04 Jul

Booklist for UK White Black Lives Matter solidarity activists and allies.

So, you want to be an anti-racist? But, you’re White? Maybe, you live in an area that is not “diverse”, and you would like to help the International Black Lives Matter movement without asking your One Black Friend or colleague to perform the exhausting emotional labour of explaining British racism and Black History to you?

You first have to stop, listen, never assume, and look inwards, and backwards, at all the ways that you might have internalised and perpetuated the White Supremacy that we all have been brought up with here in the United Kingdom. It’s not going to be a comfortable process but it’s a necessary one if we are to move forward on this Earth in a way that will promote equity for everyone.

Why equity and not equality? The Interaction Institute for social Change explains it beautifully in this widely shared image:

image explaining equity and equality by three people of different heights standing on equal sized crates looking over a fence.  The tallest person has the best view and the smallest can't see. This represents equality. Another picture shows the same three people on crates that take into consideration their size.  Their heads are at an equal level.  This represents equity.

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A lot of Black History is America-centric and maybe you even believe that the UK does not suffer from the kinds of racism and police violence that are apparent in the United States.

So, if you ‘d like to read about the reality of life in the UK for Black people, address your own prejudices and understand how British White Supremacy manifests itself, a good place to start are these books (covers downloaded from my Audible collection. Also available in other formats and from other retailers):

cover for why i'm no longer talking to white people about race by reni eddo lodge
book cover fro natives race and class in the ruin of empire by akala
book cover for good immigrant edited by nikesh shukla
cover for Black and british by david olusoga

I’m also going to add this book. It’s not English, but the content spans continents and even can be applied to all types of oppression such as ableism and sexism.

so you want to talk about race by ijeoma oluo
book cover

And this, is just a brilliant read.

cover for how to be an antiracis by abram x kendi

This is a tiny selection of books but, IMHO, an essential reading list for the budding Anti Racist.

Have you got any that you can add to this list?

07 Mar

Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows

by Melanie Joy

love dogs eat pigs wear cows book coverPicture is from Amazon bookshop

I’ve experimented with various “isms” for several decades now and decided to complete this year’s Veganuary.  I’ve been Vegan before, several decades ago and was edging towards that way of life anyway so at the beginning of the year I ditched the last of my food of animal origin and climbed aboard the Vegan ship, sailing to the brave new world of Cruelty-free.

I digress, and will do some more vegan-ish posts in the future no doubt but this vegan lass called @vegangangsta79 somehow came on to my radar and she was singing the praises of this book (the one in the title).  I flippin love Audible because I can listen and paint at the same time, or, walk and listen, it’s an amazing invention even though you have to buy it through the less than ethical Amazon which grates a little on my sensibilities.

So when she mentioned it, it caught my eye and I’ve just finished listening to it.  A lot of the stuff I knew, or kind of knew but it spelled out the meat, fish and dairy industry in graphic detail.  It was pretty disturbing to me in my current shell shocked and depressed state to have such heart-wrenching violent imagery beamed straight into my brain, but I persevered.

It’s an accurate book about the topic, but it is a little subjective.   If you have an inkling of doubt about the meat you eat or the dairy you consume then it’s a good read, if you have a strong stomach.  It’s the holes in much of this Vegan media that I think will put off the more analytical amongst us.  She uses examples of people who have had second thoughts about their consumption of meat after being presented with the realities of animal death and rearing.  I know carnists who have happily reared their own animals, gotten to know them and then went off to hand kill them and eat them.  Most people might feel squeamish about this, but a lot of people won’t.  I think it would benefit from more scientific evidence that animals are sentient beings.  Having been called a conspiracy theorist myself, I analyse everything I read for hints of propaganda and sadly this book is full of it.

The mere mention of “The matrix” will allow some people to relate to the carnist world we live in but it would definitely black-mark this book as conspiracy theorist propaganda, though it may make the book more relatable to others.  I’d love to see a genuine work that presents solid facts that Veganism is better for our animals and the planet, with counter arguments from the meat producers that can be slammed down by good science.  I have yet to find such a work, but the nearest I found was Cowspiracy.

FYI – I brought my son up to be Pescatarian and I was one too until recently.  The factual book that I listened to that immediately horrified me and made me stop eating fish was Unatural History of the Sea by Callum Roberts.  I was shocked and horrified and genuinely embarrassed to be a human after reading that.  It’s factual, written by a fisherman and really opened my eyes – I genuinely did not know about the destruction of the oceans until last year.  Seaspiracy summarises key points of the book very well.

In summary, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows is a harrowing but interesting read but may alert your “conspiracy” neurons.  The way animals are treated is accurately reflected in the book but it’s obvious that the people mentioned in it were cherry picked for their sympathy with the animals.  There are plenty more who simply do not give a flying fuck where their food comes from, as long as it tastes good. But, this is the age of Aquarius man, the world is a-changing.