Diversity, Inclusion, and Opportunities: An Interview with Animal Charity Evaluators

[Updated May 23 2017, 17:30 PST]

The Sistah Vegan Project was excited to hear about the work Animal Charity Evaluators  (ACE) is doing in the animal advocacy world in terms of implementing new diversity initiatives. We decided to ask them a few questions about their organization, their new diversity and inclusion initiative, as well as telecommuting opportunities available at ACE– which is great for those of you seeking paid opportunities that focus on animal advocacy.

The mainstream animal advocacy movement continues to be homogenous and challenged by a climate and a collective perspective that creates exclusivity. As an organization that now recognizes this homogeneity (and to some degree their own unintentional collusion with this), ACE has decided to work on solutions– first by acknowledging that there is a problem and second by taking responsibility to self-reflect and act.

What are your names and what does ACE do?

Our names are Jon Bockman (Executive Director) and Toni Adleberg (Researcher), and we are co-workers at Animal Charity Evaluators, a charity that works to find and promote the most effective ways to help animals. We do this by conducting research to identify effective animal charities and interventions, and promoting our findings as free resources for all advocates.

ACE recently made a commitment to integrating diversity and inclusion into its culture. Can you talk more about this?

At many animal advocacy events, diversity can be the elephant in the room. At the Animal Rights Conference in 2016, David Carter gave a speech in which he told the audience to look around the room and count the number of Black people that we saw. He then asked how we expect to change the world for animals if we only direct our efforts to a very limited audience.

Most animal advocates support the idea of diversity and inclusion in theory, but we think that many of them fail to appreciate how much active work we have to do to achieve diversity and inclusion in the movement in practice. Animal advocates may reluctant to do this kind of work, because they worry that it would take resources away from animal advocacy and make it harder rather than easier to do the most good we can for nonhuman animals.

Knowing that we were positioned as a meta-charity that provides advice to animal advocates and charities, we decided that we were in a unique position to promote the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the movement. However, we also knew that we had a lot of learning to do on the subject, so we started doing more research in this area, and we also partnered with Critical Diversity Solutions so that they could advise us about how to implement positive changes at ACE and encourage positive changes in the movement as a whole.

What job opportunities are offered at ACE and how does this connect to your new diversity and inclusion initiative?

We have several job opportunities at ACE right now, and each of them have a connection to our diversity and inclusion initiative.

The Digital Media Manager will oversee our social media content, and thus have an opportunity to help ACE identify and share materials from a wide range of outlets. This work will help educate animal advocates as well as ACE itself on a number of important and neglected topics.

The Media Relations Specialist will coordinate with the media, which will allow us to build relationships with new contacts and outlets and share ideas about effective animal advocacy with them.

The Research Associate will be involved with crafting our research initiatives and conducting our annual charity evaluations. We are currently integrating considerations of diversity and inclusion into our evaluation criteria while improving our evaluation process in other ways as well, and this position would assist in those efforts.

Anything else you want to add?

ACE operates as a part of the animal advocacy movement and effective altruism movement. Both of these movements have problems with diversity and inclusion, and we want that to change. We understand that simply adding new faces to these movements will not be enough. We hope to see the animal advocacy and effective altruism movements incorporate new perspectives and world-views, and we hope to see people with marginalized identities better represented at every level in animal advocacy and effective altruist organizations.

Promoting diversity and inclusion is the right thing to do. We should be supporting other social movements for their own sake, whether or not we stand to benefit from doing so. That said, we do think that supporting other social justice movements will benefit the animal advocacy and effective altruism movements. Relatively diverse charities may develop more accurate world-views than less diverse charities by integrating a wide range of perspectives and experiences. On a practical level, as our movements become more diverse and inclusive, they will expand their reach, and thus, their impact.

However, we know that—even though promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion is the right thing to do—we may not be the right people to do it on our own. We are also cognizant of the fact that there are long-standing problems in this area that will not be fixed with a simple initiative. We are incredibly happy to be working with Critical Diversity Solutions to ensure that we are taking responsible measures to improve as efficiently as possible.

If people have questions about ACE and these new opportunities as well as your new diversity and inclusion initiatives, how can they reach you?

We would love to hear from you! You can find each of our emails on our team page, or you can contact Jon or Toni at their respective email addresses:


Critical Diversity Solutions is the diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting service that was founded by Dr. A. Breeze Harper of the Sistah Vegan Project. CDS looks forward to seeing how ACE will develop their new commitment to integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion into their culture.

Even Vegans Die: A Quick Review from the Sistah Vegan Project

Overall, a fantastic and first of its kind to address the many myths and false promises of a vegan diet…. but from pro vegan authors who are well known in their fields. They call out the ableism, illness shaming, the fat shaming, and denial of death that thousands of vegans proselytize.

I love how they write things that address how of course Christie Brinkley looks “good”— but it is not because of a vegan diet. They note that it is because she is wealthy and can afford the money it takes to look that the conventionally “beautiful” (i.e., white, slim, clear skin, etc). Having the wealth and time to have fitness instructors, personal chefs, outstanding healthcare access, etc., are factors that contribute to one’s “good” or “healthy” appearance.

The authors also lay out how to treat vegans who are ill or even dying. They suggest supporting them and to not shame them. They ask readers to make sure they face death (their own) and get their legal affairs in check before they die. Also, it was great for them to tell the readers that when or if a vegan (but this could and should apply to all people, vegan or not) says they are ill, not to respond with, “Well have you tried [type in vegan based remedy]?” This is the best way to sound non supportive and judgmental to someone who is already suffering and overwhelmed due to illness or injury.

I would have appreciated more critical reflections on race , whiteness on the issues brought to light and how the authors own racial and class privileges affect their engagement with the myths of veganism. I also wanted to know who the assumed audience of vegans are … but authors can’t do everything and I understand this. They started the conversation with action plans and now it is up to the rest of those reading it to integrate it into their lives.

Overall, great read … You can buy this book by clicking on the image below:


Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a senior diversity and inclusion strategist for Critical Diversity Solutions, a seasoned speaker, and author of books and articles related to critical race feminism, intersectional anti-racism, and ethical consumption. As a writer, she is best known as the creator and editor of the groundbreaking anthology Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010). 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 use hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies. In 2016, she collaborated with Oakland’s FoodFirst’s Executive Director Dr. Eric Holt-Gimenez to write the backgrounder Dismantling Racism in the Food System, which kicked off FoodFirst’s series on systemic racism within the food system

Dr. Harper is the founder of the Sistah Vegan Project which has put on several ground-breaking conferences with emphasis on intersection of racialized consciousness, anti-racism, and ethical consumption (i.e., veganism, animal rights, Fair Trade). Last year she organized the highly successful conference The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter which can be downloaded.

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. Her current 2016 lecture circuit focuses on excerpts from her latest book in progress, Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches: A Critical Race Feminist’s Journey Through ‘Post-Racial’ Ethical Foodscape which will be released in 2017, along with the second Sistah Vegan project anthology The Praxis of Justice in an Era of Black Lives MatterIn tandem with these book projects, she is well-known for her talks and workshops about “Uprooting White Fragility in the Ethical Foodscape” and “Intersectional Anti-Racism Activism.”

In the spring of 2016, Dr. Harper was nominated as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Humane Party— the only vegan political party in the USA with focus on human and non-human animals.

SUPPORT THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT'S LATEST BOOK

The Culturally Competent Racist and Sanitizing White Supremacy

Often, when racism/white supremacy occur at a predominantly white school or in a work environment, human resources bring in “cultural competency” trainings or workshops as well as organize a day of  “Let’s celebrate our differences” .

Let’s be frank: the issue is not “cultural competency” (this is a sanitizing term) or the need to “celebrate our differences.”  Such a response to racist attitudes/behavior simply masks systemic racism and white supremacy; these are the fundamental problems– some happy day of celebrating “all the colors of the rainbow” will not remedy this. First, how about these places use exact and direct language and call it what it is: racism and white supremacy. Bringing in curriculum labeled “Anti-racism training” or “Systemic white supremacy literacy and intervention” unveils the reality of what needs to be dealt with.  Instead of simply focusing on “cultural difference” and/or “cultural competency”, require pragmatic interventions about anti-Blackness and USA’s white supremacist racial caste system, to name a few.

Also, do not tell me that the person who just called me “nigger”, says that “all Black men are thugs,” or has made the claim that I don’t sound “ghetto like most Black people” needs to be taught to have racial tolerance towards me; towards Black people. What I hear is, “Yea, HR knows that Black people are intolerable making it nearly impossible for white people to not lash out with racially offensive words or imagery when they have to be around them. How about we send you to a class so you can learn how to at least tolerate them and to not do anything that is ‘culturally inappropriate.'” 

I know my framing of intervention doesn’t bode well with the mainstream because of ‘white fragility'(white rage), but coddling [mostly] white feelings by implying “it’s just about cultural difference” when it’s about white supremacist racism is an epic fail . You can have a training that doesn’t individually attack white people but rather, shows how racism and white supremacy operate at the systemic and institutional levels. Making sure that the racial status quo “doesn’t feel bad” or “guilty” is ridiculous. Teaching about how a white supremacist racial caste system operates (from the micro to the macro levels) is not about feelings; it’s about justice and doing what is right. I repeat, bringing in cultural competence ‘experts’ is not usually the best course of action. Why…?

If a white person at work or in class calls a Black person “nigger” or posts lynching signs, they are truly culturally competent in the fundamental roots of anti-Blackness and white supremacy that the USA was founded upon. They are very literate in this. They know the right words or non-verbal actions to reinforce the white supremacist racial caste system that the USA uses as a bedrock for normative culture.

Let’s move beyond cosmetic diversity and towards operationalizing racial equity, social and restorative justice in response to racism on every level.

Now for some yummy kale chips to fight against the constant racial battle fatigue symptoms that plague thousands of racialized minorities in the USA that spend oodles of time trying to explain this (sigh). Kale is an amazing nutritional tool that helps me get through my anti-racism work through intense nutritional support. You’ll be hearing more about my project that merges recipes for racial battle fatigue, analysis of the ethical foodscape, and black feminist theory that is coming out next year: Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches….


Dr. A.Breeze Harper (Credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen 2016)

Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a senior diversity and inclusion strategist for Critical Diversity Solutions, a seasoned speaker, and author of books and articles related to critical race feminism, intersectional anti-racism, and ethical consumption. As a writer, she is best known as the creator and editor of the groundbreaking anthology Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010). 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 use hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies. In 2016, she collaborated with Oakland’s FoodFirst’s Executive Director Dr. Eric Holt-Gimenez to write the backgrounder Dismantling Racism in the Food System, which kicked off FoodFirst’s series on systemic racism within the food system

Dr. Harper is the founder of the Sistah Vegan Project which has put on several ground-breaking conferences with emphasis on intersection of racialized consciousness, anti-racism, and ethical consumption (i.e., veganism, animal rights, Fair Trade). Last year she organized the highly successful conference The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter which can be downloaded.

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. Her current 2016 lecture circuit focuses on excerpts from her latest book in progress, Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches: A Critical Race Feminist’s Journey Through ‘Post-Racial’ Ethical Foodscape which will be released in 2017, along with the second Sistah Vegan project anthology The Praxis of Justice in an Era of Black Lives MatterIn tandem with these book projects, she is well-known for her talks and workshops about “Uprooting White Fragility in the Ethical Foodscape” and “Intersectional Anti-Racism Activism.”

In the spring of 2016, Dr. Harper was nominated as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Humane Party— the only vegan political party in the USA with focus on human and non-human animals.

SUPPORT THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT'S LATEST BOOK

Responding to Fear Through Killing vs. Compassion: The Crane Fly and the Three Year Old

 

My 3 year old was crying in the bathroom. She said there was a bee in the bathroom and she was scared of it. She said she hated it and it was going to hurt her. I informed her that this is not a ‘bee’. That it is not an ‘it’, but a living being.  At the time, I do not know what type of insect this is, but the insect looks like a very very big mosquito (which I later will learn is a Crane Fly). I know they are harmless… I explain to her that the insect must be really scared: “I mean, just imagine you are lost, away from home, from your family, and this huge being is hooting and hollering about how they are scared of you and want to squish you. I mean, how terrified would you be when all you want to do is find your family and friends and be safe again?”

A few minutes later, she comes to me, calmly and says, “Mama, I want to help the bug find his family.” This is a very very awesome thing for her to say, because since she was about 14 months old, she has always conveyed to me how she is scared of spiders and insects; ‘hates them’. And for nearly 2 years I have explained to her that you can’t go around scared and hating beings just because they ‘scare you’ or ‘look funny’. “It’s not the being’s problem that you have issues…and you shouldn’t try to stomp or kill the insect or spider unless they’re trying to hurt you” I would say (or similar).

It is hard for her to fully understand what I have been telling her for the last 2 years, and for her to put the philosophy into practice. We live in a US culture in which most children’s parents are telling them that if a bug or spider scares them, “kill ‘it'”. Many of the parents at the playground I have encountered do kill the bugs and spiders their children are hooting and hollering about. Dealing with one’s fear of another being that means them no harm, by “killing it”,  is cruel and problematic on many levels. This method does not teach children compassionate and critical engagement with the beings they share the planet with. And how does this rhetoric infiltrate how they engage with human beings they fear who mean them no harm?(i.e., cisgender kids who ‘fear’ children who are not cisgender, due to learning this rhetoric in a cissexist society, so their response may be to bully and harass these children they are taught to fear.)

Also, I have observed that it is mostly girls in the USA, who are taught to be scared of insects and arachnids and to not find anything worth learning about these beings. I’d even argue that this has been one of many ways to socialize cis-girls into “proper” girlhood (whereas cis-boys are socialized to not be scared of these little beings and/or expected to be ‘brave’ enough to kill them to impress girls or ‘save’ them from these little creatures = “proper” boyhood).

I am teaching my 3 year old (and other 3 kids) a way to interact with insects and spiders that my father taught me when I was a little girl (I talk about this in Sister Species). One day, I was about 9, and I had been hooting and hollering about a spider I wanted him to kill because I was scared of the little creature. He told me it wasn’t the spider’s problem that I was scared of them and that killing the spider as a solution to my issues was not going to solve the root of my problem; my fear. He had tried to teach me this for years, but for some reason, it resonated with me and it was an ‘a-ha’ moment. (It was the same year he was kind of pissed when he saw me deeply cutting into a tree in our yard, to peel its layers of bark off. He said something like, “What is wrong with you? That’s like peeling the skin off of you while you are alive. Would you like that?” The tree survived and is still in the yard with a deep scar– and I still feel like a fool and ashamed for having done something so ignorant and unmindful, whenever I see that scar, decades later. )

So, I am uber psyched that my 3 year old finally had an ah-ha moment and realized that this being should not be squished but that she should try to help them as much as she can.  We went through similar with our first born in 2014, and I talk about this in the blog post, “Mama, Do Police Eat Animals?”

Here are two excellent resources for children:

Humane Education (Teaching Kindness and Activism for Humans, Animals and the Environment)

Teaching Tolerance and Activism for Children in Regard to Human Beings


Dr. A.Breeze Harper (Credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen 2016)

Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a senior diversity and inclusion strategist for Critical Diversity Solutions, a seasoned speaker, and author of books and articles related to critical race feminism, intersectional anti-racism, and ethical consumption. As a writer, she is best known as the creator and editor of the groundbreaking anthology Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010). 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 use hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies. In 2016, she collaborated with Oakland’s FoodFirst’s Executive Director Dr. Eric Holt-Gimenez to write the backgrounder Dismantling Racism in the Food System, which kicked off FoodFirst’s series on systemic racism within the food system

Dr. Harper is the founder of the Sistah Vegan Project which has put on several ground-breaking conferences with emphasis on intersection of racialized consciousness, anti-racism, and ethical consumption (i.e., veganism, animal rights, Fair Trade). Last year she organized the highly successful conference The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter which can be downloaded.

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. Her current 2016 lecture circuit focuses on excerpts from her latest book in progress, Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches: A Critical Race Feminist’s Journey Through ‘Post-Racial’ Ethical Foodscape which will be released in 2017, along with the second Sistah Vegan project anthology The Praxis of Justice in an Era of Black Lives MatterIn tandem with these book projects, she is well-known for her talks and workshops about “Uprooting White Fragility in the Ethical Foodscape” and “Intersectional Anti-Racism Activism.”

In the spring of 2016, Dr. Harper was nominated as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Humane Party— the only vegan political party in the USA with focus on human and non-human animals.

SUPPORT THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT'S LATEST BOOK

The Cigar and Michael Brown: Proximities to “Civilized Whiteness” in the Ethical Foodscape


SUPPORT THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT'S LATEST BOOK

 

 


Dr. A.Breeze Harper (Credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen 2016)

Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a senior diversity and inclusion strategist for Critical Diversity Solutions, a seasoned speaker, and author of books and articles related to critical race feminism, intersectional anti-racism, and ethical consumption. As a writer, she is best known as the creator and editor of the groundbreaking anthology Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010). 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 use hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies. In 2016, she collaborated with Oakland’s FoodFirst’s Executive Director Dr. Eric Holt-Gimenez to write the backgrounder Dismantling Racism in the Food System, which kicked off FoodFirst’s series on systemic racism within the food system

Dr. Harper is the founder of the Sistah Vegan Project which has put on several ground-breaking conferences with emphasis on intersection of racialized consciousness, anti-racism, and ethical consumption (i.e., veganism, animal rights, Fair Trade). Last year she organized the highly successful conference The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter which can be downloaded.

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. Her current 2016 lecture circuit focuses on excerpts from her latest book in progress, Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches: A Critical Race Feminist’s Journey Through ‘Post-Racial’ Ethical Foodscape which will be released in 2017, along with the second Sistah Vegan project anthology The Praxis of Justice in an Era of Black Lives MatterIn tandem with these book projects, she is well-known for her talks and workshops about “Uprooting White Fragility in the Ethical Foodscape” and “Intersectional Anti-Racism Activism.”

In the spring of 2016, Dr. Harper was nominated as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Humane Party— the only vegan political party in the USA with focus on human and non-human animals.

SUPPORT THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT'S LATEST BOOK

The Blood of Emmett Till: Kale Soup and Vegan Comfort Support to Get Through Narratives of Racial Violence

What to eat when reading emotionally taxing materials about the violence of white supremacy and anti blackness. Kale avocado tofu ginger soup. This is one of my many “recipes for racial tension headaches“. So far, the book, The Blood of Emmett Till is very good but also really hard for/on my spirit.

Recipe

Ingredients

1 vegan bullion cube
Five cups of cut up baby kale
Pack of firm tofu
One avocado
Four cups of water
1/3 cup olive oil
Fresh ginger of about one inch long root (cut off)
2 tbsp of chia seeds

Instructions

Bring concoction to a mild simmer for five minutes. Turn off and use a blend stick or blender to blend into a creamy soup.


Dr. A.Breeze Harper (Credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen 2016)

Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a senior diversity and inclusion strategist for Critical Diversity Solutions, a seasoned speaker, and author of books and articles related to critical race feminism, intersectional anti-racism, and ethical consumption. As a writer, she is best known as the creator and editor of the groundbreaking anthology Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010). 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 use hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies. In 2016, she collaborated with Oakland’s FoodFirst’s Executive Director Dr. Eric Holt-Gimenez to write the backgrounder Dismantling Racism in the Food System, which kicked off FoodFirst’s series on systemic racism within the food system

Dr. Harper is the founder of the Sistah Vegan Project which has put on several ground-breaking conferences with emphasis on intersection of racialized consciousness, anti-racism, and ethical consumption (i.e., veganism, animal rights, Fair Trade). Last year she organized the highly successful conference The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter which can be downloaded.

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. Her current 2016 lecture circuit focuses on excerpts from her latest book in progress, Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches: A Critical Race Feminist’s Journey Through ‘Post-Racial’ Ethical Foodscape which will be released in 2017, along with the second Sistah Vegan project anthology The Praxis of Justice in an Era of Black Lives MatterIn tandem with these book projects, she is well-known for her talks and workshops about “Uprooting White Fragility in the Ethical Foodscape” and “Intersectional Anti-Racism Activism.”

In the spring of 2016, Dr. Harper was nominated as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Humane Party— the only vegan political party in the USA with focus on human and non-human animals.

SUPPORT THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT'S LATEST BOOK

From Sacramento to Penn State: Uprooting White Fragility and Other Updates

 

 


Dr. A. Breeze Harper to Speak in Sacramento, CA March 18, 2017

“Make Veganism Great Again”: Keeping the Negro out of the Post-Racial Vegan Foodscape

I just came back from doing a phenomenal Racial Equity and Ethical Consumption workshop and lecture (video link soon to come) at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. 

I rocked the house. Students left with a whole new way to think about racial equity, veganism, limits of “diversity” in a neoliberal capitalist era– all within the framework of ethical consumption. It was hosted by the VegOut and Womxn of Color groups at Wesleyan. The title of the talk refers to my analysis of how my interrogations of race and whiteness within the USA vegan mainstream, over the last 12 years, has yielded many negative responses; responses that indicate I am supposedly making veganism ‘impure’ and distracting from making it ‘great’ again (i.e., white masculinist objective vegan logic, “untainted” by the other). During the talk, I argued that I was ‘border crossing’ into white cisgender man’s epistemological vegan space… and similar to Trump, many– mostly white– vegans respond by building psychic “walls” to keep myself and many non-white critical race and vegan scholars out. Basically, “Keep the negro out of the post-racial ethical and vegan foodscape.” LOL.

I spoke of racially coded language, cognitive dissonance, Thug Kitchen, and wondered if the plethora of white vegans on Facebook from 2014 — who didn’t understand Ferguson and Mike Brown’s murder– would have sympathized more with him had he been accused of stealing kale or tofu (such objects have a closer proximity to ‘civilized whiteness’ than cigars, the “object of negroes being disobedient”).

Excerpt from talk

Trump has a “law and order” rhetoric on groups focused on anti-police will not be tolerated during his administration– there is no mention of solidarity with Black Lives Matter or the tackling of racial profiling, which is a complete 180, in comparison to former President Barack Obama, who supported BLM’s underlying principles to advocate against racial profiling and the systemic wide racialized violence targeting Black people.

The cry of “law and order” as a remedy to obvious decades of anti-Blackness, militarized police state, and systemic racism was nothing new within the landscape of Republican/GOP rhetoric and power-play strategies. “Law and order”, as a response to racial justice and civil rights activism by those determined to fight their oppression, is the playbook that Nixon used to “deal” with the “civil disobedience” from those Black Americans (and allies) that were protesting the violence of racism that secured the power and privilege of white elite like Nixon.

One does not have to search too far back in history to see images of Black people being subjected to “law and order” while they peacefully protest. The hoses, the dogs, the beatings, the killings, batons crushing skulls, being thrown into jail and tortured.

Even though I have started off talking about Trump…this talk isn’t necessarily going to be about Trump as much as it will be about the red flags I observed during the past ten years of scholarships and activism I have engaged in that ultimately shows how Trump’s win was the “logical” outcome, that reflects how race continues to matter in not just politics, but all aspects of life in the USA including the ethical foodscape ….if one just knows how to read the signs.

-Dr. A. Breeze Harper, March 3 2017. Wesleyan University.

So far the Sistah Vegan Project has brought Operationalizing Racial Equity in Ethical Consumption and similar workshops, consulting, and lectures to college campuses and organizations throughout the world, including Fresno State University, The Pollination Project, Middlebury College, Vegan Outreach, Stanford University, Whidbey Institute, VegFest UK (Scotland), Concordia University (Montreal), Lawrence University, and University of California-Santa Cruz to name a few.


Dr. A.Breeze Harper (Credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen 2016)

Contact us at sistahvegan at gmail.com to bring featured trainer and speaker, Dr. A. Breeze Harper to your campus or organization. Learn more about her work and what she can offer here.

 

Operationalizing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Ethical Consumption


Dr. A.Breeze Harper (Credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen 2016)

So far we have brought Operationalizing Racial Equity in Ethical Consumption and similar workshops, consulting, and lectures to college campuses and organizations throughout the United States, including Wesleyan University, Fresno State University, Middlebury College, Vegan Outreach, Stanford University, Lawrence University, and University of California-Santa Cruz to name a few.

Contact us at sistahvegan at gmail.com to bring featured trainer and speaker, Dr. A. Breeze Harper to your campus or organization. Learn more about her work and what she can offer here.