How Examining My Whiteness Brought Me to Animal Rights

Growing up in rural Virginia, veganism was never on the menu. It was one of the many things I simply did not know about until later in my life—much like the idea that I could love women, or that I am complicit in systems that oppress people of color.

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The Path I’ve Traveled: The need for belonging

I’ve struggled with identity and place my whole life. I never feel totally at home anywhere, so I’m always searching to belong. As I’ve worked to develop the core tenets of Encompass, I’ve realized that, like me, most advocates of color also need a sense of belonging to thrive in this movement.

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Encompass’ one-year report

Encompass launched on August 1, 2017—less than one year ago—and the enthusiasm we’ve received, and the momentum we’ve created, has surpassed my wildest expectations. Here are some highlights from our one-year report.

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A response to the recent “zero tolerance” border policy

As an animal group that discusses issues related to race, it can sometimes be difficult to know when to wade into the national political conversation. But as the child of immigrant parents, I can’t help but feel a certain type of closeness with these children. As a movement, as people who show compassion to nonhuman animals, we must show this to our fellow humans.

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Latinx and Vegan? A New Group is Here For You

I care about many issues because they often affect me directly, and a huge part of my empathy for animals stems from my own experience being “othered.” La Raza For Liberation’s mission is to educate and empower our communities in a way that is relatable, accessible, and historically accurate. We reject the idea that all Latin Americans are Mexican, look the same, or that all Latin Americans come from the exact same culture and have the exact same needs and experiences. We are a diverse people, and our work should reflect that.

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Statement on sexual harassment and gender equity

At Encompass, our core goal is to build a racially diverse, equitable, and inclusive farmed animal protection movement. However, we recognize that systems of oppression don’t operate independently. We believe that sexism, racism, ableism, and other forms of prejudice deserve introspection, analysis, and a framework for a path forward.

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How my racial awakening led to Encompass

I grew up thinking I was white because of a technicality. But after my racial awakening, I claimed boldly and proudly my identity as a woman of color. As an animal advocate, I want to help facilitate a conversation that in the professional movement we have avoided for far too long. Let’s do this together!

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I Needed Encompass Nine Years Ago – And Still Need It Today

As one of a few women of color working in the big groups, and one of even fewer women of color working in the high-pressure, white-male-dominated corporate outreach space, I have struggled. In my daily dealings with companies, colleagues, and members of the broader animal rights community, I have had to cope repeatedly with microaggressions and, at times, outright racism. Just as animals should be respected, their advocates should be too.

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We All Belong In This Movement

We all want to feel like we belong, like we’re welcome, like we’re understood, and like we matter just as much as the next person. If people feel alienated, misrepresented, or unrepresented, we’re not going to see the change our movement is tirelessly striving for -- and, unfortunately, these feelings are often the reality for many people of color who come to our movement.

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Social Progress Is Not Inevitable: Now is the time to make it

Progress requires the tireless effort of people who are committed to making our world a more inclusive, equitable, and justice-minded place. Patiently waiting for the animal movement to diversify itself would be a mistake because as MLK noted, social progress is not inevitable. If we hope to see consistent progress in the animal protection movement then we must act on our internal impulse and seek to change the racial and gender demographics of our movement and our leadership.

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