Family: every day I’m getting emails about the recent threats by Animal Recovery Mission to bring an end to our religion by attacking one of our most essential sacraments, animal offerings. False propaganda and misleading photographs are being used to manipulate emotions; and in the process, the organization is generating obscene amounts of cash and support from their dishonest rhetoric. Their leader, Richard Couto, is a master of manipulation and marketing. With this attack against our rights gearing up, aleyos, aborishas, and olorishas are asking me, “What can we do?”
First, I need everyone to realize that in this war, I’m not a leader. I’m a follower. I have chosen to follow the lead of Oba Ernesto Pichardo, who is THE expert on defending our religious rights. He has fought wars like this before, winning against people greater than Richard Couto. I need everyone writing me to follow him on Facebook at the following URL:
If you are not following Pichardo, then you are not receiving your information from the one man most qualified to lead us in the battle. Please understand that Oba Pichardo and I are not friends [but I do hope that changes in the coming years – he is brilliant, and I love surrounding myself with brilliant people]. I am not associated with the C.L.B.A. Until recently, I have not interacted or spoken with the oriaté in five years. But he is the expert on these matters. If we are going to have our best chance, we need to take our cues from the best.
Second, I need everyone to realize that information is power. Not everyone has the time or the luxury to be politically active, but everyone needs to take the time to be informed. I’ll be using my blog to spread relevant information that Pichardo wants shared with the community, and I’ll be using both my Facebook page and my blog to spread relevant information that I find on the internet regarding A.R.M. and other animal “rights” organizations. Me? I devote all my time to research, study, and teaching, and I have been up until 5:00 A.M. most nights following financial threads on these organizations that both scare and anger me. Try to spend at least 15 minutes of your internet time searching and researching information about A.R.M. Look at the people he bullies. Read what is in the news relevant to our rights and our fights. Be informed – EVERYONE needs to be informed.
Finally, I need everyone to realize that prayer works. Pray for the safety of Oba Ernesto Pichardo as he prepares to lead us in this war. Pray that he has the abundance, the workers and helpers, the knowledge/wisdom/guidance he needs, and, more importantly, the health he needs to see this battle to its end. Since the 1993 SCOTUS ruling that protected our rights, I know of no one who has apprenticed with him on how to continue his historical and groundbreaking work. Since 1993 he has stood alone to save and protect us from prejudice and oppression. Love him; don’t love him; criticize him; praise him – I don’t care what you do or what you think of the babalorisha. But he is our best chance; he is the expert; he is the one who did ebó so all of us could practice our faith in safety. We need to do all we can to protect him and support him for this next battle.
With all of these things said, Oba Ernesto Pichardo has my full support in this fight. I know nothing about protecting our rights. I know next to nothing about the court system and how it works. Animal Recovery Mission has strong ties and deep pockets; and Richard Couto has aligned himself with those who have power in this world. He has partnered with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. He has ties with the National Humane Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He is well-connected nationwide. These people have lawyers on retainer. They have marketing specialists. They have lobbyists. The have politicians and lawmakers at the local, state, and national levels. They have ties to the media.
We, however, are the keepers of the sacred stones. We have ashé. We have Elegguá at our feet, orisha on our heads, and Olódumare in heaven watching over us. We have the ancestors who lived and who knew oppression. Worldly power is ephemeral. Spiritual power is eternal. We can win this. We will win this. We have no choice but to win this.