Abandon Prejudice
from No Compromise Issue 5

By Mary Stoyonoff

I feel compelled to share a recent experience I encountered with an animal rights group that led to an awareness of prejudices existing within the movement. I am determined to bring that awareness to light so that we, as activists, may strengthen our unity and be stronger in our pledge to stop the needless suffering of animals.

Unfortunately, it seems that the human condition inhibits our ability to remain focused on the primary purpose of animal activism. Some people may believe the strategies they practice are the only effective means to educate the general public about the issues we are presenting. They may cast aside other options that could, ultimately, be beneficial, therefore withholding implementation due to their own person prejudices.

The particular prejudice I am referring to is how someone chooses to accessorize themselves i.e. body piercing and tattoos. I contributed to a group until it became apparent I would be restricted due to my personal choice of expression. The president of the group expressed concern that my style of physical expression would be a hindrance to carrying the message of animal rights. The president felt justified in reinforcing societal, and perhaps the president's own, prejudices. I resigned from involvement with that group as I believe it is essential to challenge the already distorted view society deems as acceptable. This view of acceptance includes the slaughtering of animals for food, clothing, medical experimentation, product testing, exploitation for entertainment purposes, etc., etc., etc.

Imagine if animal rights groups before us did not have the courage to challenge this barbaric view of acceptance. The movement would not exist, the level of awareness we struggled so painfully to gain would not be and an even greater amount of animals would suffer unnecessarily. If people within the movement continue to remain narrow-minded, they are victims of the same mind-set as the people we are trying to educate.

The more diversity within a group, the more people they are able to reach. The movement is suffering and CANNOT afford to project personal prejudices of an unrelated nature and cost precious time animals do not have! We need each other to feel empowered and any and all contributions to this critical movement are necessary. We are nearing the second millennium and a more progressive society is evolving.