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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Sebastian

Tiffany Haddish protesting police violence with fur is the embodiment of weaponized oppression

In case you missed it, actress Tiffany Haddish announced this past weekend that she is protesting police brutality by continuing to wear fur.

Yes, you read that correctly. Not starting to wear fur, just continuing to wear a product that she was already not avoiding and wasn’t particularly vocal about anyway.

In an Instagram video, the Girls Trip star stated:

“Imma wear it as much as possible. I don’t know if you guys know this about me, but I’m about to start protesting. Imma wear fur every day until they stop killing black people. When the police stop killing black people, I’ll stop wearing fur. It’s my new protest. So sorry, PETA! Don’t be mad at me. Be mad at the police. When they stop killing black people, I’ll stop wearing fur… Because people are important, and so are the animals.”

[rubbing temples, eyes closed, heavy sigh]

Let’s just set aside the troubling logic that if animals are important, then tormenting the tormented is not an act of protest, it is itself an act of terror.

We will also set aside the fact that 'look-what-you-made-me-do' has been the logic of abusers since time immemorial.

We’ll just try to focus on the main points. First and most importantly…

Wearing fur benefits white people. Point blank.

While humans have used fur as protection against cold for centuries, the widespread breeding of animals as textiles is traced back to European markets, and the earliest records of breeding mink for fur in North America were in Canada, circa 1865.

Fast forward to today, and most of the world’s farmed fur is produced by European farmers. According to the International Fur Trade Federation, the European Union is home to approximately 5,000 fur farms across 22 countries that collectively account for approximately 50 percent of the global production of farmed fur. The EU accounts for 63% of global mink production and 70% of fox production. Furthermore, according to the Fur Information Council of America, the United States ranks among the top countries for retail fur sales. By sheer force of numbers, the primary consumers bolstering this market are simply not black. Second…

It’s a bizarre protest.

The black people extra-judicially murdered by police were not wearing fur. The police who carried out acts of violence were not wearing fur. And proportionally, the white people whose attention she’s seeking aren’t wearing fur. People who genuinely care about animals (i.e., vegans) account for less than 5 percent of the U.S. American population. Making anti-black racism the chief responsibility of an already miniscule portion of the population who are already struggling with their core justice goal is a peculiar way of raising awareness. And if it is Haddish’s intention to make police violence an issue for PETA specifically, she’s far too late for that. PETA has already demonstrated such a commitment to anti-blackness that it's hard to imagine them taking the effort to raise an eyebrow. Third…

Haddish already wears animals.

In addition to the fact that Haddish was already wearing fur, as earlier stated, she has been photographed wearing all manner of textiles that are the product of animal exploitation, including leather, silk, and wool. To the animals used as resources, fur is only negligibly different. Ironically, these products also come at great cost to people of color around the globe. Considering that Bangladesh is the world leader in leather tanneries, and people compelled to work in (and live around) those facilities suffer from astronomical rates of physical injury, disfigurement, and degenerative disease, she essentially erases the fact that animal exploitation and the exploitation of black and brown people share tremendous overlap.

So to recap, Haddish is wearing a luxury product that was popularized by white people, is mostly produced by white people, and creates massive profit for white people, to protest state violence committed by…white people.

In the words of Miranda Priestly

Give that Haddish’s protest has already been described as ‘genius,’ there is a possibility that misguided people will become inspired by the action of an otherwise dynamic black woman and fashion her lone protest in the style of Colin Kaepernick who also campaigned against police violence by way of a (seemingly unrelated) solitary action.

But this would ignore the fact that Kaep’s actions did not (and do not) meaningfully further marginalize another disadvantaged group, did not place an unfair burden on an already minor population, and Kaepernick—in the most hilarious plot twist of all—IS VEGAN.

Worse still is the fact that Haddish makes the common (wrong) assumption that caring about animals is something that just white people do. She buys into the false notion that black liberation and animal liberation are oppositional while ignoring the fact that such binary thinking is itself the product of white supremacy.

So to any individual who want to protest Tiffany Haddish’s ridiculous protest, consider making a contribution to any animal rights organizations led by women of color. Here are a few:

Encompass, founded by executive director Aryenish Birdie, empowers people of color within the animal justice movement and encourages large farmed animal protection organizations to operationalize racial diversity, equity, and inclusion to further the mission of animal protection.

Thrive Baltimore, founded by Brenda Sanders, is a dynamic community resource center located in the Station North community of Baltimore City that provides a practical alternative to the current food systems which harms our health, our planet and the animals with whom we share it.

Sanctuary Publishers, run by artist and illustrator Julia Feliz, is a vegan-owned and -operated independent publishing company committed to lifting up the voices of non-human animals, people of color, and the environment.

Chilis on Wheels was started in November 2014 by Michelle Carrera. When she couldn't find a soup kitchen that served a vegan Thanksgiving meal, she prepared her own chili and took it directly to the community. After seeing firsthand the need for such a program, she became committed to bringing vegan food to those in need.

Christopher Sebastian Okay, I’m not a woman of color. BUT… I’m plugging my damn self. If you read this far, surely you can drop a fiver in the tip jar. If we value people of color having frank and open discussions about radical approaches to animal rights, we gotta start supporting the voices bold enough to hold uncomfortable conversations and speak unpleasant truths.

And if you’d like to learn more about the history of fur, please consider adding Fashion Animals to your library. This visually breathtaking and highly readable coffee table book, written by fashion designer Joshua Katcher, tells the story of animals used as textiles in comprehensive detail.

In addition to running his signature label Brave Gentleman, Katcher currently teaches at Parsons and lives in New York City with his husband.

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