On human privilege and the difficulty of being the "voice of the voiceless"

junction-2156349_1280

Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw is one of the first researcher to have coined the term « Intersectionality » to describe how various discriminations are all connected with each other and not separate. Of course, she was mostly using the term to talk about racism and white privilege.

French feminist author Christine Delphy explains that sexism is first and foremost a women’s struggle as racism is first and foremost the affair of « racialized » people. Men who address sexism must first re-examine their male privilege and white people should reexamine their white privilege. In other words, it’s mostly the victims of either who are best able to obviously talk about their experience and fight for their rights.

The problem with non-human animals is that we have taken the stance of being their voice. In all matters of human privilege over non-human animals, it is us, the privileged, who act on their behalf and we have no other choice but doing so. Our actions are, however, done through the filter of our own chatter of human privilege and constructed speciesism. Believing that going Vegan is instantly going to make us antispeciesist is naïve. Veganism is only the beginning of our understanding and duties on behalf of other animals, not an end in itself. The goal is to improve constantly on ourselves and not just content ourselves with not eating them (even if that is huge!).

Each of our actions has to be self-examined at every point at the risk of finding that they are all accomplished within the unvoluntary filter of human privilege. For example, whenever people talk about other animals, their language is (without them realizing) speciesist.  I’ll give you a situation:

You are distributing vegan leaflets on the street to create awareness for the plight of « farmed » animals.

« Hi, would you like to help animals »?

« Oh I don’t know », might respond the person. « I don’t have time to care about animals ».

The term « animals » is misleading. We are all animals. Shouldn’t we say « other animals » to recognize that we shouldn’t be this special species who keeps wanting to distinguish itself of all others on the planet? This is unconscious human privilege. We separate ourselves from other animals. That’s what we’ve been taught.

Someone hearing « Hi, would you like to help other animals? » is more likely to be taken aback by the question and not dismiss the activist. I’ve seen it happen. It is forcing the person to think, not just react because no one ever refers to animals as « other animals » including us in the equation. It also implies that we are not superior to them, since we are animals too, therefore reducing any notion of human privilege.

Second example of our constant bias at work is the fact that we keep using (in the English language that is), the pronoun « it »*, which (being French) I can’t stand. « It » designs things, objects, even babies!

Example of situation:

« This poor pig, it is suffering so much! » yes SHE or HE is. Speciesism equals human privilege. We assign this (pro)noun to a living being who has so far been mostly considered a thing by our culture, conditioning, our human privilege.

Every day, our behavior is conditioned by human privilege and sadly, speciesism is the only discrimination which cannot be fought by the victims themselves. We have no choice than to constantly deconstruct our human privilege in order to give more « voice » to our non-human brothers and sisters. What we eat, like calling vegan meat, « faux meat » or « fake meat », is also speciesist in itself because it tells us that what non vegans eat is the norm when it is the anomaly. I address this a bit longer in a talk I gave in 2014.

The essence of the problem with human supremacy is that we have to destroy it in ourselves because, unlike other supremacies, this one cannot be fought by the victims as discriminated African-Americans or women might. This is the one battle which requires a true questionning of who we are as a species in regards to all others.

The good news is that the more we look at ourselves to destroy our privilege towards other species, the more we can evolve in our (un)conscious discrimination of other humans as well.

This is true intersectionality.

 

* »It » is a pronoun when it is used to design something even a dog as in the article here: « Is the Word “It” a Noun? »

 

Photo: « Junction », courtesy http://www.Pixabay.com free photos

Sources:

  • « L’autre versant du racisme : le privilège blanc » (the other side of racism: white privilege), by Ségolène Roy on the French independant media Médiapart
  • Amazon’s English page for the author Christine Delphy
  • Wikipedia page for the Civil Rights advocate Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw
  • My talk in Los Angeles on Conditioning, History and Science, my YouTube Channel
  • What is racialization, Wikipedia
  • What is intersectionality, Wikipedia

 

© Copyright June 2017 – Vegan Empowerment/Veronique Perrot – All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or publication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

Healthy at 100 by John ROBBINS

Bestselling author John Robbins (author of Diet For a New America) continues his beautiful work of helping people change the way they live with this no less beautiful book: Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of The World’s Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples. By analysing the mysterious cultures of Abkhasia in the Caucasus, Vilcabamba, Hunza and the Okinawans in Japans, John Robbins demonstrates the similarities of lifestyles and social connections. How can we not be struck by the beauty of each of these communities, the simplicity in which they live and the loving relationships demonstrated in each of them.

Based on that, the author presents several chapters showing each of the aspects of what makes these cultures unique: diet, fitness, social structures. He then takes the lessons learned from these people and show how we can apply their age old wisdoms to our daily lives. Nowhere does he preach to give up our modern ways but to reclaim what we have lost, our sense of community, our sense of what makes a good meal and our vision of what old age is supposed to be. He shows us the power of love, long ridiculed by « modern » medicine but embraced by these healthy old people.

But the striking difference between these cultures and ours is how they treat their elders. They are valued, respected, listened to. We put ours in retirement home and spend thousands of dollars on trying to stay young and keeping them alive. They embrace old age. And they embrace it well considering that they age without all the ailments that we suffer from in the western world. We lose our « marbles » as John Robbins say in our modern world, they keep theirs until they die, well into their 100th year. They can walk for hours and faster than us. So what makes them different?

Well, as indicated above, there is the factor of how they live with each other and how they see old age. But there is also what they eat. They don’t stuff themselves on processed foods, and tons of animal flesh. They actually barely ever eat any of that. Their diet consist of mostly whole foods, sometimes just picked raw with very little or not animal foods like milk and rarely meat. You could say they are near vegans, which is now proven to be the healthiest diet on earth. But diet alone does not explains their extraordinary healthy longevity. They also have a very active lifestyle consisting of physical work and long walks. Therefore, they are also very fit starting in youth and they carry it all the way to their late years. The book describe instances of visitors not being able to keep up with these people who were 40 years older than them!

Their connection to each other seemed to me being the major factor creating the difference. Diet and exercise of course make a huge difference but if you have loving and respectful relationships between the generations, your quality of life is proven to improve dramatically. John Robbins shows how major studies in the western world are now proving the importance of « love » between people and how that affect health in the short and long terms. Until recent years, it was considered unrelated and generally ridiculed.

There is clearly something that needs to be learned from these cultures. How backward really is our view of aging when all is considered is up to us. We are wiping out these people’s cultures by invading them with our western ways. I am just sad thinking about what is being lost. In Okinawa, for example, younger people have adopted the western diet and habits. They are dying younger and faster than their elders who have kept their old ways. How sad!

So please read this book, it will bring you a new perspective on age and also point you to what needs to be done to save ourselves from this misery.

healthy at 100

© Copyright October 2010 – All Rights Reserved