Frequently Asked Questions
Why do you hate white people?
Yikes. Easy killer. This is a common theme I hear. I don't hate white people. I provide information to contextualize how animal exploitation is shaped by white identity. Critiquing white supremacy does not equate to hating white people. The only people who make that reductionist argument are people who, for whatever reason, maintain normative whiteness.
But all cultures and societies exploit animals, Sebastian. Why are you picking on white people?
It's absolutely true that all cultures and societies are complicit in animal exploitation. But without the attitudes that were shaped by Enlightenment era philosophers, we wouldn't experience 'human' as a political identity. And since whiteness shapes what it means to be human in modern history, white supremacy is human supremacy. Add to this the fact that the globalization of industrialized animal agriculture was facilitated by the Industrial Revolution, animal exploitation is significantly influenced by white supremacy. I'm not picking on white people. I'm quite literally just stating historical facts, ironically from historians who are largely white.
Well history isn't important. We need to stop animal exploitation NOW. So why are you pointing fingers and blaming white people?
It's impossible to solve a problem without first understanding it. Accurately contextualizing animal exploitation within the scope of modern history is a key part of the process. That means naming white supremacist institutions. For example, it's easy to revile slaughterhouse workers. But who owns the slaughterhouses and the factory farms? What are the top companies that control the food system? Who are the key legislators that write and enforce agricultural gag laws. Who runs the judicial system that criminalizes peaceful protest?
Well what about indigenous people who eat animals?
I have uncritical single-issue vegans who shame indigenous people for eating animals on one side of me. And I have animal exploiters on the other side of me who want to tokenize indigenous people to cover their own consumption Smh. Talk about an unholy alliance. Seems like everybody cares about indigenous people insofar as they are able to use them as footballs in an argument, but nobody wants to confront the system that artificially creates global food insecurity for indigenous people in the first place. Good thing organizations like
Food Empowerment Project do the work of examining these issues.
And what about people in non-Western countries?
You mean like India? Japan? Maybe look at my
Lectures page that follows this one and book my talk entitled Race, Class, Species and I'll tell you about how India's history of British imperialism influenced their culture, specifically around food. And if we have time, I'll tell you all about how America's occupation of Japan following the second World War fundamentally changed how the Japanese eat. There's a world of critical food history to explore. So I'll really look forward to meeting you in person!
I still feel like you're picking on white people.
Sometimes hearing uncomfortable truths makes us resistant to the information that is shared. I know that's how I felt when first confronted with speciesism as systemic discrimination against other animals. But if it makes you feel any better, I also critique my own community for buying into the ideology that Black liberation and animal liberation are in opposition. The competition between the two is artificially constructed. White supremacy already has us believing that caring for our animal family makes us less black, that animal rights is an elitist hobby of bored white women. The reality is that animals as comrades have been a part of our history for decades. And we have a remarkably forgotten shared history of resistance.
Okay, I GUESS this message is important. Why aren't more people in the mainstream animal rights community into it?
Turns out dismantling white supremacy isn't terribly sexy.
What do you mean by that?
Well if you're a person who holds a
possessive investment in whiteness, naming white supremacy is deeply uncomfortable. This is why rendering whiteness invisible in overly simplistic comparisons to other injustices causes them lose authenticity. Unfortunately, brokering those authentic conversations isn't very profitable for members of the animal rights white savior industrial complex (organizationally or individually).
Are there any videos of your talks online?
Yup. Check out
Queering Animal Liberation, courtesy of VegFestUK 2016. And check out the 20-minute introduction to
Race, Class, Species here, courtesy of
Vevolution. I also make an appearance in the film
The Invisible Vegan produced by filmmaker Jasmine Leyvas. Of course, there are also loads of personal videos online from audience members with mobile phones.
Do you do this work full time?
Regrettably, no. This work does not pay much. Especially considering the amount of intellectual labor involved in conducting painstaking research necessary to provide historically accurate, original, and provocative content that doesn't just repeat the same predictable and unsophisticated rhetoric of the mainstream. So professionally, I'm a technical writer, researcher and copy editor. I specialize in scientific and academic writing. On the bright side, my print media experience gives me the tools to conduct minimally biased research and loads of expertise in media theory. If you want to hire me for content writing, research, editing, or proofreading,
email me for my CV!
How can I support you?
Glad you asked, I don't make much. Check out my
Patreon. Many of the people who choose to support me live with the same type of financial insecurity that creates and exacerbates institutional inequality in the first place. So supporting me shouldn't be an economic burden. The goal of my Patreon is "500 FIVES." So if five hundred contributors share five dollars each, we can keep this show on the road indefinitely. And if we exceed that goal,
additional monies will go directly to an animal sanctuary chosen by the Patreon community each month. So consider throwing a fiver in the tip jar!
What's your favorite animal?
The sea otter.
Uh, I dunno. BECAUSE THEY JUGGLE??
It's true. They do juggle.
Is there anything else we should know about you?
I twist and separate my Oreos before dunking them.
Why is that important?
Because I'm not a fucking barbarian.
Can you believe it's not butter?
What if I have more questions that weren't answered here?!
If you have a question that isn't answered here, you can
email me OR (if you're scared) you can send me an anonymous message on
Sarahah. We will open the mailbag every Friday on
the blog and answer ALL TAKERS (which is slightly terrifying because none of you know how to act and your questions get wild).