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Bear Witness for the Turkeys ~ Join Us in Enumclaw on Saturday

Thanksgiving is a time of mixed emotions for many vegans. It’s nice to share traditions and favorite vegan recipes with family and friends — but it’s a holiday that also reminds many of us of the destruction wrought by the arrival of white people on this continent and the deaths of 46 million gorgeous beings every year, birds who were born only to suffer, die and be complained about as “dry, stringy” meat on the tables of Americans.

gary larson cartoon

Next Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Seattle Farmed Animal Save will bear witness to turkeys being sold for local Thanksgiving tables. The group will gather and hold signs on the highway outside the live animal auction at the Enumclaw Sales Pavilion (22712 SE 436th St, Enumclaw). It’s a bit of a drive, but you can drop by the Redwing Cafe on your way there or back for a yummy treat.

I’ve never been there before Thanksgiving, but founder Kristina Giovanetti (who beautifully described the power of bearing witness in an earlier NARN post) says it’s what you would expect: Box after box after box of turkeys being sold. No price is decent for a living being, but these animals go for shockingly little.

As you probably know based on Instagram posts from all over the world, the Save Movement is powerful and heartening and heartbreaking, all at the same time. Please join us on Saturday!

Here are photos from a recent live auction — beautiful animals with numbers on them:

Birds in boxes.

Birds in boxes.

chicken

sweet goat

sweet goat2

sweet goats

Thanksgiving Prep: Cooking Class + Farm Sanctuary Tour

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What could be better? A cooking class with the brilliant chef Renee Press of Fire and Earth Kitchen, who knows her way around a holiday — or any kind of — meal, plus a tour of Pasado’s Safe Haven, where a whole barn is named for NARN. Now you can have both on the same day, and bonus: It’s a fundraiser for the animals!!

This Saturday (Nov. 4) is your chance! From noon to 3 p.m., for $65, you can have all those good vibes and all this good food: creamy potatoes au gratin with herbed cashew crumbs, cranberry pecan rice salad and roasted delicata squash rings with savory mushroom gravy. Yes!

Get your tickets here! And look forward to a fun class and to meeting all the wonderful animals, including the billy goats, pigs and llamas who call the NARN Barn home!

How did the NARN Barn get its name? Not many people from NARN or Pasado’s remember anymore, but NARN’s Rachel Bjork checked with Joe Haptas, who was NARN’s executive director from 1998 to 2002. He recalled a large donation — perhaps $30,000, the largest ever for NARN and the Margaret Kyros Foundation given “to build the barn and to encourage Pasado’s to have a strong focus on farm animal issues and to promote a plant-based diet to the public through their work.”

There was a big, fun dedication event for the barn’s opening, Haptas said, where someone “broke a bottle of champagne against the barn to christen it, if I recall correctly.” It was in the late ’90s, and “Pasado’s really seemed to take off from that point and grew so quickly,” he said.

The NARN Barn

The NARN Barn

Sweet billy goats rescued from a dairy

Sweet billy goats rescued from a dairy

Pasado's Safe Haven

Pasado’s Safe Haven

Sexual Harassment in Our Animal Rights Community

AR Harm-Free Community

May All Beings Be Free From Harm

When the news of Harvey Weinstein’s behavior became public, we on the NARN board were not surprised. While sexual violence can be committed or experienced by individuals of any gender, men in positions of power particularly seem conditioned to believe that they can do whatever they want to womxn and femmes and get away with it. Sexual harassment, intimidation, abuse, and rape are committed by men in positions of power everywhere, and men in power in animal activism are no exception.

The animal rights movement, though filled with some of the most caring, compassionate people, is not immune to the effects of rape culture and misogyny. In fact, numerous men in positions of power within the animal rights movement have perpetrated sexual harassment and abuse on their fellow activists. Too often their victims are silenced through threats of legal action, bullying, and/or shame. The abusers’ behavior is excused, disbelieved, or dismissed because of name recognition and/or because these abusers are “such good activists.”  It can be hard to get folx to talk about the sexual exploiters because it makes our movement look bad.

What is truly bad for our movement, however, is the continued tolerance of abuse and abusers. Many womxn and femmes don’t feel safe in our movement because, in lieu of accountability, abusers are often rewarded and survivors are rarely believed when they speak out. We have cultivated an atmosphere of fear, silence, and tolerance. Many of us find it difficult to believe that vegan animal rights activists can also be misogynists or perpetrators of sexual violence, but these things can and do happen.

For far too long this behavior has been tolerated and it has absolutely been damaging to our movement and the people in it. We understand that it can be difficult to know what to do when perpetrators and their defenders hold such positions of power, but thankfully more people are beginning to have these difficult conversations. NARN believes in the right of all beings to live free from harm, and that includes those who would be victims of sexual violence or harassment within our movement.   

As an animal rights organization, we also want to tell survivors doing this work that we believe you and we know it’s not your fault. It is–and will continue to be–our responsibility keep NARN events free of misogyny, harassment, and abuse. In the past, NARN has given corrective counseling for subtle, unintended violations and has refused to host or work with men who are known to be sexual harassers and abusers.  These values remain at the heart of our mission, and we are committed to continuing to do better.

As a part of our commitment to keeping all activists safe in our community, we are currently drafting and documentating a formal harassment and violence policy. (If you want to know more about how to address or prevent these issues in AR work, subscribe to our email here to find out about our next animal activism training). If you have any concerns that you would like to address to the Board, please contact us here or reach out to any specific board member you feel comfortable with.

Additionally, if you have ever experienced any kind of sexual harassment or abuse while working or volunteering within the animal welfare and/or vegan movement, resources for reporting, and other support, can be found here. We also encourage you to consider participating in this confidential online survey being conducted by, an activist and author, Dr. Lisa Kemmerer to assess the prevalence of these situations within the community.

If you’re a man or someone who is masculine-identifying in the AR movement—even, and especially, if you see yourself as one of the “good guys” who would never exploit womxn and femmes–we encourage you to talk to other men in the movement about sexual violence and misogyny. Start conversations, hold each other accountable, interrupt sexism, speak up, believe womxn, and use your privilege to examine your own behavior and to reduce and prevent harm to all beings.

For further information on this topic, author Carol Adams has some great insights in this Bearded Vegans podcast interview. Her book The Sexual Politics of Meat is still relevant reading today, and her website offers many other links, resources, and discussion points. Additionally, Critical Resistance provides a plethora of resources for activists and activist communities, addressing harm, accountability, and healing on their website.

Raise Your Voice! It’s Not Too Late for the Mountain Goats: Deadline 10/10/17

Photo by Wingchi Poon (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Oreamnos_americanus#/media/File:Wherever_you_go_I_will_go.JPG) Creative Commons license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Photo by Wingchi Poon (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Oreamnos_americanus#/media/File:Wherever_you_go_I_will_go.JPG) Creative Commons license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Anyone who’s so beleaguered by the treatment of animals or the state of politics in this country, or both, that they haven’t taken time to speak up for the mountain goats of the Olympic Peninsula  (HERE IS THE LINK TO COMMENT) should take heart: We have been here before. We can make a difference.

Just ask Roger Anunsen and Cathy Sue Ragan-Anunsen. They helped lead the fight against removing the mountain goats in the ‘80s and ‘90s, when it seemed the National Park Service (NPS) had its case all sewn up.

The Anunsens represented The Fund for Animals (now part of The Humane Society of the United States) on the National Park Service Olympic Mountain Goat Management Committee and ended up reading the NPS’s entire case — article after report after brief — on long drives between their home in Oregon and meetings about the goats in Port Angeles.

Before they started reading the full documents, “we believed everything that the park officials said publicly and to the media and thought the only remaining question would be how to solve the (alleged) problem in a non-lethal manner,” Ragan-Anunsen said. Reading every available document changed their minds.

First, the NPS didn’t acknowledge historic evidence — including a 1896 report from National Geographic, which was one of the foremost scientific publications in the country — that goats lived on the Olympic Peninsula before the 1920s, when other reports say people first located them there. The NPS “told the public over and again that there was no evidence whatsoever that mountain goats were ever seen in the Olympics before the 1920s,” the Anunsens said. But, they said, their FOIA records request uncovered the fact that the NPS knew about that same 1896 National Geographic article and intentionally hid it from the public.

Why would the park service hide something like that? It’s hard to say, but possibly because they believed it was in the best interest of the area’s plants that the goats be removed, the Anunsens said. One group pushing hard to remove the goats were concerned about native plants — but the vegetation studies they cited were either flawed (the goats were drawn to salt blocks that the NPS’s own scientists had placed near the plants in order to attract the goats for a goat study — oops) or found the goats had little to no actual impact on the plants.

The Anunsens, The Fund for Animals, professional photographers Keith and Antje Gunnar of Whidbey Island, and others campaigned for years to keep the goats in what may be their native habitat, and they succeeded with the help of many others who reconsidered their position once they became aware of park officials’ unsubstantiated claims and “sloppy science” that served as the foundation for their effort to remove or kill the Olympic mountain goats. U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks helped. So did The Seattle Times’ editorial board.

It’s unclear why a similar widespread campaign is not happening now, the Anunsens said. But some reporters have documented the parallels:

  • The Kitsap Sun’s Seabury Blair Jr. views the state’s environmental impact statement as “an impressive document that demonstrates four decades dedicated to justifying slaughter of a wild animal.”
  • A conservation biologist who led an independent team looking into the goats’ impact on the peninsula in the ‘90s found that the goats now there came from the 1920s goats — and that they have little impact on the rare native plants. Wind, rain and snow do more damage, he recounted to The Seattle Times’ Evan Bush.
  • In that same article, Bush recounted questions that NARN board president Rachel Bjork posed at one of the poorly attended public meetings regarding the goats, along with the state’s answers:
    • Don’t you just want them for hunting in the Cascades? (Harris responded that officials are motivated to grow the Cascades populations. They’d need to see rising numbers before considering hunting.)
    • Why can’t you use contraceptives instead of killing? (Contraceptives are untested for mountain goats, Happe said, and only last for three years in other ungulates.)
    • Why allow the option to take some mountain-goat kids to zoos? Isn’t it inhumane to take them from their parents? (Kids could struggle in relocation and zoos are interested in young mountain goats, Harris said.)

It’s not the full-throttled outcry of the Fund for Animals, a U.S. representative and the editorial board of the state’s largest newspaper. Nor is it a book like 1998’s “White Goats, White Lies: The Abuse of Science in Olympic National Park” by R. Lee Lyman, an anthropology professor from the University of Missouri-Columbia. It’s also not the 25-page booklet, “Olympic Monarchs: Don’t Let Them Get Your Goat!” that the Anunsens compiled to refute the park’s case point-by-point and to save the goats from transfer, hunting, zoos and killings in the ‘90s.

For some reason, there’s not been an outcry this time — at least not yet.

“To make it through this part of the process without major controversy … I’m encouraged,” the park’s acting superintendent, Lee Taylor, told The Seattle Times. “It feels like this is the moment we could get it done.”

“[W]e could get it done” doesn’t sound right, perhaps because it’s not.

Let’s at least step up the number of comments the Park receives on behalf of the goats. Please let the Park know what you think of its plan for them — HERE IS THE LINK FOR COMMENTS, WHICH CLOSE ON 10/10/17. Please take a moment to take a stand with us. Please submit a comment, write a letter to your local paper, call your state or national lawmakers and post on social media on behalf of these mountain goats.

“I think we are now at that same stage we were in initial hearings [decades ago], where everyone believes it’s a done deal,” Ragan-Anunsen said. “If we can let them know it doesn’t have to be that way, if they want to be involved, perhaps we can stop the train in its tracks.”

 

Why Chimps Don’t Belong in Circuses

Some of the best fun you can have is reading blog posts from the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, where the chimpanzees and humans together create heartwarming, inspirational — and often educational — photos and stories. Thank you to sanctuary co-director Diana Goodrich, who recently wrote this post about chimpanzees and circuses, and generously gave her permission for us to republish it here:

An eight-year-old chimpanzee named Chance has been in the news lately. Chance is owned by the Rosaire family and has been used in entertainment for his entire life. He has appeared in commercials, television shows and movies, including The Wolf of Wall Street.

The reason Chance and the Rosaires have been in the news recently is due to this footage that PETA obtained of Chance performing with a leash around his neck.

Jody and Burrito

Jody and Burrito

Thirty years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for chimpanzees to appear in circuses and roadside zoo performances. In fact, Jamie, Burrito, and possibly Jody were all used as performers before their years as biomedical research subjects. They lived with trainers and were made to perform in order to entertain people.

Thankfully, we have learned a lot about the nature of chimpanzees over the years and, as a society, we’ve begun to question the appropriateness of using intelligent, social animals in this way. More and more people agree that whales belong in the ocean, not in small aquariums, that elephants shouldn’t be used as props for people to sit on, and that chimpanzees should not be raised by humans and taught to perform tricks just to amuse us.

The Rosaire family has been in the circus business for multiple generations, so it’s understandable that they are stubbornly holding on to their way of life and their views of exotic animals that many, if not most, people have reconsidered.

They argue that they are providing sanctuary for the animals in their care, and they even have legal nonprofit status and the word “sanctuary” in their name Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary.

Certainly, anyone who is familiar with true sanctuaries would immediately realize that putting a chimpanzee on a leash and having people pay to view him perform an act is a circus, not a charitable sanctuary, and that those entities have very different missions. But for those not as familiar, I’m not surprised that the Rosaires have their defenders.

Jamie and Burrito

Jamie and Burrito

It may be true that the Rosaires feel love for the animals in their care, but that doesn’t mean the animals are being afforded the life that they should or could have in an accredited sanctuary.

For more information on the Rosaires, see this page, and for how to distinguish between roadside zoos and sanctuaries, read this from CSNW and this from the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance and share with others.

When you see chimpanzees on television, in movies, or pictured on greeting cards, stop to consider what kind of a life that chimpanzee has. Exotic animal circuses survive only because people continue to pay to see animal performances. There are fewer and fewer chimpanzees being used in entertainment because fewer and fewer people think that they should be used in this way.

We hope the chimpanzees who remain in the entertainment business in the U.S. will be able to experience a different way of life someday, like Jamie, Burrito, and Jody, where the focus is on providing them with hundreds of choices that allow them to be who they are as chimpanzees and where their best interests are the top priority.

Jody, Jamie, Annie and Foxie

Jody, Jamie, Annie and Foxie

How We Can Make the Animal Liberation Movement Stronger

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By Anika Lehde

Hey, NARN Friends. Something has been on my mind lately. Like many people who are working to make the world a better place (for human animals and non-human animals), I’m sometimes disheartened by infighting, rifts, and snide name calling in activist spaces and movements—particularly the animal liberation and vegan movement. I’ve also noticed that there seems to be some major confusion between what I’ll call “Strategic Disagreements” and what is actually “Internal Accountability” to be non-oppressive ourselves.

I’d  like to take a moment to differentiate these two categories of tension within social movements. This is important because the first type, disagreements, doesn’t require any specific sort of response; indifference, cooperation, avoidance, collaboration—while not all ideal—are at least acceptable. But the second type, accountability, requires immediate, constant, and transparent action.

Strategic Disagreements

Most of us have experienced the arguments—sometimes mild, sometimes nasty—about specific tactics, results analysis, personalities, internal politics, public perceptions, etc. within activist communities and movements. We may have been in the mix or on the sidelines, but either way we felt how destructive infighting can be, because it rarely takes place when people are in a learning or listening mode and sometime devolves into personal attacks.

Often the disagreement is around what is truly “effective” activism. Groups claim to have the answer, based on their specific method of research or experience. They see resources or energy going to another tactic and are frustrated by what they perceive to be a waste of time or energy—precious resources in animal activist communities. They may be critical of other groups and express publicly that others are incompetent and jeopardizing the animals themselves.

Sometimes the fights are around how radical or controversial we should be in our activism. The more conservative argue that the negative impressions left by more extreme actions negate their benefit. The more radical argue that anything less that direct action slows progress and creates space for moral ambiguity. There are many more types of strategic disagreements, even, but these are two common examples.

We have been told by our wiser comrades to not fall into this trap, that our infighting is exactly what “the other side” is betting on. You may have even been told that those we fight against have infiltrated the activist ranks and purposely start these fights to keep us inwardly focused and too beleaguered to make any progress.

This may all be true, and most importantly, the often negative and nasty way in which these debates take place pushes new activists away, attracts personalities who thrive in conflict, and may distract from the work at hand. We should not let disagreements on strategy devolve into name calling, mockery, or become the actual focus of our activism. These types of strategic disagreements are very important to discuss, and we should also do everything in our power to have them in constructive ways that increase our knowledge and understanding. But if we can’t come to agreement, we can at least agree to disagree and let our multi-tactic movement move forward without delay.

Internal Accountability

Internal accountability is very different in nature, but can look similar on the surface. It can sometimes even include the same people or be conflated with strategy debates. Trying to create internal accountability, though, means setting standards and norms for social justice spaces that are inclusive, as safe as possible for as many as possible, and don’t allow other forms of oppression to thrive (such as racism, sexism, sexual abuse, classism, or any other oppressive behavior or policies). This sounds easy until we take into account how deeply oppressive behaviors can run, even unexamined within ourselves, and how the very leaders of movements are sometimes the worst perpetrators of oppressive—and even abusive—behavior. Developing spaces that fight oppression on every front is challenging, but must be done to create a strong foundation for animal activism.

When oppressive animal activist policies or leaders are called out or oppressive tactics are identified, those who are unaffected by the abuse often label this process as “infighting” or “whining” and call for its end the same way one might call for those with different tactics to curtail their public arguments. The problem is that these aren’t the same; in fact, calling for accountability within the animal liberation movement is one of the most important things we can do to strengthen our movement, increase our ranks, and improve our strategies. We must hold each other to standards of non-oppression while doing animal activism. This is a never-ending process.

But why?

First, it is the right thing to do. This isn’t obvious to everyone. Those who watch as groups try to remove abusers from their ranks, or implement anti-racist practices, find the discord so uncomfortable (and it is) that they would rather sweep the issues under the rug rather than face them head on. They would rather look the other way and minimize the importance of these issues. This should be unacceptable. Even if if there was no benefit to animal activism as a whole (there is), creating safer spaces for activists should be a priority, because it is the right thing to do for people. Just because we fight for animal liberation doesn’t mean we are for human oppression. Besides, activism is difficult enough—we shouldn’t make it harder for those involved.

Second, it is the strategic thing to do for the animal liberation movement. Activist spaces that allow unchecked misogyny, racism, ableism, transphobia, or any other oppressive behavior to thrive will not attract the strongest and most skilled activists. The best activists will not tolerate an unsafe environment and certainly won’t trust us as peers. Oppressive activist spaces drive away the people with experience in other social justice movements who could bring important new ideas, strategies, and learning to the table. What’s more, our inability to be consistent with an anti-oppression approach will delegitimize the animal liberation movement and reduce the diversity of thought and experiences necessary for creating real change for animals. What it will do instead is attract privileged narcissists who reinforce oppressive hierarchies and who would rather dismiss and mock their activist peers than work to create strong communities of resistance.

For these two reasons, we need to embrace and welcome processes of internal accountability within the animal liberation movement. How this looks on the ground may be different for every group, depending on the current issues they are facing. This could be ensuring that leadership within the organization is non-hierarchical and doesn’t replicate white-supremacy and male-supremacy. It could be making sure there is a documented process for dealing with accusations of abuse or oppressive behavior within the community (and following it). It could mean not accepting when peer groups participate in or use racist, sexist, ableist, and classist tactics, and calling them to accountability when they do (this is what people often confuse as infighting, but is actually movement accountability). It could be creating a culture of learning and sharing about all types of oppression with a book club or a weekly article reading group. It could be creating true and deep connections with other activist communities by showing up in solidarity with those movements (without expectation of reciprocation) so we can learn even more how to infuse our animal activism with anti-oppression strategies. I highly recommend this last step as it is incredibly informative to experience other spaces that are welcoming.

No matter the exact step, it is imperative that we don’t confuse this critically important approach to anti-oppression and internal accountability with the common “infighting” about general tactics and strategies. We also should never dismiss the process of strengthening our movement and building better activist spaces as a distraction. It is not a distraction, but rather a truly foundational part of the work that we do for animals. The oppression of humans and animals has a common enemy, and we can’t fight for one cause (animals) while participating in and propping up other oppressions.

Remember, let’s have constructive debates about tactics, but let’s not ever tolerate oppression. We can fight oppression in all its forms together! Let’s go! If you want to chat with me more on this topic, you can find me on twitter at @veganscore.

About the author:

Anika Lehde is a former NARN board member (2013-2015) and current Advisory Board member. She also volunteers for Food Empowerment Project, where she helps organize volunteers for outreach, fundraising, education, and other vegan food justice programs in Washington State. When not volunteering, Anika is the President of a marketing consulting firm and lead writer for Seattle Vegan Score, a local blog profiling vegan people, events, companies, and animal advocacy.

What Not to Tell Your Kids About Zoos: National Geographic Leads the (Wrong) Way

National Geographic has published a “Family Field Guide” to lying to your children about zoos.

Personally, I take this as a sign that the zoo system is crumbling, when children are asking hard — but obvious — questions and a major organization dedicated to the environment and wildlife wants you to lie to them.

“No matter how innovative the spaces are, seeing wild animals in enclosures can be hard for children,” the post acknowledges. Rather than paint a pretty picture about releasing animals back into the wild (hmmm) and breeding programs (not a pretty picture at all!), how about some honesty regarding the fact that these animals are caged for our pleasure and, for some people, to alleviate human guilt about the extinction of so many animals in the wild.

Children have a lot to teach us about what’s right and wrong when it comes to animals. Maybe parents should be following their lead when it comes to zoos.

Ruby Roth writes children’s books that address these sorts of issues. One called “V Is for Vegan” is particularly wide-ranging and goes beyond animals used for food to talk about zoos and circuses and other forms of entertainment that persecute animals.

WA Is Killing Wolves For Ranchers Using Public Lands — Again

After targeting the Smackout Wolf Pack earlier this summer, Washington wildlife officials now are killing the Sherman Pack. The wolves’ crime? Killing livestock that ranchers graze on federal land.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

It’s the third time the state has killed wolves for Diamond M Ranch, whose owner told The Seattle Times, “We don’t raise the cattle to feed wolves. We raise them to feed the heart of America.”

Officials use traps and shoot wolves both on the ground and from helicopters. After becoming extinct here in the 1930s, wolves began to migrate to the area following a resurgence in Yellowstone National Park.

Only six cattle were killed by wolves last year, the Times reported.

Fourteen conservation groups told Fish & Wildlife they didn’t like its secrecy in the Smackout Pack killings. Others oppose the killings but are afraid to speak out. It’s no wonder, after the disgraceful way Washington State University went after one of its own researchers for doing so.

Please let your voice be heard! Call or write to the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife know that ranchers need to live with that small amount of loss if they’re going to graze on public land:

Director Jim Unsworth:

director@dfw.wa.gov

306-902-2200

Eastern Region Director Steve Pozzanghera:

2315 North Discovery Place, Spokane Valley, WA 99216-1566

509-892-1001

teamspokane@dfw.wa.gov

Congress Needs to Pass This Animal Abuse Bill — Please Call Your Lawmakers

As the Humane Society of the United States recently pointed out, the FBI wants to prosecute animal abusers as felons — and has the authority to do so in all 50 states, but not for crimes that occur on interstates, in stores that sell animals across state lines or in federal facilities and parks.

Congress is considering a bill — the bipartisan Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act — that would make it a federal crime to commit malicious cruelty to an animal on federal property or during interstate commerce.

Please call your lawmakers — in Seattle, that’s Rep. Pramila Jayapal at (202) 225-3106, Sen. Maria Cantwell at (202) 224-3441 and Sen. Patty Murray at (202) 224-2621 — to ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 1494/S. 654, the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act. Encourage them to get it passed quickly, as well.

In Solidarity with #Charlottesville

Anti-Racist Animal Rights Organization

In the wake of the white supremacist violence at Charlottesville and across the country, NARN stands by its mission statement, which calls for for an end to the suffering of all sentient beings–both non-human and human. Because we believe the liberation of all creatures is interconnected, we also call on the animal rights community as a whole to find the empathy and compassion in our hearts and use it to show up, speak out, and get active in opposition to oppression.

We stand in solidarity with folks like Dr. Breeze Harper and Food Empowerment Project  in committing to “fight against white supremacy and in a way that is more than cosmetic and “integrates [that commitment] into [our] organizational goals and values.” We urge folks to think about the US-based animal rights organizations they know of and work with and hold them accountable. As Dr. Harper says:

Let them know that they cannot be neutral about the white [supremacist] elephant in the room (and that ‘room’ is a white settler nation called the USA in which the logics of white supremacy were its foundational CORE values and still operate today– from the logic of neo nazis to the logic of white savior complex to the logic of racial profiling to the logic of gentrification to the logic of tracking in K-12 education to the logic of engaging in missionary language when campaigning about animal rights and veganism).

In that spirit, we offer the following personal reaction to what happened in Charlottesville from one of our long-time volunteers (see below). We hope you will not only take it to heart but take action (see this link for suggestions on how to do that in an animal rights context and beyond). Like we say at NARN, show up, speak out, and get involved. It cannot wait another moment.

In solidarity,

Board of Directors
The Northwest Animal Rights Project

 

I had this idea in my head when I became veg as a kid–that people became vegetarian or vegan because they widened their circle of compassion and empathy beyond people that were like them to include people that were less like them and then to include individuals that were non-human. Once I found an activist community, it didn’t take me very long to realize that racism, sexism, and other “-isms” exist in the animal rights movement as well. In fact, it can be quite rampant.

Even knowing this, it somehow still hurts worse when people in the animal rights community perpetuate hate speech, violence, or are silent about others who do. There’s still a part of me that expects that vegans and animal rights activists will understand that those of us who are different than they are still have a right to live as freely as they do. That same part of me still expect vegans to be people who, when they see injustice, they do something about it instead of turning the other cheek. They speak up–not just for non-human animals, but for the human animals, too. To give a more specific example: Part of me expects them to speak up when family or friends say things that perpetuate violence against people of color.

Yes, I am frustrated by people who would stand next to me while I fight for animals, yet disappear when attacks are directed at me or other people of color. It was incredibly frustrating to have another animal rights activist tell me that if I want to feel “safe,” I should leave animal activism and do human rights activism instead. I am able to continue to do this work, because I know people like this are not the whole of our movement.

There are two vegan animal rights activists in the hospital right now who stood up against hate and were struck by that vehicle in Charlottesville. There are many of us, like them, that understand that fighting for human justice doesn’t have to take anything away from animals. Those people remind me that I am not alone–that I don’t have to choose. They remind me that it’s not some awful multiple-choice test of “who deserves the right to live?” a) myself & other people of color, or b) non-human animals.

I really ask those who care about animals but who remain silent against white violence in this country; the terrorism falling upon people of color in this country, to please reflect on the compassion and empathy that brought them to veganism in the first place. Then when you find that compassion and empathy, be willing to actually DO something with it. Use your voice, your vote, your privilege wherever you can to fight oppression and support ALL those who are impacted by it.

 

Please Share.

Learn/Do More:

Best Ways to Help the Victims of the Charlottesville Attack

The Charlottesville Syllabus

Teaching Resources in These Times

10 Ways to Fight Hate

Charlottesville organizers ask you to take these 8 actions