She may have bombed during her New Year’s Eve performance in Miami, but Tiffany Haddish dropped another bomb on Instagram over the weekend that both ruffled feathers and sent fur flying amongst the animal-rights community—while simultaneously garnering some collective head nods in regards to the impact of police violence upon black lives. In short, it was a veritable but very necessary shitshow of a conversation that pretty much indicates where we are as a society.
Relaying an anecdote about spontaneously requesting—and receiving—a fur vest from a fan (that makes it recycled fur, right?), Haddish semi-humorously posted about the gift, preempting the backlash she’d get from the anti-fur crowd with a protest of her own...for black lives, saying:
I’m about to start protesting. I’ma wear fur every day until they stop killing black people. When the police stop killing black people, I’ll stop wearing fur. It’s my new protest. So, sorry, PETA! Don’t be mad at me. Be mad at the police. When they stop killing black people, I’ll stop wearing fur… Because people are important, and so are the animals...to keep me warm.
Granted, Tiff’s oddly inspired and questionably worded protest came at an interesting time, since major labels in the fashion industry—including Burberry and Chanel—and even American cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles have recently capitulated to the longstanding demands of PETA and other animal-rights organizations by banning fur. But it also comes during a decades-long moment when we continue to rightfully question and challenge the value others place on black lives and rights in the first place, let alone comparing them to those of animals. Ironically, it’s a comparison PETA made itself, less than a month ago.
But apparently, their followers missed the hyperbole on both counts, since they went ham (pun intended) on Haddish’s remarks, flagrantly waving their biases in the process.
Ummm...you don’t think it bears any correlation at all? Like, not even a little bit? Not even if they’re “innocent”?
Pretty sure the bulk of Tiff’s money doesn’t go to buying furs, but you get a point for entirely ignoring the point—while others get a nod for wearing their racism better than any fur coat or accessory ever made. (Yeah, we’re talking to you too, New York Post.)
Is this a pro-fur post? No, it’s not. Frankly, I’m a “do you with the least amount of cruelty to others” person, but I personally opt for faux or recycled/inherited fur, if at all (that’s not negotiable, and I’m not open to discussion, so don’t @ me.). That said, I’ve also been attacked in the street by a member of PETA for wearing a fur I inherited from my great-grandmother, who in turn inherited it from the white woman she worked for as a domestic. That’s a piece of personal history I choose to hold onto (for reasons), and is non-negotiable, which is why I unexpectedly barked and growled viciously at said attacker. It also accordingly informs my feelings on this issue, for which I remain unapologetic.
Because with both my personal history and the legacy of black people in America in mind, I might also find it incredibly tacky that PETA lobbied for Aretha Franklin’s beloved furs barely a week after her death. That was Entitlement and Myopia 101—and once again, you failed, PETA. I personally also thought it incredibly tacky and historically insensitive for the organization to compare language we use about animals—who conceivably can’t understand English—to racist language. One of these things is not like the other, and wanting to make a point doesn’t excuse the diminishment of centuries of humanity. It was incredibly telling, and arguably, just as racist.
Here’s the thing: You can care about and argue for the rights of animals without diminishing or comparing them to the rights of marginalized and enslaved humans. But that seems to be a fact that continues to evade many—including black mogul and proclaimed vegan Russell Simmons, who may want to reserve his commentary for those he’s alleged to have abused.
“White supremacy is a disease that takes on many forms and has many symptoms,” Simmons wrote in response to Haddish’s post. “The abuse of other beings will not address that…or heal ourselves. I love you Tiffany but I wish you would reconsider this route of protest.”
Personally, I wish people would stop drawing false equivalencies and reconsider what Haddish was actually saying, rather than attempting to deflect a statement that wasn’t too far off from comparisons PETA has drawn itself. Should she wear fur? Sadly, that’s actually the lesser of the pressing issues raised here, and the fact that so many animal-rights advocates choose to remain willfully ignorant of that fact is indicative of how far we still need to go on recognizing human rights in this country.
But those are just my thoughts. What are yours?