Archive for politics

beyond prop 8

well, as we all know, the CA supreme court announced yesterday that they decided to uphold prop 8 (the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage). disappointing, yes – the proposition never should have passed in the first place.

in the wake of the announcement, RaceWire – the online blog of ColorLines Magazine – posted two really amazing articles (quite bravely, i would say) challenging the assumption that we should all continue to fight endlessly for gay marriage “until the battle is won”.

i posted my own opinions about marriage back before the election.  now, in a post-prop 8 world, these two articles state my mindframe pretty damn clearly, so i thought i’d share them here (i pretty much want to just quote the whole articles, but i’ll try to limit myself.  just please go read the full articles – neither are long!).

Prop 8 is a Distraction, or: NOW can we Dump Gay Marriage as a Cause?” by Yasmin Nair

“Over the last decade or so, well-endowed gay organizations and some influential gay commentators have manipulated media attention to make the world believe that there is nothing that would make our lives happier than the attainment of gay marriage…

“We’re allowing ourselves to be distracted by the tactics of the Right and forgetting that marriage should never have been our goal to begin with. At best, the goal of marriage is a symbolic and sentimental one…

“There’s been much talk about how this ruling will now make it easier to take rights away from all minorities. This assumes, of course, that ethnic/racial identity is the only way through which people identify themselves and ignores the fact that several groups in California and elsewhere have already watched their rights being eroded. For, instance, California’s prison system is notorious for its ill treatment of prisoners. But, ah, of course, gays and lesbians have nothing to do with the prison population. Or with rights other than the right to get married and retreat into the safety of our normal lives. As we quibble about marriage, it’s easy to forget that a rise in poverty and the lack of health care means that large segments of society are already denied their rights to decent education, housing, and a sense of security about their well-being…”

I Don’t Want Marriage, I Want Equity” by Tracy Kronzak

“…the right wing coined the term “Special Rights”: giving people legal protection just because of whom they are sleeping with. I posit that marriage is the ultimate Special Right. It gives privileges, rights and protections (1100 and counting) to people based on whom they are sleeping with…

“Eliminating the legal rights and privileges associated with marriage actually gives us an amazing opportunity to build bridges between the LGBT communities and many others working for equity and justice. It gets us out of our “me-too” mentality when it comes to marriage and broadens the Queer community’s perspective to a “we-too” framework…”

Thank you RaceWire!


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obama era post-racism

conclusions being drawn from the latest NY Times/CBS poll about americans’ perspectives on race relations in the U.S. show that since obama was elected, there has been a significant increase in people – of all races – feeling like race relations are better now.



now, i remember november 4th, 2008 – i was at home, without a tv – when around 8pm (pst) there was a sudden roar outside on the street.  crowds who were watching the election results at the parkway speakeasy theatre (RIP) right behind my apartment, had poured out onto the streets, hooting and hollering, dancing and playing instruments, all celebrating obama’s victory.  awhile later, jess and i walked outside to see what all was happening, and as we walked around our neighborhood, there was a marked difference: everyone – no matter who – was smiling and making eye contact and talking to everyone else – no matter who.  it was a nice change.  but it was a moment – a very specific moment in history.

are people still drunk on the obama kool-aid?  thinking that all is well between the races now that a black (mixed) man is in the white house?  overwhelmingly, i think it is so true that americans (people?) trust a “general feeling” so much more than actual facts.  we rarely reconcile the two, even when the facts are right in front of our faces.  and with most facts being very intentionally buried under the corporate media machine, it’s even harder to reconcile feeling from fact.

*PAUSE:  i am in no way trying to invalidate or deem irrational, knowledge based on intuition and emotion, or holding science-based “rational” decisions over the emotional, felt-sense.*

however, i do think that we are deliberately bombarded with so much propaganda and “manufactured consent”, that our “felt-sense” is highly manipulatable (did i make that word up?).  and the vast majority of those in power would love for the masses to have this feel-good view of race relations now, and declare racism over.

jon stewart hosted presidential historian doris kearns-goodwin on the daily show last week to talk about obama’s first 100 days, and she talked about how a sign of “good” leadership (i would say “powerful”) is when people have this feel-good feeling, like things are going in a good direction.  it certainly appears to me that obama has achieved this – most americans have that feeling – about politics, and about race relations.  people are patting themselves on the back for a job well-done, getting obama elected, and getting over a massive racist hurdle.

so what do i think is so wrong with this? if most people – of all races – are feeling better about relations between races – isn’t that a good thing?

as much as i acknowledge that you have to believe in something to help (not make) it come true, i do not believe that people just thinking racism is dead is going to “manifest” the same.

i think the danger lies in the difference between reality and perception.  the fact that people think race relations have improved, actually brings us a step (or several) backwards in the struggle for racial equality and liberation.  it makes us even more blind to the hard truths about racial disparities, and less motivated to address these issues.

all in all, this “improved race relations” perception is another symptom of the disease that spreads across the left when democrats gain control of our government – complacency and armchair activism increase.  people have a “feeling” that things are decidedly “better” than when republicans are in control – and proceed to sit back and trust our government officials to do the right thing – instead of getting out and demanding (and creating) solutions.

one thing may be true – that there is more opportunity for improvement at this moment – in race relations, politics in general – but the danger lies in people believing it will come from those in office.  it has only ever, and will only ever – come from us.

Racewire ran a great article about the ny times poll:  “Doublespeak on ‘race relations'”

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“Prop 8 – The Musical”

see people: gay marriage will “save the economy”! case in point:

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on films on border-crossing, water rights, and dams

i don’t write film reviews, but jess and i have been watching lots of really great documentaries lately, and there are a few that i decided i want to share here, because i think everyone should see them.  if you haven’t seen these yet, please watch them! they’re all available on good ol’ netflix…


the first i’ll mention is called Mojados: Through The Night.  written, produced and directed by tommy davis, the film is shot on tommy’s handheld camera, and documents the border-crossing of four mexican men (guapo, oso, tigre and viejo) on their journey from michoacan, mexico, into the U.S.  this film is an amazing first-hand chronicle of “illegal” immigration – showing the gut-determination alone that gets them past unbelievable obstacles in their pursuit of hard work to be able to send money back to their families.

the film skips past any and all political contextualization about “illegal” immigration, and instead focuses solely on the border-crossing trip itself – the part that no one ever sees but those who make the trip (or die trying).  the sheer intensity of the obstacles they face on this trip leaves me amazed at how many people actually make it through successfully, and horrified about those who aren’t as lucky (click here to find border maps showing migrant deaths, from humane borders, a group that provides water stations, and maps of border fences, etc.).  i knew that the trip must be tough, but nothing prepared me for seeing just exactly what crossing the border entails.  as if the physical hardships aren’t enough – swimming across the rio grande, walking hundreds of miles, the extreme heat and cold, the lack of clean water and food, the barbed wire fences – they’ve got to deal with the danger of the border patrol, of being seen by cars on the 4 highways they have to run across, and whether or not they can trust coyote “guides”, or “safe house” hosts.


i wondered a lot while i was watching the film, what the role of the filmmaker was on the trip… and how he gained the men’s trust to make the film in the first place.  the website tells a little of this background, and ends:

“Because Davis ate the same moldy tortillas, climbed the same fences, and drank the same mud as the four migrants, he earned the title “El Gringo Mojado” and the trust of the group.  The men realized that Davis’ work was a chance to give the world an insight into their own lives and the lives of their brethren.  The result is a stunning, honest portrait of an often traveled but rarely seen journey.”

[while i’m on the topic of immigration, here’s a link to josh kahn russell’s blog post about the amazing protest last halloween where bay area immigrant and indigenous youth successfully shut down the san francisco I.C.E. (immigration and customs enforcement) headquarters for the day with a blockade (with ruckus support), in response to a recent rash of ICE raids.  josh’s post includes the text of an incredible letter from some of the youth blockaders to the city of san francisco, that is well worth the read.]


the next film i wanted to talk about is Flow, a documentary about the state of water on earth: water levels, water access, water rights, water privatization, and the ways that people all over the world are trying to deal with our global water crisis.

it’s being said (and has been for quite some time now), that the next world war will be about water, and this film certainly makes that seem more likely than ever.  water is one of the only things that none of us can truly live without, and millions of people are denied access to water every day, basically because of greed:  the greed of corporations and the international governmental organizations who are run by said corporations; as well as the greed of over-consumption.

flow discusses everything from how impure our tap water is, to what a racket bottled water is, to how giant corporations are swooping in and stealing water from the people and trying to sell it back to them at outrageous prices – from michigan (nestle) to india (coke) to bolivia (bechtel).

the film’s primary focus is on privatization – how a handful of corporations have stolen all our water out from underneath us; but – on the brighter side – it also shows some of the ways people are resisting: including employing age-old cultural wisdom about water collection and irrigation (and how governments are declaring some of these practices illegal); the infamous cochabamba victory that kicked bechtel out of bolivia; and some genius guy in india who devised an awesome solutionary water distribution system that is cheap, local, and provides local jobs (unfortunately i can’t remember his name or what the system was called, and couldn’t find a link to this, so you’ll have to watch the film to learn more about this!) – truly something that we should be implementing all over the place immediately!

here’s the trailer:

clean running water is definitely something i take for granted, like so many of us. and when i stop to think about it, it is absurd how much water we waste on a daily basis.  you know there’s something wrong with our system when you stop to realize that we use gallons upon gallons of fresh clean water to flush the toilet.  seriously?!?! what is our problem?  we are just so used to the habits that big corporations have made us think are the appropriate, normal, “civilized” ways to live… when really those habits are just making profits for water companies.  jess has taken a couple greywater workshops, and we can’t wait to have our own house to be able to set up greywater systems.  unfortunately, that won’t be for awhile.  in the mean time, however, we’ve discussed the possibility of at least disconnecting the bathroom sink pipe and running it to a bucket that we can then use to flush the toilet.  check out the awesome “greywater guerrilas” for more info.

water rights groups are trying to get water added to the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rightssign the petition here to get article 31 added: “Everyone has the right to clean accessible water, adequate for the health and well-being of the individual and family, and no one shall be deprived of such access or quality of water due to individual economic circumstance.”


the last film i’ll mention briefly is Up the Yangtze, which is about China’s Three Gorges Dam project, which, according to International Rivers, “is the world’s largest hydropower project and most notorious dam. The massive project sets records for number of people displaced (more than 1.2 million), number of cities and towns flooded (13 cities, 140 towns, 1,350 villages), and length of reservoir (more than 600 kilometers). The project has been plagued by corruption, spiraling costs, technological problems, human rights violations and resettlement difficulties.”

The film focuses primarily on the dam’s human impact, by focusing on a poor family from a rural village on the yangtze river – one of the many communities that were displaced due to the rising water levels caused by the dam project.  this family is poor, living in a hut down on the riverbank with no electricity or running water.  they live on what little food they can grow along the riverside, and at the beginning of the film they are presented with a dilemma:  the 15-year old daughter of the family has just graduated middle school and wants to go to high school but the family can’t afford it.  in a heart-wrenching scene the parents explain through tears that they have to send her off to work and exploit her for the money.

the rest of the film focuses on the job she takes – which appears to be the only money-making option – on a cruise ship, which gives foreign tourists “farewell tours” of the ancient china that the three gorges dam is flooding.  now, the idea of cruise tourism has never left a good taste in my mouth (what with the excessive waste, decadence, and environmental havoc they wreak, not to mention the socio-economic impact of the tourists on the destination stops along the way), but this “farewell tour” cruise seems in particularly bad taste.  first off, each chinese cruise-ship worker starts off their first day by getting a new english name (yuck), and participating in a group workshop on how to talk to tourists, including what never to talk about – namely, politics (“never call them pale or fat, the proper word is ‘plump'” was my favorite bit of advice).

meanwhile, while “cindy” is trying to adjust to working on the cruise ship, her family’s hut is slowly sinking and they have to move their few possessions (lugging them on their backs while barefoot) to a new house, up the new steep concrete embankment (which the father helped create – BY HAND – and never got paid for).  their new house looks like a cement cave to me, and they’re now forced to pay for electricity and food – with what money?

at one point, the parents go to meet their daughter at the site of the dam project where the cruise has stopped to sight-see, and one of the ship’s tour-guides has the audacity to berate “cindy”‘s father for his illiteracy, ignorance about the dam, and his mistrust in the government – in english to the camera, right in front of him.

all in all, this was probably the most depressing of the three films i talked about here (i guess maybe because it seems like there’s nothing anyone can do about it?), but is still totally worth watching.

[tangentially, on the issue of tourism, i would also highly recommend Life and Debt, which is about tourism’s impact on Jamaica, but can pretty much be equated with most tourism everywhere].

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call for unity in oakland protests

this is a great post from “bay area crimethinc workers collective” on indybay, calling for unity among oscar grant/police brutality protesters in oakland with different tactics.  i went to the rally and march tonight and am waiting and wondering what will happen later tonight.

“Justice for Oscar Grant: The Future is Being Written
Bay Area CrimethInc Workers Collective and Anarchists for Justice for Oscar Grant

Today, people in the Bay Area will continue building the uprising sparked by yet another police killing of a young Black man, Oscar Grant, murdered just hours into 2009. All week, people have come together to flood the streets with anger, grief and defiance.

The march today for justice for Oscar Grant, to end police brutality, and to work for genuine community safety through social justice on our streets, is going to bring together a broad cross-section of working class people in Oakland. It will be majority African American, inter-generational with elders and young children; it will include union rank and file, students from Oakland’s public schools, people from neighborhoods most targeted by the police, and many others. It will also be a major risk for many people to participate in the march, as the police are making it clear that “they’ll be ready to go off with any excuse.” Even with police using intimidation tactics and the media drumming up fear on about “violent protesters” and “violent anarchists”, people from Oakland will march in a demonstration of grassroots power for justice and an end to police terror.

There are thousands of anarchists around the Bay Area, involved in hundreds of important community organizations, projects, cultural work, and collectives working to build economic, racial, environmental, gender, and social justice in our communities, and around the country. Anarchists are all ages, all races, of many genders, and have a long history of dynamic, creative, and strategic action. A small number of anarchists, as well as other non-anarchists activists, sometimes utilize the black bloc as a tactic to raise the social and economic costs of injustice and oppression through corporate property destruction/re-design.

Today in Oakland, there is a need for people of many different political traditions to bring their creativity, energy, and vision to the march and work together to build working class community power through this march. We can all stay together, not be divided by state and media tactics of “good protester/bad protester,” and support one another and the overall goals of the march. There may be anarchists of many kinds – parents, elders, union members, non-violent direct action activists, black blocers, health care workers, grandparents, community organizers, and children – contributing to a dignified, united, and powerful march. There are other times and places for graffiti, for raising the social costs through civil disobedience, property re-design, and facing off with the police. Let’s respect the self-determination of those who have called for this march, many of whom are already taking risks in taking to the streets, and who have set out guidelines for what kind of space they want to create at this demonstration. Let’s coming together to make this a powerful show of unity.

The police want a fight tonight to demonstrate their power. Today, the march can demonstrate a different kind of power – what it looks like when communities come together to assert their vision of an end to police violence backed by a system of white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, heterosexism and the state. Together, we can do it. But we need to work together and be united. Let us bring forward the new world that exists in our hearts.”

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oscar grant protest aftermath

well, i wasn’t there.  i was here, just a few blocks away from much of the action, but i wasn’t there, so i’ve been gathering media and blogs and personal conversations, and wanted to make space here to at least acknowledge the events that shaped oakland’s new year, 2009.

the main question out there right now seems to be whether the actions taken by folks on wednesday night were “right” or “wrong”, but i think many of us know it’s much more nuanced than that.

because i wasn’t there, i’m feeling pretty hesitant to even post about this issue.  however, i’m going to take the risk of putting my thoughts out there, and “publicly” try to figure out where i stand in the aftermath of the oscar grant protest/riots.

first things first: a [transit] white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man in the back, while he was lying on his stomach with his hands behind his back, in the early morning of jan 1, 2009, at the fruitvale BART station.

on wednesday, jan 7, after oscar grant’s funeral, an organized protest began at the fruitvale BART station where grant was killed, starting at 3pm to demand:

1) All officers involved be taken off duty without pay, and fully prosecuted;
2) That the U.S. Justice Department investigate the incident as a violation of civil rights;
3) That BART establish an independent citizens’ review board for its officers; and
4) That the BART police officers be disarmed!

artwork by melanie cervantes and jesus barraza

artwork by melanie cervantes and jesus barraza

at some point (around 5 or 6pm?), folks decided to march to city hall, and along the way, some folks decided to branch off to 8th and madison near the lake merritt BART station, where the BART administration building used to be (a big building that still remains vacant).

next, only those who were truly there will ever know who did what, and in what sequence: a dumpster was lit on fire, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd, a police car was jumped on and rocked.  this event seemed to be what ignited everything else that happened that evening, which was quickly dubbed a “riot“.

in the aftermath, many folks around me are questioning who exactly “started it all”, and whether or not those folks had the right to do so.  if they were “white, masked anarchists”, then the implication is that they did not have the right to start it; but if they were young black men born and raised in oakland (presumably grant’s “community”, although he was a resident of hayward at the time of his death, he worked in oakland – i don’t know where he grew up), then the implication is that perhaps they did have the right to start things.

the argument goes that when “white masked anarchists” start shit [“violent” property destruction/riotous behavior], it is the communities of color who take the fall, in the short and long term – facing increased police targeting.

another argument goes that “riotous behavior” is what wakes people up and brings the issue to center stage.  communities rising up and rebelling threaten authorities and demand change in a way that the oft-mocked “candle light vigils” never will.

and there are the politics of privilege – where young white citizens with privilege CAN and potentially SHOULD play the role of taking direct action and/or “starting shit”, BECAUSE they can risk what others cannot.  this scenario, of course, presumes that the results are desirable at large, and the privileged folks are serving a purpose.

these questions take center stage for me, much more than whether smashing windows is “right” or “wrong”.  generally speaking, i think a more targeted approach to these types of actions are more relevant, strategic, and gain more support and understanding from the rest of the community.  it was heartbreaking to hear about an asian man on crutches pleading with rioters to leave his car alone, but get smashed anyway.

however, i witnessed just how fast all those windows downtown were replaced (though i’m not sure who paid for the repairs…), and perhaps even some of the business or car-owners gained an acute understanding of just how angry people are, and realize that the injustices people were rebelling against CANNOT stand any longer?  that community members are fed up with the injustice and murder, and they see no other outlet and it appears that no other actions are working [quickly enough] to right the wrongs?

so the question of who started it and did they have the right, is foremost on my mind.  for one thing, do only young black men born and raised in oakland (or hayward?) have the right to be angry and take action when murderous injustices take place against young black men in oakland?  and what does it mean to be part of the “oakland community”?  if you weren’t born here, are you never part of the community?

one thing that is very clear to me, but i think gets lost in the media, is that this is not just about oscar grant.  the fact that grant was murdered by the police is sad indeed and he and his family deserve due respect and honor for the tragedy they unfortunately experienced.  however, this is part of a larger systemic injustice — a system that values profit and authority over all life — and THAT is why people took to the streets.

i absolutely believe that leadership in movements for change should come from those most impacted by the injustices at issue.  however, at some point things cease to be an isolated issue.  where is the line?  perhaps there is validity for some people to play the role of “instigator”, escalating things to wake the authorities up and gaining power and leverage for the community’s demands.  or perhaps the long-term negative impacts on the most impacted communities negate the “purpose” of actions like this.

it’s definitely a foggy area, and i won’t presume to know exactly where the line is.  however, i will say this.  when it comes down to it, i know this for myself:  i certainly am no one to condemn as wrong the actions that any of the “rioters” took on wednesday night – those who started it and those who continued throughout the night.  but i am definitely committed to continuing to collectively learn just what types of community responses really are the most effective toward bringing about positive systemic changes in our communities.

for me, what happened this week just highlighted to me once again how important it is to have a diversity of tactics in order to enact real change.  we all play a different role, and we all need each other.  let’s remember we’re all on the same side.

here are some of the resources i’ve compiled about these events:

The Oakland Tribune:  “Unrest in Oakland has deep roots in city’s history of race relations”: “But for Mitchell and others, either those protesting in the streets or supporters cheering them on from their living rooms, the true import of this moment transcends a tragic incident on a train-station platform.”

SF Gate: “Bart Directors apologize to slain man’s family” : a report on the hearing Thursday morning 1/8. “We must learn from our mistakes and we must make sure this never happens again,” Director Carole Ward Allen told the crowd.

IT’S SIMPLE: DISARM BART POLICE!  THAT’S HOW YOU CAN ENSURE THIS WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN!!! blog: “reportback from the oscar grant protests/riots” : “i can smell something burning, and Broadway is obscured with smoke that could be the source of the smell, or tear gas. A metal hulk slowly rolls out of a backlit cloud of smoke. it is a paramilitary tank with a mounted water cannon. Is this my neighborhood?”

Justin Warren’s photo blog “Oscar Grant Protest” “Rally and Rage over BART Police Murder of Oscar Grant”

Adrienne Maree Brown on “Update on Fruitvale BART Protest”: “if police hope to gain our respect and trust in their process, they need to commit to disarming themselves of lethal weapons immediately, and learn the skills of negotiation and community engagement.”

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consuming nature

after a potluck dinner with friends, jess and i spent the rest of the evening on thanksgiving watching, “behind the mask”, a documentary about the ALF (animal liberation front), and why people risk their lives to save the lives of animals imprisoned in vivisection labs, fur farms, etc.  a fitting time to watch such a film, on a night when turkeys were being carved at tables across the U.S. en masse.  i would recommend the film to everyone.

in my experience as a vegan, the vast majority of animal rights and vegan discussions revolve around food choices. i know there are myriad reasons why people eat animals – it’s a nuanced issue, steeped in cultural traditions, geographical limitations, and plain old habit, to name a few. but to me, the defining characteristic of veganism goes beyond simply not eating animals, or even any animal by-products – to me, veganism is a consciousness that extends compassion to all lifeforms, making choices that minimize suffering and cruelty in all animals and humans, and leaving the least impact on the world around us.

while food is a constant in our everyday lives, so too are millions of other products that we use on a daily basis, which often contain animal-derived ingredients, or were tested on animals in vivisection laboratories.  countless dogs, rabbits, chimpanzees, cats, mice, and so many other animals are tortured – yes, TORTURED – every day in universities and corporate labs – on the false premise that we NEED to sacrifice animals for the sake of ‘scientific progress’.  the truth is that these tests are not only inhumane and cruel; they are also irrelevant and outdated, which makes them all the more horrific.  millions of animals are tortured and killed every year for nothing.


but, it’s not for nothing, really – it’s for profit.  the truth is that animal experimentation is simply a giant business, complete with the false advertising necessary to keep the public consuming more and more products which they are brain-washed into believing are a) necessary, and b) the results of required animal sacrifice.

as an anti-capitalist, i resent the fact that “organic”, “natural”, “cruelty-free”, “not tested on animals” products are just another (rapidly growing) market.  the point is not to just replace all the bad products with “friendlier” versions – we simply don’t need the vast majority of products that are being manufactured.  it’s all just a capitalist conspiracy – the propaganda of “choice”.  when the truth is that all those choices (i.e. entire store aisles of shampoo, etc.) are the causes of deforestation, oil wars, animal experimentation, child and sweatshop labor, worker exploitation, overflowing landfills, obesity, disease, financial debt, stress, and depression… which in turn lead people to MORE PRODUCTS!

and this is all just talking about things we think we “need” – healthcare products, pharmaceuticals, homecleaning supplies; not to mention all the crap we simply do not need – such as the christmas gifts i can imagine were so important to the hordes of “black friday” shoppers this morning, that they trampled a wal-mart employee to DEATH in order to buy.

it’s all incredibly overwhelming – everywhere we turn there is another reason why the thing we just bought/ate/entertained ourselves with is “wrong”.  there are so many injustices happening in our world, hopelessness is an epidemic in our society.  i’d like to think that the hordes of “apathetic” individuals are really just overwhelmed and think that there’s no way they can do anything “right”, so they gave up trying.  it gives me personally more hope to think that’s the reason our society is letting these atrocities continue – rather than that people just don’t care.

so what can we do?

everyone doesn’t need to immediately become “vegan”, if they’re not prone to sticking with new commitments or changing their habits; it’s more about increasing awareness and reducing consumption, little by little, as fast or as slow as they are willing.  unfortunately in our world today, it’s impossible not to use/consume anything that has an adverse effect on animals, people, and our planet, because everything we manufacture uses resources to acquire, create, package, and/or ship the damn thing to the market.  so it’s first and foremost all about reducing the number of things we use.  rethinking what we really need/want.  is this product i want really worth everything it took to make it possible for me to have it?

and secondly, when we are going to buy things new, it’s about using all those choices wisely.  it’s really not that hard to spend a second to check the label for “cruelty-free”, or “not tested on animals”.  since, alas, we still live under capitalism, boycotting companies who use animal experimentation and other bad manufacturing processes is still one good way to vote against these practices (and simply buying fewer products overall/spending less money in the market is another form of boycott).

and another important way to demand an end to cruel practices, is through nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience – directly confronting the powers that propagate injustice, and/or stopping the injustice whenever and wherever possible.  when it comes to animal rights, this is where the ALF comes in – and “behind the mask” does an excellent job of explaining why direct action is necessary to end cruelty to animals.

changing societal norms is a long process, which we have seen over and over again throughout the centuries:  overturning feudalism, slavery, gaining voting rights, civil rights, etc.  none of these injustices were reversed due to letter-writing campaigns.  it takes people willing to break unjust laws in order to expose how unjust the laws are, in order to change enough people’s minds and change the laws/practices.  the people who are brave enough to take the risks for these causes, are such a threat to the dominant paradigm, that the government labels them terrorists, and vilifies their image in the mainstream’s eyes.  this happens in every movement – in an attempt to prevent the public from actually listening to the truth.

those who can’t/or are not willing to take action themselves, have a responsibility to at least support those that can/do take action, and actively resist the “terrorist” propaganda campaigns that the corporations and government tout against activists.  as the film quoted JFK, “those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.


a few books and resources:

animal liberation by peter singer

eternal treblinka by charles patterson

making a killing by bob torres

the sexual politics of meat by carol adams

fast food nation by eric schlosser

ALF – animal liberation front website

green is the new red

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