CAA thinks that antiracism and inclusion work is a critical part of effective animal advocacy.
We want our community to understand why human anti-oppression work is needed as we work together towards animal liberation, and how we’re going about it.
We’ll address three main questions:
- Why is CAA addressing the oppression of human animals as well as non-human ones?
- What steps is CAA taking to be antiracist and be a more welcoming community to a wide range of people?
- What does antiracism work in animal advocacy look like at CAA?
Why is CAA addressing the oppression of human animals as well as non-human ones?
- Diverse teams perform better.
We want to do our best work for animals, and we’ll do the best job when we have a wide range of perspectives and experiences at the table. We were intrigued by this research showing that people from similar backgrounds think they do great work together, but people from different backgrounds actually do a better job of solving problems. We thank Encompass for sharing this research with us.
- We focus on the Twin Cities and Minnesota. That means connecting with the wide range of people who live in our Cities and State.
To involve many people in our work for animals, we must also address barriers to their participation.
- When working with people from communities of color, it’s important to address race-based income, food access, health, and environmental disparities that impact people’s day-to-day lives and involvement in our work. Because these disparities are particularly acute in Minnesota, they are especially important for us to address. See research on this here.
- When working with people from white low-income communities, it is also important to recognize that income, food access, health, and environmental issues again impact both people’s day-to-day lives and involvement in our work.
- We think it’s important for our programs and materials to be accessible for people with disabilities.
What steps is CAA taking to be antiracist and be a more welcoming community to a wide range of people?
- In 2020 we created a permanent staff position dedicated to building relationships with people from communities of color and organizations serving these communities. The Community Organizer position exists to help us better address and help rectify community issues caused by racism and to support people in our mission: embracing their empathy for animals and moving towards a plant-based diet.
- In 2021, we began creating annual strategic SMARTIE goals (smart, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound, inclusive and equitable).
- In 2021 we adopted a new vision of creating a world where all animals, human and non-human, can thrive.
- In 2022 we revised our core values to include a greater emphasis on equity and intersectionality.
- In 2023 we are bringing back our vegan dine-outs at local restaurants, focusing on restaurants and businesses owned by people of color, as a way to financially support entrepreneurs of color.
What does antiracism work in animal advocacy look like at CAA?
“When young people recognize why the access to fresh food is limited in their neighborhoods and connect the dots to how the suffering of the animals for meat is often associated with health consequences for themselves and the people they love, it’s powerful.” Tamuno Imbu, Community Organizer
These connections take place thanks to Tamuno’s ongoing work to build relationships with other organizations addressing issues of racial equity and food justice that lead to joint programming.
In addition, we are: purposefully supporting start-up vegan businesses run by people of color, collecting information on event participants to ascertain if we are meeting goals for demographic diversity and to enable follow up communications, and planning to improve the accessibility of our website for people with visual disabilities. This is just a small sampling; many more are outlined in our annual SMARTIE goals.
To be even more specific:
- This work tastes like the new vegan cookie from Cookie Cart launched thanks to the work of our community organizer, Tamuno Imbu. (Cookie Cart provides work and learning opportunities for youth who are primarily people of color from low-income families.) The cookie is now available for purchase from the Minneapolis location—call ahead to be sure they’re on hand.
- This work looks like walking through our festival and seeing that more than one-third of the exhibitors at Twin Cities Veg Fest are people of color and that there are seating stations for people with walking limitations (launched in 2022).
- This work sounds like a festival attendee saying to a volunteer, “It was amazing to discover Carnage The Executioner! I didn’t know about him before. Finding someone else who was Black and plant-based for health, plus an incredible musician, was so affirming.”
Creating a more diverse, welcoming, and effective organization is a long-term effort, and takes place thanks to support from individuals, foundations, and businesses. We appreciate your dedication to helping create a world where all animals, human and non-human, can thrive!