The importance of consistent anti-oppression. Interview with Julia Feliz.

Julia Feliz (formerly Feliz Brueck) is a resource activist, independent scholar, activist, and founder of Sanctuary Publishers, a non-traditional book publisher committed to consistent anti-oppression through the creation of bridges between movements and the raising of marginalized voices. Julia is a vegan of over 13.5 years and a parent of two. They released their most recent title, “Queer and Trans Voices: Achieving Liberation Through Consistent Anti-Oppression” in an effort to create a bridge between the Animal Rights/vegan movement and the LGBTQIA+ movement. Their previous books, “Veganism in an Oppressive World” and “Veganism of Color” have addressed consistent anti-oppression veganism through the raising of voices of Vegans of Color. In this interview Julia talks about their experiences and how they led them to become an activist. They further show why being consistent anti-oppression is key and how this reflects in their activism.

Q: Julia, thank you so much for this interview. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your activism journey? Where and how did you start and where are you now?

I have been vegan for almost a decade and a half. I became an animal rights activist at the same time. Through the years, where I lived influenced the types of activism I took part in. Eventually, my activism took a turn thanks to the accessibility that the internet and social media provided to people like myself in that we were able to connect with others and have a whole virtual life, as well as the possibility to use writing and art in ways that were not available before. This path eventually brought me to resource activism and to founding Sanctuary Publishers as a way to raise the voices of those seldomly heard and often denied a platform. I’ve now actually found myself going backwards after acknowledging that consistent anti-oppression cannot be consistent if we do not address our own hand in oppression at the roots. This is something that is missing from folks when they attempt to embrace this praxis. You can’t be consistently against all oppression if you have not examined the ways you add to the oppression of others, whether you are aware of them or not. Because of this, I am now ensuring that I continue to create bridges by teaching courses for white folks on anti-racism advocacy and how this intersects with other forms of oppression via Anti Racism Classroom. I am also working to create activist workshops with other vegans to ensure we don’t just end the conversation at “this is the problem” and ensure we extend it to “and this is how to address it”.

Portrait picture of Julia Feliz. Photo credit: Julia Feliz.

Q: Why did you start Sanctuary Publishers and how did the project evolve over time?

I felt frustrated and exploited, and I decided I didn’t need anyone’s permission to do the things I felt were right. For years, I had tried to support many organizations but felt tokenized or just…well, exploited. Eventually, I found I did not have much in common with the vegan movement or other communities because I had grown beyond single issues after searching myself and understanding how I moved in the world and why. I also understood that I had benefits over other marginalized people even though I was, myself, a marginalized person.

I had always wanted to use my abilities as a writer and illustrator to help nonhumans somehow, and eventually, I recognized that I could do this for many other groups, and this became the way that I could give back and work with others interested in the same goals.

I started Sanctuary Publishers from scratch and we’re still really grassroots but with many, many goals. For example, we’re currently translating some of our titles in Spanish, and I hope to eventually offer the books as audio books and as audio attached to text books for people like myself that have reading disabilities.

Q: By now, a number of both interesting and important books have been published through Sanctuary Publishers and you personally edited three of them: “Veganism of Color – Decentering Whiteness in Human and Nonhuman Liberation”, “Veganism in an Oppressive World – A Vegans of Color Community Project” and the recently published “Queer and Trans Voices: Achieving Liberation through Consistent Anti-Oppression”. What did you take away from the process of editing these books? What were some of the most important lessons or