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THE SPECIESISTS WITHIN: PETA’s employees revolt against organization’s plan to speak-up for animals on MLK Day

One PETA staffer wrote: For PETA to connect MLK to the animal rights movement projects an image that we use Black people for our cause's gain. This is wrong.

EMILY SHUGERMAN: Employees of the People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are revolting against the organization’s plan to “speak up for animal issues while honoring MLK Day,” emails obtained by The Daily Beast show… and PETA President Ingrid Newkirk isn’t taking it well…

The controversy began unfolding at 6:30 a.m. on Jan. 12, when Newkirk—in an email to every PETA employee in the country—attempted to address internal staffer concerns, calling them “extremely saddening.” “We are against ALL exploitation, discrimination, needless violence, abuse, theft, and slaughter. All of it,” she wrote in an email. “Our mission is to get people to think about the harm caused by any form of discrimination, and how all forms of it are one thing. The ‘who you are’ is not important”…

In the nearly 800-word email, sent under the subject line “Please absorb this,” Newkirk went on to claim that “using race as a reason to be quiet is actually racist,” and to suggest that her critics simply found it “too awkward” to advance her cause of “understanding for all.” “You don’t have to be Japanese to know internment camps were wrong; you don’t have to be a hippopotamus to protest captivity; men must fight sexism and racial injustice must be decried by people of every race,” she wrote…

“White, black, brown, yellow, striped or polka dots, who cares?” she wrote, in the kind of “colorblind” language that racial justice advocates have long decried as unhelpful. “Gay, straight, transgender, whatever, who cares? Muslim, Catholic, Hindu, Jewish, who cares? The only divide is between those who want liberty and justice for ALL and those who want it only for the few. We must UNITE for what’s right!”…

On Jan. 15, a junior staffer replied-all to her email, expressing their deep appreciation for Newkirk’s work before meticulously dissecting her points. “Though your email makes clear the fact that all lives matter, on MLK day it is a Black life that is being celebrated,” the staffer wrote. “For PETA to connect MLK to the animal rights movement projects an image that we use Black people for our cause’s gain. This is wrong.”

While acknowledging Dr. King’s legacy was important, the staffer continued, tying his legacy to the animal rights movement would take space away from the Black community. MLK Day, the staffer wrote, should be “a chance to demonstrate that PETA knows how to give space to other movements that are important partners in our cause.”

The staffer also took issue with Newkirk’s “white, black, brown, yellow, striped or polka dots” line, writing: “Listing out identities and following it with “who cares” is insensitive. We should care about our identities that make us uniquely ourselves and celebrate them. A color-blind perspective will not get anyone in this organization to unify and if anything only makes divisions more apparent.” “The intersectionality, differences, and nuance to our identities matter,” the staffer added. “To be truly diverse and inclusive PETA’s President should not suggest that they do not.”

A second staffer, who identified themselves as a “Hispanic and Latinx vegan animal rights activist,” responded shortly thereafter to thank the first staffer for their email. “As a community of animal rights activists it’s very important that we learn how to adapt, evolve and be tactful about the way that we spread our message in the fight for animal liberation”…

In an email to the Daily Beast, Newkirk said she would be posting the entire conversation on PETA’s website, to “encourag[e] similar conversations in households over the long weekend,” and claimed that there were “many supportive staff who are behind the call for recognizing MLK as our hero”… “We will never be silent, not for an hour of a day, on the need for animal liberation,” she added. SOURCE…

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