October 29, 2020

The anxiety and angst people across the United States feel about the state of our country and the 2020 presidential election is palpable. Voters are desperate to have their voices heard, with tens of millions voting early by mail and in-person. And rightly so––a number of important causes will be deeply affected by the results of the election, including the fight for racial justice.

At Encompass, we want to emphasize to animal advocates that the work to fight racism and to create a racially equitable movement is essential to our work for farmed animals. Because systems of oppression are interconnected, we can’t end animal suffering while continuing to support racism with empty words, ambivalence, and inaction.

Our country was founded on genocide, slavery, and institutional racism. The resulting white supremacy culture has been pervasive in our systems and laws ever since. That won’t change after this election day. Regardless of who wins next Tuesday, the terror of white supremacy and racial injustice will continue until we take transformative cultural steps across all systems and institutions. The movements for social justice must lead to end racism. Animal advocates in particular will need to step up our work for racial justice in our quest to advance animal liberation.

Following through on commitments to anti-racism

This summer, animal protection organizations, large and small, rightfully made powerful statements to fight racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. As election season comes to an end, and mass protests against racial injustice move out of the streets to less visible modes of organizing, it may be natural for animal protection organizations to deprioritize their work to fight racial injustice. Other projects arise and end-of-year fundraising requires leaders’ attention.

But the time is now to allocate funding in next year’s budget for racial equity work; the time is now to incorporate equity into all of your programs, goals, and strategic planning; the time is now to look at the culture of your organizations and ask, “How can we hold ourselves accountable to the plans we made to fight racial injustice?” “At whose pace are we having these conversations––the pace of the people most desperate for justice, or those least comfortable with the conversation?” “Who in the organization are bearing the brunt of the work to create racial equity in our organization and movement––people of the global majority or white folks?” “Have we started to make our anti-racism statements from this past summer come to life?” “In one, three, five years, how will racial equity permeate every aspect of our work, and are we on track?”

In an upcoming statement, we will further explore how to keep the fight for racial justice alive after mass protests move from the streets to other modes of organizing, and how organizations can hold themselves accountable to their goals. Until then, we can’t let the election results drive us into complacency in our fight for racial justice and animal liberation. For animals, and the people who fight for them, we must keep our foot on the gas, no matter who wins this cycle.