The Interspecies and Intersectional Justice conference could’ve been the 2nd best conference I’ve seen or heard on the topic, at least complementary to The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter.
[Some talks not to be missed: Dr. A. Breeze Harper’s, who mentioned and had organised The VPBLM, and among others I linked below (besides the problematic one), Aph Ko’s talk:]
BUT there is so much wrong with the presentation that followed Aph’s powerful talk!
Watching Zarna Joshi of Women of Color Speak Out and her erasure of indigenous cultures and her ally theatre, I’ve been on a rollercoaster of feeling nauseated, annoyed, disgusted, etc. In her introduction (at least she seemed honest therein, not counting crucial omissions such as she’s a Brahmin [the most caste-privileged]). One part of her talk is coming up in the 1st link that follows. 38m40s “Pythagoras theorem comes from ancient indigenous wisdom of India, it is in the Hindu scriptures and was there for a lot longer than Europeans had ever heard of mathematics…”
Not only is Hinduism not indigenous, but it has been destroying indigenous cultures and languages, and continues to do so. Shakahara (is a Sanskrit term for vegetarianism, it stands for plant-eaters*) was also co-option.
Co-option of indigenous beliefs and her tone and lack of humility when corrected by a Xicano/Latino/Aztec at the end. Joshi had been, in her talk, speaking of Native people of respective land masses as one entity. She implies Hinduism, the world’s 3rd largest religion and a feudal system that excludes indigenous (and Dalit), is indigenous when it’s an estate and part of at least two others in India.
She doesn’t, and in any case is the worst possible person to, speak about land grabs and absurd violence against Adivasis and Dalits [Content warning for link: brutal rape and violence I could not even read through].
Did Joshi learn the name of any of the indigenous peoples of the lands she has been talking about, like the Niger Delta or Congo? Or does she know there are over 3000 ethnic groups with distinct cultures in Africa. Joshi merely says when corrected in Q&A, that there are many languages, and customs in different parts, and that Africa is not a country, as if we don’t know. She lives on Turtle island.
This is like Arundhati Roy calling herself black in ELLE magazine, except for the latter, black folks could tell it’s BS. Brahmins and Banias act like they have no lanes when it’s convenient to them, as do other savarnas. Some have been calling Roy a Brahmin (she doesn’t need to be from a Hindu family to be one, she is in any case Savarna).
Brahmins and forward castes (savarna) are to India what white people are to South Africa (the minority that controls institutions, are visible in the media etc.), the “divinely-appointed”, the holders of knowledge (they co-opted from Dalits and indigenous peoples – whose land they also stole and keep stealing); they experience some racism in the Global North/West, but surely like the Japanese woman who asked a question, regardless of skin colour (there is admiration or objectification of their respective cultures). Joshi keeps her patronising Brahminical tone and detracts from the latter question, explains her coined term “colonial hangover”. Assuming that it was metaphorically from the spiking of drinks or drinking water of the colonised people, this is NOT a hangover unless you grew up a rather privileged British Brahmin whose experience is in no way comparable to even a British person of a lower caste or a desi of another religion. I think her following suggestion of “colonial education among your communities” is a subconscious slip of her tongue. Then, never did she ask the woman if she had answered her question. We know more about Japanese exploitation of South Korean women, than we know about ongoing rapes of Adivasi and Dalit-Bahujan women by Brahminical men, or threats (CW for link: writer meena kandasamy getting a threat wishing for her gang rape pornography, because she tweeted about attending a beef-eating festival), and apathy by Savarna women who practice something akin to white feminism – Braminist feminism.
Browsing 3 short un-numbered pages of Joshi’s male guru, Swami Mukundananda’s Spiritual Dialectics:
1. I came across casteist spin that help young and naive(?) Hindus think there is no casteism, in other words, the Indian version of “I don’t see race”. However, she is someone navigating the world as Zarna [Brahmin name].
But of course one outgrows this naivety, even in a diaspora where Hindu traditions remain very 1752. Anyone in social justice is likely to have realised the oppressiveness, on Turtle Island e.g., one would realise most organisers are upper caste whether or not one reads BGD (see Gee’s statement in interview linked); and if one is oppressed, one is probably more aware from early on. Cf white kids and black kids but in casteism, there is no parallel with colourism necessarily, although there is also colourism towards girls/women.
Zarna and I are the same age (idk her but she likes to talk about her past activism, and mentions her age then) and from diasporas, she, from the 1st world and I from the developing. I don’t know any anti-casteist movement in Southern Africa, but I know some UK and USian groups. For someone who boasts about her excellent British education to have researched Adivasis to erase them [to the point of not using the word ‘Adivasi’ at all (lest someone looks it up and figures her out?), to call Hindus indigenous] then claim a right to talk about African indigenous peoples and First Nations, like Zarna did, is absurd.
3. He uses ableist discourse that uses disabled people to make a point.
That account he gives of 3 Blind men each touching different parts of an elephant’s body once and arguing over their conclusions, is not how Blind people operate, unless this was a game being played by a sighted person where Blind folks were used as animals would be, and they are only allowed to touch one part for a second and guess. They wouldn’t draw a conclusion based on that. The elephant of course stands there like a non-interactive object, neither warm nor breathing. The animals in the reader’s imagination are the Blind, it could’ve been a story that uses 3 monkeys to make the same point.
But let’s not dis her Guru, whom she only praised in that presentation (and whom she also writes books for). Also note that the term ‘shakahari’ (she firmly says to the audience “you’re not a vegan, you’re a shakahari (plant-eater)”) is considered outdated by someone in Bangalore, who had not heard it since high school, or it is simply not used outside of Hindu religious discourse.
Krishna’s sexual harassment is not only ok but revered up to this day, worldwide (in a framework that says women can’t climb trees in this case?).
Joshi’s talk with Q&A was 3 and 4 times longer than lauren Ornelas or Brenda Sanders respectively. As if we needed over an hour of erasing indigenous peoples with a patronising tone and spreading misconceptions along with information that is also important but not her own research. Her 1st world Brahminical discourse is not the only one, she erased indenture and erased complexities such as French colonies forcing Indians after indenture, to register babies with Christian first names. Only one’s middle name could be Indian until they changed the legislation in Reunion island.
This is a Brahmin woman spreading misinformation to an audience who is already misinformed, about India – a country where the Dadri lynching was perpetrated by upper castes and where tribal people in Jharkhand’s Latehar live in fear and are more severely affected by drought, after the lynching of 2 young boys. Nowhere did she mention the lynchings, this is about the shakaharis she is so proud of!
Here is Joshi, claiming to be ‘intersectional’, pretending she and other Hindus are indigenous which is as if Zionists were to claim they are Mizrahim**, Palestinian or both. How could that amazing conference end on the such a low note, and of all the moving and well-researched and well-thought-out talks there were, hers is the only one scheduled to go live? Joshi was presumably never asked in a public way to not co-opt (assuming I could give permission to share this [nope, do not share with whites and Brahminists], it puts me at risk but I’ll share this with a few organisers), and her talk was dispersing of misinformation, which has been viewed live and later by many hundreds.
If anyone reading this knows Adivasis or Dalits who want to write about this, they may by all means use this, without crediting me.
PS. It’s taking me a while to get the timestamps because Joshi’s Braminical tone is frankly triggering, more timestamps coming up in comments below.
. Adivasi and Dalit activists doing tireless advocacy or awareness work in India and diasporas. My focus is toward South India, as are my examples, being Dravidian myself. Every womanist, feminist or social justice activist, among Indians or diasporics I know, knows how damaging casteism is. But more know they’ll get away with it. Here is an Indian journalist thinking she’ll get away with being anti-indigenous Soni Sori, pictured, was attacked with a corrosive substance and she was fighting for her life at the time. Rupa was dragged on social media by Dalit activists but otherwise, she can get away with it – Rupa still seems to be a journalist, thus caste privilege works like white privilege.
. Gee Semmalar for telling me Joshi is a Brahmin name, and for clarifying that Brahminism/Vedic religion unlike Aryan religion came after Buddhism.
*Jayaprakash Satyamurthy for the link and for telling me more about ‘shakahari’.
**My Mizrahi friend, billie rain.
Here’s a fantastic article by filmmaker-scientist Lydia Hicks. It was World Animal Day (or still is, in most of Africa) as I still struggle a lot with typing.
Thanks to Nev Nnaji for the find.
J’ai souvent dit aux religieux, avec qui j’ai eu l’occasion de d’aborder ce sujet, de voir le documentaire A Sacred Duty (version avec sous-titres sur YouTube, voir plus bas). Je reprendrais désormais les citations ci-dessous, de Marguerite Yourcenar et de l’archevêque Desmond Tutu, face à certaines défenses d’abus des animaux.
“J’ai été témoin de la façon dont l’injustice est effacée quand elle est à l’encontre des victimes vulnérables et sans pouvoir, quand celles-ci n’ont personne pour faire entendre leurs voix et aucun moyen de se représenter au pouvoir. Les animaux sont précisément dans cette position. Si nous ne sommes pas attentifs à leurs intérêts et si nous ne parlons pas pour eux à haute voix, l’abus et la cruauté se seront pas contrés.” Desmond Tutu – The Global Guide to Animal Protection
Il y avait dans le christianisme tous les éléments d’un folklore animal presque aussi riche que celui du bouddhisme mais le dogmatisme et la priorité donnée à l’égoïsme humain l’ont emporté. Il semble que sur ce point un mouvement supposé rationaliste et laïque, l’humanisme, au sens récent et abusif du mot, qui prétend n’accorder d’intérêt qu’aux réalisations humaines, hérite directement de ce christianisme appauvri, auquel la connaissance et l’amour du reste des êtres ont été retirés.
Ce qui me paraît importer, c’est de posséder le sens d’une vie enfermée dans une forme différente. C’est déjà un gain immense de s’apercevoir que la vie n’est pas incluse seulement dans la forme en laquelle nous sommes accoutumés à vivre, qu’on peut avoir des ailes au lieu de bras, des yeux optiquement mieux organisés que les nôtres, au lieu de poumons des branchies. Ensuite il y a le mystère des migrations et des communications animales, le génie de certaines espèces […] Et puis, il y a toujours pour moi cet aspect bouleversant de l’animal qui ne possède rien, sauf la vie, que si souvent nous lui prenons.
Marguerite Yourcenar (qui, visiblement, était aussi consciente que le lait est issu de l’exploitation des vaches)
J’aurais commencé par citer Al-Ma’arri si je parlais d’arabes végétalien-n-e-s mais parmis les sites musulmans je n’ai trouvé que ce blog marocain, deux sites en anglais dans mon article précédent – à noter que je fonctionne nettement plus en tant qu’anglophone sur les réseaux sociaux, comme sur la toile; voilà des années que le français n’est plus ma première langue.
I often refer religious folks to documentary A Sacred Duty and I’ll now remember these quotes by Marguerite Yourcenar and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Original quotes (I translated these from) by Yourcenar will be in the next post.
“I have seen firsthand how injustice gets overlooked when the victims are powerless or vulnerable, when they have no one to speak up for them and no means of representing themselves to a higher authority. Animals are in precisely that position. Unless we are mindful of their interests and speak out loudly on their behalf, abuse and cruelty go unchallenged.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu – The Global Guide to Animal Protection
There were all the elements of an animal folklore, almost as rich as that of Buddhism, in Christianity but dogmatism and the prioritising of human selfishness took over. It seems that a movement allegedly rationalist and secular, humanism, in the recent and abusive sense of the word, which pretends to be concerned only about human realisations inherited from this watered-down christianity from which knowledge and love for other beings have been removed.
What, to me, seems to matter is to have the concept of life enclosed in a different form. It is an immense gain if we can realise that life exists not only in the form we experience, that one can have wings instead of arms, optically more sophisticated eyes, gills instead of lungs. Then there is the mystery of migrations and communication between animals, the genius of certain species […] Then there is always, I think, the moving fact that an animal possesses nothing but their life that, too often, we snatch from them.
There’s a number of specifically vegan muslim communities on facebook in English, Arabic or both. Otherwise see this section of the IVU website among others and this blog which speaks of veg*nism. Easter 2014 edit: see this discussion on Christ and Buddha at Sistah Vegan. I’m reminded of Yourcenar’s quote but I’m not familiar with the religions or texts.
Note: I have linked the blog for those who may be interested but can’t see the above documentary.
There were Thaipusam celebrations on the island of Mauritius yesterday in (not only) the Tamil community, it’s a public holiday and a major religious event. Every kavadi or paalkoddam/paal kavadi carried piously on shoulders and heads who surely don’t know better, are not figurative burdens but real blood, sweat and tears. (En français)
They are the blood of new-born calves (kept away from their mother, practically starved, killed and sold as veal meat on a parallel market), the sweat and tears of their grieving mother who has been raped again and again all her life for all she stands for – a milk machine. Bulls are routinely raped for her artificial insemination. Industries have ‘rape racks’ and purchase ‘rape kits’ for these ‘procedures’ of forceful impregnation or forceful semem collecting, using confined animals treated with neither respect nor pity. This is likely to be not only in Australia or countries from which we import milk (and where video footage has been made), but in your local dairy farms and the animals are discarded in any way deemed convenient by farmers when they are too old, e.g. for pet food. I don’t know what percentage of old cows are rescued by the only sanctuary I know there is, in Moka.
Promoting the consumption of, and consuming, milk or dairy entails stealing milk meant for calves, sending male ones to be killed for veal and suede, or to be reared for beef; as the female calves grow up to become milk providers. This would happen even if Mauritius had pastures (at the expense of its wild animals and/or instead of schools/malls/golf courses, or farmers would have to consider exploiting giraffes for milk) and bovine animals roamed around and propagated their genes freely. Later old cows would be turned into leather; even India is a big exporter of bovine leather and transports cows to certain states where killing them is allowed, footage seen in documentary (freely available to anyone with internet access, there was also a free public documentary screening in Mauritius years ago). It is not surprising how these issues can be ignored, we can look to our own lack of knowledge around such issues or to our indifference, which also harm poor human workers who work in the leather industry handling toxic chemicals.
There is a scientific explanation for eating habits most Kavadi devotees have outside of fasts but also for those within fasts. Humans are not natural necrovores but are addicted to natural chemicals in meat and it can be hard to quit the habit but harder perhaps to quit caso-morphines, the naturally-occuring drug in milk that is more concentrated in yoghurt, buttermilk and paneer. There are chemicals present in milk usually aside from pus and blood (and estrogen which harms women’s health as well as men’s), such as antibiotics and even morphine in trace amounts according to research papers. It can be hard to stop the addiction to casomorphines during 3 weeks, before the cravings and withdrawal symptoms cease. There may be ‘traditional’ explanations that were invented for modern exploitation (as the caste system was invented for human exploitation) but there is no moral explanation for it, least of all in times where we know it is not necessary but harmful to human health. Milk is a drug besides being a product of cruelty, and it is being directly promoted by and in religious celebrations.
It’s easy to make milk from nuts or coconut, and to make yoghurts and cheeses (see next blog post). Surely making these would be in line with what Tamils claim the fast entails. Not only those who have carried a kavadi or paalkoddam but all those with any indian heritage have those traditional copper containers. If one pours in soy, almond or coconut milk and the contents of 4 acidophilus capsules for each litre, leaving it covered in the sun all day, would produce soy, almond or coconut yoghurt, even if you’re not in Port-Louis or Australia. Behind a closed window or somewhere sunny but sheltered from the breeze would keep it warm. Solgar acidophilus capsules are perfect for this, available at Nature Verte, 3 locations now. Make it in stainless steel? I bought a glass jar from PicknPay and it got extremely rusty within a month, old recycled jars last. Here people would rather buy dairy yoghurt from cruel businesses than have free homemade plantghurt from homemade milk, seemingly. The hypocrisy astounds me.
Some photos and background story on Kavadee, I didn’t hear of anyone having vegan fasts – the page is mistaken to generalise this.
Cruelty is a fundamental sin, and admits of no arguments or nice distinctions. If only we do not allow our heart to grow callous, it protests against cruelty, is always clearly heard; and yet we go on perpetrating cruelties easily, merrily, all of us— in fact, anyone who does not join in is dubbed a crank. ~ Rabindranath Tagore
Sur l’animal | about animals
“Je trouve atroce d’avoir à penser chaque année, vers la fin de l’hiver, au moment où les mères phoques mettent bas sur la banquise, que ce grand travail naturel s’accomplit au profit d’immédiats massacres, tout comme je ne nourris pas les tourterelles dans mon bois sans penser que soixante millions d’entre elles tomberont cet automne sous les coups des chasseurs. Il faut « limiter la prolifération des espèces », comme disent les gens qui ne songent jamais à limiter la leur.”
I find it atrocious to think that every year, at winter’s end, at the time where seal mothers give birth on the ice, this great natural effort is accomplished for the profit of immediate massacres; similarly I cannot feed the birds in my woods without the thought that 60 millions of them will fall this autumn under the gunshots of hunters. “We must limit the proliferation of species” some would say, without ever thinking of limiting that of their own.
«L’homme a peu de chances de cesser d’être un tortionnaire pour l’homme, tant qu’il continuera à apprendre sur l’animal son métier de bourreau.»
Man is unlikely to cease to torture his kind, as long as he continues to perfect his craft of animal executioner.
«La protection de l’animal, c’est au fond le même combat que la protection de l’humain.»
Animal protection is essentially the same struggle as human protection
«Soyons subversifs. Révoltons-nous contre l’ignorance, l’indifférence, la cruauté, qui d’ailleurs ne s’exercent si souvent contre l’homme parce qu’elles se sont fait la main sur les bêtes. Rappelons-nous, s’il faut toujours tout ramener à nous-mêmes, qu’il y aurait moins d’enfants martyrs s’il y avait moins d’animaux torturés, moins de wagons plombés amenant à la mort les victimes de quelconques dictatures, si nous n’avions pris l’habitude des fourgons où les bêtes agonisent sans nourriture et sans eau en attendant l’abattoir.»
Let us be subversive: let us revolt against ignorance, indifference, cruelty – which in fact often against humans after it has been towards animals. Let us remember, if we need to bring everything to ourselves, that there would be fewer martyrs among children if there were fewer tortured animals […]
«Les animaux sont mes amis et je ne mange pas mes amis.»
Animals are my friends and I don’t eat my friends
«Le riche aliment (le lait) sort d’une bête nourricière, symbole animal de la terre féconde, qui donne aux hommes non seulement son lait, mais plus tard, quand ses pis seront définitivement épuisés, sa maigre chair et finalement son cuir, ses tendons et ses os dont on fera de la colle et du noir animal. Elle mourra d’une mort presque toujours atroce, arrachée aux prés habituels, après le long voyage dans le wagon à bestiaux qui la cahotera vers l’abattoir, souvent meurtrie, privée d’eau, effrayée en tout cas par ces secousses et ces bruits nouveaux pour elle. Ou bien elle sera poussée en plein soleil, le long d’une route, par des hommes qui la piquent de leurs longs aiguillons, la malmènent si elle est rétive ; elle arrivera pantelante au lieu de l’exécution, la corde au cou, parfois l’œil crevé, remise entre les mains de tueurs que brutalise leur misérable métier et qui commenceront peut-être à la dépecer pas toute à fait morte.»
Some translation is yet to be completed or done, I’m republishing this anyway.