While the bulk of her volunteer hours go toward animal advocacy, Kimberly also speaks up for Indigenous rights, the environment, and other social justice movements. This discussion of being more intersectional brings up the death of Tommy Raskin
who died by suicide on New Year’s Eve 2020. In response to vegans who perhaps project that their way of being vegan or an activist is the only way, he’s quoted as saying “I’m working for a vegan world, not a vegan club.”
Kimberly says, “That speaks to how I feel and the fact that I don’t want veganism to be this niche thing. I want the whole world to embrace it. I want the whole world to become animal advocates. To do that, we need to start opening up that umbrella. We need to invite as many people and as diverse people as possible under this umbrella. Otherwise, it’s not going to have the same richness. It’s not going to have the right balance. We need people of all backgrounds, so that requires us to be conscious of what other social justice movements are needing and not to simply focus on animal advocacy. Again, that will always be my first love, my first devotion. I care about the suffering that is happening to humans as well.”
Kimberly goes on to say that with everything going on in the world today, people are already burdened with the problems we are facing. An activist’s role, therefore, is to cut through the noise and point out issues that need attention. “I think our role as activists is to help wake people up and then to give them the tools and the guidance in this very crowded world to be able to care even when they are feeling incredibly overwhelmed, and they’ve got a lot of stuff weighing on their shoulders.”
One of the biggest challenges in doing this work for any activist is being a witness to the brutality. Kimberly shares that she’s also challenged by the politics. This is a concern I’ve heard many times in conversation with activists and it’s difficult to understand. All animal activists want to end animal exploitation; we’re all on the same side. So, why the infighting?
“Our communities need to figure out where we stand, where we unite and where we differ. We need to bring different voices to it, so I don’t begrudge us having differences. What I begrudge is that the discussion is happening with such a lack of compassion sometimes. I dislike hate in any of our activism communities.
“I know that the hate, the anger all come from a place of pain and fear. I have empathy for it, for those people who are approaching it from that place. But I would deeply like to see that shift. I would like to see deep healing happen in the activism communities and for activists so that we can all do this work so much more effectively and in a more enduring way than what we can do when there’s this kind of politics.”
Her advice for those thinking about becoming an activist? “You have to remember to take care of yourself, we need you to not burn out because there are too few of us, and we need you to be somebody that others want to emulate. If we’re trying to attract people to do what we do, we have to glow with love and light. So that requires us to do the work, to heal the pain that we take on, or to at least move through it and process it and keep ourselves healthy, strong and resilient.”