Why PETA Is Welcoming Waka Flocka Flame and Other Black Celebs To The Animal Rights Movement
Waka Flocka Flame, trap-rap superstar and possessor of one of the worst names in hip-hop history, believes in going Hard in the Paint – for the ethical treatment of animals, that is.
Yes that’s right. Mr. Ole Do it (Oh, Let’s Do it) has just been signed as a spokesperson for PETA’s (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) new celebrity activist campaign, “Ink Not Mink.” Flame, born Juaquin Malphurs, is certainly taking his new position seriously; recently, he stated in an interview with XXL Magazine, “animals should be treated the same as you would a kid. Would you want someone just to walk up and skin your kid? Hell no!”
However, the skeptical side of me initially believed that perhaps this newfound kinship with God’s furry little creatures was nothing more than a publicity stunt meant to defer attention away from his admitted lack of lyricism and his embarrassing appearance on BET when he boorishly declared that, among other things, “Education Good.”
But a quick Google Image search didn’t turn up any pictures of Flame in fur coats or hats, which could possibly mean that this is a legit cause for him. Waka will now join a short list of black celebrities who have embraced the animal rights movement in some shape or fashion, including Alice Walker, Russell Simmons, Dexter Scott King, Angela Bassett and Miss Black USA Elizabeth Muto.
Hmm, Waka Flocka Flame and Alice Walker in the same sentence? I never thought I would see that happening.
Nevertheless, Flame isn’t the only black celebrity freshly tapped by PETA. Taraji Henson recently posed nude for PETA’s signature campaign, “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur.” According to Henson, among her reasons for lending her own flesh to the campaign was a belief that suffering and fur goes hand in hand. She explained to PETA, what if someone said, ‘Black skin is the new fur?’”
When comes to advocating for the ethical treatment of animals, blacks on the grassroots level are noticeably missing. When it comes to issues that blacks are most willing to fight for, animal rights are somewhere on the bottom of the list. This is why this campaign by PETA is very interesting, because it seems willing to address the unspoken question of why such a noble cause as ending unethical treatment of animals is devoid of people of color.
Part of the disconnect has to do with the philosophy of the practitioners of animal rights, who stress that the battle for animal rights is akin to human rights campaigns such as ending slavery and the black civil rights movement.
But for many African Americans, who continue to struggle immensely to prove their own humanity, there is a sentiment that the suffering of animals evokes more empathy from white folks than does the suffering of black people. Moreover, the history of oppression that our ancestors faced has been hijacked to promote an agenda, which seems to reinforce the notion of just how trivial our humanity remains to the rest of society.