The animal protection movement fights to tackle deep-seated inequalities

know about The animal protection movement fights to tackle deep-seated inequalities

On April 20, 2022, the nonprofit organization Encompass, whose mission was to cultivate racial representation and equity, announced that it was disbanding and disbursing its funds to animal protection groups led by Black, Indigenous and People of the Global Majority (BIPGM).

This news came as a shock to many in the movement. In the five years since its launch, Encompass had created a talent Database, required Equity-based dialogue to conduct research and report on Equity in the Farm Animal Protection Movement (FAPM), published a book on moving toward anti-racism at FAPM, consulted with numerous organizations on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) issues, and created a community space for BIPGM in the movement called the Global Majority Caucus. While other organizations and consultants like Critical Diversity Solutions Y Jaya Bhumitra Working with FAPM, Encompass was perceived by many as DEIJ’s leading voice in the animal protection movement.

Why Encompass disbanded is largely a mystery, but many in the movement, like Plant-Based Foods Association founder Michele Simon, believe it’s “another sign [that] the vegan movement remains firmly in the hands of a few white men… [and] unable or unwilling to adequately address its deep-seated inequalities.”

History of justice and labor issues

Animal Defense has a long history of racial and sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, exploitative and toxic work environments, and retaliatory management practices in some of the movement’s largest organizations.

In 2018, the animal protection movement had its own movement #metoowhich gave rise to investigations in the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and mercy for animals (MFA). In the summer of 2020, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) staff’s intention to unionize, which was initiated primarily by dissatisfaction with the organization’s lack of response and public solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement after the murder of George Floyd, met classic anti-union tactics.

In August 2020, Civil Eats journalist Charlie Mitchell asked the question “Is the vegan movement ready to stand up to racism?” which, in part, exposed the pattern of the movement of appropriating strategies of the social movements of black leaders and analogizing the systemic oppression that black people in America face towards non-human animals. In her article, Mitchell explains that many of the nonprofits at FAPM, including HSUS, MFA, and ALDF, are largely staffed by white executives and funded largely by white donors, influencing the strategic goals of FAPM. the organizations.

Similarly, Simon published an article with respect to the fairness report that Encompass and Equity Based Dialogue had published, which found that funding at FAPM goes primarily to white, male-led organizations, and that BIPGM in the movement “described that they are regularly dismissed or their ideas, suggestions, or approaches rejected by leadership and/or others in their organizations.”

White goals and interests are not only focused on the missions of these organizations due to the racial makeup of management and funders, but this dynamic also leads to organizational cultures that overwork, dispose of, and marginalize animal advocates from BIPGM. BIPGM employees at FAPM have more and more spoken about the racism they have experienced in the movement and the implicit bias that is built into the fabric of many animal nonprofits.

In addition, the FAPM has been criticized for its adversarial relationship and its history of vilifying meatpacking and slaughterhouse workers. Journalist Hailey Huget in current affairs he has argued that “if the animal rights movement is ever to end animal exploitation…it needs to radically rethink its relationship with workers.” This includes their own workers, which has been made evident by recent allegations of unfair labor practices in no evil foods Y amy’s kitchenas well as the wave of resignations of ALDF employees in the last two years.

The non-profit industrial complex

While many organizations have now hired their own of managers and are committed to creating a more equitable movement for the protection of farm animalsSome have criticized FAPM organizations for “whitewashing” for public relations reasons without creating real material changes in their strategic goals, internal organizational cultures, or external campaigns.

“The mainstream animal movement, as well as the most influential leaders and framers of the ‘good food’ movement, are simply used as an extension of [sic] empire,” Dr. Breeze Harper explains in a comment to Simon’s LinkedIn post about Encompass disbanding. “Neoliberal-capitalist whiteness sold to the average untrained mind as ‘green’ or ‘social impact’ when the results will continue to be the concentration of power among them (mostly white males, but there are also those who may not be white males but defend [sic] the power structure) who have held, maintained and created power for centuries”.

Harper believes that FAPM’s white executives and patrons have benefited from the perceived social impact of their work without attacking or dismantling the structures that uphold and uphold speciesism, white supremacy, and other isms. Instead of funding the work of BIPGM, which talks about the interconnections of oppression and the importance of worrying neoliberal capitalism and the state, Simon says that white leaders of the animal protection movement have amassed social, cultural and economic capital by selling off consumers the concept of “good food”.

Harper’s comment makes clear that the nonprofit sphere, like the broader philanthropic and humanitarian sectorsis part of a industrial complex saturated by white supremacy Y colonialism. This is especially evident in the greater involvement of the FAPM with corporate interests, which has been called “vegan capitalism.” This concept is not new, but it is deeply intertwined with the DEIJ issues facing FAPM organizations today. For example, the growth of the global market for vegan foods generates big profits for corporationsbut it has not successfully disrupted industrial animal agriculture, nor has it addressed the harm done to marginalized communities, the environment, and non-human animals.

Is the farm animal protection movement ready to confront racism?

The answer to Mitchell’s question, in my opinion, is unequivocally no. While some organizations may be hiring DEI consultants and engaging in DEI promotion for marketing and public relations purposes, many do not seem ready to make real organizational changes to their culture or strategic goals. However, other organizations are stepping up to advocate for workers in Encompass’s absence.

Apex Defense, a new organization founded by Christopher “Soul” Eubanks, is working to diversify the FAPM movement and support the BIPGM animal advocates. The organization has a mission to draw attention to the intersections between systems of oppression affecting non-human animals and marginalized human communities.

Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity (CARE) is another BIPGM-led organization trying to heal communities from harm and lack of inclusion in the field of animal welfare. CARE amplifies the voices of BIPGM to help build a more equitable human and animal advocacy movement. The organization also advocates for the BIPGM communities, which are the most affected by the environmental consequences of global climate change.

Another new organization Rights of animal rights defendershas a mission to increase transparency and accountability in the workplace and advocate for fair and sustainable working conditions for nonprofit workers in the field of animal protection.

While the dissolution of Encompass has created a hole in the animal advocacy space, it is now more important than ever that animal protection organizations learn from Encompass’ work and continue your recommendations: Recognize and eliminate exclusionary practices, engage in open dialogue about racial equity, and develop internal policies and external funding practices to support BIPGM-led groups.

How do they encompass themselves? wrote“Everyone in our movement, especially those with significant power and influence, has the tools to create a more just and diverse movement, and we can’t wait to see how all movement advocates harness their power.”

The author is a former employee of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

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