What is all this talk about intersectionality? How do issues of racism, patriarchy, heterosexism and a host of other identity based oppressions have anything to do with veganism? It’s JUST about the animals right? And all these annoying SJW’s are making it all about humans. Well let’s take a closer look.
Intersectionality is a framework of looking at how various oppressed social identities overlap or intersect (being both Black and a womxn, both queer and poor) that was developed by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a civil rights advocate and professor of critical race theory. To be an intersectional activist is to be aware of and work toward ending all forms of subjugation, many of which in our modern society are rooted in (but not exclusive to) white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, and capitalism. It is to be cognisant of how people do not live one dimensional lives and how this entails a multidimensional identity that is often at odds with dominant power structures.
(Take a look at this awesome graph by World Intersectional Liberation)
The sooner we recognize that oppression is interlinked; that there’s a common denominator underlying each of these systems of oppression, the sooner we begin undoing the knot and dismantling the system in place. We get to the root.
The stride of intersectional activism works to ensure equality for all, but before any oppression can be deconstructed it has to first be recognized and that is why we start here: by recognizing all oppression, sprouting from the roots of subjection and otherization that allows it to flourish.
Look at how successful non-intersectional, white veganism has been (newsflash: it hasn’t). The sheer number of animals killed for human consumption continues to rise even while plant-based alternatives increase. Veganism is still viewed as an alternative fringe movement of whites who don’t care about humans–– well, maybe lately it’s been expanded to include clean-eating, fad dieting–– but of course those do not represent what veganism truly is: a social justice movement to end animal exploitation and oppression and uplift people. Veganism gains nothing when it is not inclusive.
Animal exploitation does not exist within a vacuum. The oppression people of color and other marginalized groups face is connected to the oppression other animals face. Revealing these links only helps to connect others to veganism.
In a world where murdering other animals for the sheer sake of killing is deemed a sport and killing people of color in the streets for any reason is deemed lawful, it’s evident how emotionally-void and facile it’s become to commit crimes against any marginalized groups when they’re viewed as nothing more than ‘animals’. To be dehumanized is to be downgraded from the privileged status of human.
When sentient beings are otherized to the extent that their lives have no value outside of how they can benefit the oppressor (i.e animals are soul-less creatures, only here for our exploitation), there’s a false conviction that any harm done to them is justifiable.
Non-whites have been reduced to the status of animals for hundreds of years, we see this with colonization of most of the world by Europe and the United States and the subsequent atrocities that have taken place. And if these subjugated caste cannot benefit the dominant class in a way they see fit, they do not have to exist, they certainly do not have to be given rights. And it is so easy for white vegans to dismiss and ridicule intersectional veganism when their bodies are not the ones being oppressed. The oppression faced by other animals is relatable to us as we face daily acts of dehumanization ourselves living in our own skin. Aph Ko, founder of Aphro-ism and Black Vegans Rock, goes into great detail on this issue, how animal and human oppression works in layers.
Intersectional veganism means that we do not just seek to end animal agriculture as it takes the lives of billions of animals every year. It means that we also seek to advocate for farm workers that grow our plant-based foods in conditions that are horrendous and anything but “cruelty free”. It means that environmental and food injustice related to animal agriculture is accounted for and actively sought to be dismantled. The claim that intersectionality creates divisions in veganism speaks to the larger issue of white veganism either completely not caring about human issues or taking the “colorblind” approach.
Oppression cannot be subverted through oppression. When this form of activism is employed, it smothers the growth of any movement. The ethical-sincerity is questionable of anyone who chooses to only recognize one thread in the entanglement of oppression.
Intersectional Veganism is the revolution.