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5 J. Animal L. 15 (2009)
Should People of Color Support Animal Rights

handle is hein.journals/janimlaw5 and id is 21 raw text is: Should People Of Color Support Animal Rights?                           15
SHOULD PEOPLE OF COLOR
SUPPORT ANIMAL RIGHTS?
ANGELA P. HARRIS.
The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire
those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the
hand of tyranny. The French have already discovered that the blackness of
the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned
without redress to the caprice of a tormentor It may one day come to
be recognized that the number of legs, the villosity of the skin, or the
termination of the os sacrum are reasons equally sufficient for abandoning
a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is it that should trace
the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or perhaps the faculty of
discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more
rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a
day or a week or even a month, old. But suppose they were otherwise,
what would it avail? The question is not, Can they reason?
Nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?
- Jeremy Bentham2
And no one, nobody on this earth, would list her daughter ' characteristics
on the animal side of the paper
- Toni Morrison3
INTRODUCTION
People of color are underrepresented in the animal rights movement. To be
more precise, and more provocative: The animal rights movement is perceived by
many African American people as a white thing.4 In this Essay I want to respond
* Professor of Law, University of California - Berkeley (Boalt Hall). My gratitude to Susan
Bandes, David Cruz, Carmen Gonzalez, and Christopher Kutz, who kindly gave me comments
on previous drafts. Ming Chen, Maya Rupert, and Randi W. Stebbins helped me with research.
Thanks also to the faculty of the University of California - Davis King Hall School of Law, where
I presented a version of this paper at a workshop. This essay is part of an ongoing conversation
with Tucker Culbertson, whose desire for compassion without compromise is a source of constant
provocation and inspiration. All errors, as they say, remain my own.
2 JEREMY BENTHAM, THE PRINCIPLES OF MORALS AND LEGISLATION 310-11 n.1 (1988).
3TONI MORRISON, BELOVED: A NOVEL 251 (1987).
4 Data confirming or refuting these propositions, of course, are difficult to find. Certainly People
for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) boasts affiliations with several prominent African

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