If you have not already done so, urge your favorite and other USA based animals rights and / pro-vegan organizations to release an official statement and action plan on how they do not support white supremacy/racism(if they have not yet done this).
Urge them to not take the ‘cosmetic diversity‘ approach and to understand that racism can take on many forms, not just Neo Nazis and KKK groups (check out racial micro-aggressions and neoliberal racism for instance).
Urge them to commit to fighting against white supremacy and systemic racism in a way that integrates these into their organizational goals and values.
Urge them to learn how to operationalize racial equity ( as well as other forms of equities along gender, class, ability, sexual orientation, age, etc ).
Let them know that they cannot be neutral about the white [supremacist] elephant in the room (and that ‘room’ is a white settler nation called the USA in which the logics of white supremacy were its foundational CORE values and still operate today– from the logic of Neo-Nazis, to the logic of white savior complex, to the logic of racial profiling, to the logic of gentrification, to the logic of ‘tracking’ in K-12 education, to the logic of engaging in missionary language when campaigning about animal rights and veganism).
And on a similar note, if you know of pro-vegan and/or animal rights organizations and businesses that are mostly white led and constantly try to convert communities of color to ‘go vegan’, yet have not issued any statements and action plans that show a true commitment to fighting against a white supremacist USA racial caste system, call them out. Many of these entities will claim that they don’t understand why their organization or business is “so white”, or that they can’t get non-white people “on board” , or that they are an equal opportunity employer and don’t need to talk more about racism– yet they continue to not make it clear that they are actively fighting against white supremacy/racism.
Hold them accountable if they have used images of Black people being lynched, Jewish people in the Holocaust, or Native American genocide to promote non-human animal rights but have yet to issue any action plan and/or statement of ongoing true solidarity with anti-racism and anti white-supremacists activists.
Hold them accountable if they continue to use racial micro-aggressions such as “All Lives Matter” yet have shown zero commitment to ending white supremacist racial caste system.
Hold them accountable when they tell you that talking about race is “divisive” and that “we all are oppressed”. Remind them that this is the same tactic and logic used when Trump makes the claim that there is “hate on many sides”, implying that to focus on white supremacy and racism is divisive if we are to bring the country together.
Do it now.
And same goes for non-vegan/non-AR groups, businesses etc. Urge them to do the same and if they don’t make it clear that they will, consider no longer supporting them until they make it clear that they will be committed to both anti-racism and anti-speciesism. Shift your support to the organizations and businesses that are powerhouses in their anti-racism/anti white-supremacy and anti-speciesism work.
To everyone in the struggle against white supremacy in the USA, from Charlottesville VA to Ella Baker Center in Oakland, CA, I will continue fighting. My heart goes out to the victims of the violence of white supremacist racism from last weekend in Charlottesville VA and the countless numbers of people in the USA over the last 5 centuries here. It is a continuum of violence that I hope will vanish within my lifetime.
Dr. Harper is the creator and editor of the first of its kind book about veganism and race: Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society(Lantern Books 2010).
Dr. Harper holds a PhD in social science from University of California Davis (with an emphasis in Black Feminisms, Critical Theories of Race, and Ethical Consumption). She has a Masters degree in Educational Technologies from Harvard University, with emphasis on Black Feminisms. Her thesis earned her the prestigious Dean’s award. She does diversity and inclusion consulting, training, and workshops with a focus on ethical consumption and animal-rights oriented organizations and businesses. Her upcoming event Black Mama Scholar in October 7 2017 is a live webcast that will speak critically about her work as an anti-racism activist and ethical vegan within the often racially hostile climate of mainstream veganism in the USA (and beyond).
Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact being a Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town. She has taught university staff and students how to use the book as a tool to develop literacy around unconscious bias and understand how deeply impactful systemic racial and socio-economic inequities are.
After observing numerous white vegans making the claim that race doesn’t matter (i.e. the passive-aggressive responses to Black Lives Matter with “All Lives Matter”) , Dr. Harper organized the highly successful and professional conference The Praxis of Black Lives Matter. The conference taught participants how to operationalize racial equity during an era of Black Lives Matter with a focus on plant-based foodie culture like veganism and raw foodism.
In 2016, Dr. Harper collaborated with Oakland’s FoodFirst’s Executive Director Dr. Eric Holt-Gimenez to write the report Dismantling Racism in the Food System, which kicked off FoodFirst’s series on systemic racism within the food system. Dr. Harper is well-known for her talks and workshops about “Operationalizing Racial Equity” and “Intersectional Anti-Racism” in ethical consumption, which were given at top universities this past year (University of Chicago, Stanford University, and Penn State to name a few).
You can check out Dr. Harper’s 2016 talk at Whidbey Institute below about Uprooting White Fragility in the Ethical Foodscape as well as the University of Oregon-Eugene talk Reading Food Objects: A Black Feminist Materialist Reading of Scars in Oregon.
Contact information: sistahvegan at gmail dot com