Carole Raphaelle Davis

Sentientist Conversations: Actress Carole Raphaelle Davis

Carole Raphaelle Davis is an actress, recording artist, author and activist. She worked with Prince, writing his “Sign O’ The Times” song “Slow Love”, and has played roles in many films and TV shows including “Sex In The City” and “Madam Secretary”. She is a vocal activist, particularly for intersectional feminist and non-human animal causes. 

I had the pleasure of talking to Carole in the first of my Sentientist Conversations – discussions with people from all walks of life about Sentientism, about what they believe and what matters to them morally. 

This article is based on our first conversation on 23rd October 2020. If you prefer watching and listening over reading, you can find the video here on YouTube. The video of our second, shorter, more “showbiz” conversation is here on YouTube.

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JW: Carol, it’s great to meet you. 
 
CD: It’s really nice to meet you too. Sentientism – is that how we’re pronouncing it? It feels like home! 

JW: That’s great to hear. We connected because I’ve been on the lookout for people in the public eye, like yourself, who seem to think in a Sentientist way (committed to evidence, reason and compassion for all sentient beings) – even if they haven’t heard of the term. It’s great to have the chance to talk to you. For people who don’t know you do you want to give a quick introduction to your life and your work? It’s going to be difficult because you’ve got quite a story. 

CD: I would just say I’m an actor, an activist, a recording artist and writer. You can Google me – it’s all there. I feel much more comfortable talking about ideas than I do talking about myself. The parts of my life that are out there on the internet are the parts of my life that I don’t consider the most important. 

JW: As we’ve talked about before, Sentientism is based on two very simple ideas. It includes a naturalistic commitment to evidence and reason and it’s also about what matters morally. It would be interesting to start with how you choose what to believe. Were you brought with a religious worldview? 

CD: I’m lucky that I was not indoctrinated into religion as a child. My parents were both atheists and rejected religion. Their parents were secular as well, so I’ve grown up in an atheistic household. I just feel fortunate that I didn’t have to un-wash my brain on that front. I wasn’t indoctrinated into fearing hell and into thinking that there was an easy way out of difficult questions like the Holocaust and Rwanda and wars. I never thought there were easy answers and I was never satisfied when they were presented to me in school or in other kinds of situations where I was surrounded by religiosity. That always bugged me. I mean Santa Claus bugs me! I remember being told by other family members that I made them all laugh when I was five or six saying “that’s bullshit – why aren’t the poor kids getting any gifts? Why do people have to do drives at supermarkets for poor kids?” I always thought that either Santa was not for real or Santa was not such a nice guy after all. 

JW: It’s amazing how the mind of a child can often cut to the truth so quickly… 
 
CD: I was a little tiny skeptic. 
 
JW:  Were you ever tempted away from that path? Given your life in the world of show-biz and Hollywood – you haven’t been tempted to join Scientology…? 

CD: Are you kidding? No way. I have never been tempted, not for one minute. Although while I wouldn’t say I’ve really made enemies I don’t think I’ve endeared myself to people by being a skeptic. 

 JW: We’re lucky to live in the places we do. Imagine living in a theocratic state where apostasy or atheism is subject to the death penalty – it’s almost inconceivable. But even in the UK and the US it’s amazing how much religious and supernatural influence there still is in politics and society.  As you say, you can still feel that pressure even in some personal interactions – still feel that opprobrium – still feel that risk about being open about what you believe what you don’t believe. 

CD: Before our conversation I took a few notes about the countries where there’s the death penalty for not believing in god. I couldn’t believe it: Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia and Brunei – they’re executing people. Speaking of execution – look what happened to the French high school teacher, Samuel Paty. He was teaching a civics course on freedom of expression and the payback for that is to get his head cut off in broad daylight in the streets of secular France – where the laws of secularism were passed in 1905.  

JW: It’s sickening. 

CD: Anti-blasphemy laws are bleeding into countries where we have a secular society. This crazy, benighted idea that you cannot speak the truth without getting your head cut off. 

JW: It’s hard to see into the mind of a person like that. There may well be other factors and forms of mental illness, of course – but when you listen to the people that do these things it does seem that many of them genuinely thought they were doing the right thing. They thought they were doing god’s will – they thought they were doing something good. They’ve been taught, often since birth, by others who told them it was good. It’s deeply tragic that something so bad can be done without even requiring evil or sadism. 

CD:  This issue isn’t unique to Islamism. Look what Christians have done throughout the inquisition – the damage and the mass murders that were perpetrated by Christian zealots. The Holocaust is another horrific example. 

JW: I agree. As with the Holocaust example it’s not even necessarily a religious problem – it’s any system of thought that is unquestionably dogmatic where something else is prioritised above suffering and death. That might be a one-party state or a national autocratic leader. It doesn’t require a religion. But it is nearly always the case, in religion, that god, the church and priests are considered as more important than ordinary people. That leads to warped ethics. I’m a strong believer in freedom of belief. People can believe what they like – but we have to be clear and robust when those beliefs lead to harmful and deadly acts.  

CD: People should be free to express themselves – to believe what they want to believe, to write what they want to write, to say what they want to say. Even to assemble on public property and express their beliefs. This only becomes a problem when you’re inciting hatred and violence towards other people. This is our Achilles heel. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I hate to say it but I would fight for the right of Nazis to march. They have a right to speak – but the result of living in a free society can break your heart.  

JW: It’s better to have these ideas out in the open where they can be defeated, not simmer away in some dark recess before they emerge to cause damage. It’s such a shame we see this problem with religions because there is so much genuine compassion in religion. Most religious people are much more moral than their own gods and their own priests. Unfortunately that compassion tends to get warped or restricted or becomes conditional. We’ve got to find ways of resisting that warping without constraining the fundamental freedom of speech. 

CD: Look at what it’s doing to our elections in the US right now. We have a body of evangelicals that is 80 million strong. That’s more people than the population of most European nations. This is just shocking – I’m talking about people who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. People who believe that the world is seven thousand years old and who negate science. This is affecting our daily lives and our elections. They have thrown us into an American dark age by electing a man who panders to them for his own personal gain. He’s used this giant electoral bloc of people in order to gain access to the world’s most powerful position. They elected him and now he’s using that position to enrich himself and to cause chaos throughout the entire world. All this based on religious zealotry. 

JW: Even the aspects that aren’t based on religious zealotry are part of a broader turning away from evidence and reason and facts. Whether it’s unfounded conspiracy theories or Qanon or people who deny that Covid exists or flat earthers or some of the less obviously damaging new age theories… They’re turning away from a naturalistic commitment to exploring reality and building beliefs based on what’s real rather than making stuff up or adopting a dogma. 

How does it feel in Hollywood? I’m not just thinking about religiosity. The culture there is known for being quite new agey and there’s all sorts of non-religious bullshit that people tend to buy into as well. 

CD: I’m really a California girl – have been since the ‘80s. There’s a lot of crystals and new age baloney. But when you look at the hard facts about California, you’ll find that we are the most progressive state in the entire world in terms of law making. I know because I’ve worked with lawmakers to pass anti-puppy mill laws in over 200 cities. We’ve been on the forefront of progressive law making before anyone else in the United States. The saying goes that whatever happens here in LA and in California will eventually happen elsewhere. We have a giant vegan community and a giant anti-speciesist community. The biggest I’ve seen other than Berlin and London. People are very aware of what’s happening to the planet here. It’s difficult to get laws on the books but we’ve been working on it for over 20 years and we’ve done it. Laws against emissions and cars. Laws for clean water. Laws for clean air. We’ve banned fur! If you put the new age silliness aside there is a rational base of people who are very hard at work making sure that we continue to be on the path of being the most progressive state in the world. 

JW: When it comes to what matters – California is leading the way? 

CD: The new age silliness tends to get a lot of publicity while the work we’ve done to put good laws on the books gets ignored. There’s nothing sexy about law-making and campaigning. Most of the people I know right now are very busy phone banking to make sure that Donald Trump doesn’t get re-elected. There’s a large base of rational thinkers in California. Our laws speak for themselves and they didn’t get put on the books by themselves.  We’re facing some very important questions in this election – one of them is about the environment. We can see the impact of global warming directly in the fires we’re fighting here so we know what’s happening. It’s important not to portray California as a silly nonsense kind of state. We’re the fifth largest economy in the world and we’ve been successfully battling Donald Trump for four years in the courts. We’re a giant population of 38 million people. We behave as a kind of a sovereign state – you know the way our system is in the United States it’s almost like the European Union. We have our own Governor and we have our own way of battling nonsense and silliness. 
 
JW: More power to you!  
 
One challenge you’ll often hear from religious people is that you can’t really ground your morality in anything if you don’t have a supernatural being looking over your shoulder. They think that there can be no moral good or bad without some ultimate judge and some threat of ultimate punishment or reward. So as someone with a naturalistic worldview, what is your morality based on? 

CD: I think for me it came about from witnessing bullying. It all stems from oppression – a tiny little grain of oppression that I witnessed as a child. I think my first act of activism was when I was eight or nine. I was living in Bangkok in Thailand, where I grew up. I saw a grown man kicking a stray dog in the street. Without thinking, I ran up behind him and kicked him. Anyone who knows southeast Asian cultures knows that you don’t use your feet for anything – it’s the height of impropriety. To kick someone is really the biggest insult you could possibly mete out. I saw that stray dog as needing help against domination, domineering, bullying, violent oppression. Right away, without really thinking, without being taught anything I naturally knew I had to intervene. Ethics can be taught – but empathy is genetic too. You feel for the underdog. This literally was the underdog. No one had taught me protect stray dogs but I knew bullying was wrong. I didn’t have to have any religious affiliation to know it was wrong. I saw a bully – I saw a victim – I intervened. That incident has informed my entire life. I see a victim, I see a bully, I intervene. That’s how it is whether it’s a single bully or a bully that has grown into a corporation or a bully that has grown into a government or a bully that has taken over a government. 

JW: That’s powerful. 

CD: That’s it – we must be between the bully and the victim on every level in every case, no matter who the bully is and no matter how powerful the oppressor is. 

JW: It’s that use of power to cause harm? 

CD: Yes. It can be a single act of a man bullying a dog or a government bullying millions of people. It’s the same exact problem scaled up and down along that spectrum. It is our duty as ethical people to intervene to help victims whether they be human or non-human. In this world the non-human victims outnumber the human victims. We’ve got to do something to help. Religion hasn’t taught me to do it – no one taught me to do it – but I feel it. We need to teach these things to children in school so even if they don’t feel the same way that we legislate and influence behaviour to protect victims. 

JW: Often I think it’s almost the other way around. We just need to avoid teaching kids the opposite. Most children start out with a curiosity about the world – a scientific mindset. They explore, they engage with reality – they develop beliefs based on facts but then we teach them something else. We teach them, frankly, fabrications. 
 
It’s the same on the compassion front. If you put a child with a rabbit or a pig or a dog, the child will not want to harm that animal, but we teach them that it’s normal to do so. I think you’re right – in a perfect state we’d be teaching evidence, reason and compassion in schools – but at least we wouldn’t be teaching the opposite. We wouldn’t be teaching fabrications and we wouldn’t be teaching that needlessly harming other sentient beings is okay. 

CD: Would you have to be a police state to force people not to take their children hunting, for example? In a democratic society people are going to teach kids whatever they want to teach them – fear of hell being maybe the most obvious one. 

JW: That’s an awful thing to teach a child in my mind. 

CD: The stuff of nightmares – but the hunt is also the stuff of nightmares. For a child to think of non-humans as “less than” – so we can go and slit their throats, shoot them, make their babies orphans. To be told “this is all fine” and “man up young boy” and “this is what life is about” and to indoctrinate children – to tell them that they’re natural carnivores when that’s just a lie… 

But in order to stop that we’d have to be a police state and we can’t do that either. All we can do is try and educate people and hope that non-violence wins out. Violence is really the number one issue on our planet. 

JW: You make me think of two challenges. One is distance – so when you see a man kick a dog in front of you or when we think about our companion dogs we have here with us on our call today – it’s very easy to feel that compassion. It is harder when there’s a distance. When you’re buying a burger from a supermarket you don’t have to think about how that was made. It’s much easier to disconnect. 

There are also powerful social norms. From early childhood we’re been taught that it’s completely normal to buy and consume the flesh and the secretions of non-human animals and even that it would be weird not to do so. It’s remarkably hard to break out of that. It took me decades to get to the point where I was comfortable thinking those things through and finally changing my behaviour. What was that process like for you? At what point did you connect the oppression of a dog being kicked to more systemic problems like animal farming? 

CD: I wasn’t indoctrinated into religion, but that did not save me from the indoctrination of meat eating and not seeing other animals as our co-inhabitants of our planet. I made the connection very early around the same time in my life. I grew up in England, Thailand and France. My parents were warring with each other all the time. My mother is French so whenever my parents weren’t getting along my mother would take me back to France, back to the family where it was a multi-generational household. So we were in France when I was maybe seven or eight years old. My best friend in school was the daughter of the village butcher.  

She invited me over for gouter which is a French tradition – it’s like high tea. And we had our gouter – pastries and so on in her “cour” which is at the back of their house and the butcher’s shop. We’re sitting there in her little playground with little teacups and a big black steer is walked by us to the grange. I will never forget this steer as long as I live. He might be the last vision I have before I die – that’s how intense his look was to me. He is brought past me no further than I am from you right here on the computer and he looked deep into me and he was brought to his death right in front of us as if it was nothing. Hoisted upside down, his throat slit, the guts and the blood splattering all over the ground right in front of us as we’re having tea. I’m a small child. I will never get over the trauma of seeing that event. I went home traumatized. My grandmother went and talked to them “how could you do this to her… what are you thinking?”. And I remember discussions around the dinner table that night with my entire family… “She has to learn – this is life – it’s not a bad experience – she’s going to learn that’s where your meat comes from blah blah blah”. From then on my family had to force me to eat it. My father forced me to eat meat the entire time I was under his domain. 

JW: Horrifying. You got there much quicker than I did. I’m very sorry you had to go through that. 

CD: I’m very angry at the kind of indoctrination that I did get. I’m angry at the kind of treatment that I got from my own father. I don’t want to get too personal but the gifts he bought me over my lifetime included an alligator bag, ivory jewellery, a fur coat when I was 18. I didn’t quite get it – even at 18 I wasn’t quite awake about the fur. I even did a fur ad when I was 19 as a model which I deeply regret now.  

I wasn’t fully awake for the first 30 years of my life. I was kind of awake but not completely awake. The waking up out of this moral coma that the world is in took me way too long. But being awake is painful too – when you become aware of the suffering.  

JW: It comes with its own cost. Sometimes denial and cognitive dissonance are reassuring things to hide behind. As you said, those social norms bite deeply even when the ethics are so crystal clear. 

That’s the frustration for many people involved in animal advocacy. Once you’ve broken out and seen the problem – it’s so obviously egregious. Our instinctive response is to preach, is to attack, is to be strident, be righteous (because we are right). Then we get challenged and told “you need to be subtle, you need to make veganism look less weird, you need to welcome people, you need to help people make progressive steps…” They’re probably right – because it doesn’t matter how you and I feel about our message. What matters is how the messages sound to everybody else. For them, maybe we do need to find some way of helping them move in the right direction that doesn’t feel intimidating or radical. But it feels so strange when the ethics are so sickeningly wrong – it’s very hard to do. 

CD: You brought up a topic that is my bête noire. That topic of how we frame our activism and our wish for a non-violent world. How we are asked to temper and sugar-coat our simple desire for non-violence. I disagree probably with 90 percent of vegan activists and anti-speciesists on this point. We should not have to sugar-coat the atrocity – any more than we had to sugar-coat the atrocities of human genocides. I don’t think that we sugar-coated the Holocaust. I don’t think that we sugar-coated what happened to the Armenians, the genocide in Cambodia – we’ve never sugar-coated any of that in Rwanda. We should not have to sugar-coat it simply because the victims are non-human so I’m against this idea that we need to whitewash and sugar-coat and sweeten our message that we want a non-violent world yesterday. And enough with trying to be nice to carnists and animal abusers and a system of oppression that kills billions every year. Enough sugar-coating on that. We don’t have to be nice about it – we weren’t nice to Nazis. Why should we be nice to these kinds of people who are like Nazis to animals. Why? Just because the victims are non-human? This idea that we need to make our message more palatable to others for it to be promulgated is false and it is speciesist as an argument. It’s wrong. Shame has worked for millennia to regulate social behaviour. All you have to do is to take a sociology 101 course to understand the power of shame. There are vegans who say “Oh you’re not helping our cause, you’re too mean.”  That’s nonsense – if anything we need to be more forceful with our message of non-violence and to get angry enough to make people uncomfortable with their behaviour. They need to be made more uncomfortable. I’ve had it with people wearing a fur coat in a vegan restaurant. I’m going to get up and say something. Then I get the backlash from fellow vegans and fellow activists that that’s not really the right way to do it. Well you know what? Rubbish! 

JW: I empathise – you wouldn’t say “just stop being a misogynist or a racist on Mondays – every little helps!”. It’s difficult. Maybe we need a variety of different approaches and we’ll let many flowers bloom – just have everyone push. But I do think there’s space for some stridency and some clarity. There are some people who are willing to listen and change in response to a tough message.  

CD: Every social justice movement in history has a variety of strategies in order to move forward. There’s a tome called “Parting the Waters” about the civil rights movement in the United States. It gives you the bible for anti-speciesism today. You had the Malcolm X’s and you had the Martin Luther Kings. They had very different ways of approaching the same issue. Within the anti-speciesist movement we’re going to have that as well. I welcome different strategies because they’ll reach different segments of the population. Personally, I’m a radical vegan. I’m going to be strident. I’m going to make people uncomfortable and I’m comfortable with making other people uncomfortable. The message of non-violence can’t just be “Please be nice”. I don’t think it works. Imagine that, instead of the animal being cut up and wrapped up in cellophane and on sale at the supermarket, you were able to intervene between the animal and the butcher. If you could get between the knife and the throat it wouldn’t just be “don’t be mean” – you might have to get into a fight with the person wielding the knife. We’re going to have to be brave and stand up for animal liberation in a way that might put us at risk. Some of us do that. 

JW: So much of philosophy involves delving into obscure, bizarre trade-offs and problems – difficult challenges that brilliant minds have spent decades arguing about. Yet many of the most important ethical questions have bloody simple, obvious answers. That’s partly why Sentientism is deliberately a very simple, basic worldview – because us humans haven’t even got the basics right yet. We can do all the weird trolley problem stuff later – let’s at least give up the supernatural stuff and get our moral circle drawn correctly first. 

CD: We haven’t even gotten to the point where we’re identifying the victim. 
 
JW: Non-human animals (and even some humans) just don’t seem to count. 

CD: In order to chronicle a genocide the first thing you need to do is identify the victims. So once the victims are identified and the oppressor is identified you can then chronicle what events occurred. We haven’t even begun to recognise the victims. It’s up to us to identify the victims and those of us who are writers, those of us who are activists, those of us who are attempting to chronicle – like the Animal Save Movement – these are important historians to me. Our movement is still in its cradle but as a writer for animal liberation it’s my responsibility to chronicle our movement in order to identify the victims. In a hundred years those victims will still be remembered. 

JW: That recognition is coming – but slowly. Many public figures that put themselves forward as careful thinkers and moral leaders recognise openly that animal farming will be condemned by future generations as sickeningly unethical. Yet those people continue to participate in it now. It’s bizarre – it’s so obvious. 

While our motivation is about compassion for the victims there are more and more arguments that should also be helping push the campaign to end animal farming forward – whether it’s zoonotic disease, anti-microbial resistance or climate change… Even if someone claims to only care about human animals there’s a strong rationale for veganism purely because of the damage animal farming does to humans. 

At the same time, while people do seem to be responding, albeit too slowly, to the climate crisis, the typical environmentalist takes a strange ethical stance. Many seem to jump from caring about human animals, companion animals and charismatic wildlife straight to caring about ecosystems and habitats and species diversity and rocks and plants – even granting rights to rivers. They extend their compassion to these things and concepts that can’t suffer at all, while still granting zero moral consideration to all other wildlife and farmed animals. I find it bizarre that people can jump on board the environmentalist movement – an enormously positive and needed thing – while still missing that critical compassion for the suffering of trillions of farmed and wild animals. It’s deeply frustrating – a missed opportunity. 

CD: It’s maddening. Again – our message hasn’t been strong enough. The media have shirked their responsibilities too – except for when the Guardian called our crime against animals the biggest crime in history. The New York Times has done so as well but at the same time they’re also pushing meat in their cooking section. 

JW: 99% of journalism still talks about animals as products and animal farming as just another industry. It doesn’t acknowledge there’s any victim there at all – but you’re right, there are glimmers of light here and there. 

CD: We’ve got a long way to go. The environmental movement, the green movement, for some crazy reason, still does not take non-human sentients seriously. This is a major problem. As Sentientists we need to take over the green movement and push the facts on to them. You cannot be a so-called “eco warrior” unless you are also considering non-human animal suffering. You’d better get with it or you are a bunch of hypocrites. 

JW: There are some movements, like Marc Bekoff’s Compassionate Conservationism, that are trying to do exactly that. Many people involved in the Sentientist movement are pushing the same angle. We need to conserve the environment in a compassionate way. More fundamentally, the only reason the environment is important is because of its impact on sentient beings. No one’s ethically worried about what’s going on with the rocks in the valleys of Mars because there’s nothing there to experience them. The reason we should care so deeply about the Earth’s environment is because it’s so important to the experiences and lives of human and non-human sentient beings. 

To wrap up, let’s finish on a positive note and imagine that we do manage to persuade most of the eight billion people on the planet to become Sentientist. So they’re committed to using evidence and reason and they’re committed to universal compassion for any being that can suffer. What  do you think that future might look like and do you think France or the UK or the US or California or somewhere else is likely to get there first?  

CD: I’m not as optimistic as you. I have joy in my life and I seek joy in my life but it’s very difficult not to be full of sorrow. The arc of justice is a lot longer than we would like it to be. We’re not going to see a just world in our lifetime. I know you’d like to wrap it up on a positive note. All I can say that’s positive is that more and more people are waking up out of their moral comas. I have faith when I see young activists on the streets. I feel real pride that we’ve been able to pass the torch to a next generation of activists who understand what’s at stake. They are my hope. I’d like to see more of them go into politics. I’d like to see more activists become lawmakers. That’s the way out – through law-making. We need to label meat like cigarettes. 

We need to make sure that young Sentientist activists today understand the value of law-making within a democracy to slowly chip away at the murderous oppression of non-humans. 

We need more of them involved in in a way that they have power to affect the change – because a one-off protest march on a particular day against one particular issue isn’t going to do it. The way we’re going to do it is to be in large numbers in different areas of the world changing the laws slowly but surely chipping away at this system of oppression. 

JW: That’s a powerful point. I see too many people who are understandably sceptical about what one individual can do and what individual change can do. “What’s the point of me going vegan?… what’s the point of me turning up at a protest?” That’s realistic, in a way, because we are tiny cogs in a big machine and so much change is driven through institutions. But those institutions are made up of people like us. You’re not just a consumer. You’re a voter, a legislator, an employee, a manager, a leader. You can start a business, lobby an NGO, write a letter to your governor. You can stand for office and be elected. Those powerful institutions are driven by and made up of individual people like us – we can pull all those levers. 

CD: People are way more powerful than they know. Every single individual has the capability of affecting change in small and large ways. Just one little example – your wallet can really change things. Just by shopping or not shopping – you can not buy that and buy this instead. Look what’s happened to the dairy industry from not buying! Every little thing sends a message. It’s over, dairy’s finished – we know it’s finished and that’s from people “not buying”. Look at the power that you have – even the person on the most modest budget can make a change that will help drive a much larger change. Everybody has so much more power than they think they do. Stepping out into a protest environment seems like it’s nothing but it solidifies your consensus with others – that you are on a path to create change. It gives you unity with others and it nourishes your soul to go out there and to be with other like-minded people. It enriches you personally to be with other people who think like you. 

JW: That is a wonderful call to action. Every social change felt frustratingly slow to the people involved. It’s never fast enough, but if we look back even just a few decades, on many fronts we have made progress and we still can make progress. There’s so much more still to do. That’s a great call to arms Carole.  

CD: Don’t give up – you have more power than you realise. So much more power. Everyone has the power to not buy something. Everyone has the power to get involved. Everyone has the power to write a letter to the editor. Everyone has the power to write to their lawmaker and say I insist on this or on that or give me a ban on rodenticides. Everybody has the power to join with others who think the same way. We are a lot more powerful than we give ourselves credit for.  

JW: Well it’s been wonderful to talk to you. Neither of us believe in spirits but you feel like a kindred spirit. 

CD: I’m cool with that language. I talk about souls but I don’t believe in them. But the language of souls and spirits is fine with me – it’s just good to connect with other like-minded people which is why a call to activism is so important. Just go meet other friends who think like you and you’ll change the world. There’s one thing I ask students when I talk in schools… “How many people do you think stormed the Bastille, toppled the monarchy and changed the world?” Under a thousand! That’s incredible. 

We all know a thousand people. If you think of that – you know you can change the world. We’re just having to have to be a little more brave, a little more hardcore – that’s my opinion. We’re going to need to stop sugar-coating. We’re going to need to make people uncomfortable in a loving way. 

JW: Hardcore with compassion. 

CD: I mean let’s be firm about the facts. Say you’re invited out to dinner with friends and family who are carnists – “Meaters” I call them. There are those who would say “don’t go and eat with those people.” I say you should go and eat with those people and speak up for who’s on the plate at that dinner. Speak up for that individual on the plate. Say “I’m going to get this out of the way – I feel since nobody else is going to do it I’m going to speak up for that animal on your plate who died screaming so that you can enjoy it. And now we can continue with the rest of our conversation but I’m not going to sit through this whole dinner without speaking up for that victim right there on your plate.” And then you move on – but you said it. Watch what happens. 

JW: That’s hardcore. 

CD: It’s not really. It’s very easy to do. You have to muster up the courage to make people feel uncomfortable. You can do it and be nice about it but you have to be firm. I’m not comfortable leaving that victim on the plate without even mentioning it. So they’re going to have to hear me out. It’s only going to take a minute but I’m going to speak up for that victim. We all need to speak up for the victims. 

JW:  Thank you, Carole. What’s the best way for people to keep up with your work?  

CD: Everything is at caroleraphaelledavis.com: my activism, my intersectional feminism and animal rights activism, animal liberation stuff that’s going on. People don’t need to follow me – just go out into the world, look at who the victims are and speak up, stand up and act out

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