The Story of Duo Duo
Despite the common portrayal of the Chinese as animal-abusing monsters, there is a grassroots movement growing in China, as with the rest of the world. The Duo Duo Project, and its conference this weekend in San Francisco, are powerful examples of this growth.
by Wayne Hsiung
I've said before that being Chinese in the animal rights movement is a lot like being a Dodgers fan at a Giants game. There is this vague sense among many that you just don't belong. People almost always assume that you're a passerby rather than a participant. And some even show active hostility. There are so many campaigns directed against East Asians that it's hard for even the most non-racist people to not be affected. So much of discrimination -- including speciesism -- is not even conscious. And studies have found that even arbitrary visual classifications, such as wearing a different colored t-shirt, can create biases among young children. "You're different, so you're bad." The effect is even more pronounced when there is active conflict between "us" and the "other."
This is problematic for two reasons. First, the targeted class is often not, in fact, any more likely to engage in the problematic behavior at issue. Studies have shown, for example, that people are far more likely to shoot at a black man, even if there is no reason to think the black man poses a danger. Second, given the incredible importance of local and peer influence in effecting social change, we need buy in from targeted communities to actually have a positive impact. We can't change the Chinese -- or any other group -- if we don't have Chinese voices in our movement.
This is why I am so excited to see the Duo Duo Project get off its feet. While not an animal liberation project, it shows that, even in countries and among communities that animal rights activists typically see as an "enemy," change is happening. Andrea Gung, the tireless founder of the Duo Duo Project, will be holding a conference this weekend at Golden Gate Law School to share the stories of activists in China and Taiwan and, even more importantly, the animals they rescue.
Duo Duo himself is a powerful example of this. Abandoned after repeated surgical procedures in the filthy backroom of a veterinary school, Duo Duo was fed by Andrea through a window for days until she could find a way to see him freed. Today, he is in a happy home in the Bay Area. China is the largest and most populous country in the world, and there are many more people like Andrea doing everything they can to help our animal friends. And to have a balanced perspective on China and animals, I think it's vital for all of us to hear Andrea and Duo Duo's story -- and the many similar stories you'll hear at the conference this weekend.
So please join us and the Duo Duo Project this weekend in San Francisco. Because it is when activists all over the world come together that our movement is strongest.