Why are all the people in the media with organizations or degrees who work for radically changing human-animal relationships white? Jane Goodall, Marc Bekoff, G.A. Bradshaw, Karen Davis, Daphne Sheldrick–just to name a few. Even more obvious are animal rights-identified white people, like Peter Young or Keith Mann, some of whom talk more about their vegan identities and selfless “freedom-fighting” personae than actual relationships with animals. Where are the visions of people of color who sincerely care about radically reconstructing animal relations in American society?
Are we so weighted down by identity politics and our suffering from institutional oppression that we don’t have the energy or the time? Is it simply a matter of not having the privilege to focus predominately on animals or human-animal relationships and so we justify the issues taking a back seat in importance? Is it that we’ve all faced the prisoner’s dilemma and felt we had to choose our battles because of the oppressive forces weighted against us? Is it the frustration of dealing with the racism of white “allies” in animal advocacy and animal liberation? Or is it the discouragement from our cultural and activist communities that have led us to place animals in a more abstract space of our visions for social change?
This is more than being a vegan of color or a celebrity of color who openly supports and endorses PETA. I’m talking about people of color walking the walk of ecological living and human equality and mutual reciprocity, respect, and compassion with other animals. Where are those people of color, of various shades and cultural complexities?
Where are the people of color who managed to cope with the institutional oppression, letting go of our constructed animalities and bringing home our true animalities? Where are the people of color who said enough is enough and are redefining what it means to live in mutual reciprocity and respect with other animals? I know you exist, though your voices may be crowded out or silenced or fatigued. But I long to meet you and listen to your visions.