Justin Interviewed by Chickpeas and Change

Justin was recently interviewed by Alessandra Seiter, founder of Chickpeas & Change, where he discusses Triangle Chance for All, microsanctuaries, problems with the vegan movement, and intersectional activism. Read the full interview here:

http://chickpeasandchange.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/interview-with-justin-van-kleeck-of-triangle-chance-for-all-microsanctuary/

 

The Banana

By Christopher Sebastian McJetters

I see homeless people with enough (disturbing) regularity that i learned to carry around a little food to share. Yesterday a man approached me when I was coming out of the post office and asked if I could help him get something to eat. I led him to my car and offered him a bag of chips and a banana. He looked at me for a second and said with a reluctant smirk, “I’ll take the banana, but I’ll pass on the chips.” Immediately, I judged him as being picky.

But he continued by pulling down his lip and said, “I don’t have enough teeth.” And my privilege was swiftly checked. Long-term homeless people don’t have access to dental insurance.

If you can, please share food (hopefully soft). And don’t be afraid to give a dollar when you can afford to do so. Worrying about whether or not your single is going toward drugs or alcohol says more about you than it does about the person you’re judging.

[Read more about respectfully and compassionately responding to panhandling at Everyday Feminism.]

A White Man Informed By White Supremacy Murdered Three Muslim Students

In a Google search for news of the horrific shooting that took place yesterday in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the Muslim identity of the three victims is named many times, but the whiteness of the murderer is apparently not headline news.

It should be.

Whiteness must be made visible, and white people must be the ones to make it so. We have to learn the history – the real history, not the fictitious narrative – of whiteness: imperialism, colonialism, genocide, scientific and commodity racism, domination, assimilation. Anti-blackness is white supremacy. Islamantagonism is white supremacy. Each manifestation of this ideology is its own twisted system requiring specific address, but we have to stop placing the entire focus on the oppressed and start naming the oppressor. Yes, three Muslim students were killed. But this is only half the story, and it is framed in a way that erases the perpetrator. A white man killed three Muslim students. White supremacist thought manifested in an act of white power.

The Chapel Hill Police have a vested interest, conscious or not, to maintain the illusion that white supremacy no longer exists, and their story of a dispute over a parking space fits that narrative. I have heard white people hope aloud that this crime wasn’t racially motivated, a hope invested in keeping whiteness invisible. Of course this crime was racially motivated. It was motivated by white supremacy.

We have to acknowledge the reality that led a white man to execute three Muslim individuals, but white people don’t want to do the work of deconstructing a historical fiction of liberty and entrepreneurship that paints us as heroes. That story is comfortable for us, for obvious reasons. We like to leave out white supremacy entirely, but that was a foundational principle in the creation of the United States, and it has survived in silence and secret thanks to our unwillingness to name it as we benefit from the privilege it grants us.

In a town that claims to cherish diversity and liberal thinking, protests recently around the many memorials to white supremacists on the UNC campus, most notably Saunders Hall named for a former Grand Dragon of the KKK, have been met with indifference from administration. The murderous intent of whiteness is benign to white people who fancy themselves progressive, tolerant, loving, post-racial. Thus, when a white man murders a black man, his whiteness is not up for discussion. When a white man murders a Muslim, his whiteness isn’t an issue. No, instead the identities of the victims are the focus, and this only reinforces white supremacy.

Every time a white person engages in a terrorist act, an excuse is made. The rhetoric favors them. They are troubled or “mentally ill” (ableism is always a convenient crutch to support white supremacy), and we all see it time and again – loners. They do not speak for the white race, because there is no white race. This is the problem. This has been the problem.

The story may be framed in ways that tempt you to believe that the murderer’s motivations were not deeply rooted in white supremacy. He might not even see that himself. But we must see it. We must name it. We must stop wishing that this horrifying reality is non-existent. We must stop looking for a way to sweep it under the rug. We must expose the brutal reality of whiteness.

Animal Liberation and Atheism by Kim Socha

I have always been pretty comfortable being vocal as a vegan and engaging people about all of the many issues related to consuming and exploiting animals.

I am also an unabashed atheist, but I find having serious critical discussions about religion to be an entirely different affair. When dealing with people of faith, my experience is that it is very difficult to question religion (especially in the context of animal exploitation) and keep people from shutting down or knee-jerking; on a larger scale, there is little effort done to shine a light on the inherent difficulties in making a religious argument for other-animal liberation. Equally as frustrating, the majority of those in the atheist, secularist, and humanist movements do not express much interest in, or devote much time to, talking seriously about the ethics of animal exploitation outside of a theological framework without resulting to anthropocentrism and speciesism.

That obviously puts atheistic vegans in an odd place: do we focus on critiquing religion as part of a larger conversation against oppression, or do we minimize that concern and instead try to engage people of faith in their own terms? Is secularism a totally separate field than veganism and activism for other animals?

These are old conundrums for me, which is why I am so excited about Kim Socha’s latest book, Animal Liberation and Atheism. It is a brilliant work, both in its examination of ALL religious traditions and for Socha’s bravery in taking on both sides of the big religious debate. I particularly enjoyed her careful treatment of the anthropocentric nature of all religious traditions and a similar bias amongst the rationalist secular community. Also important is her emphasis on not catering to the faithful with religious arguments in order to promote veganism:

Any arguments against oppression and violence offered by religious advocates–whether they be for humans, nonhumans, or even the environment–can be made without mention of divine beings. Any arguments made by slavery abolitionists, suffragists, and civil rights leaders that include appeals to God’s will can be just as powerful and meaningful if the divine is omitted from the rhetoric. Just because positive social change has occurred due to the hearts and minds of religious activists does not mean there is a divine force at play or that the same spirit of progress cannot exist without religious belief.

All of these topics are crucial for us to consider if we are to take serious steps away from oppressive systems. As Socha makes abundantly clear, even (indeed especially) religion must receive a critical examination in order to break perhaps the main pillar supporting speciesism. Animal Liberation and Atheism is truly a must read!