052 Dear White Vegans: Stop It
To kick off the new year, Callie and Nichole talk about veganism’s race problem – tackling this issue as two white people talking to other white people about why this is so harmful to the movement and how to help correct this problem.
In This Episode
After seeing countless Facebook posts where some vegans are trying to address the race problem that veganism has and seeing so many white people jumping in to claim that there is no problem, or that they’re entitled to use slavery as a comparison tool to get people to go vegan, or that they don’t like the exact wording or tone of the message, Nichole and Callie felt compelled to step in and take a stance as two white people who want to tell other white people to just stop it already.
Veganism is seen, by many, as a white thing. That is our (white people’s) fault. When we shut down voices in our community, we perpetuate the idea that veganism is only a safe space for those who look like us or those who are willing to remain silent while the rest of us do whatever the fuck we want. This is not ok. This movement needs everyone and, more importantly, this movement should be built on compassion and equality, not exclusion and maintenance of privilege. Don’t believe us? Read this article on Aphro-ism that shows what happens when someone tries to publish a list of black vegans. Spoiler alert: it ain’t good.
It’s uncomfortable to confront your privilege, of course. But our discomfort is so insignificant compared to the contributions to the movement that are being made, and overlooked, by people of color. People all over the world, from all walks of life, are a part of veganism and it is high time that they are equally represented and that their voices are not just heard, but valued.
The best way to help break this cycle of vegan white-washing is to expose yourself to vegans who look different from you and for fuck’s sake LISTEN TO THEM. Just listen. Absorb the message, don’t fight it. Don’t go on vegans of color’s pages or blogs and argue with them, don’t share their articles in your white vegan groups and pick apart why they’re wrong or not worded to your liking. Let go of your ego and see that embracing everyone and modifying your behavior will ultimately lead you to a happier life, deeper connections with your fellow vegans, and a movement that we can be proud of.
Usually we put links down below, but these three articles are extremely important to this topic:
- The [White Savior] Elephant in the Room: Ally Theater, Savior Complex, and Speaking for ‘The Other’ by Dr. Amie Harper and Christopher-Sebastian McJetters (The Sistah Vegan Project)
- Slavery: It’s Still a Thing by Christopher-Sebastian McJetters (Vegan Publishers)
- Veganism has a serious race problem by Clair Heuchan (Media Diversified)
Please read these, internalize the messages, and look inside yourselves to see ways in which you might be upholding “white veganism” and how you can work to change that. It’s not easy, but it is so necessary.
Also, please know that we are two white women with full-time corporate jobs who are working hard to constantly educate ourselves and become better allies. We may have said some things wrong here, and there are a million articles and people we probably should’ve referenced (or read!) that we don’t even know about. We struggle daily with whether we should not say anything until we’re fully educated (which could take years given that all our learning is on the fly in between our jobs and lives and recording) or try to speak up now. We still don’t know the right answer. We tried to speak carefully and our hearts were 100% in it. We are very open to hearing from you all anything that we might’ve missed or been amiss on. We know we don’t know everything, and we know we’re still probably operating under some privileged beliefs without even being aware of it. We’re here, ready to grow, and we’re listening.
We would love to hear from all of you on this topic, especially if you have other great articles to share or media by vegans of color to recommend!
Links and Information
- Kat Von D Donates $50,000 to Mercy For Animals (VegNews)
- A New Year resolution that’s good for you and the planet: stop eating meat (The Guardian)
- New Vegan “Super Condom” Could Help Eradicate HIV (VegNews)