By KR Vargas | April 23, 2018

Some of my experiences as a person of color within the animal rights movement have been not only disappointing, but problematic. While I have found many amazing people to collaborate and build community with, I have also dealt with pain and hardship.

The first group I worked for was a powerful, white-led organization that was building a Latinx division, and I remember praying and hoping that they would hire me one day for it. It’s incredible how much time marginalized groups spend trying to convince dominant groups that we have something to contribute, that we have a valuable experience to offer, or a new piece to the puzzle.

My internship team consisted of two white women who, based on my interactions, didn’t appear to have done the meaningful work of understanding how the power and privilege of whiteness impacts those around them. From day one, I dealt with an increasing number of instances that were hurtful, aggressive, and even racist (even though they may not call it that), and I felt incredibly unsupported by the organization.

I was only able to survive a few months until I experienced a breaking point. I realized I could not work for this organization any longer, and I even questioned if this movement had space for someone like me. Because of this and many other experiences, I understand why so many Latin Americans are turned off by animal rights activists and vegans.

There was little to no understanding of, much less attempt to address, the internal and external oppressions we have to overcome in order to be able to advocate for animals.

“Intersectionality” is often seen as a threat to nonhuman animals, but it is a reality that marginalized communities simply cannot escape from, or choose to ignore.

Because of this, I have teamed up with other Latinx animal rights activists to co-found La Raza For Liberation, a nonprofit organization aimed at empowering Latin American activists within and beyond the animal rights movement through an inclusive and intersectional framework.

Many people like me who are passionate about animal rights often feel like they have to choose one issue over another. This is nonsensical, as our world and identities do not exist in one dimension. I am Latinx, queer, and vegan.

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.

Our goals are to increase the leadership and visibility of Latinxs working to dismantle oppressive systems, and support these groups and individuals by sharing and providing various resources and platforms. Join us!

facebook.com/larazaforliberation

https://www.gofundme.com/la-raza-for-liberation-launching