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Photo credit: Beth Lily Redwood

GENERAL


In her excellent TED talk, Mellody Hobson speaks about why we should be “color brave,” not color blind. The problem isn’t that we see color; it’s what we do when we see that color (consciously or subconsciously).

Race is one of the most uncomfortable and divisive issues in our country, but pretending not to see color is not the solution.

Color blindness doesn’t mean there’s fairness and equality. Being color blind means we’re ignoring the problem. Instead of avoiding race, let’s deal with race head on—we’ll be better for it and so will the animals.

If we truly believe in equal rights and equal opportunity, we need to have real conversations about this issue. Encompass is here to facilitate those conversations in the professional farmed animal movement.

Providing a space for animal advocates of color to feel more at “home” in our movement can minimize burnout and enable social bonds to thrive. In fact, happy employees are 12 percent more productive. Not only will supporting advocates help those individuals, it will allow organizations to fully maximize the potential of their staff.

It’s true that many corporate practices deserve critique, but the business world’s efforts to embrace diversity and inclusion provides a starting point for our own movement’s evolution. And while it’s true that businesses’ goals are fundamentally different from ours, success in either realm hinges on productivity and other critical aspects of workplace culture. Those in the for-profit sector spend considerable time and money researching diversity, equity, and inclusion practices and how to use them effectively––and many findings from these studies translate well to our own work.

The same is true for political campaigns. In 2016, animal advocates in Massachusetts successfully replicated, on a smaller scale, Obama’s grassroots campaign tactics. Extrapolating lessons from Obama’s elections, advocates working on the historical “Yes on 3” ballot measure campaign pulled off a huge victory: a statewide ban on both the production and sale of products from confined animals.

If we can take lessons from companies, political parties, and other social movements and apply them to our movement, why wouldn’t we?

We will need to look within our movement honestly and be committed to the necessary culture change required to make racial inclusion a cornerstone principle. This will be a long-term project and will be uncomfortable at times, but it’s vital if we plan to grow and thrive.

Encompass helps organizations understand the roots of these issues and works to address them holistically while also empowering advocates of color.

Until we intentionally address race, we are unintentionally ignoring it—and that action has consequences.

Increased diversity will not happen unless we put intention into recognizing the issue and resources into solving it.

For several decades, the professional farmed animal protection movement has mostly been reaching out to other white communities either intentionally or unintentionally. When there are attempts at reaching communities of color they sometimes fall short because the message doesn’t resonate due to the fact that the messengers don’t represent the interests of their communities.

As long as we are viewed by society as a white movement, we run the risk that people of color will view our mission as inaccessible and one they can’t identify with.

The word “Encompass” has many meanings, all of which describe our goals:

  • to include comprehensively,
  • to bring about or accomplish,
  • to encircle,
  • to cause something to take place.

Chiefly, Encompass’s goal is to more comprehensively include people of color in the professional animal protection movement.

In addition, the word “compass” is part of the full word “encompass,” illuminating the direction this group will provide our movement, as well as figuratively speaking to our movement’s moral compass.

The logo is a modern take on the Venn diagram. The two triangles (one on the left and one on the right) represent the blending of animal advocacy and racial inclusion. They merge at a peak highlighting upward movement. In addition, the image symbolizes a compass arrow, also illuminating upward direction.

EFFECTIVE ADVOCACY


Right now, much of the animal protection movement is focused on changing the immediate reality of animals—and that’s important. Animals are suffering and dying right now. But it’s important for some segments of this movement to hold a long view and ensure the effectiveness of our movement for decades to come.

Many animal protection groups are doing great work to reduce and eliminate meat consumption over the medium-term. For example, numerous groups are working on corporate welfare reform that won’t take place for many years. And Effective Altruist-supported meta groups are doing research that will be implemented over the coming years.

Encompass is cheering on these efforts, but there’s also foundational, longer-term work that needs to be done. If we fail to adapt to the changing demographics of this country (the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by 2044 people of color will be the majority of the U.S. population), we put into jeopardy all the progress we’ve made, potentially joining outdated social movements of the past.

We’ve come too far—and the animals need us too much—to take the risk of inaction. Encompass holds a long view, recognizing that inaction now could hinder our efforts to reach a critical mass in years to come.

As with any new and innovative project, proving results from the outset can be difficult. If we could prove our effectiveness, then the work would already be done. Our goal with Encompass is to fill a gap in the movement by presenting an opportunity and a potential solution.

Just like Bill Gates couldn’t definitively prove the power of Microsoft before he created it, neither can we guarantee certain outcomes. We argue, however, that it’s vital we explore this approach because the professional farmed animal protection movement has long suffered from a lack of inclusion and diversity.

One of the core goals at Encompass is to develop publicly available, data-driven reports on the state of the movement’s racial diversity and inclusion. When we have this in hand we’ll be better suited to make long-term projections about Encompass’ efficacy.

Like many other farmed animal protection organizations, our bottom line is to help the largest number of animals. Encompass believes our movement puts itself at risk of becoming irrelevant in the long-term if we fail to reflect the demographics of the country we’re trying to change.

Similar to how many Effective Altruists believe that researching and testing tactics (and implementing findings) will make movements more effective, there’s evidence that making our movement more diverse will make us more effective.

1) Because it’s the right thing to do.

2) Because it’s the smart thing to do.

Diversifying the professional animal protection movement will make us more effective by enabling us to reach larger segments of the population.

Further, diversity, equity, and inclusion are ideas that breed innovation and success. As senior vice dean at Columbia Business School writes in Scientific American, “Diversity makes us smarter.” This is because interacting with people different from us helps us learn new perspectives and helps us prepare more effectively and perform at our highest level. It’s important for one of the most important social movements of our time to operate at peak efficiency.

LANGUAGE


Although Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. first used the term “citizens of color” in 1963, the phrase didn’t catch on for many decades. The term “person of color” (POC) came about as a response to the term “minority” or “non-white” in the late 20th century.

Race in the U.S. is often framed as a binary, black and white issue; however, many other demographics feel the effects of racial discrimination. The term “person of color” developed as a term to provide solidarity and unity to the various racial and ethnic groups that may feel systemic oppression. It is a term meant to give strength, since many of these individuals face similar challenges even though they may manifest differently.

It’s important to note that the white and POC experience are not monolithic—many elements make up our cultural identities and we do not want to ignore them or mistake them as being the same across the board.

While at one time people of color were statistically the minority of the U.S. population, this term is increasingly inaccurate in certain jurisdictions, and by 2044, people of color will be the majority of the U.S. population. Just like the evolving demographics of our country, language changes.

Language has the power to define how we see ourselves and each other. The term minority inherently implies “less than” and is not the preferred term when working toward equity. It also is a term defined against the dominant group, rather than a term being named in its own right.

Race is a way to group people into different categories based on physical characteristics. While the study of race has evolved dramatically, most scientists agree there is no genetic basis to racial categorization. There’s no such thing as a “pure race,” nor has there ever been.

Ethnicity speaks to the cultural identity of an individual. People can identify with more than one ethnicity. For example, someone who identifies as racially white could identify as ethnically German and Irish.

Both terms are dependent on social constructs and norms, so they evolve over time. For example, Italians and Irish immigrants were not considered white when they first came to the U.S., but they are now.

First, “Latinx” (pronounced lah-teen-ex) is an inclusive, gender-neutral term to counter the clunky Latino/Latina (although this usage is still being discussed in the community).

While both Latinx and Hispanic are ethnic terms, they are not interchangeable. Latinx has to do with geography and Hispanic has to do with language.

Latinx means from Latin America (or almost everywhere below the U.S.—including the Caribbean).

Hispanic means from a country where the primary language is Spanish (not every country in Latin America speaks Spanish).

For example, a Portuguese speaker from Brazil is Latinx but not Hispanic (because they’re from Latin America and speak Portuguese) and someone from Spain is Hispanic but not Latinx (because they speak Spanish but Spain is not in Latin America).

It’s important to note that different people prefer and identify with different terms, and it’s best to defer to them rather than assume.

To some, these differences may seem like political correctness run amok, but it’s important to remember that language is an integral part of identity. In a diverse country such as the U.S., we should not only tolerate but embrace how we all fit together.

No. Technically, caucasian people are individuals from the Caucasus mountains which includes North Africans, Eastern Europeans, Middle Easterners, and South Asians. “White” typically means people with a European background. Because many Caucasian people have light skin (among other geopolitical reasons), the two words have been used interchangeably. Here’s more about the history.

It depends on the context, and if you’re unsure, you may want to ask. Black is a term meant to capture a broad range of people—it’s a descriptor rather than an identifier. Using the term African American may technically be incorrect for people who are not originally from Africa (or whose descendants are not from Africa). For example, there are Black Caribbeans or Black Latin Americans. However, some people prefer African American and view the term as a sign of respect. And some people prefer neither, which again reinforces why the best approach is to ask.

Culturally, the status of Jews is ambiguous, and the term can be used to describe both racial identity and ethnicity.

Eric Goldstein, an associate professor of history at Emory University, writes “Jewish identity in America is inherently paradoxical and contradictory … What you have is a group that was historically considered, and considered itself, an outsider group, a persecuted minority. In the space of two generations, they’ve become one of the most successful, integrated groups in American society—by many accounts, part of the establishment. And there’s a lot of dissonance between those two positions.”

While there are many different types of Jewish people, most tend to have white privilege, and 94% of Jews in America identify as white.

“Whiteness” is often used as a category to assess cultural power. While most Jews in the U.S. do have power, they are sometimes treated with prejudice.