While focusing primarily on fairness in farm and food system policy, AFA opposes oppression in every form. AFA acts in solidarity against all oppression, recognizing an ethical obligation to protect the space of every activist and the strategic importance of amplifying diverse voices by prioritizing various perspectives in decision-making.
OPPRESSION IS MALICIOUS OR UNJUST TREATMENT OR EXERCISE OF POWER
Oppression can take many forms. It can be malicious, exploitative, systemic, intentional, or implicit. Whatever the form, someone suffers.
HUMAN OPPRESSION OF HUMANS IS UNJUST, EXPLOITATIVE, SYSTEMIC, AND NORMALIZED
To this day, humans around the world are exploited for labor, systemically persecuted because of skin color or religious beliefs, and discriminated against because of sexual orientation or gender identity. These forms of oppression are normalized through habit, culture, and even the legal system. These systemic oppressions are so inherent that the vast majority of humans abide by them.
HUMAN OPPRESSION OF ANIMALS IS UNJUST, EXPLOITATIVE, SYSTEMIC, AND NORMALIZED
Human oppression of animals is unjust in that it violates the non-human animals’ right to bodily autonomy and self-determination; it is exploitative in that humans profit off the suffering of non-human animals; it is systemic and normalized in that animal products are pervasive while the hidden ideology that justifies animal oppression goes unquestioned by the vast majority of people.
WE ARE AGAINST ALL FORMS OF OPPRESSION
We are working for animal justice. However, advocating for one cause does not justify exercising other oppressive ideologies. Whether it be sexism, racism, ableism, ageism, genderism, xenophobia, or heterosexism, et al., in each of these cases, the oppressor operates from a position of entitled superiority. From this position, they do as they please without concerning themselves with anyone’s rights but their own.
This abuse of power denies equal rights on an individual, interpersonal, institutional, and structural level. Employing any of these ideologies is both unjust and unjustifiable. Our desire to end systemic violence against animals neither negates nore supersedes our desire to end systemic violence against humans.
ANY FIGHT AGAINST OPPRESSION IS A FIGHT TO DISMANTLE ENTITLED SUPERIORITY
In order to eradicate the idea that human animals are entitled to use and exploit non-human animals, we must recognize that entitled superiority is a root cause of oppression.
SO LONG AS WE ALLOW ENTITLED SUPERIORITIES TO FLOURISH AMONG HUMANS, HOW CAN WE EVER EXPECT TO STAMP OUT HUMAN SUPREMACY OVER NON-HUMAN ANIMALS?
The justification for human inequality and animal oppression share a common source. Achieving animal justice requires that we abolish the fundamental belief that oppression can ever be normal, natural, or necessary. Animal rights depend on a universal understanding of moral consideration for all, regardless of their identity.
WE STAND ALONGSIDE THOSE FIGHTING FOR BOTH HUMAN AND NON-HUMAN ANIMAL RIGHTS
Working toward human rights is essential for animal rights. Forms of oppression are interdependent and reinforce one another. Rectifying such inequalities will strengthen the cause for animal freedom, make a safer and more accessible movement for all, and simultaneously weaken systemic animal oppression.
For example, eliminating poverty would enable a vast number of people who live in food deserts to have access to plant-based diets and to the animal rights movement.
Also, as people apprehend oppressions among humans, they may too develop a framework for thinking universally about oppression. This can be tapped into by activists to wake them up to the oppression of other fellow earthlings.
FIGHTING FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ADVANCES ANIMAL RIGHTS
When animal rights organizations promote clear and consistent anti-oppression ideologies, activists from other justice movements will be more likely to see the commonalities between movement and therefore take the animal justice movement more seriously.
By platforming diverse perspectives, and assembling diverse teams of decision-makers, the animal rights movement will build a powerful, enduring foundation.
Being allies to those working for human rights would also weaken the structures on which animal agribusiness depends, such as the exploitation of farm and slaughterhouse workers.
While each type of oppression deserves analysis and a movement of its own, oppression does not exist or operate in isolation, and it is thus a moral requirement to oppose all forms of oppression consistently.
Our movement must move forward in an inclusive, unified manner, working from a common set of values. Organizations that adhere to the principles set forth in this document pledge to protect and support people who struggle against their own oppressors. The activist community consists of tremendous cultural diversity. We amplify diverse voices within wider movements to bring justice to the oppressed and to convince oppressors everywhere to renounce their exploitations, marginalizations, and injuries to others. Organizations and activists who adopt these principles pledge solidarity working against all oppression.