I recently went back to school to finish my undergraduate studies as a 29 year old sophomore. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, in fact, I was somewhat dreading it. I was worried that as a full time student, my free time would be nonexistent and I would be struggling to pursue any outside projects. But actually, the opposite happened. Being in school made me more proactive to work on my passion projects, and what I was learning in my classes directly affected those same projects and made them, like, 100% better. With my first semester complete, and a 4.0 GPA under my belt, I’m officially a junior woo hoo!
Going to school in a South Texas town right next to the Mexico border has certainly immersed me in a whole new culture and I’m learning more about how my beliefs and passions for animal rights and veganism parallel some of the same issues occurring in the lives of immigrants and Mexican workers. For me, it really reinforces my belief that humans will continue to struggle with peace and kindness until they can extend the same courtesy to animals. We forget how much we mirror our animal counterparts and that if we want respect and compassion, we should first be able to give it out regardless of species.
I made a 2 and a half minute video for one of my classes titled The Taste of Injustice. The main purpose of the video is to get people thinking outside of the box. The more connections we can make between humans and animals, different cultures and races, the struggles of various peoples and animals, then the more we begin to see that we all want the same thing – to be free to be ourselves.
DISCLAIMER: This video contains graphic images inside of slaughterhouses and of human lynchings. Please don’t watch it if these kinds of images upset you. Instead, consider just listening to the voice-over on the video or reading my explanation below ↓↓
The meat industry holds not one, but two victims of exploitation and injustice – the workers and the animals. Slaughterhouses, specifically, are notorious for hiring illegal aliens and immigrants because it’s a job that no one else will take. It’s filthy, violent work, and Mexican immigrants in particular end up doing it because the slaughterhouses don’t require them to be citizens. This allows the slaughterhouses to pay low wages and get away with unfair work practices. If killing innocent animals and slicing apart their bodies on a daily basis isn’t horrific enough, not surprisingly these workers show strong patterns of PTSD and other emotional issues, as well as intense anger that often displays itself in the form of domestic violence. Serious injuries occur in the workplace, even some that lead to amputation or death. The slaughterhouse workers become desensitized to violence as a coping mechanism, but that level of violence cannot be contained and it trickles out in other ways. Lately, factory farm and slaughterhouse workers have been caught on camera taunting and physically torturing the very animals they are about to kill.
I find this ironic because the treatment of these animals almost directly parallels the way Mexicans and other immigrants have been treated and continue to be treated by Anglos and other bigots. What really struck me was the identical visual images of lifeless Mexican bodies hanging from trees with the lifeless bodies of animals hanging from hooks in the slaughterhouses. It makes me wonder if these immigrants “lynching” animals in the slaughterhouse realize that they are committing the same atrocities their ancestors have been victim to. The whole idea of these animals without a voice, being punished simply for being animals, is the same as Mexicans being killed in the south just for being Mexican. Nobody cared that Mexicans were being killed off by the government, Texas Rangers, the KKK, and other groups because Mexicans were inferior and their voices didn’t matter.
I should think these workers would instinctively feel compassion for their helpless animal counterparts, but maybe they have no one else to take out their anger on and so the task falls onto these animals. At the same time, I understand why Mexican immigrants take the jobs at slaughterhouses. In most cases, they have no other options available to them and they have to support themselves and their families in a foreign land that is unkind to them. It truly is a vicious cycle that I believe the system instills to keep everyone, both human and animal, right where they want them. However, I also believe that slaughterhouse workers can find a way to stand up for their rights, and indirectly, the rights of the animals. If more people were aware of these issues, both immigrants and American citizens, they could support one another. Unlike animals, every human has a voice, and no matter how soft it may be, a soft voice is better than no voice at all. Hundreds of soft voices in unison can be thundering.