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talks

RGB Vegan Interviews Ronnie Rose on DxE's Origins, the Dangers of Corporate "Values Integration," and Advice for New Vegans

Ronnie (on the right) at a recent It's not Food, It's Violence demonstration. 

Ronnie (on the right) at a recent It's not Food, It's Violence demonstration. 

Ronnie Rose on RGB Vegan

by DxE

Ronnie Rose, co-founding organizer of DxE, is not a name you'll necessarily know. But he did the remarkable video work that launched DxE into the world, with a splash, in early 2013. And it was conversations with Ronnie that shaped, and created the momentum for, the formation of our grassroots network. 

Since that time, Ronnie has been, in many ways, the theoretical voice of DxE. You might have read his powerful piece, The Soul of the Animal Rights Movement is Up for Grabs, or heard about DxE's graphic images study, which we commissioned in part because of a relationship Ronnie struck up with the brilliant political scientist Tim Pachirat. But in more ways than one, Ronnie has continued to be a key contributor to not just DxE's growth but, perhaps even more important, its anti-speciesist integrity. Ronnie has helped us maintain our strong commitment to animal liberation -- in our words, in our practices, and (especially) in our tactics and strategy. 

Ronnie recently had the opportunity to give a wonderful talk about the It's not Food, It's Violence campaign with our Phoenix chapter, PALS. And afterwards, one of the attendees, Joshua at RGB Vegan, was so impressed that he interviewed him for his podcast. In the interview, you'll hear about: 

- DxE's founding story
- the sinister marketing strategy -- "values integration" -- used by Chipotle and other humane washers to twist popular values in favor of eating animals
- some simple advice for new vegans. 

Check it out, and make sure you subscribe to RGB Vegan on iTunes

(Video) The Color of a Movement: The Curious Story of Race and Animal Rights (and Why It Matters)

Slides for the talk here

The Color of a Movement: The Curious Story of Race and Animal Rights (and Why It Matters)

"You can't help but feel that the Chinese are a subspecies." The dehumanization of people of color has historically justified violence against humans and non-humans alike. 

Racism and speciesism have important parallels. Yet despite the common ideological machinery oppressing both people of color (POC) and animals, POC comprise less than 3% of the animal rights movement (compared to 37% of the general population), and are consistently targeted by hostile and angry campaigns. Why?

In this talk and discussion, we will unpack the curious (and often disturbing) story of racism and speciesism, and you will hear about:

  • how psychologists at Stanford have identified the “animalization” of POC as a key factor in justifying discriminatory violence; 
  • the disturbing three step process used by both racists and speciesists to suppress empathy and trigger animosity towards “others”;
  • the subtle and unconscious racism that keeps POC marginalized in our movement, even in the most outwardly anti-racist communities;
  • the violent rhetoric used by prominent voices (“You can't help but feel that the Chinese are a subspecies”) to mobilize opposition to abuse of animals in “foreign” communities; and 
  • three principles of strategic and ethical campaigning, if you find yourself set against a community of color.

We also invited all participants to share their experiences -- stories of racism and speciesism, stories of exclusion and inclusion -- and discussed the affirmative steps Direct Action Everywhere has taken to ensure that underrepresented voices are included and integrated into our community. There were too many compelling points to discuss in a short post, but among the issues raised by our community members were:

The wonderful participants!

  • the importance of framing animal rights in a way that brings communities of color into the fold -- by emphasizing points of agreement, e.g. opposition to violence -- rather than focusing on areas of difference, e.g. differing cultural practices; 
  • authenticity as an important element in any attempt to bridge racial or cultural divides ("Don't 'bro' me!");
  • important similarities between racism, ableism, sexism, speciesism, and other forms of prejudice; 
  • why calling POC “minorities” is not factually or politically accurate; and
  • why the work of social justice activists -- fighting racism, speciesism, and other forms of institutional prejudice -- is so compelling and important.

All in all, it was a fantastic event, and we came out of it feeling more empowered to speak more strongly for oppressed animals (human or non-human).

DxE is planning to continue this series in the weeks and months to come, and a group of us are independently starting a group we are calling Animal Liberationists of Color, with a facebook page and (in the Bay Area) informal meetup.  

Take a look at the video.  Join one of the upcoming meetups. And keep fighting the good fight -- until every animal is free! 

- Wayne

Tough Questions (Video)

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"Isn't meat natural? Why should we stop eating it if we evolved to think it's delicious?" 

"Don't animals have a lesser consciousness?"

"How can you tell other people what to eat? That's judgmental!" 

A local videographer stopped by the DxE House to learn about our campaigns, and ask us some tough questions about animal ethics. Here's the video interview. Enjoy! 

Individuals v. Systems: Emergence and Social Change (Video)

Colony wide properties, that no individual ant acts on or understands, matter more (even for understanding and predicting individual ant behavior) than an individual-level account. The intentionality of an ant colony is an  emergent property  

Colony wide properties, that no individual ant acts on or understands, matter more (even for understanding and predicting individual ant behavior) than an individual-level account. The intentionality of an ant colony is an emergent property 

The animal rights community typically focuses on individuals and individual decision-making, as the relevant locus of change. And yet a growing body of evidence shows that complex systems often have properties of their own -- so-called "emergent" properties -- that cannot be properly understood by examining individual components. So, for example, one cannot understand the behavior of a squirrel by using the tools of particle physics!

If human societies have emergent social and systemic properties, then one similarly cannot affect human social behavior by focusing exclusively on individual change. Focusing on systems, rather than individuals, leads to some important questions, such as:

- Should the movement be focused on creating public activists, or private vegans?
- Should the movement be targeting cultural norms, or individual consumer behaviors?
- How likely is it that any particular individual change, whether to a person or a business, is likely to sustain itself, if systemic properties remain static?

Visual Storytelling

DxE organizers Kelly Witwicki Faddegon and Wayne Hsiung spoke at the Academy of Art on "Visual Storytelling." 

Visual stories are the most powerful vessels for conveying emotions and effecting change. But not all stories are equal. In particular, you'll hear how stories that dramatize, polarize, and energize -- many of which are already latent in our popular culture -- are essential to effective campaigns.

Click below for video of the talk. 

Anti-Speciesism Undercurrents in Cinema

DxE Organizer Kelly Witwicki Faddegon presents on the fragments of nonspeciesist and even liberationist ideologies that can be seen throughout contemporary filmmaking. Kelly argues that we are not born with speciesism -- it must be taught, like racism -- and everyone who has thus far "made the connection" has been able to unlearn it because ultimately, Kelly's idea goes, the compassion for all sentient beings that humans are born with cannot be untaught, it can only be repressed into dormancy. Therefore there is always hope of waking it up again! These moments in art that express the impulse to show compassion for all beings demonstrate the strength of that impulse, shining through no matter how tightly the "blinders" forced on us by the animal exploitation industries (and our speciesist culture more broadly) are drilled into us.

See a standalone PDF version of the talk by clicking here

 

 

 

"How do we give life to an idea?"

"How do we give life to an idea?"

Lauren Gazzola was a lead organizer of one of the most successful campaigns in the history of animal rights - Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty.

And at a talk this weekend, at the Animal Advocacy Museum in Los Angeles, she asked some important questions -- questions that, when asked, may lead us to surprising answers, about the problems of the modern animal rights movement. 

Episode 2: Speciesism (and Why It Matters)

Episode 2: Speciesism (and Why It Matters)

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In Episode 2 (full download link here), we discuss Speciesism -- what it is, where it is, and why it matters. 

You'll also hear about: 

- The fundamental importance of culture and institutions in driving otherwise good people toward oppressive behaviors; 

- Wayne discussing why an Amazonian cannibal tribe, which defined the word "food" as "Not one of us," was ethically superior to our modern society; 

- Brian's continued frustrations with hyper-rationalists -- this time, for pushing mass opiate use as a "solution" for the problem of animal exploitation; and

- A simple activist rule of thumb for combating speciesism, and pushing our society towards animal liberation. 

Enjoy!  

Download the full podcast here

 

Episode 1: Inspiration

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Today marks the launch of DxE's new blog and podcast -- The Liberationist. In our first episode, you'll hear about:

- the powerful message and methods used by William Lloyd Garrison and the antislavery movement to trigger explosive growth in the 1830s; 
- Brian causing trouble in "Project Sifter" -- a group of hyper-rational scientist-adventurers; 
- Wayne confronting -- and getting threatened by -- "radical" anarchists and animal eaters in Portland; 
- Sarah's incredible response to an assailant who screamed, "If you stand up with that banner, I'm going to knock you out", at DxE's protest of the Chipotle Cultivate festival; and
- the importance of honesty and confidence in building a movement for animal liberation. 

Going forward, we have a lot of goals for The Liberationist. We want to present a smart and evidence-based perspective on movement-building and animal liberation. We want to create a platform and community for nonviolent direct action. And we want to invite opposing views, because discussion -- even with passionate disagreement -- will make all of us better activists.  

 

But above all, The Liberationist, like its historical inspiration, is about an idea: that we can be honest about our demand for animal liberation. That we don't have to apologize, or beg for mercy, or feel ashamed of ourselves, when we speak for our suffering brethren. And that, if we stand confidently behind a beautiful vision -- a vision of a world where every animal is free -- we can achieve great things.

We hope you like the podcast and blog. We hope that you'll give us feedback. But, most important, we hope that you'll be inspired to take action.

Until Every Animal is Free.  

Full download link here.  

 

 

 

 

 

Animal Liberation: What's in the Way

Animal Liberation: What's in the Way

"The confrontation in ideology switched the way that slavery was talked about... It radicalized activists and created a legitimate community for abolitionists in the United States. As a result, the movement took off." - DxE Organizer Brian Burns

Brian's great talk from this weekend, a careful analysis of the US Antislavery Movement, and the lessons we can learn from its successes (and failures).