This is the time of the year, Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, that I reflect on my African American heritage and the struggles of my ancestors. I reflect upon their mistreatment, the way black males were made to feel inferior, women completely disrespected and made to not feel or see their own beauty. White supremacy tried to all but destroy us, and it was almost successful!
I have struggled to make meaning of this history, but in recent years I have tried to connect it to struggles that I face and struggles that all people face. I try to carefully direct my anger and focus that energy on educating my people, at least those that open their hearts to the message. The message I share is real universal peace, not just for humans but for all beings.
I have struggled when, I have heard people compare the past of my ancestors to the plight of the entire animal kingdom without realizing the struggles that, yes, even animals unfairly face.
Many people compare mistreatment of my people with mistreatment of animals to say that treating people like animals is wrong – without realizing that the way we treat animals is wrong on its own. We put humans on a pedestal next to animals.
My goal is to truly love and work for the better good of all beings, the remainder of my existence. I’m far from naive, but, I’m a dreamer as well. It’s not bad to dream – it’s only bad when you don’t remember your dreams and take zero action to make them into reality. I’ll take direct action for all sentient beings – anywhere and everywhere it’s needed.
Now, I find myself sitting in front of an slaughterhouse, with a car full of animal rights activists! I am preparing to stop a truck and offer comfort to the animals about to be slaughtered with a group of primarily white women, and I think of how mere decades ago this would not have been possible.
If not for a dreamers many years ago, I could not be here to fight for my beliefs. I’ll keep fighting against all injustices with those dreamers in mind, and I’ll work even harder on my dreams.
With Ringling Brothers closing, I can see today more than any other that my dream is achievable. One day the world will wake up and cease these atrocities against the animals. Until then, I’ll find a nonviolent way to awaken the world, for this is my dream!
Jack Sadat Lee is an African American Organizer with the grassroots animal rights network, Direct Action Everywhere Chicago and also a vegan.