Take a Break with Dirty Vegan Mom: A TextChat Play About Gummy Worms

Warning:  This video below is not appropriate for the workplace or kids. However, I thought I’d take a crack at comedy with my friend who co-wrote this below. It’s comedy around erotic candy, postulating if a white woman telling a Black woman “That’s the kettle calling the pot black” is ‘racist’, and what happens when holistic eating little kids end up eating 3 pieces of Smarties candies.
 
Everyone says I’m so “serious” and “academic”. Well, I can be funny too (I think), with the help of my friend. This was written by L. Quick and Amie Louise Harper (Me). Between the two of us, we have 8 kids, two husbands, and a gazillion companion animals. We have plenty of material for a series of funny SMS Fictional Plays based on the things that happen in our lives. The series is Kaila and Reese. This is the premiere episode.
If you like this, you can go here to subscribe to SlackerHacker Mom, a site about Black feminist mothering, with humor, satire, critical thinking and sometimes “seriousness” by yours truly, Dr. Amie Breeze Harper!
I also talk more about mothering in the “Backdrop” in the latest Buddhist magazine, Lion’s Roar: “Farts, Fanon, and Rainbow Boogers”.

6 Year Old Girl Climbs Mt. Whitney and Happens to Be Sistah Vegan’s Daughter

Eva Luna Harper-Zahn (6) at Mt. Whitney Summit , July 2018 (Photo Credit: Dr. Oliver Zahn)

My daughter is 6 years old and she just made it to the summit of Mt. Whitney in the USA. I believe she may be the youngest girl to have done this on record. Research shows that a six year old boy did it in 2016.

This is the tallest mountain in the contiguous USA at 14,505 feet. 22 miles, but the high elevation and thin air make it grueling and feel like twice as long. She persevered through altitude sickness. She woke up at midnight to start the ascent with headlamp and with her daddy and nine year old brother. It took them nine hours, half in the dark. I can’t emphasize enough, how much here older brother Sun Harper-Zahn (9 years old) delivered as “big brother”. Our 9 year old gave her continued support and encouragement to let her know that she can do it when she was trying to manage altitude sickness. My husband told me that Sun never complained and his words of encouragement were like “gold” to Eva Luna’s ears. Eva Luna didn’t do it alone, as her brother and papa were there to support her dream.

The next photo is she on my back while we hiked Yosemite when she was a baby. Learning about hiking all the time from our many adventures from Utah to Yosemite, and other places with great long trails. She thought it was normal that I had a 25lb baby on my back while hiking up mountains and other places for miles. My favorite was her on my back for ten hours while we hiked Bryce Canon in Utah when she was 8 months old.

Eva Luna on my Back when she is not quite 2 years old. Yosemite National Park 2013.

In that photo in 2013 I am pregnant with Kiki but trying to hide it. Luna sees me hiking while pregnant and saw me hiking while having Kiki on my back and pregnant with Miro (who was born in 2016). We have 4 kids now.

And her daddy is a mountaineer. It is part of our family culture. He was an amazing mentor and lead as he took Sun and Eva Luna to Whitney and handled business.

Eva Luna (6) and Sun (9) Starting the hike, July 2018 (Photo Credit: Dr. Oliver Zahn)
Descending Down Mt. Whitney, July 2018 (Photo Credit: Dr. Oliver Zahn)

On a side note, my husband posted about my daughter’s achievement and noted the significance of her being both a girl and Black and notice on Reddit how her gender isn’t a problem but my husband mentioning her racial identity becomes problematic. Everyone seems okay that my husband notes she is the youngest girl but when he also adds that she is a person of color, a significant number do not like that he said that…and there are quite a few who have to explain the history of race and racism and public spaces in the : USA: https://www.reddit.com/r/Mountaineering/comments/90ytba/my_6year_old_daughter_on_top_of_mt_whitney/

Paradigm Shift: From Fear of Racist Backlash to Opportunity for Transformative Justice Praxis

Two years ago, there was a pivotal moment in my antiracism and vegan scholarship/activist career. I was invited to speak at Whidbey institute on how to tackle the persistence of collective denial around systemic racism, antiblackness and white supremacist hate in its more covert forms. 

I was scared and couldn’t shift out of my current paradigm (core belief system) that was anchored on fear and doubt. I wanted to take the next step in my work by being more transparent and honest in my language but was held back by the belief that I couldn’t go to that event or it would be a disaster; nothing good would come out of it.

I called my twin brother to discuss, in a moment of panic and anxiety, convinced that I was going to cancel the event last minute, terrified what would happen even if I used the most compassionate and gentle language, rooted in my decade-long practice of Zen Buddhist pedagogies, to explain to the mainstream and mostly white population how even the best intentions, within animal advocacy, can have negative impact on racialized minorities if there is no understanding on how the current system of racial oppression operates in the United States. 

So my brother talked to me as a professional dedicated to deep therapeutic methods to help clients shift away from their fears and other internal narratives that often hold them back from their greatness. 

He helped me shift my paradigm and find the courage for me to renarrate and reprogram my paradigm of fear to paradigm of Hope and opportunity.

So I jumped on that plane and gave one of the best talks I have ever given, and left that fear and anxiety behind. The talk was epic and groundbreaking, helping many break out of their own fears around “what if I too, let go of my fears and truly be an antiracism activist and intervene when I witness racial injustice like antiblackness and white supremacy?” bell hooks ended up viewing the recording of my talk and was so inspired, she invited me to connect with her two years later and I did, in Kentucky. (I had never met her before but had become a black feminist scholar primarily through her fearless work , discovered 20 years earlier when I was a college student).

I invite you to “shift your paradigm” like I did, through my twin brother, Talmadge Harper. The only thing you will lose are fear and limitations. 

And here is the talk I gave that would not have happened without the shift of my paradigm:

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About Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. A. Breeze Harper (Photo Credit: Sun Harper-Zahn)

Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a senior diversity and inclusion strategist for Critical Diversity Solutionsa 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 know for 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 nominee for the Humane Party— the only vegan political party in the USA with focus on human and non-human animals.

 

I’m Black and I Burn When it’s 67 Degrees: Blackness Card Rejected

I wrote this in 2012 but it might as well be 2018….

 

Pointing at my burned scabbing nose…blackness card revoked!

Seriously, what the hell?

Did my forehead just start peeling after basking in the North Berkeley sun for a mere 7 minutes?

What is the purpose of my brown skin’s melanin? I mean, “black don’t crack,” right? (Well, I think they probably mean that black folk aren’t supposed to show signs of aging, even if they’re like 105 years old)…. But maybe it means I am not supposed to crack and peel after being in the sun for 7 minutes during a 67 F day?

My mom used to joke all the time, while I was in high school, how I would not have made a ‘good’ field slave, on account that I simply couldn’t handle the sun. (Yes people, this is a joke).

So, it’s now that I must ruminate over whether or not I should be allowed to be called “black”; should my blackness card be revoked? If it takes me less than 10 minutes to burn in the sun when it’s only 67 F degrees and only 100 feet above sea level, with 35% humidity, then something has gone terribly wrong with my blackness. Over the past week, I have realized that despite having brown skin, my “cultural whiteness” has trumped my physiology.

(“Cultural whiteness”? Bare with me here….)

You know, “cultural whiteness”. I’m referring to when some stupid motherf*cker, usually a black person who thinks they are the epitome of “blackness” calls you an “Oreo” because you aren’t doing what black people are supposed to be doing. “Oreo” means you’re doing something that white folk normally do (and I guess that is by default, anti-blackness (?)). So, yesterday, I compiled a list of the top five things I have been doing, since I can remember, that have probably led me to burn in the sun, regardless of my golden brown skin tone that spray-on-tan queen Kim Kardashian would kill for.

(1) I did not attend an HBCU.(For you white folk who are like ‘huh?’, an HBCU is a historically black college or university. Don’t worry, I didn’t know what an “HBCU” was for months, upon hearing it when I was younger. Instead of asking a bonafide black person what it mean, I spent hours theorizing what that acronym could mean.)

Yup, I “sold out” and I attended Dartmouth College in the early nineties. I didn’t apply to any HBCUs (not because they were HBCUs but more because I wanted to stay in New England). I was excited about having being accepted into Smith College as well and was bummed that they didn’t offer enough financial aid for me to attend. Same with Tufts University. Loved it but it was too expensive and they didn’t offer enough. But Dartmouth did. You have to understand Dartmouth of the 90s. Uber conservative, heteronormative, dynastic elite white male privilege was what the campus climate was known for. I am pretty sure that this deeply damaged my melanin. I also developed the “sweet-itis”, which meant I was prefacing everything with “sweet!” I went from a regular Oreo to an Oreo Double Stuff!

(2) I stopped eating the ‘gospel bird’.

Yup, years ago I decided to transition into veganism. I shocked all my card carrying “I’m a bonafide black person” friends and family when I declared that I would no longer eat and poop out chicken (okay, I didn’t talk about what would be coming out of my butt… but butt hole jokes are just plain funny, in a junior high humor sort of way).  I also said ‘no’ to pork-rinds and also ‘no’ to being hip and cool like so many black folk I know who enjoy bragging about how many deep fried dead animals they overdosed on at a family bbq, and then excuse themselves to go take their high blood pressure medicine and insulin for their diabetes (which is apparently a true ‘marker’ of “I am black.” Well, at least that is what the medical reports of today talk about. You know, since a true black person doesn’t know how to eat ‘right’, is ‘obese’, and needs to be ‘educated’, usually by a white girl from the mid-west who is on a ‘mission’ to bring them ‘good’ food for her college internship).  My black folk also seemed rather fine about sitting out at family BBQs all day in the hot sun without even burning, cracking and peeling, so it must have been something in the gospel bird!

(3) I married a white dude.

And not just any ‘white’ dude but one of those European white dudes who is from Germany and has a doctoral degree in astrophysics. I knew I had made a mistake in performing my proper blackness when, upon hearing about my new financé, my grandmother made the comment, “I don’t know why she’s got to go and marry that white boy.” And it’s not like I got that “reminder” too late in life. I remember my Aunt who shall remain nameless (there are 5 of them so I am not giving it away) , telling my twin brother and I in high school that it was okay to date “them” but not to marry “them.” Had I taken heed earlier and found a true card carrying black man to marry, perhaps I would have reinvigorated my melanin and not burned in the sun in a rapid 9 minutes… even with SPF 30 on and a damn hat.

(4) My twin brother and I obsessed over and memorized all the songs to the musical The Sound of Music , starting in the sixth grade.

I sh*t you not. He and I spent hours and hours bouncing up and down, doing our own renditions of “Doe, a deer, a female deer. Re, a drop of golden sun.” We borrowed that VHS cassette from the Lebanon Town library a gazillion times. Or, if it were re-running on television, we’d be all excited about it. However, my twin does not burn in the sun. I think it’s because while we were in college, he wouldn’t admit that he liked or even knew the lyrics to that The Sound of Music, while I still proudly claimed that I did. He also listened to Sam Cook, John Coltrane, James Brown, DMX, and all the “how to be black and know your music” hits of the past century that I was clueless about because I was still obssesesing over my musicals, European classical music, and would quiver whenever I would hear a rap or hip hop song use the word “nigga” (which I later learned shouldn’t be confused with ‘nigger’) or “bitch”. I remember joining an a cappella group with all brown and black girls (and one token white girl named Stephanie) in college. They were excited about a new song we’d be doing. Our leader told us we’d be singing a New Edition song. I kept on asking, “A new edition of what!?” They laughed at me; one girl went up to me and tried to see if I had painted my brown arms by rubbing them, to verify if I was in fact a real black person. Amazingly, my brown skin did start smudging off… weird, no? The following week, The Fugees came to perform on campus and I kept on asking everyone, “What are the FUDGEES?” Yup, like a fudge-sicle…. go me, I’m so down…

(5) I had a mad crush on David Hasselhoff.

I’m not talking about David Hasselhoff during his Knight Rider days but more like his Bay Watch Days….Psych your mind! I’m just messing with you, I didn’t really have a crush on him (whistling to myself, eye averting to the ceiling).
So, today I am handing in my blackness card as I sit here with aloe on my burned and peeling nose, scratching away at my tender shoulders. I am not sure what new card I should be carrying…. but I am hoping this is a temporary situation, as I’ve paid $99.99 for a webinar to learn how to reclaim my blackness and put my melanin back into harmony again.
(Yea, I know people aren’t used to me being funny. So, in case you didn’t realize it, this was me joking around. It’s a fun twist on responding to the questions I have gotten from white folk: “Wait, black people can tan? Black people can burn?” and from bonafide black folk, “Are you a white girl dipped in chocolate or something?”)

When Talking About Racism is “Insulting”: Thoughts on My Animal Care Expo Keynote Talk

 

May 14, 2018 I gave the opening session keynote talk for the Animal Care Expo event in Kansas City MO, hosted by Humane Society of the United States. There were about 1400 in attendance. This was hosted by Humane Society of U.S. . I was told that I had been the first keynote lecturer who was non-white and the first to tackle the “taboo” subject of diversity, inclusivity, and equity. I also came at it from the black radical tradition . That means I presented how to think about animal advocacy within workplace culture and how it can (or cannot) be “inclusive” when we think about how anti-Blackness, white supremacy, and and consequences of ante-bellum slavery inform and influence consciousness/praxis— even in animal advocacy related sectors, such as dog rescue, vegan food companies, and being a Black veterinarian.

It was a challenging talk to give because these topics never really entered that space (so I was told). I ended up inspiring a lot but I also ended up angering quite a few people who walked out before I finished, upset that I was even talking about animal care and advocacy within the context of systemic racism, anti-Blackness, and living in a white settler nation (USA). A person who attended the talk, Tweeted me that they had walked out of the talk and said my “program” was “insulting.” I asked her to explain, but she never replied. This is not the first time, as during my last 15 years of doing this specific type of Black feminist engagement within animal rights, veganism, and similar, I have been constantly told by mostly white people that I am “divisive”, “white-hating”, “race-baiting”, or “angry Black woman” for engaging in the type of social justice and animal rights work that I do.

Also, when I talk about these subjects, I usually have at least several hours to convey the information. For the first time, I needed to compact it into 1 hour– and for a professional audience that was not necessarily used to these type of topics in the way that my primary audience is (which are usually institutions of higher learning or folk who are used to concepts like intersectionality or really seek solutions to addressing racial inequities within their work place, scholarship, etc).

I wrote/performed a new story I had specifically written for this talk in order to link that narrative to the concepts I introduced people to. Sometimes it is hard to understand critical theory or definitions around diversity, equity, inequity, exclusion, and inclusion when there are no tangible examples of how those concepts operate. This is “Lucy’s Family” and I will develop it into a novel and/or develop it into a longer piece that will be integrated into my latest book Black. Mama. Scholar.

I got a lot of positive responses, after the talk, indicating that this was a much needed conversation. I also heard that there were negative comments, ranging from the talk being “too academic” to “the story was too long”, to having “nothing to do with animal care”; not directly towards me, but I had heard it through the grapevine.  So, I’ll see what I can do to make my message even better… However, I’m not sure how to address those who were simply angry that I was talking about white supremacy, racism, and anti-blackness within animal advocacy. I don’t think there is a solution for that, no matter how “gentle” I talk about it, present it, etc.

**CORRECTION** In the talk I say that Petaluma is in Marin county but this is incorrect. It is in Sonoma County. My apologies.

**I had Power Points with quotes and other info, which makes the presentation easier to follow. The video recorders weren’t able to show that. I quoted from Edward Hubbard PhD and other folk when defining things and you can’t tell by seeing the video.

If you enjoyed Dr. Harper’s lecture and would like to invite her to speak at your event, school, or organization, please email her at bookbreezeharper@gmail.com


About Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. A. Breeze Harper (Photo Credit: Sun Harper-Zahn)

Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a senior diversity and inclusion strategist for Critical Diversity Solutionsa 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 know for 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 nominee for the Humane Party— the only vegan political party in the USA with focus on human and non-human animals.

patreon

The Weapon of the Word “N*gger” and Backlash Against Talking about Racism

I talk about Backlash by Dr. George Yancy and what it means for Black folk to talk compassionately and honestly about race in the USA…and the rage and threats one receives to their life for simply speaking the truth as a ‘gift’. I talk about briefly, the backlash I got from talking honestly about animal advocacy and anti-Black racism and white supremacy. I gave a keynote talk at Animal Expo Care in May 2018 talking about radical diversity, equity, and inclusion to 1400+ an I did experience a lot of support but also quite a bit of ‘backlash’…in combination with the continued backlash of violence and aggression from white people (in animal advocacy and beyond) over the last 12+ of me doing this scholarship, giving workshops, and talks.

“N*gger” is not just a ‘word’ (Somatic pain beyond just being ‘brainy’ about it)

When a troll calls you a “n*gger”, in response to your public work that addresses racial injustice (i.e., a book you have published, a lecture you have given, a piece of art you have painted, a podcast you have given, etc), what is your somatic response?
I ask that because I never reply to these comments because I know that that is what they want me to do… But my body, nonetheless, replies…
“Intellectually”, I know they are there to be trolls and to incite terror and I am not “supposed” to let it “bother”  or “get to me”… but that’s just brainy Breeze saying this… My body isn’t convinced and often, I feel and experience what could be symptoms of racial battle fatigue and trauma (deep trauma from my ancestors who were enslaved, lynched, and knew that “n*gger” isn’t just a word, but an action, a system of thought, a philosophy, and act of terror on Black bodies).
Do you deal with the somatic and convincing yourself that racial epithets are “just words”? Because I am realizing more and more that that brainy critical race feminist Breeze thinks she is able to just let it bounce off of her, but I know it isn’t just that easy and her body lets her know through nightmares, anxiety, and knowing that she is not as “safe” as she thinks she is.
 
Dear Black folk who mean well: Let’s talk about the somatic and let’s stop telling Black people to “be strong” when racial epithets are used as weapons against us. I know many Black folk have tried to help me by telling me to stay strong and don’t let it get to me… but like I said above, my body isn’t having it. If you feel this way but have been afraid to talk about it, I understand.
 
This morning, I got a pop up notification from YouTube. Someone commented on my Uprooting White Fragility in the Ethical Consumption movement video I had posted. Their only comment? “N*ggers” is what they wrote.
And today, I couldn’t be brainy rationale Breeze about it, or convince myself that “it’s just a word and racist trolling.” Today it f*cking hurt and it made me physically sick.
 
There is a reason why, in my 2nd novel “Scars”, that I start with the preface about being called “n*gger” and then I end the preface with, “N*gger hurts, and never heals….” 

12 Women Who Helped Shape Me: A Black Feminist Pays Homage on International Women’s Day 2018

 
Here are some of the influential women that I would like to thank that helped me in various ways with having the confidence, resources, activist heart, etc that I needed to get me where I am today as Sistah Vegan, Dr. A. Breeze Harper, and Black Feminist Mama raising 4 babes while tackling a white supremacist racial caste system through scholarly inquiry, speaking, and book writing…
 
1. Patricia Harper (the woman who gave birth to me). She literally told my twin and I that if she ever heard us bullying or making fun of anyone due to race, class, sexual orientation, gender, religion she would “kick our a*s”. She also fought tooth and nail within a predominantly white rural school system in New England to make sure her Black children were not held back due to racist beliefs about Black folk.
 
2. bell hooks. I didn’t know what black feminism officially was until I read Black Looks: Race and Representation at Dartmouth College in the mid 1990s. It changed my life. Finally, I had language for the sh*t I had been dealing with since I could remember. I look forward to meeting you finally in real space/time in April 2018 at Berea College.
 
3. Frances Ufkes, PhD. The professor at Dartmouth College who believed in me and literally got me into this whole discipline of geography and food as well as critically thinking about commodities, space, and place. It was an interesting adventure for both of us as women in a predominantly white male dominated discipline of Geography. I took her “The Geography of Food and Hunger” class and I had no idea. I had no idea that that ethnographic trip for my research paper, back in 1994,  to the town’s grocery store to analyze the ‘meaning’ of food objects would come back to me through my interest of the racial meaning applied to vegan food objects as a graduate student seeking PhD programs.
 
4. Katherine McKittrick, PhD. She wrote Demonic Grounds— the first groundbreaking black feminist approach to geographies of struggle focused on Black women. After reading her work in 2006, I was inspired to apply to PhD programs to interrogate the geographies of struggle and the vegan praxes it would produce amongst Black women vegans.
 
5. Luz Mena, PhD. She was one of my advisors at UC Davis and believed in my ability to do innovative scholarship around veganism and critical studies of race. 
 
6. Psyche Williams-Forson, PhD. My remote advisor for my PhD program at UC Davis. She also wrote the book “Building Houses out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, and Power” and it was that book that articulates a critical race and black feminist approach to materialism and food that I would use for my analysis of vegan food objects in vegan food guides.
 
7. Patricia Leavy, PhD. After nearly giving up to find a publisher for my 2nd book “Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England“, she read my manuscript within one week. With passion and enthusiasm told, she me how innovative and amazing my book was (despite me being told by a plethora of potential publishers the opposite because they didn’t think anyone would be interested in critical race engagements with rural geographies, Black life, and sexual orientation unless it was ‘urban erotica’). She put her confidence in me and supported the publishing of my first social fiction book. 
 
8. Elise Aymer. One of my bestest friends (yes, I said “bestest”) and amazing business partner and confidant. Her raw and compassionate honesty and acute sharp mind has helped me develop self-care practices and learning to become more assertive with what I want in life. 
 
9. Zenju Earthlyn Marselean Pierre-Manuel. You wonder where I get my engaged buddhism framing of anti-racism and Black feminism? I read Zenju’s first book Seeking Enchantment about a decade ago; finally, someone who was mindful, compassionate, seeking ways to understand intersections of spirituality, self-love, mindfulness, and healing within a racist, sexist, and homophobic society. She really inspired me (and still does) to think about one’s role in social justice and anti-racism within the Sangha and beyond. She and Konda Mason organized a women of African Diaspora Buddhist retreat about five years ago and it changed my world.
 
10. pattrice jones. I wrote her shortly after her book Aftershock was published. She emailed me back saying she saw I had a new book coming out (Sistah Vegan) and asked who the publisher was. I admitted that I actually didn’t have a publisher yet. She said she would see what she could do…and introduced me and my project to Lantern Books. They read it took it as one of their first engagements with race and veganism. She wrote the brilliant afterword. Her book The Oxen at the Intersection is my ‘go to book’ for explaining to mostly white vegans, the intersections of ableism, whiteness, non-human animal rights issues, and ‘nostalgic’ narratives around [white people] getting back to traditional farming. She helps run Vine Sanctuary in Vermont.
 
11. Queen Afua. Sacred Womanby Queen Afua, is the reason why I transitioned into veganism. Hers was the first afrocentric approach to veganism I had ever heard and read about. When I read her articulations of the Black womb space and the consequences of colonialism, racism, white supremacy on our wombs (at the spiritual, nutritional, and health levels), I was blown away by that perspective. Finally, a vegan ‘dietary’ practice that came from a black racialized consciousness unapologetically. Even though it is my own story, it was her Kemetic vegan whole foods womb health regimen that helped me shrink my ‘incurable’ fibroid tumors and fade away years of painful menstrual cycles. She inspired me to seek out more decolonial methods of food, healing, and consciousness. (Her work is in the 3rd chapter of my dissertation.)
 
12. Lauren Ornelas . Why does Breeze talk so much about “cruelty-free” vegan commodities being suspect if human exploitation is involved (despite there being no non-human animal exploitation?)? Lauren founded Food Empowerment Project. Her work taught me to question the neoliberal capitalist approach to veganism and to turn the lens onto the consequences of modernity (i.e., coloniality: to be a ‘modern’ vegan consumer there is the underbelly of modernity which are tens of thousands of exploited mostly non-white racialized laborers harvesting ‘vegan’ commodities like cacao , strawberries, kale). Food Empowerment Project is the 4th chapter of my dissertation work.
 
I’m only at 12 women… but I cannot write anymore (quite tired). The list would be much longer if I had infinite amount of time and I wasn’t nursing a baby while one hand typing…. I just want to acknowledge that there are far more women who have greatly influenced me and I am honored to have had them in my life. 

About Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a senior diversity and inclusion strategist for Critical Diversity Solutionsa 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 know for 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 nominee for the Humane Party— the only vegan political party in the USA with focus on human and non-human animals.


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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Black girl hair and bullying…and affirmations (Racial Battle Fatigue Part II)

Black girl hair magic ….

Eva Luna, 6.
Eva Luna, 6.
Eva Luna, 6.

This morning Eva Luna told me again that the same two girls at school continue to tell her that her hair is stupid, that straight hair is “easier” and “looks better”. She was upset about doing her hair again this morning because she didn’t want it to look ‘stupid’ and be made fun of. It looks like I am going to have to repeat to her to love her self as well as her hair and try to explain anti blackness that many kids have learned . It is a difficult talk to have with a six year old but at the end, we did her hair “like mama” and she was happy again. She was also tentative about putting the Alaffia curl enhancer leave in conditioner in her hair because she told me that the kids make fun of the smell and that her hair may often look ‘wet’ and some tell her it is ‘gross’. I told her that this is super magical and that there is geranium oil in it and mommy puts tea tree oil in it so she doesn’t get lice like many kids.

…and to think, my mom and dad had to remind me everyday that I am beautiful, as well as smart despite the white kids in my all white school system teasing me about my “nigger do”, or teasing me that my hair looked ‘gross’ for putting traditional butters and creams in it… I was 6 in 1982… And in 2018 I am doing the same with my 6 year old….and it shouldn’t be this way still….

…and then there is my 8 year old son, who has long hair and and bullied and teased for his gender expression of wanting to identify as a boy who wears long hair pulled back in a pony tail. These everyday talks of empowerment for kids are essential and I remember it was the same talks and affirmations that my parents gave to me and my brother to get us through the racial hostility of the Reagan years and to convince us that we were smart and beautiful (inside and out).

Many adults didn’t like my mom because she called oppression out immediately. She didn’t hold back and would tell teachers and parents if they were being racist as well as holding on to ridiculous gender stereotypes. My twin brother played the flute and was a cheerleader. Several man teachers were annoyed that he didn’t play soccer or basketball like “real boys”. Mom and dad supported us and didn’t bow down. I was so blessed to have had that support and foundation.

Whitesplaining Black Girl Hair and Bullying: (Racial Battle Fatigue Series Part I)

On my personal Facebook page…After I posted my concerns about my 6 year old being bullied and teased for having a natural hair style (big puffy curly afro) by non-Black children, my concerns about the racist and white supremacist nature of the bullying was “white-splained” and derailed by a well intended white woman vegan. She insisted that the bullying was a “human” problem and not a white supremacy/anti-Blackness problem and spoke of all types of violence against humans and non-human animals that currently exist. She framed it that “HUMANS HATE AND OPPRESS HUMANS and NONHUMAN ANIMALS” and it’s not white supremacy it is a HUMAN problem. It was how she tried to explain the bullying of my daughter’s afro.

Her explanation was basically “All Lives Matter” rhetoric and it was frustrating but very indicative of neoliberal white misunderstanding of a white supremacist racial caste system (USA) and that yes, there is violence against humans by humans, but we need to locate this specific one , name it as ‘white supremacy’ and anti-Blackness if we’re ever going to tackle this specific problem my daughter is having.

At the end, me and the women of color trying to explain why we center of “Racism” and “anti-Blackness” and not simply the white-centric liberal ideology of “ALL HUMAN OPPRESS, ” we were told that our refusal to prescribe to her “All Lives Matter” rhetoric equated to us being ‘violent’, ‘attacking her’, and confirming her belief that we humans are addicted to bullying and violence.

Apparently, centering and naming ourselves as non-white racialized subjects in a white supremacist USA while raising our non-white children means we are “violent” for not agreeing with the general assessment “Well, all humans oppress and are bullies” as we try to figure out (as mostly femmes and women vegans of color), how to protect our non-white children from systemic racism producing racialized bullying. (sigh)

So, how many of you are still remaining silent on these issues?

And if you recall, I was nominated as the VP candidate for the Humane Party and I made it clear that I’m not taking a post-racial approach to veganism and human rights issues in 2016:

 


Dr. A. Breeze Harper has a PhD in Critical Food Geographies. She is the creator of The Sistah Vegan Project and the editor of the ground-breaking anthology, Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak On Food, Identity, Health, and Society, is a sought-after speaker, writer, and consultant at Critical Diversity Solutions (www.criticaldiversitysolutions.com).

Her most recently published book is Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014). Scars interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of protagonist 18 year old Savannah Sales, the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town. In 2018, her latest book project will be published, tentatively titled Black Mama Scholar: On Black Feminism, Food Ethics, And Toddler Tantrums .

Overall, Dr. Harper’s work focuses on how systems of oppression- namely racism and normative whiteness- operate within the USA. She uses food and ethical consumptions cultures, within North America, to explore these systems. Her favorite tools of analysis are critical whiteness studies, decolonial world systems theory, Black feminisms, critical race feminism, critical animal studies, and critical food studies. She is known for using engaged Buddhism as the choice method to explain her research and broach these often difficult topics of power, privilege, and liberation.

Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. Her talks explore how and why people have unique relationships to food and wellness and how these relationships are impacted by race, socio-economic class, gender, sexuality and physical abilities.

If you are interested in having A. Breeze Harper speak at your college, conference or organization please contact her at breezeharper@gmail.com. Learn more about her on her author and publications page here.