“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.

 

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