Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 8: White Blood, Wild Things & District 9

September 28th, 2009 6:28 pm by mad mags


Yikes! It’s been way too long since my last intersectionality link roundup and, as a result, I’ve managed to stockpile a ridiculous number of links – all without keeping current, naturally. Here’s the first batch; look for the second (or ninth, rather) installment later this week.

Making Hay: Animal Rights Is a Universal Issue

Farm Sanctuary’s Jasmin Singer recently traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa, in order to attend the South African Law Review Consultation Workshop, organized by Animal Rights Africa (ARA) “for the purpose of initiating a transparent public process of South African animal protection legislation review.” Here, she shares her experiences and offers a little background on ARA.

You can find out more about Animal Rights Africa’s work – and what you can do to help – on their website at

VegNews: Backstage Pass: Erykah Badu

Via BlackVegan, a short-but-sweet interview with vegan singer/songwriter Erykah Badu, my favorite exchange of which is this:

VN: Is vegan food the new soul food?

EB: Vegan food is soul food in its truest form. Soul food means to feed the soul. And, to me, your soul is your intent. If your intent is pure, you are pure.

Racialicious: An Interview with Bryant Terry on Race, Class, Food, and Culture – Part 1

Speaking of soul food, Racialicious recently featured a lengthy interview with Bryant Terry, author of Vegan Soul Kitchen.

A snippet:

One of the biggest things I uncovered in my work, especially working with young people in New York City through the organization I founded called B-healthy, is that a lot of people living in low income areas and urban areas are living in what are known as food deserts. They have very little access to fresh food – healthy, local, sustainable, all that – and have an overabundance of the worst foods, the fried things, the packaged fast food that has a negative impact on their overall health. Lack of access to healthy food is a huge issue, and it’s only one indicator of material deprivation these people are living with. In these neighborhoods, I visited, it wasn’t as if they just lacked access to healthy food and everything else was great. Usually it would be failing infrastructure, dilapidated schools, high levels of illiteracy, low income. So I think it is one issue that has to be addressed of many among these people living in these historically excluded communities are dealing with.

“Part 1” seems to imply that there’s a “Part 2” in the works – indeed, the interview ends with a promise of more to come – but a Google search has yet to reveal a follow-up.

Stephanie @ Animal Rights @ Change .org: Pregnancy at Slaughter: What Happens to the Calves? Part 3 (Graphic)

In a follow-up to two earlier posts (both of which were featured in my first Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs link roundup), Stephanie discusses a particularly graphic factory farming video that received a great deal of attention in the animal advocacy community last month. The footage depicts the slaughter of a cow and her baby. One moment, mother and child live as one; the next, they are murdered side-by-side:

Notice in the background that the mother cow is still periodically kicking while bleeding out, as the calf who was brutally cut from her womb and laid out on the floor just feet away struggles and cries out for his mother. Notice how their blood–so much blood–pools together after his throat is slit too, as they die horrific deaths together, both mother and baby helpless witness to the other’s suffering and violent death. For dairy.

Milk is white blood,” indeed.

I’ve embedded the video above, but as you can imagine, it’s quite graphic. Or at least I expect it is; I can never bring myself to watch these things. Dog bless the courageous activists who bear witness to such incomprehensible acts of cruelty, so that they may educate others and bring about a more compassionate world. Heroes, them all.

My Face Is On Fire: On Our Apparently Complicated Inability to Avoid Stereotypes

In an especially interesting piece, Mylène deconstructs sexism vis-à-vis the portrayal of women and men and the reasons underlying their decisions to respect or exploit nonhuman animals. In short, men are depicted as rational and complex agents; women, emotional and sentimental.

Like a Whisper: Link Love: Chic Batik and

le chic batik: Model / Animal

In its September issue, Harper’s Bazaar features a fashion spread in which Naomi Campbell frolics with cheetahs, elephants, and other wild-living animals, dressed head-to-toe in the skins of other nonhuman animals. The backdrop is obviously meant to evoke images of “wild,” “untamed,” “uncivilized” Africa. The spread’s title?: “Wild Things.”

Such images are hardly new, and link both nonhuman animals and women of color as exploitable natural resources, objects of consumption. From human to animal to object.

Writes le chic batik,

I am so bored with the image of black models running free in Africa with animals, or even, black models as animals themselves. I am also bored with this picture of Africa as a densely unpopulous, primitive place with animals as its one valuable offering.

At Like a Whisper, Prof Susurro poses the following questions:

How do these two seemingly disparate images of Africa exist at the same time? Why does the contradiction not make more ppl question the construction of Africa for the Western imaginary? And how does the narrative of women as “wild things” in the Africa of Saharan fantasy play into the women as sexually available and rapeable in the Africa of poverty and corruption?

Vegan Soapbox: Support Non-Human Rights and

Like a Whisper: District 9: Do You See What I see?

Elaine and Prof Susurro offers their thoughts on District 9; while Elaine reviews the film from an animal rights perspective, Prof Susurro examines issues of race, gender and class.

I saw the film about a month ago, and my feelings are still rather ambivalent. I tend to interpret alien invasion (and, to a lesser extent, monster) movies through an animal advocacy lens; thus, I expected to enjoy District 9. However, there are several major issues with the story that bother me immensely.

First, in regards to animal rights issues: the film’s portrayal of the alien refugees is improbable at best (deliberately anthropocentric at worst, but most likely a weak plot device). Most of the refugees are portrayed as “mindless” “worker” aliens – thus easily dominated and exploited – which makes little sense to me. Even the least intelligent members of this evolved and intelligent species (as evidenced by their superior technology) are likely to be smarter than their human counterparts, no? Humans may have been able to subjugate the aliens initially, in their physically and emotionally weakened state, but to keep it up for twenty years? Doubtful. (The Mr. assures me that this is a common meme among monster movies – particularly those of a certain vintage – but, if true, this just reinforces my point, i.e., as a species, humans are delusional in their egotism.)

The film’s portrayals of women and people of color are problematic as well; women generally appear only as wives and girlfriends – or as sex workers. Sex with aliens is deplorable for our white “hero” (scare quotes because I didn’t think Wikus Van De Merwe was meant to be read as a hero; I certainly didn’t view him that way, anyhow); but sex with an alien is just how things are for Nigerian sex workers (all women, natch). Similarly, the majority of non-whites in the film are Nigerian crime lords, “bad guys,” on a par – or worse – with the uber-exploitative, morally bankrupt (white) government, whose power and reach is arguably far greater.

Despite these issues, I largely enjoyed the film. Then again, I viewed it in a nearly-empty drive-in, and wasn’t “treated” to the same racist audience reactions as was Prof Susurro.




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