In this latest addition of the “How we use black people to forward our message” strand of their campaign, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), has decided to lend a hand/paw/whatever to the people of Detroit. In case you missed it, there is a water emergency in Detroit. The Detroit Water and Sewage Department started shutting off the water of city residents with “delinquent bills.” This is a crisis, as nearly 150,000 home will be affected, despite a two-week moratorium put in place. In “response” to the crisis, PETA has decided to pay the water bill for 10 Detroit residents who–yep, there’s always a catch–agree to go vegan for a month in return.
“We hope that by introducing people to eating vegan for this month-long pledge that it will stick with some folks and that they’ll wind up saving on the stress of dealing with some difficult health conditions and save money on health care costs in the long run,” said Wright.
“At PETA we really see this as a win-win, you know it’s going to give 10 Detroit residents in need, some immediate help, getting out from under their water bills plus it’s something that is going to be helping animals and the environment and of course there are health benefits for people who participate as well.”
If the overt sexism in their adds wasn’t enough. If dressing up as the KKK and passing out fliers during the Westminster Dog Show wasn’t enough. If likening animal slaughter to lynching wasn’t enough. This should be. Folks in Detroit aren’t getting water, and PETA wants to help, but only if folks are willing to do what PETA wants. Saying, we’ll pay your water bill, but you gotta do this thing, doesn’t make you helpful. It makes you an asshole.
As the aforementioned lynching and KKK dress-up campaigns weren’t enough, PETA stays getting attention on black people suffering. Detroit is a black city, and like clockwork, PETA is using the very real experiences of black people to forward their own goals, once again aligning themselves with the thought that if you’re trying to get folks to take “your” oppression and suffering, it might behoove you to (implicitly) declare that you and your cause are the new black. And that thinking, like PETA, needs to stop.
This is a white, privileged, selfish, and tone-deaf understanding of what’s happening to Detroit, to black people. It’s not radical. It’s not progressive. It’s PETA being horrible when they have an opportunity to be decent. Fortunately, there are decent folks in the world, who have used the internet to try to help folks in Detroit get their water bills paid. You can help by going here. You can help somebody out, and they don’t have to change their diet–not even for a day. And while we cut that meat to spite PETA’s nonsense, we can talk about how water, since its imperative to survival, should be free–especially when where you live is really close lakes and stuff.