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May 03, 2024

Lucciole #4 - Alice Pomiato

A newsletter by Voice Over

#4 (Out on May 4th, 2024)

In this issue, we bring you another story of cross-cutting change, civic engagement, sustainability, resilience, and intersectional struggle.

Before delving into this month's story, let's start with some key definitions: intersectionality and antispeciesism.

Intersectionality is a concept rooted in the feminist and anti-racist movements, which relates different factors of discrimination. Each person cannot be defined by a single category of identity, and discrimination—such as gender, race, class—does not affect everyone equally. Depending on the combination of these categories, individuals experience different types of discrimination. For example, a wealthy white woman occupies a different societal position than a poor white woman, who in turn holds more "privilege" than another woman who is black and poor.

The term "intersectionality" originated in the United States in the late 1980s and was first used by the African-American lawyer and feminist activist Kimberlé Crenshaw in an article titled "Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color". It all started with a workplace discrimination case brought by African-American women workers, which did not concern white women or African-American men. Unable to fit the case precisely into a specific legal category (gender discrimination or racial discrimination), the court dismissed it. Kimberlé Crenshaw recognized the need for new legal and theoretical tools to understand discrimination that intersects across various dimensions and were treated as separate, disconnected issues.

Before Crenshaw, another woman had already spoken about these forms of discrimination. This woman was Sojourner Truth, born into slavery in New York State, who became an activist and prominent figure in the anti-slavery movement. She delivered a historic speech in 1851, "Ain't I a Woman", which can be revisited in a modified form here.

To the concept of intersectionality, we now add another concept: antispeciesism, coined in 1970 by British psychologist Richard Ryder, who stated that "the abuse and exploitation of non-human animals is simply speciesism, based on selfish moral grounds rather than rational reasons". Ryder then linked speciesism to racism, implying that these forms of oppression are interconnected. This means that the struggles against speciesism, sexism, racism, and classism must be intrinsically connected and intertwined.

In recent years, some individuals have been attempting to connect all the dots of these struggles using cross-cutting forms of outreach. One of these individuals is Alice Pomiato, a content creator and educator on sustainability and intersectionality.

We have chosen her story because Alice is another firefly who has chosen not to remain silent, to take a stand, to take action, and to try to change things by uniting multiple struggles and inviting people to participate, mobilize, and return to community-building. She does this by spreading awareness, and this is her voice. Thank you for being here with us.

The Voice of This Issue

Alice Pomiato is a disseminator, educator, and content creator on sustainability. Vegan, antispeciesist, and with an intersectional approach. After several years in the marketing and communications world, Alice decided to leave everything behind and move to New Zealand to reinvent herself. In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, she returned to Italy and began following various women involved in 360-degree sustainable lifestyles.

She thus decided to start studying and promoting another narrative that could inspire others to change. Today, she manages the Instagram page Aliceful, where she focuses on (more) sustainable and conscious life paths, consumption, and active citizenship. You can also listen to her interview on the Voice Over Foundation Instagram page.

Alice Pomiato's Voice

"The last person I chose to become vegan for is myself. I did it for the animals, for the planet, for the climate, because economically, it makes no sense to fund such an industry. The world around us is not at our service. We must ask ourselves about the impacts on other humans and non-humans of what we eat, wear, or consume".

Yet it is precisely words that drive people to change. Through them, awareness is spread. And perhaps this is the essence of Alice Pomiato's dissemination work: words, images, discussions, debates, public events that inspire others to be conscious and thus to change.

What is certain is that she does not like being labeled an activist and emphasizes it from the start: "I am politicized and radical, but the word activist should be left to people with a commitment very different from mine". What she does, however, is a form of centripetal push that leads people to question themselves, to doubt their lifestyle, to participate, and to return to being active citizens, not mere consumers.

"We are the result of years of nonexistent civic education, environmental education, education about common goods and socializing. If society and the institutions of knowledge do not educate you, you are born into this society and mind your own business. And everything that happens around you seems to have no impact".

And indeed, that's how it is. We live in a society where profit is the founding value, where we are led to believe that each person is the architect of their own life, where everyone thinks of themselves, their career, their bank account, where many people complain but there is enormous immobilism. And Alice, with contagious, ironic, and disdainful energy, hits the nail on the head: "We must understand who we are and then ask ourselves how we can serve others within a community. What causes can we embrace, what existing group can we dedicate our time to?"

And one of the causes that Alice has embraced is certainly that of food. 

"The last person I chose to become vegan for is myself. I did it for the animals, for the planet, for the climate, because economically, it makes no sense to fund such an industry. The world around us is not at our service. We must ask ourselves about the impacts on other humans and non-humans of what we eat, wear, or consume".

Perhaps to change this economic system, where everything is subjected to rampant consumption, exploitation, and extractivism, we should start from what Alice says: the world and life around us are not at our service. And we must stop thinking that humans are the only living species that can destroy everything, exploit animals, kill other lives. It's time, therefore, to start thinking differently. A thought that places the community and other living forms on this Earth at the center. An ecological, intersectional, and antispeciesist thought, starting from the question posed by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham, "The question is not, can they reason? nor, can they talk? but, can they suffer?"

And if they suffer, our choices must go in another direction. Because if there is a systemic problem related to the capitalist economic system, it is also true that we have a moral duty with our individual choices, fundamental as acts of civil disobedience. Because as Alice says, "awareness begins as individual but then needs communities to become systemic".

Explore further with us

If you want to learn more about antispeciesism, veganism, and capitalism, you can read the interview that Michela Grasso conducted with Alice Pomiato here and listen to the latest Live where Sara Manisera and Michela Grasso talked about it with Alice here.

Here you can also catch up on the episode of our series Immersioni, where Chiara Pedrocchi suggests readings and views to learn more about intensive farming.

Other Useful Resources

Rethinking Existence on a Naturalizing Earth, by Jeremy Rifkin;

Carnivorous Capitalism, by Francesca Grazioli;

Capital Against Climate, by Naomi Klein;

Queer Vegan Manifesto, by Rasmus Rahbek Simonsen;

Antispecism explained to my mom, by Tribe Troglodita;

The hypocrisy of Abundance. Why we will no longer buy cheap food, by Fabio Ciconte;

Animal Liberation, by Peter Singer.

Women, race & class, by Angela Davis.

Dominion, a documentary by Chris Delforce. 

See you next time!

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