“Veganism Should Always ‘Trump’ Intersectionality: Make Veganism Great [and White] Again!”

(Credit: Sistah Vegan Project 2016)
(Credit: Sistah Vegan Project 2016)

In 2005, when I first proposed to embark on my Black feminist vegan journey to learn how being racialized as Black women affected Black women vegans, I got a significant number of white vegans furious with the idea; an idea that eventually became the Sistah Vegan anthology, published in 2010.

In 2007, I completed my Masters Thesis at Harvard University that earned the Dean’s award for interrogating how covert whiteness operated amongst ‘well intended’ and ‘but I’m not racist’ white vegans on an internet site.

A few days ago on Facebook, it was posted that VegFest UK would be having their first ever conference on “intersectionality” within veganism. Shared on someone’s page, there were 5 comments– all negative and all written by white men (at least that is how I read them) who were obviously furious with the idea of ‘intersectionality’ being applied to veganism…and thought it implied that speciesism would not be part of the conference. Essentially, their responses implied that talking about how racism and sexism operate within veganism having nothing to do with veganism. They made a lot of assumptions and it was clear none of them had picked up Kimberle Crenshaw’s publications on intersectionality (nor picked up any other POC scholar engaged in holistic and intersectional approaches to racial justice, social justice, environmental justice, etc over the last 30+ years)… but these men were confident that they knew that ‘intersectionality’ has no place in veganism and that it was erasing engagement with speciesism.

It made me think about Trump and his, “Make America Great [and White] Again” rhetoric. These comments from these white vegan men made me think they were essentially saying, “Make Veganism [White &] Great Again.” This framework is cut from the same cloth, though I’m quite certain these men would never want to associate themselves with such fabric…

….that cloth is from the fabric of a white supremacist racial caste system. Really, it is no surprise that the same foundational thoughts I witness from Trump and his supporters can easily be found in the mainstream white vegan movement amongst well intended, mostly white, people who become upset and furious that “their” veganism is being “tainted” by folk like me/us (i.e. those non-white people crossing into your philosophical borders that you supposedly own as intellectual property and have always had the power to define). Aph Ko spoke about similar ‘border crossing’ within vegansim at the Whidbey Institute’s Intersectional Social Justice Conference in March of 2016.

I responded to the comments. I explained what intersectionality is and referred them to Kimberle Crenshaw (the woman who coined the term, though many people of color were engaged in the concept, long before). I then asked those who commented, what they thought about this literature and the canon developed from this. I asked them if they could tell me more of what they have learned from critical race feminism and critical animal studies which should enable them to tell me how they concluded what they have concluded about how ‘damaging’ intersectionality is, when applied to veganism … (Of course they haven’t read this canon, but I’m asking them to respond and engage because if you’re going to white mansplain ‘intersectionality’ to a Black woman with a PhD in it and a Black woman who is a vegan, you’d think you would have done some of the foundational readings to have a valid argument on why you disagree. For example, I would never jump into a conversation about a topic or discipline that I have NO FOUNDATIONAL knowledge in– just assumptions– and then confidently DEFINE what it is and should be.)

Just a reminder: You can have a vegan conference that successfully focuses on anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-classism, etc., without damaging veganism. Intersectionality (within the context of Crenshaw and similar scholars) is an enhancement to non-violence, compassion, and justice.

I personally have been written by countless numbers of non-white people over my last 10 years, who have told me that the reason they went vegan was because of how my fusion of anti-racism, critical race feminism, critical whiteness studies, and critical animal studies was more relevant and aligned more with their racialized embodied experiences; it helped to get them ‘woke’ about the importance of ahimsa veganism. That is what my intersectional scholarship and activism has done and continues to do: frame veganism in an intersectional way (using critical race feminism and critical animal studies– but not limited to) that is inclusive and inviting to a majority of non-white people who are trying to survive through and fight against systemic racism.


(Credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen 2016)
(Photo Credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen 2016)

About Dr. A. Breeze Harper
Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her book Scars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix) which explored how key Black vegan men us hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies.Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town.

BECOME A MONTHLY DONOR. THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT ALREADY HAS SEVERAL THOUSAND FOLLOWERS. JUST IMAGINE WHAT COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED IF HALF OR MORE FOLLOWERS PLEDGED $5-$15 PER MONTH.

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[Video] Afrofuturism and Black Veganism: Towards a New Citizenship

The other month I attended the Whidbey Institute’s Intersectional Justice conference where I gave a talk about Uprooting White Fragility. Aph Ko also spoke and gave us holistic food for thought around moving beyond “intersectionality” into the realm of afro-futurism. Christopher Sebastian McJetters is the amazing moderator for the entire event. The video is below and I highly advise you watch it!

Aph Ko created Black Vegans Rock and co-blogs with her sister on Aphro-ism.


About Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town.

Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her bookScars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix) which explored how key Black vegan men us hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies.

BECOME A MONTHLY DONOR. THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT ALREADY HAS SEVERAL THOUSAND FOLLOWERS. JUST IMAGINE WHAT COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED IF HALF OR MORE FOLLOWERS PLEDGED $5-$15 PER MONTH.

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[VIDEO] Uprooting White Fragility: Intersectional Anti-Racism in the ‘Post-Racial’ Ethical Foodscape

blackvegansrock

 

March 2016, some of us from Black Vegans Rock attended the Intersectional Justice Conference in Clinton WA at the Whidbey Institute (see photo above). It was an amazing event that you can learn more about here at Pax’s Funcrunch blog recap. Thanks Pax. Below is the professionally recorded video of Dr. A. Breeze Harper giving a talk at conference. The talk is called “Uprooting White Fragility. ”

Video Credit : Photon Factory


 

NOTE: I have given many talks with the same or similar titles but the content is always unique; I do not give the same talks over and over again.

About Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town.

Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her bookScars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix) which explored how key Black vegan men us hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies.

BECOME A MONTHLY DONOR. THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT ALREADY HAS SEVERAL THOUSAND FOLLOWERS. JUST IMAGINE WHAT COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED IF HALF OR MORE FOLLOWERS PLEDGED $5-$15 PER MONTH.

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“How could ‘we’ let Trump happen?” Don’t include [Black] me in your [white] ‘we’]

trump-happen (2)
Are white people who consider themselves non-racist and non-Trump/non-Cruz supporters really SURPRISED that there are millions of violently racist white people in the USA ” all of a sudden?”
Here’s a confession: I am more angry and pissed off about this convenient lack of awareness from “moderate” and/or liberal “But I am not racist” white people than I am from the obvious racist and xenophobic Pro-Trump or Pro-Cruz supporters I see going viral on social media. This lack of awareness is more traumatizing for me to hear from my white friends and acquaintances; especially when they keep on telling me that they are “shocked” or “surprised” that “we” let this happening or, “I don’t understand how we in the USA let this happen!?”
 
First of all, don’t include me in your ‘we’– I didn’t let sh*t happen. Own it and what you really should be saying is, “How did we ‘but I’m not racist’ white people let this happen?”
 
Stop sending me essays and articles that talk about “how did ‘we’ let this happen?” and then never take any ally-building actions. Sharing an article on Facebook or Twitter is not the type of activism that is going to tackle both systemic racism and your learned ignorance. 
Oh, and my quick answer is this: this has been happening since colonialism. Systemic racism, overt racism, etc isn’t new. The mere fact that you don’t have the racial literacy to understand how and why it is happening is frustrating to me. Muhammad Ali had the same frustrations about the ‘not all white people are racist’ in 1970….
The racial ignorance of ‘non-racist’ white people is strategically designed to be this way; this ignorance is the ‘glue’ that keeps the more extreme ‘white racists’ in the place that they are in and have always been in; it is the glue that sustains the millions of White people that support Trump and Cruz. And I repeat: just sharing posts about ‘bad racist whites’ on social media is not enough. I still consider it bystander mentality. If you don’t [want to] understand the impact of white liberal ignorance (read Marc Lombardo); if you don’t [want to] understand the evolution of the 500+ year long white supremacist racial caste system in the USA…If you didn’t even know that were supposed to ‘know’, then of course, “that is how YOU (not ‘we’) let this happen.”
And let’s face it: you’ve been this way since the ante-bellum slavery officially ended. You were that ‘moderate’ white person who didn’t think Black people should be “slaves”… but also didn’t think they really should have the same power, resources, agency as any white person. And yea, you considered yourself one of the ‘good’ whites since you weren’t lynching Black people like those ‘bad’ whites; yours was a kinder non-racist racism.
And I am frustrated that since I was a child, I’ve been trying to explain what a lack of white racial literacy means; what the horribly racialized consequences/impacts are. I have pointed it out, testified, published, etc., and many of my white liberal friends and colleagues just didn’t want to engage and/or have dismissed my concerns and experiences. Many of you have kept on sending me articles with this same theme over and over again:
How could ‘we’ let Oscar Grant Happen?
How could ‘we’ let the mass incarceration of Black and Brown people happen?
How could ‘we’ let Trayvon Martin happen?
How could ‘we’ let Dylann Roof happen?
How could ‘we’ let Trump Happen?
Let’s face it: You have just as much a “progressive”/possessive investment in [neoliberal whiteness] as Trump/Cruz supporters have in their strange investment in Jim Crow-esque or antebellum era types of whiteness. This is what is going on. Some of you are conscious of it while some of you are engaging in it unconsciously. (I’d gander most are unconsciously doing it). A majority of you continue to be a fake bystander in this –– not because you don’t know what to do… but because you un/consciously  know that if you actually do something to dismantle systemic racism you will lose the privileges, resources, power, etc afforded to you as part of the [neoliberal], “but I’m not racist like Trump” [whiteness] club.
P.S. It’s amazing that the majority of people are white who say they will leave the USA if Trump wins; white people who don’t even talk about how being an “ex-patriot” is a white racial privilege when sh*t hits the fan. When you tell me that you have plans to move to a European country, this blows my mind. A lot of non-white ‘we’ don’t have this privileges and a lot of us would opt to stay and fight. I know there are non-white people who have plans to leave too, but there are far more white people saying this than non-white folk in my life.

About Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. Harper’s most recently published book,Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014)interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town.

Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her bookScars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix)which explored how key Black vegan men us hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies. Her latest book project is Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches: A Critical Race Feminist’s Journey Through the ‘Post-Racial’ Ethical Foodscape (2017).

BECOME A MONTHLY DONOR. THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT ALREADY HAS SEVERAL THOUSAND FOLLOWERS. JUST IMAGINE WHAT COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED IF HALF OR MORE FOLLOWERS PLEDGED $5-$15 PER MONTH.

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Dismantling Racism in the Food System: New Collaboration with Dr. A. Breeze Harper and Dr. Eric Holt-Giménez (FoodFirst)

dismantling-racism-in-the-food-system (2)

I helped write this new publication below. I am happy to report that it is now fresh off the digital press. This is the first installment in the series! It is the new racism in the food system series from the Institute for Food and Development Policy, also known as FoodFirst. Dr. Holt-Giménez was first author. I thank him for his hard work & mentorship during the writing process.


 

FOOD—SYSTEMS—RACISM: FROM MISTREATMENT TO TRANSFORMATION

By Eric Holt-Giménez, PhD and A. Breeze Harper, PhD*

Racism—the systemic mistreatment of people based on their ethnicity or skin color—affects all aspects of our society, including our food system. While racism has no biological foundation, the socio-economic and political structures that dis- possess and exploit people of color, coupled with widespread misinformation about race, cultures and ethnic groups, make racism one of the more intractable injustices causing poverty, hunger and malnutrition. Racism is not simply attitudinal prejudice or individual acts, but an historical legacy that privileges one group of people over others. Racism—individual, institutional and structural (see Box 3)—also impedes good faith efforts to build a fair, sustainable food system.

Despite its pervasiveness, racism is almost never mentioned in international programs for food aid and agricultural development. While anti-hunger and food security programs frequently cite the shocking statistics, racism is rarely identified as the cause of inordinately high rates of hunger, food insecurity, pesticide poisoning and diet-related disease among people of color. Even the wide- ly-hailed “good food” movement—with its plethora of projects for organic agriculture, permaculture, healthy food, community supported agriculture, farmers markets and corner store conversions— tends to address the issue of racism unevenly.1 Some organizations are committed to dismantling racism in the food system and center this work in their activities. Others are sympathetic but are not active on the issue. Many organizations, however, see racism as too difficult, tangential to their work, or a divisive issue to be avoided. The hurt, anger, fear, guilt, grief and hopelessness of racism are un- easily addressed in the food movement—if they are addressed at all.

This Backgrounder is first in a series about how racism and our food system have co-evolved, how present-day racism operates within the food system, and what we can do to dismantle racism and build a fair, just and sustainable food system that works for everyone.

To read the full document, click here.

Source: http://foodfirst.org/publication/backgrounder-dismantling-racism-in-the-food-system/


About Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. Harper’s most recently published book,Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014)interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town.

Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her bookScars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix)which explored how key Black vegan men us hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies. Her latest book project is Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches: A Critical Race Feminist’s Journey Through the ‘Post-Racial’ Ethical Foodscape (2017).

BECOME A MONTHLY DONOR. THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT ALREADY HAS SEVERAL THOUSAND FOLLOWERS. JUST IMAGINE WHAT COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED IF HALF OR MORE FOLLOWERS PLEDGED $5-$15 PER MONTH.

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Sistah Vegan’s Cosmetic Beauty Secrets

Dr. A. Breeze Harper. September 2015. Muir Beach, CA.
Dr. A. Breeze Harper. September 2015. Muir Beach, CA.

Some folk have asked me about my vegan cosmetic beauty tips and favorites over the years. I kind of cringe when asked to talk about ‘beauty’ tips because of the love/hate relationship I have with the expectation that women are supposed to naturally have (or be inclined to have). I’ve been trying to avoid this topic for years because of the amount of emphasis in the ‘health and beauty’ world that values women for how ‘beautiful’ they can look…and those standards are white fat-shaming, cis-sexist, racist, colorist, ableist etc for the most part and doesn’t embrace that there is not one way to ‘do beauty’. But, I’ll try to offer my personal experiences .

Well, it’s probably not going to be what you expect: I don’t know anything about cosmetic beauty arts. I tried it a long time ago– that is,  to do make-up and ended up on sometimes using lipstick that always seemed to taste bad. That was about 20 years ago.

I don’t regularly remove the hair that comes out of my chin and my 4 year old daughter has asked me why I have hair coming out of my chin if I’m “not a man”. “Why do you have a beard, mama?” I have then  explained to her multiple times that hair (or lack there of) does not determine one’s gender identity.

As an adult, I never went to a salon to ‘get my hair did’. Never been to a spa. The other day I finally gave myself a much needed manicure by clipping my long toe nails (6 months worth of growth that I only noticed after I realized my shoes were uncomfortable because the toenails were pressing against the front) the other day and slapped some shea butter on my ashy toes and feet that have never seen a pumice stone.

I shaved my legs last month after 10 months and probably won’t do it again for another 10 months. I think I’m the only person I have ever seen with a two piece bikini at the beach, wearing a bikini with ‘sideburns’ (i.e., won’t shave or wax before I put a bikini every single time) The picture above is me with ‘sideburns’ but it’s kind of hard to tell since this is a tankini and not a bikini.

But, I have a confession: I cannot and will not leave the house without wearing a pair of huge earrings (preferably my Angela Davis, Malcolm X, or Nina Simone earrings) and shea butter and castor oil applied to my face and body!

In terms of cosmetic art expression (is that the right way to phrase it?), what can’t you leave the house without?


About Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town.

Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her bookScars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix) which explored how key Black vegan men us hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies. Her latest book project is Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches: A Critical Race Feminist’s Journey Through the ‘Post-Racial’ Ethical Foodscape (2017).

BECOME A MONTHLY DONOR. THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT ALREADY HAS SEVERAL THOUSAND FOLLOWERS. JUST IMAGINE WHAT COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED IF HALF OR MORE FOLLOWERS PLEDGED $5-$15 PER MONTH.

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[Infographic] Racial Disparities in Health Care

Lot’s of information going on here. Let’s unpack this. It’s a start to visualize this information but what more could be added to this dialog? What is missing and what do you find really useful? When you think about healthcare, what do you think of? Standard allopathic medicine, alternative care, or is it not an easy binary?

What can be done to close the gaps? What does integrating vegan-antiracist-decolonial framings of health care mean when addressing racial disparities in health (and nutrition of course)?

RacialDisparitiesHealthCare

‘Decolonize Your Diet’ is a Culinary Response to Popular ‘Post-Racial/Post-Colonial’ Framing of Standard Recipe Books

This recipe book is not vegan. This should be made clear (it is plant-based using mostly vegan with some vegetarian ingredients like cow based butter). My excitement about the book comes more from the fact that it is written from a ‘decolonizing’ point of view. These perspectives, will vary depending on who is writing and how they define ‘decolonizing’;  ‘decolonizing’ anything is not a monolith. It would be interesting to know if future books they write will  consider a  ‘vegan’ framework for decolonizing  your diet.  Food Empowerment project has more info about a decolonizing the diet framework that is vegan oriented that you should check out.


About Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town.

Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her bookScars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix) which explored how key Black vegan men us hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies.

 

BECOME A MONTHLY DONOR. THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT ALREADY HAS SEVERAL THOUSAND FOLLOWERS. JUST IMAGINE WHAT COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED IF HALF OR MORE FOLLOWERS PLEDGED $5-$15 PER MONTH.

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Soapberri Shampoo: Going Beyond ‘Just Vegan’ for Creating More Ethical Shampoos and Soaps

GO HERE FOR ThE KICKSTARTER: Soapberri

Soapberri Brief (full)

The Best Vegan Twinkies in Oakland CA

Learn more about Timeless Cafe here.

Copyright Oliver Zahn.
Copyright Oliver Zahn.
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(Copyright Oliver Zahn)
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(Copyright Oliver Zahn)
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(Copyright Oliver Zahn)

About Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. A. Breeze Harper
Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town.

Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her bookScars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix) which explored how key Black vegan men us hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies.

 

BECOME A MONTHLY DONOR. THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT ALREADY HAS SEVERAL THOUSAND FOLLOWERS. JUST IMAGINE WHAT COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED IF HALF OR MORE FOLLOWERS PLEDGED $5-$15 PER MONTH.

patreon