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

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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

Indoctrination: Easier than we think

This blog was originally posted on my website on April 16, 2013 at http://www.yourveglife.com/blog/2013/04/indoctrination-easier-than-we-think

I was watching the documentary Fahrenheit 911 directed by Michael Moore in 2004 and got a fresh reminder of how we can get so easily lied to and fooled by a version of events. When this country decided to invade Iraq, I bought into the propaganda myself. Like a lot of people, I thought it was justified and necessary. Watching Fahrenheit 911 is, in fact, what woke me up from my trance. I am grateful to the person who made me watch this movie then. I wish I could remember who it was to thank her. Looking back, it is hard for me to comprehend how I could believe the lies that were perpetrated to take us to war. I remember fighting with my brother who was against it. I was that indoctrinated. And now, as a Vegan, it is even more bewildering to me to see how asleep I was.

Today I was reflecting on the Boston Events and how terrible what happened is. But really, is it surprising? We are constantly creating our own destinies and our own programming. We are all part of this constant indoctrination which drives some of us crazy enough to commit despicable acts of cruelty. Are we so different from these people? I don’t think so. We are ticking bombs ourselves. We constantly inject this society’s programming and we live completely unnatural lives, completely disconnected from the natural world.

Each day, we are being told stories. These stories, whether they reflect a version of the truth or not are in fact irrelevant as they do not reflect our inner truths. We should reject them. They add nothing but negativity to the world at large. The truth is that we are not who we think we are. We are the manufactured products of this society. And like over-processed food products in a supermarket, we contain a lot of calories, but not many nutrients. And like these products, our lives become shallow reflections of what we should be. To be authentic, we have to become unprocessed foods.

If that food analogy is too much, think about what most people eat. They go to their local supermarket, pick up overly packaged junk food and dead animals packaged in neat cellophane. These “foods” have zero health benefits. They only make us sick, fat and eventually kill us. Our lives have become like these foods: overly packaged with propaganda, lies, extra busy routines, dead end jobs (the calories). But at the end of the day, we get no nourishment from them. But when we endeavor to “unprocess” our lives, we can relearn to live simply, think simply (not stupidly) and reconnect with our inner selves. Rejecting the constant daily mental junk does as much, if not more, than rejecting the daily junk food. One gets influenced by the other. If you do one, you will eventually be driven to do both.

I remember someone telling me once that no one could make him believe anything. But that person was eating other animals, was pro-war and had faith in the capitalist system. Was he really thinking nothing had a hold of him? He was obviously delusional. As we can all be unless we become aware of that illusion.

Being indoctrinated is easy if one is not careful. All day long we receive messages to make us act a certain way. Just opening the television set is enough to put hundreds of foreign messages into our brains. Commercials are the prime example of this kind of cultural programming. But the subtler ones are the most dangerous. Whether you are watching the “news” or some television show, ask yourself how it serves you. If it doesn’t serve you or doesn’t enhance your awareness of yourself and the world, you likely really just waste your time and receive distorted messages. You are accepting messages of lies all day long without question. I understand the desire for entertainment. I like a good movie too. That is human nature to be enjoying works of art. But some of it is really toxic.

When you see teenage girls dressing up like some musical idols, you end up with teenage girls looking like prostitutes more than young girls. When you have young boys emulating some rappers on television, you end up with young men who learn to devalue women and embrace a violent sexist ideology. When you listen and approve of commercials dealing with animal foods and drugs, you become the next potential schizophrenic victim from eating violence, drugs, antibiotics, etc. When you listen to politicians, you program yourself to believe that they actually have the power to change things. They have none; you do, by your own choices.

What if you decide differently today. When you buy pesticide free unprocessed vegetables and fruits from a Farmers’ Market, you make a choice. When you turn off the television and stop being brainwashed, you make a choice. When you refuse to accept the status quo by being Vegan, you make a powerful choice. That choice is to not follow the herd. That is the beginning of freedom.

Seven Reasons Why We Have NOT 'Evolved' to Eat Meat

How many times have you heard someone justify their behavior based on the illogical premise that history somehow makes it right and assures its ethical legitimacy into the future? In fact, throughout history influential leaders and thinkers have used this same troubled logic to defend slavery, genocide, the oppression of women, racism, and discrimination based on a whole host of irrelevant criteria including sexual orientation, religion, color and now species… read more of this excellent article here:

http://freefromharm.org/animal-rights/seven-reasons-why-we-have-not-evolved-to-eat-meat/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:%20FreeFromHarm

 

BREAKING THE FOOD SEDUCTION by Dr. Neal Barnard

In this important book, Dr. Barnard (founder of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine) deconstructs food addictions for us in a concise, easy to understand format. You won’t find boring scientific explanations in this book. On the contrary, this is a page turner! Not bad for a health book. Not only does Dr. Barnard tells you why certain foods are addictive and what they do to your body but he helps us break free of them with simple methods. I thought this book was a great complement to Alicia Silverstone’s « The Kind Diet » which I reviewed previously and coincidently.

But Dr. Barnard’s book also contains a lot of recipes to keep you happy and mouth watering. I can’t wait to try these as well. But more important is the wealth of information i have acquired in this great book. Thank you Dr. Barnard for everything you do to raise awareness about the benefits of a balanced vegan diet.