A Western Vegetarian 'Foray' into Non-Western Culture

A few months ago I got an email announcing a vegetarian get together at a Cambodian restaurant. Eating food associated with Cambodian culture is a perfectly valid basis for a vegetarian gathering, and I'm totally in favor of having an event at a place like a Cambodian restaurant. But what struck me was how the event was advertised as a "foray" into the food of Cambodian culture. I wanted to bring to the organizers attention a couple concerns regarding the use of the word "foray" in title of this event. (Read more...)

Nonhuman Animals and Colonialism

I watched Nature's Africa series over the last couple weeks. What interested me in the series was the promise of showing Africa through the eyes of the people who actually live there. In this way, the series consists of eight episodes with each episode covering a different geographical region of Africa through the personal stories of a couple different individuals in each region. While the first seven episodes focused exclusively on the stories of Africans, there was a sudden change up in the first part of the second half of episode eight.

Racism on Animal Planet

I come across an interesting post from Fair Weather Vegan, via apoc of IllVox, discussing the racism of programs like Animal Planet's "Animal Precinct" and the colonialist gaze of its other "wildlife" programing:

All the 'Animal Cop'-style programs present owners who are mostly poor, and many of them are black or Hispanic, and this is never addressed or considered as a possible mitigating factor, or as some sort of structural problem which might be ameliorated in order to help the treatment of animals. The problem is presented as one of individual pathology, no matter what the situation. Needless to say almost all the ASPCA officers and vets portrayed, the population of professionals which 'deal with' these personal responsibility lapses, are white. The one exception is Detroit, and although some of the officers and staff are black, an even larger percentage of the offender population is also black and receives the same type of narrative treatment (They shoot dogs! Those barbarians!). The issue only gets more stark as Animal Planet films internationally, where one would think it would be difficult to avoid some sort of diversity. Yet there is not a single one of its international wildlife shows, that I know of, that focuses on a protagonist of color. Be s/he scientist, preservationist, vet, or volunteer, s/he is almost always a young, conventionally attractive white person, except in rare cases when she is an eccentric older white living in Africa, or, more rarely, South America or Asia. The message is always the same: whites save animals. Natives threaten animals, or at the very most provide manual labor for whites in their efforts to save animals. The network is particularly tone-deaf in the matter of Chimp Eden, which is set in South Africa for heaven's sake, and yet the sanctuary staff's racial makeup or history is not considered worth noting.

For Global Justice Against Global Warming

In Heat: How to Stop the Planet From Burning, George Monbiot makes the case for how the United Kingdom can cut its greenhouse gases by 90 percent. Heat has been published in several editions suggesting that the strategy for cutting greenhouse gases can be applied to other capitalist countries in the Global North. In the book, Monbiot seeks to prove that the capitalist North can hold onto its privilege while "joining what must become the world's most powerful political movement."

After giving a speech on climate change, Monbiot was asked, "When you get your 80 per cent cut, what will this country look like?" To which, another member of the audience answered, "A very poor third-world country." So in the book, Monbiot sets out to show that a 90 percent cut doesn't mean we have to "ditch the comforts ... which I – like all middle-class people in the rich world – now take for granted" (i.e., privileges of racism, classism, colonialism and empire). Read more...

Pioneer Day and the Logic of Genocide

Today is Pioneer Day here in Utah. Throughout this mostly White state, Utahns will be celebrating its colonization with rodeos and fireworks. Today could just as easily be called Genocide Day. The logic of genocide is just as much a part of what is being celebrated today as anything else.

Cattle and Colonizers

In Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture, Jeremy Rifkin writes, "From the very beginning of the modern colonial era, cattle played a prominent role in the confiscation of new lands and the subjugation of native people." This is certainly true of the area where I live. (Read more...)

Manifest Destiny

When the first Whites entered the Cache Valley it straddled the Mexico-"Oregon Country" border. While trappers for the fur trade set the groundwork for colonization of the region in the 1820s, by the 1840s it was the doctrine of Manifest Destiny that provided the justification for establishing White settlements. (Read more...)

The Mountain Men

The colonization of the area where I live started with the fur trade in the mid-1820s to early-1840s. By the early 1800s the fur trade had long been an important political tool in the colonization process. Prior to the 1820s, fur companies traded with Native Americans. The standard practice was to cheat the Native Americans and trade alcohol for pelts. When a law prohibiting the sale of alcohol to Native Americans was passed, the trading companies started to hire Whites as trappers. The first Whites, known as "mountain men," who came to area worked as trapper and trader for the fur companies.

Health as Wealth

On July 19, Breeze Harper, founder of the Sistah Vegan Project, spoke at the University of Pittsburgh on connecting our diet to social justice in a talk titled, "Race, Class, Food and You!" [based on her book chapter "Decolonizing the Diet: A bell hooks approach to Nutritional Liberation for 'At Risk' Youths".]

The challenge, Harper noted, is that "America's concept of wealth and success is monetary and material based, and not rooted in the wealth of a healthy mind, body and soul." And while many people are concerned with healthy eating, Harper explained that the consequences of unhealthy eating habits for middle- and upper-income white youth "are far less life threatening than that of low-income Black and Latino boys who collectively practice junk food consumption and are already 'at risk' in achieving a healthier life." (Read more...)