Confrontation in activism it’s something that never used to be a concern for me. I didn’t question my relentless, overbearing confrontation with people. At protests I was one off the loudest and most aggressive. I converted my anger with fur wearers, SUV drivers, meat eaters, circus patrons and rodeo fans into a penetrating voice that didn’t quit. After all, silence is acceptance.
Eight years later I have a different approach and I am amazed at the evolution I have made in activism. Not only did those intense confrontations I was regularly involved in start to wear on my life and happiness, but all I ever got in return was more anger and yelling. Despite this I kept doing it because it felt right and I felt better, at least for that moment anyway. I honestly cannot remember what it was that made me start to question my actions but I remember when it was. Some folks I was involved with in Richmond Animal Rights Network years ago were really aggressive and had been in fights with fur store owners and were constantly invoking people to want to fight them. As an observer, I started to realize that people who are put in defensive situations are never going to be inspired to change their ways. I reminded myself how I made changes in my life and what inspired me. It has been through the patience and kindness of other people around me. Ten years ago it was a few really nice people that were stoked about being vegan and riding their bikes everywhere that made me question my choices. These people were enjoying their lifestyles and were being open with me even when I was still eating cheese pizza and shopping at Wal-Mart. Would I have made these changes in my life if people were screaming at me and telling me how fucked up and selfish I was, maybe or maybe not, but I know that most people wouldn’t. Even if guilt does motivate people in the moment, how often does it really last? Aggressive acts of forceful persuasion on someone who does not generally agree with your ideas or ethics are not a productive means to obtain positive results. Is coercion a true means to the end?
I still feel the same amount of anger and frustration at people but honestly, I think most people are making the choices they make because they don’t know how to be any other way. Americans especially, are so addicted to the lifestyle that is shoved in our faces from birth most don’t really question it unless given a reason to do so. And when people do learn about fucked up shit like factory farming they feel so overwhelmed by it that they assume there is no way to change it or make it better. It is up to activists to do that. In 1994 I didn’t really even consider becoming vegan until I met someone that was vegan (thanks Taylor Steele) and realized it was something I could do. You know that ‘live by example’ saying, well it works. I cannot even count how many meat eating roommates I have lived with in the last ten years that were curious about vegan food and the reasons why. Six months later they were choosing to be vegan.
I haven’t become lazy and I’m not giving up. I still confront people on a regular basis, my approach is just different. In my struggle for equality I aim to treat everyone as equally as I can. And I approach the fur wearer with a genuine question, “do you know what is involved for you to own that coat?” I have started talking less, asking more questions and listening when people are willing to talk. You would be amazed at how many people out there are interested in making changes in their lives, they just need someone to give them some information and motivation. My motto: it’s nice to be punk, it’s punk to be nice. Now go make some good food.
Vegan German Potato Salad Alanna style: Boil about 1 pound of quartered potatoes until tender and drain. Stir in 3 tbsp of apple cider vinegar. Mix separately 3 tbsp or more vegan mayo (Veganaise is the best), 2 tbsp brown sugar, and 1 tsp spicy brown mustard. Garnish with chopped green onion/scallions and chill.
Best Banana Bread: Mix together 1/2 cup veg shortening or margarine, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water and 1 tsp vanilla extract (this will look chunky). In a second bowel mix 1/4 cup water and 1 tsp baking soda and add to first bowel. In a third bowel combine 2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt and 2 tsp cinnamon. Slowly stir this into to the other mixture but don’t overdo it. Lastly add 3 well mashed ripe bananas to the mix and 1/2 cup nuts if you want. Pour this into a well greased loaf pan and bake at 350 (for about 45 to 50 minutes or it passes the clean toothpick test. Cool and eat.
—xoxo-krissi p.o. box 4288 richmond, va 23220. firstname.lastname@example.org