The display, showcased across from the Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C., tries to highlight the similarities between Black oppression in the South and animals, but should they be compared?
Once again the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is comparing animal cruelty to slavery with Blacks.
Making its national debut Thursday, the organization unveiled the exhibit, entitled “Glass Walls,” in Washington D.C. The title comes from the Paul McCartney line, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian."
The six double-sided panel display exhibits images of animal cruelty next to images of human cruelty. One panel includes Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and some images show elephants in shackles and overcrowded conditions for pigs and animals next to images of Blacks in similar conditions.
Is PETA going a little too far to get its message across?
A PETA spokeswoman told BET.com "that the goal of the exhibit is not to equate nonhuman animals with African-Americans" but "to compare the oppression of certain groups of people in the past to the continued oppression of animals today. It points to the terrible level of suffering that has been inflicted upon various individuals throughout our history and points out some of the cruelty that still goes on in society today. PETA's message is that oppression is wrong, regardless of the race, gender, age, nationality or species of the victims," wrote PETA's communications director in an email.
Based on PETA's history with provocative campaigns it is likely only a matter of time before Black organizations speak out against PETA…again. Some organizations including the NAACP have not been happy about PETA’s previous comparisons to the treatment of animals to the historical oppression of African-Americans.
In 2005, the NAACP spoke out against the organization’s traveling exhibit: "Are Animals the New Slaves?" “Once again, Black people are being pimped. You used us. You have used us enough” then-NAACP president of Greater New Haven chapters Scot X. Esdaile said at the 2005 opening in response to pictures comparing slaughtered cows to lynched victims.
PETA, on the other hand, feels that comparing animals to oppressed Blacks is the impetus people need to start changing negative attitudes toward animals.
"We understand that the panel ... may make some people uncomfortable at first glance, but we hope that it will inspire further reflection on the idea that oppression is, sadly, still alive today on factory farms, in circuses and in laboratories," emailed PETA's Colleen O'Brien.
The NAACP has not yet revealed their efforts to combat this campaign.
(Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images)