I have been listening to the new Tribe Called Quest album a lot. It is basically on repeat. I heard that line and it is a question I ask myself all the time.
“Who could be blind to racism?” To ableism? Sexism? Heterosexism? Ageism?
Unfortunately, each and every one of us, every single day.
Just look down on our plates.
We have dairy milk and cheese and/or body parts on our plates every day. If we want to understand how someone can be blind to all those –isms, then just think about how we have decided that it is ok to use and kill animals.
We have decided it is ok to use, exploit and kill animals because their being NOT like us means that we have a right to kill them and that they have no right to be alive and no use on this planet other than to be our things – our food, snacks, entertainment, belts, shoes, sofas, handbags, jackets, hats, power tools, transportation – just things for us to use.
We use purely arbitrary and self-serving reasons to exploit and kill animals: Mmmm tasty! Bacon! Fashion! Tradition! Health! It’s always been this way! God says it’s ok! They’re stupid! They’re farmed for our use! I don’t know how to cook! We treat them well before we kill them! I don’t want to be different! I’m addicted to cheese!
All those reasons, that is what speciesism is.
We actively decide every day to be blind to speciesism and to sacrifice lives of living, breathing, sentient beings to our own wants and desires.
Similarly, racists, sexists, ageists, ableists, heterosexists, etc. have decided that we, who fall in those categories of people they do not like, are NOT sufficiently like them and, therefore, we can be used, exploited, mistreated, jailed, tortured, beaten, neglected, cast off, or treated significantly differently for reasons that are purely arbitrary and self-serving.
The mechanisms of an -ism are all the same.
Racists, sexists, ageists, ableists, heterosexists, etc. say, we are better than them and we count more than they do. And we who disagree with those –isms fight them in our small or big way every day. We oppose them and we cannot imagine how people can be like that (or vote for a leader who normalise those –isms).
Yet, as long as we are not vegan, we are behaving no differently with respect to non-human animals. As long as we are not vegan, we too are saying that we are better than them.
 “Movin Backwards”, Tribe Called Quest