Animal Rights Activist Profile: Dana Brewbaker
What inspired you to first get involved with activism and to join DxE?
Like many others, I was a lonely vegan. To find community I started adding a few vegans on Facebook and eventually was friended by an organizer with DxE in my area. After some brief friendly messaging, I was invited to a farm sanctuary work day in April '16. As apprehensive as I was to attend an event all by myself, I figured it was a great opportunity to meet other vegans. I was so glad I went. Not only did I meet other vegans, but I met animals that I had previously never bonded with before. I met piglets who had been born in a sanctuary. They were born free. Thinking about how they will never suffer brings me joy, but with that came a realization. The reality is that there are so many left out there and so many yet to be born, who will suffer immensely. Later that day, I was invited to an upcoming action where activists planned to speak out against vivisection. I knew I had to go. How could I not speak up for them after seeing what I know they all deserve? I couldn't turn away from what I knew was the right thing to do.
What is your favorite or most accomplished moment in activism or other DxE activity?
After going to actions over the course of a couple months, I started becoming more confident leading chants but still was nervous about doing a speak out. I remember turning down the flowers for animals challenge which I felt was impossible for me to do. I didn't feel ready. The thought of doing it made my throat close and my stomach churn. November came and Avery was rescued from Jaindl Farms. I was asked if I would like to do a speak out. I agreed to speak even though I felt unsure about it. I had lead chants a few times and was becoming more confident. I also found confidence in knowing that a group of people would have back, standing with me in support. I wrote my speak out and began practicing. Over the course of that week, I became more mentally prepared to tell Avery's story. Unfortunately, I ended up having to work the day my speak out was planned for and I couldn't make it from the suburbs to Chicago in time for the action. A wave came over me and I felt the need to give my speak out regardless of work commitments. Just because I couldn't get to Chicago, didn't mean this was over. There was a Whole Foods near my work and all I needed was someone to film me. I asked a vegan friend if she would go that evening and film me giving my speak out. She agreed to go and it would be her first action! The thought of my speak out going from having several activists supporting me, to standing up alone made me nervous, but I wanted to share Avery's story and expose Jaindl. It ended up going really well, after a few lines my nerves melted away and confidence took over. We left Whole Foods feeling accomplished. I never thought my first speak out would be solo, but now that I did it, I feel like I can speak out anywhere at anytime, alone or with others. I've come a long way since that day in April back at the farm sanctuary.
Are you a part of any unique activism or working groups in your chapter and how do they influence your activism?
I have become involved in the music and writing groups. I have always loved to play guitar but writing, especially lyrics, has not been something that I did a whole lot of. Being around and encouraged by other musicians and writers has inspired me to produce some of my own. Chicago DxE has started a unique branch of the music group that's for Hip Hop music. Two other DxE Organizers and I performed our first rap song, "Resist, Push" at our NYE party and people loved it. I feel like we're really beginning to shape and define animal rights culture. I am thrilled to be part of it. Get ready to hear more from us!
How do you stay motivated as an activist?
It has been much easier to stay motivated since I moved into the first Chicago DxE house in October. I am surrounded by others who are working toward animal liberation and that has helped tremendously. We're able to talk things over and brainstorm much more easily, compared to when we had to call in, message or google hangout. I think surrounding myself with like-minded people has been key to my motivation.
What advice would you give to new activists?
I highly recommend getting involved in a working group that inspires you and if there isn't one, start one! We all have unique talents and gifts to offer, so give them! Working groups are the best place to do this. I also recommend taking opportunities to go to sanctuaries. Every time I visit one, I feel recharged. They are why I became an activist and they really need our support if we want animal liberation to become reality.
Why Animal Liberation?
Because animals do not need bigger cages or access to grass. They need liberation. If we demand these small changes that are aimed to "improve quality of life," then people miss the big picture. They need to know the way we treat animals, as a whole, is wrong. Animals need lasting change, justice and freedom. Animal liberation is the only humane option.
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