For the last two decades, Catskill Animal Sanctuary has been wholeheartedly devoted to the ideals of love, tolerance, and respect for all beings.
The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and so many others have made it clear that this must be said: Black Lives Matter. Like many organizations, we are reckoning with ourselves for not being clear about this sooner, so we will repeat: Black Lives Matter. To us, this is not a political issue; it is a universal issue for anyone who is dedicated, as we are, to making the world a better place for all its inhabitants.
We support Black Lives Matter, both as a collective international human rights movement and as a declarative statement that Black lives are important, valued, precious. We acknowledge what history and current events painfully reveal: that justice for all beings can’t be fully realized unless our approach is intersectional.
Since muting our social media accounts on Friday, we have been asked repeatedly why we aren’t boldly pronouncing that “All Lives Matter.” Of course all lives matter. Stating that Black lives matter has never been a negation or an exclusion of other lives. But Black Americans have been systemically devalued for 400 years. Redlining, gerrymandering, unequal funding of public schools, bias in hiring, a paltry minimum wage, food deserts, and a criminal justice system rife with inequities, including the mass incarceration of Black men for non-violent crimes: these things and so many more are examples of institutionalized bias intended to limit opportunities for people of color, particularly Black people. On top of this, as a percentage of the overall population, unarmed Black people are far more frequently killed by police. These are facts, friends.
For some of you, this unflinching position might beg the question: Is CAS diluting or straying from its mission to advocate for farmed animals? Of course not. Animal rescue and rights will always be what we do. But to be silent would be to deny who we are, an organization grounded in love and compassion for all. “It is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist,” stated renowned Black activist and scholar Angela Davis. As an organization that does its very best to live our motto of “Love Spoken Here,” we must stand with the Black community at this historic moment.
Nor is it enough for us to say “Black Lives Matter” and then move on. We must take a personal and organizational inventory of how we can embody that statement, instead of merely declaring it. To that end, we are taking part in Black VegFest’s 7 Points of Allyship For The White Vegan Community In Defense Of Black Lives. We encourage everyone to do the same.
The work will not end with this step. We will hold ourselves accountable for continuing to recognize and disrupt white supremacy wherever we find it.
To those listening and learning right along with us: we welcome any questions asked in good faith about our position. We invite you to connect with us about how we can collectively stand with the Black community. We are dedicated to learning and happy to welcome anyone who wants to join us on that journey.
Love Spoken Here. Black Lives Matter.
Our Founder, Kathy Stevens, will share more thoughts on her podcast, All Beings Considered.