generation before us ever had and so many just toil it away as a tool for petty dispute when we could use it as a tool for educating ourselves, hearing the thoughts of others and trying to understand them.

    The greatest crime of the ‘human animal’ is that it usually closes it’s eyes against things that it really needs to see and acknowledge.

    I’m not enough of an optimist to say we will someday live in a perfect world, I think there will always be something there to obstruct the truth. But maybe that in itself is necessary so that the people for whom it makes a difference to have something to fight towards?

    Gaaahh, I’m probably babbling sorry. I don’t have any degrees, my education is limited and I am just a sales associate. But I just wanted to say you inspired me today.

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