Today’s video post was going to be a Q&A and I guess in a sense it still is. Recently there’s been a video addressed to me concerning white privilege and my failure to address the issues of other marginalized groups within my activism. Today I’d like to try and answer that concern.
If all you have seen of me is my Bite Size Vegan videos, then you wouldn’t know my history, the things I did and concentrated on before Bite Size Vegan, my own heritage, my own struggles, the things about me that are stigmatized.
And I’m not here to say I have things worse than anyone else because I have no way of knowing anyone else’s experience. How can I? The depths of the struggles each of us go through are never fully evident by looking at one another. I cannot say what oppression, desperation, and utter tragedy someone has been through by looking at them.
I’ve lived with and worked with individuals whose experiences left me heartbroken. I grew up with foster brothers and sisters who came from the most horrific of conditions and sometimes, gut-wrenchingly, had to return to them. I’ve been judged and slandered because of aspects of myself that aren’t readily acceptable in certain parts of the country. We all go deeper than our exteriors and we can never truly know one another’s truth.
I don’t talk about my personal background on this channel, because that’s not what this channel is about. I’ve done art on some of it in the past. In fact, I’ve had a whole life before this channel, traveling to India for my Women’s Studies degree to work with NGOs in villages addressing female infanticide and feticide, working with individuals with disabilities for over a decade, researching transphobia within early feminism and even early gay and lesbian movements and fighting against its persistence in the present day, but Bite Size Vegan isn’t about that. Those are all things I remain fiercely passionate about, but my channel is about providing effective education about veganism. That doesn’t mean that’s all I am as a person.
Even within my channel, from the start, I’ve said that anyone, anywhere can be vegan and that everyone is welcome within veganism. Some of my earliest videos like The Myth of Vegan Conformity and Why Are Vegans A-Holes address this very issue. I do think there is an element of elitism within veganism.
There is often, not from all vegans, but at least some of the loudest ones, an air of exclusivity that is very off-putting and can be a barrier to those wanting to learn more about it. That’s why in those videos and throughout my activism, I at least attempt, perhaps not successfully, to encourage openness and inclusivity for all. I don’t advocate a specific way of eating because I think the best way to eat vegan is the way that works for you and is sustainable.
As I’ve said before, whether you’re black, white, Asian, Indigenous, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, everyone has the potential to live a life of compassion, which includes being vegan. Of course for some, the struggle of getting to vegan has farm more challenges than others.
And yes, my channel focuses on veganism. Are there other evils in the world outside of the struggle of animal liberation? Absolutely. But not speaking about certain issues does not mean I don’t find them important. There are so many things I am passionate about outside of veganism, but I’ve kept my channel focused because I cannot be everything to everyone and I sadly cannot address every issue of importance. Heck, I can’t even get through my vegan topics fast enough!
I do have plans for a series on eating vegan on a budget and addressing financial struggle within veganism as I’ve experienced these myself. Again, I’m not here to get into my familial economic past or my own financial struggles, but this is a valid and very real concern.
I have so many topics on my master list that I have yet to address, but again I am only one person and I can’t cover everything all at once. I will say that I’ve long wanted to do an interview series on veganism within marginalized populations. However, I’ve held off because I feel that contacting individuals and asking if they’d like to be on the channel for this type of series is, in effect, reducing them purely to a figurehead of a race or ethnicity. In essence, I worry such a series could border on the appearance of parading “token” members of groups across the channel, which is incredibly disrespectful.
Though my heritage is not white and I do not identify as such, I do appear white and understand that with that comes certain privileges and certain assumptions, of which I try to be mindful. But please don’t think that my not focusing on racial and human issues means I lack awareness or concern. I, of course, cannot say I understand the experience of anyone other than myself.
But I can empathize. I have seen how people with visible disabilities are dismissed, thought of as less-than, sub-human even. Nothing quite gets me more aggressive in public than when I’m with someone whose disability is visible and people ask me questions about them as if they aren’t there or they can’t possibly understand themselves.
My own disabilities and the aspects of me that are in the minority aren’t usually readily apparent, and again, there is privilege in that. While I’ve experienced trauma and those close to me have experienced I believe even greater traumas, what the animals go through is no less horrific and naming it for what it is, meaning rape, enslavement, and abuse, does not draw power away from those humans who have experienced these same atrocities, but rather gives justified weight to those non-humans experiencing them.
In regards to my friendship with Gary and my branding performance, never have I said I agree with Gary all of the time. In fact, I’ve said the opposite. I don’t agree with him all the time, and especially with how he sometimes chooses to deliver his words.
The video that has called me out linked me to the group 269 Life as I staged the first North American branding early in the formation of their activism.
I performed the branding as an extension of my art practice but I have no official affiliation with 269 Life, though I respect all activists attempting to fight for the animals. This does not mean I agree with everyone nor support every tactic, approach, sentiment, or belief.
Honestly, I’m not familiar enough with everyone else’s inner workings to even comment. I try to focus on my mission of vegan education because right now, that is my purpose- and that alone takes all of my time!
But it’s not all that I am and it’s not to say that I don’t have many other passions.
My art practice before Bite Size Vegan focused on exposing the things we don’t want to talk about as a society, whether that’s mental illness, sexuality, the fact there are more than two genders, class distinctions, or what have you. And with Bite Size Vegan I’m continuing to attempt to expose what is purposefully hidden.
I’m attempting to speak for those with no voice. This does not mean I don’t respect the battle raging for those with voices that simply aren’t heard or acknowledged. Those screaming at the top of their lungs without even a turn of the head from society.
Just as the suffering of animals does not negate the suffering of marginalized groups, the suffering of marginalized groups does not negate the suffering of animals. Speaking up for one group is not inherently attacking the other.
I don’t know your experience. I haven’t felt your pain. And you don’t know and haven’t felt mine. But we can all fight passionately for healing on a global scale. If I could be everything for everyone and speak to every issue, I promise you I would.
I hope that this has brought some clarity. You can let me know in the comments. Feel free to like and share and subscribe if you’re so moved. I will be getting back to my more typical video schedule soon. Thank you for your patience with these few weeks of chaos in my life.
Now go live vegan, in the way that works for you and I’ll see you soon.