When the Michael Vick controversy heated up, I listened to the claims of racism and laughed. We’d always been here, we animal rescuers. We yelled about Amish people and horses for slaughter and Michael Vick with equal ferocity. Don’t try that racist card on us, I thought.
I still think that’s true, but with caveats. When I joined a group working on boycotting the companies sponsoring Vick for NFL honors and endorsing him, well, suddenly there were a bunch of people there I didn’t recognize. People using slurs and suggesting punishments containing racial overtones.
The moderator of the group held the line; he threw off people who referred to Vick’s skin color as part of his crimes. In every sense of those words. And he banned people who referenced political parties or the protests where black athletes knelt during the national anthem. The moderator worked hard to remind us we were there for the dogs.
Still, in the end I had to leave that group. Vick deserves no honors – and don’t tell me America won’t forgive a black man. Forgiveness is between Vick and God. HONORS is between the NFL and all the people who will boycott them because he is being honored. Vick also deserves no racial ugliness, and it is disappointing that the two have gotten mixed up.
Because when the freeloaders and the users and the fast-action racists have gone, we animal rights activists will still be here, fighting for those who cannot speak for themselves. I’m sorry it seems racial. For those of us who were here before Vick and will be here after him, it isn’t.
And then there are people saying that if we care about X but not Y, we’re doing it wrong. Two white evangelical males asked why I didn’t invest this amount of energy into fighting abortion. Because God made me an animal lover, so that’s what I do.
Animal activists get this a lot. A friend gave me $3000 to save the life of a kitten with a corrective surgery. I thanked her on Facebook. And suddenly I was on a list of people being hit up for donations for kids with cancer, and told that if I cared more about cats than children, I was a bad woman. Not a bad person. A bad woman.
Nice try. Outrage belongs to those who hold it. Maybe some of us rescue animals because we think the human race is doomed. Maybe because we feel innocence from animals we don’t from people. Or maybe because that’s our decision. It doesn’t matter, in this divided America.
I am sorry, sorry, sorry, that friends with black skin could interpret our decisions on fighting animal abuse as racist. That evangelical white friends might see it as putting animal life above humans.
When all is said and done, I help the animals because that’s where my strengths are, this is how God made me, and they deserve it.