We are Valued Less than Even Animals

Cw: drug mention

Who could say no to that innocent face?

Have you ever seen those commercials? The ones begging, pleading for someone to think of the numerous abandoned strays left out in the cold? From the first few notes, you can already tell what’s coming. In a couple of seconds you may recognize the heartbreaking croons of Sarah McLachlan’s “Arms of An Angel”.

It’s just something about the ethereal notes that linger around the lines “far away from here” that cause your eyelids to prickle, and for tears to spill over your eyes.

You are then guilted into spending money. You wonder, after the feelings of sorrow have passed, “why did I do this?” But you many quickly brush that aside, claiming that they love animals dearly. Many others, even more vehemently assert “I prefer to give to animals, because I hate most humans, myself.” Even more say “animals have no one to speak for them, so why NOT give?”

If you are a white person saying this to yourself, think back to the last time you gave to another person as freely as you did to the ASPCA. For example, when asked about other charities, say, the ones who are trying to help Puerto Rico… the same, usually vegan, usually white, person may respond: “Why should I? They’re not even a part of our country.” It’s actually very common to hear. Shocking, even, how often this same, perpetual lie is spread.

In fact, it isn’t the only instance where this extreme bias is seen.

I have found that when speaking about this, most white people get very very heated. To further themselves even more from their obligation to help, they claim to care more for animals than humans, but the second someone else white posts a GoFundMe, they scramble to help. Using Privilege in the areas that matter is quite beyond most people, honestly. They pick and choose who to help and when to help. Texas and Florida got plenty of media coverage, but Puerto Rico, which is still part of this country, lest we forget, is still for the most part in very much of aide. In fact FEMA apparently said it wasn’t their job to distribute aide there.

But why?

It’s quite interesting, really, to see, when you’ve asked them for help before. If a Person of Color even breathes “help me” the onslaught of cries to “try HARDER” and “GET A REAL JOB” and “stop complaining all the time” never seem to end.

And it isn’t just the patronizing shouts to ‘fix’ our behaviour. There’s also the plethora of excuses.

It’s always the same, tiring thing.

“I was too busy to read it, but you don’t really need the money, do you?”

Maybe a couple days later I get a Facebook notification that they’ve donated to a yoga couple who wants to travel the world.

“Oh yeah, about that, they were very needy. I felt so bad.”

Needier than me? Someone who admitted that they were forced to be homeless and needed a place at the time I was asking?

“But you’re better now, right? You just need to save more.”

Or they’ll spout classist bullshit about how they don’t believe they should help ANYONE, as if that absolves them of responsibility.

Using these few easy evasion strategies, your money can go only to the precious animals! Screaming insults at fur distributors, and pouring blood on them, that’ll help! Sure. Keep telling yourself that as Puerto Rico suffers. Keep telling yourself that as you change the channel once you hear “A dollar a day can help feed a child in..”

And in that second you have decided, White America. You’ve made your choice. When you click away from that “Please help Puerto Rico” Ad or the one asking to help feed starving children in another much poorer nation, you’ve made your choice. Similarly, you have the ASPCA Ad. When you choose to sit there and sob over a very sad song, that, by the way is about someone’s overdose on heroine (a problem that has been ignored up until recently in the Black community by the media, I might add), you’re buying into the whole illusion that you’re ‘helping’.

Never mind that the ASPCA is not affiliated with local SPCAs. Never mind that they often have a yearly budget of $120 million or more. Never mind that they often only give 4% of what they actually earn.

Since you have helped with this one, unrelated thing, you become completely disinterested in helping those of color. Afterwards you feel happy and guilt-free, without a care in the world. UNICEF doesn’t even tickle your fancy at this point. You’ve been distracted away from human lives that are in need of help, and that is telling.

It shows that we, as Persons of Color, are deemed lower than animals in your eyes.

That’s the sad, racist truth.

Notes: When I say ‘we’ I mean “People of Color” although in this article I highlight the struggles of the Puerto Rican people. Because we all need to stand in solidarity with one another.

Olivia D. Knight is a struggling, Queer, NonBinary, Black author who has written several novels. If you enjoyed this article and want to support their works, you can always support their Patreon or donate to their PayPal Me. But it isn’t required.

Photo by Latjo Kanel on Unsplash

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