Public statement from Brock Students for Animal Liberation (BSAL) on racist “blackface” incident at Brock University

We, Brock Students for Animal Liberation, are outraged by what happened on our campus on the evening of October 30, 2014. Four students participated in the Halloween costume contest that took place at Isaac’s Bar, impersonating the Jamaican national bobsled team, their costume involving “blackface” makeup. They won the contest by the applause from the audience and were awarded $500.

After the negative reactions from various people, the initial statement made from the Facebook page of Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) concealed the fact that these students have won the competition by stating that they did not even participate in the contest. We find this deliberate misinformation particularly concerning and unacceptable.

The history of “blackface” makes it obvious why it is inappropriate. It symbolizes the degradation and ridicule of people of colour. Yet, a lot of white people (who clearly do not experience racism) dare to define what is racist and what is not. As members of a social movement that demands respect for the subjectivity of all sentient beings, we do not condone such overly confident judgments by privileged people. “Blackface” is racist, because many people of colour say that it’s racist. It is offensive, because many racialized people say that they are offended by it.

Some apologists of the costume went so far to argue that the costume could not be racist hence one of the students in the group was a person of colour himself. This widely shared account shows a clear lack of understanding of cultural hegemony. Unfortunately, many people tend to internalize their own subordination and in fact be complicit in the system that exploits them in our contemporary, oppressive society.

Another common theme of apologists were to call the protesters “too sensitive.” As animal liberation activists, we are used to such labels. Yet, this only adds sexism to the picture as we are living in a male dominated society where sensitivity is disregarded as a personality trait that is associated with femininity. For our concern for all human and non-human animals, we are proud of our sensitivity.

Racism and speciesism are only two of the systems of oppression that are parts of an intertwined power structure. Many people might think that they have nothing to do with one another. Instead, we believe that they have so much to do with each other, they cannot be hygienically separated and addressed in isolation. Throughout the history, exploitation of animals and oppression of humans have gone hand in hand. Animal abuse has been one of the most important driving forces behind colonialism that led to slavery and racism. Also, fascist states and other oppressive orders legitimized their mistreatment of the humans they marginalized by equating them to non-human animals. Countless people have been targeted like this because of their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, race, skin colour, heritage, language, culture, religious belief, political view, immigrant status, disability, etc. Objection to the common belief that non-humans have lesser value than humans is thus an essential part of a struggle towards a holistic ideal of equality.

Racialized people are exploited by the speciesist industry in two other dimensions due to the alliance between racism and capitalism. Slaughterhouses mostly employ racialized and impoverished people who are forced to work in horrible conditions, while the same population is forced to live in “food deserts” where they do not have access to healthy, organic, vegan food, but only unhealthy, genetically modified fast food which is produced by the same speciesist industry.

Unfortunately, animal advocacy has not been much of a “safe space” for racialized people so far either. A lot of white activists have been using the analogy of “slavery” in order to create awareness to animals’ suffering without realizing how this will be received by people of colour. Also, treatment of non-human animals in different cultures has been used by privileged animal advocates such as Brigitte Bardot as an excuse to spill out racist hatred. As a movement that is composed by a white, affluent majority, animal advocacy has a long way to go in terms of political awareness about race, class and many other social inequalities.

All of these examples show us how many reasons we have to take this intersectionality of oppressions seriously and to strive for freedom and equality for all. We condemn the “blackface” incident, ask everyone to educate themselves about and join the resistance against all forms of oppression. What we expect from BUSU, in particular, is to take tangible steps to ensure that Brock University becomes a “safe space” for everyone. We believe that, in addition to the recent racist incident, they have a long way to go to overcome the sexism and objectification of women they have been promoting on campus. Consulting with feminist and anti-racist organizations might be a good way to start.

Brock Students for Animal Liberation

Advertisements

Film Series: BSAL & Brock Eco Present – Cowspiracy

“There is one single industry destroying the planet more than any other…But no one wants to talk about it.”

Please join BSAL and Brock Eco for an exclusive screening of the astonishing new documentary: Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. A phenomenal exploration of environmental adversity facing us today, this film is a must-see!

“As eye-opening as Blackfish, and as inspiring as An Inconvenient Truth.”

Following the film will be a brief discussion period for those interested in continuing the conversation.

Location: Brock University, Sankey Chambers (MC A Block)

Date and Time: Friday, November 21, 2014. 7:00-9:00pm

Free snacks will be provided.

NO to Animal Circuses!

Image

 

The circus is coming to town, and we’re not having it without a fight. This year’s “Summer Circus Spectacular” features the use of wild and domestic animal prisoners in their acts. Animals used in circuses are under constant duress, fear, and pain– from capture, forcible confinement, cruel training practices, public humiliation, unnatural ‘performances’, and long-distance travel with minimal to no standards of welfare practiced. 
This circus is renting out animals from the infamous Bowmanville Zoo. You may recall this hell-on-earth for Limba the elephant (RIP).

We ask that you find it in your moral conscience to voice your opposition to the circus. Join us in a demonstration at their shows in Niagara.

Friday May 30th: Niagara Falls 
5:30pm (show at 7:30)
Gale Centre, 4171 Fourth Avenue, N.F

Saturday May 31st: St. Catharines
1:00pm (show at 2:00) and 5:00pm (show at 7:00)
Gatorade Garden City Complex– 8 Gale Cr.

Signs and literature will be provided, but please feel free to make your own creative signs too. 

*NOTE: Two shows in Welland are scheduled for Sunday June 1st at 1:00pm and 4:00pm at Welland Main Arena. It would be great if folks could make it out to demo those shows as well.

Hosted by Brock Students for Animal Liberation- BSAL and Niagara Action for Animals

For More Information visit our Facebook event page HERE

Gary Francione at Brock University! Part 1/5

What are our moral and legal obligations to animals? Are animals our property to use as we wish? Is our society permeated with moral contradictions on what we say we believe about animals and how we actually treat them? Is animal welfare enough? Professor Francione will explore these controversial topics in his talk, followed by an open Q&A discussion.

Gary Francione is a distinguished Professor of Law at Rutgers University. He has been teaching in the area of animal rights and animal law for over 25 years. His Abolitionist Approach is widely regarded as the most intriguing and important contributions to critical theory in animal ethics.

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/

Dog Lovers Unite! Part 1/6

Topics and Speakers:

Dogs and the Vivisection Industry

1. Keri Cronin, PhD, Brock University (Dept. of Visual Arts):
Representations of dogs in artwork in anti-vivisection activism in the early 20th century.

2. Liz White, Founder of Animal Alliance of Canada
Politics of pound seizure and use of dogs for scientific research.

On Being a “Dog Champion”

3. Rob Laidlaw, Founder of Zoocheck Canada
Discussing his new book: “No Shelter Here: Making the World a Kinder Place for Dogs”

4. Murray Wickett, PhD, Brock University (Dept. of History)
Hurricane Katrina through the eyes of dogs:
“Looking into the Eye of the Hurricane: Bart’s Story”

Living WITH Coyotes and Wolves

5. Lesley Sampson, Co-founder of Coyote Watch Canada
“Nature Literacy: Compassionate Coyote Connections”

6. Hannah Barron, Earthroots Ontario
“Living with Wolves: Perspectives on Wolf Management”

If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front– Free Film Screening

If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front-- Free Film Screening

Thursday March 20th, 2014
6:00pm-8:00pm

In conjunction with Brock Eco Club ‘Enviroweek’ (March 17-21), Brock Students for Animal Liberation- BSAL will be hosting a free screening of If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front.

Join us for an evening in celebration of the Earth and all of its inhabitants through a look at the actions of people who fight with all their might to ensure its protection.

More information on the film below:
http://www.ifatreefallsfilm.com/film.html

Light refreshments will be provided.

Should Animals Have Rights? A Talk By Gary L. Francione, J.D.

Image

 

Brock Department of Sociology and Brock Students for Animal Liberation- BSAL are thrilled to announce that renowned legal scholar Gary Francione will be speaking at Brock University on March 28th on the topic of animal rights.

What are our moral and legal obligations to animals? Are animals our property to use as we wish? Is our society permeated with moral contradictions on what we say we believe about animals and how we actually treat them? Is animal welfare enough? Professor Francione will explore these controversial topics in his talk, followed by an open Q&A discussion.

Gary Francione is a distinguished Professor of Law at Rutgers University. He has been teaching in the area of animal rights and animal law for over 25 years. His Abolitionist Approach is widely regarded as the most intriguing and important contributions to critical theory in animal ethics. 

For more information visit our Facebook event page here