Contemplating Radical Self-Care: Animal Rights as if Life Matters


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Yesterday, I gave a talk at the Neither Man Nor Beast online conference organized by Animal Liberation Ontario. Really great speakers presented and amazing, thought-provoking, sensitive stores were shared. Animal Liberation Ontario recorded the conference, so I recommend, if you can, requesting the audio and video recordings from them.

My talk was titled “Contemplating Radical Self-Care: Animal Rights as if Life Matters.” I’m motivated to share this in text because I want to go deeper and actually start a conversation about this. Since we are communicating primarily via text and since we are often confined to cyberspace when we exchange thoughts, it’s really easy to interpret differently what the author means. I have not blogged for nearly a year because I’ve been finding this medium for communication more and more difficult. As a facilitator, I rely on communication in the flesh–communication in which we are able to clarify and negotiate exactly what we mean in the moment. Much of my work (paid and unpaid) in the last two years has been in this context.

For this blog post, I don’t want to critique. Our animal rights culture is structured in such a way that critique, deconstruction, and exclusion are highly valued, reinforced principles, with little creativity or solution-oriented practices to balance them.  Therefore, it is my challenge for this post and for future posts to attempt communication about animal rights, about animals’ lives, and about the animal rights community that does not rely on deconstruction and exclusion as the major premise of conversation. I want to converse about possibilities, about practices in creating and supporting a life-affirming, diverse animal rights culture. This will definitely be over a series of posts, ranging in scope, issue, and topic, but for this one, I set the preliminary stage. Continue reading

Register for the Sistah Vegan Conference: “Embodied and Critical Perspectives on Veganism by Black Women”


Check out the first annual Sistah Vegan Conference. I will be presenting on white supremacy and patriarchy concerning the struggle for animal rights, particularly how forces of racism and sexism directly harm animals. Dr. Breeze Harper is still looking for submissions so please visit Sistah Vegan Project for more information.

Originally posted on The Sistah Vegan Project:

(Tentative Presentation and Discussion Line-Up)

Please note that anyone can register as an audience member to learn about the critical and embodied perspectives of women of color vegans. One need not identify as a woman of color

Click on Book to purchase a signed copy

1st Annual Sistah Vegan Conference

“Embodied and Critical Perspectives on Veganism by Black Women and Allies”

September 14, 2013

Location: Web Conference Using This means the location is on the Internet, accessible by computer or telephone. 

Time: 10:00am-6:00pm PST (USA)

Early Bird Registration Fee: $35.00 until August 15, 2013. After August 15, it will be $45.00

Click here to register


Introduction: How Veganism is a Critical Entry Point to Discuss Social, Animal, and Environmental Justice Issues for Black Women and Allies.
Speaker: TBD
Length: 10 minutes

In this introduction to kick off the conference, the speaker will introduce how the concept of veganism can shed light on critical issues…

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Recalling the Animal Rights Conference 2013

The Animal Rights Conference 2013.  Like last year, it took me a week to commit my thoughts to print.  While the conference overall was not as lively and tense as last year’s (and many of the people involved in that tension last year were not present this year), the conference still brought with it the burden of racism, marginalization, misogyny/sexism, and homophobia.  This recollection will try to capture my full experience and impressions of the conference, not just the shit that is frustrating and tiring to deal with. Continue reading

Revaluing Community

A few of us began to ask the questions “What does community look like when we’re all equal and respected members working together in self-reliance and dignity?  How can we build communities from the foundations of what exists now to be inherently whole and just?” We looked to public housing as a beginning. The big thing that motivates everyone is access to healthy food and food security.  The efforts around local food production here have been two-fold. From electing a food policy council member to the city council to launching an edible landscape movement, the city is underway to creating a (not so) new culture around food production. Even the public housing communities are part of this movement, though they don’t have nearly the same access to resources or training to sustain their gardens. The white leaders learn this and are initially excited to do something about it, but when they receive funding through their respective nonprofits to address the marginalization, something manages to go not quite as planned and the people are left figuring out what to do on their own save a few independent white allies, meanwhile they continue to experience sabotage and non-cooperation from the Housing Authority for their efforts.

But all in all, everyone is excited about local foods. And they are all pushing in the same direction–for farms to depend just as much on animals as they always have. In this urban local foods culture, chickens and rabbits and goats are the popular ones and a breeding industry has erected here in response to that demand. (One of the public housing communities hasn’t been able to acquire any animals yet because they don’t have the access or the resources.) When it comes to community-building, self-determination, and wholeness, once again, animals aren’t included in that picture except as objects to exploit, and people of color are barely included, but trying as always to be equal in participation with white communities who seem to have the resources, the space, and are determining the direction of the vision and the vision itself. Continue reading

When a social movement doesn’t want to be organized

I have to get this off my chest.

I never thought I would say those words. How can a social movement trying to bring about change actually not want to be organized? Perhaps it’s my fault for using the term “social movement” so freely.  I just assume that everyone is collective-oriented and about the movement as I am.  So I’m baffled when I meet so-called activists who don’t want to cooperate, and I’m even more disturbed when they are the majority. Continue reading

Crying a River for Animal Life

I haven’t been on facebook or any social media for ages. I signed on for the first time in months and perused one of my friends’ walls and saw Mali the Elephant holding her tail.  The tag reads “She’s so lonely. She holds her own tail…”

I didn’t just feel like crying–I cried. I couldn’t help it. I can relate to being lonely. I can feel that deep sadness when all you have is yourself and that’s all you can rely upon because you have no support from the environment in which you live. I so get that, and it pains me. Regardless of whether or not this particular image is propaganda, it speaks the truth, and it touches me bone deep.

Free Mali the Elephant

Often, I feel so helpless in the face of this real suffering. So many of us doing this work feel helpless. I fool my way out of it when I put on my theorist, philosopher, systems thinker hat–which for any of you who follow my blog know that I have a great affinity for philosophical thinking. Continue reading

Recalling the Animal Rights Conference 2012

So much to say about the conference, so many words.  This year’s conference was my first attendance, and it exceeded and confirmed expectations all at once.  The conference contained for me some insight, some inspiration, some passion, some racism.  It took me a full week to recap my experience into words I could share on this blog.  Many others I have since befriended have written on the conference as well.  See Katie’s AR Conference recap for a different perspective.

Voices of the Movement

Not surprising, the dominant voices at the conference came from the large farm animal advocacy organizations.  Probably because the organizers FARM are among these organizations. Probably because major voices in the AR movement have prioritized farm animal advocacy above all others since they are the most regularly and extensively exploited and killed land animals in the US.  Nevertheless, I found Continue reading

Farmed Animal Sanctuary Meets Social Enterprise


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For most folks trying to run a farmed animal sanctuary, they soon learn it is a money sink.  Not everyone is as fortunate, visionary, or aggressive in their fundraising as the founders of Farm Sanctuary.  The founders of Caboodle Ranch and Angel’s Gate Hospice may know that all too well.  It’s expensive to run a rehabilitation center and sanctuary for animals.  Majority of Americans don’t find it to be of value.  Grants aren’t available specifically for sanctuaries.  And earned income from tours and bed and breakfast don’t generate much.  The only sanctuaries that survive and become effective, amazing organizations are those that have either a strong giving program, adopt social enterprise, or have a combination of the two.

But do any farmed animal sanctuaries exist that are social enterprises?

Continue reading

Social Enterprise for Animals


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Not a day goes by when I don’t sign into my email or search the web and find the phrase “social enterprise.”  It’s increasingly common where there’s “social change.”  More and more social justice groups are adopting it.  So what is it exactly that makes folks grab hold of it not unlike the sustainability frenzy?

Social enterprise offers a way to get to the heart of human values without having to take a single philosophy course.  And an unfortunate consequence, like sustainability, is for existing corporations to use this buzz phrase to manipulate consumer desires for a better world in order to continue business as usual.  However, I’m not going to get into the latter.  I’m more interested in its possibilities, especially for animal liberation. Continue reading


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