Black Folk in Nature and Yosemite’s Unethical Food Sourcing

Below is my upcoming event and information about my latest book project. The video above was taken 4 years ago but it’s a taste of what I’ll be writing about (among many other things) in my newest book project (i.e., Black Folk in nature, hiking while pregnant– I was pregnant with my 3rd but you can’t see–, ‘ethical’ food in National Parks).

Despite having brown skin and being a “melanated peoples”, I burn in the sun in approximately 5 minutes. It can be as ‘cool’ as 69 degrees Fahrenheit and I will burn…My mother used to always joke, “You would have made a horrible field slave”, which kind of makes perfect sense. She has always enjoyed calling me an Oreo since I was a tween. Oreo was then promoted to the affectionate label of Oreo Double Stuff by the time I had graduated from high school in 1994 and I had been accepted into a gazillion PWIs like Smith College, Tufts University, Bryn Mawr, and Dartmouth College.  I vividly remember when I first discovered the Four Seasons when I was 14 years old. I asked my mother if she could buy it for me on CD. Boy was she elated that I was inquiring about the Four Seasons…. Except she thought that I misspoke and that I must have meant the Black Motown group The Four Tops (Yes, I meant some music composed by a dead white Italian man). #blackcardrejected #notauthenticallyblack

How did I get from being a white cream filled dark sandwich cookie with two left feet and an unhealthy obsession with Anton Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to being told I’m uber ‘articulate’ and ‘non-threatening’ in post-racial vegan venues? I could tell this story from so many vantage points. I thought long and hard about it, writing draft after draft, dropping some heavy critical theory sh$t from Angela Davis, to Frantz Fanon, to Charles Mills. But every time I tried to do this, it just wouldn’t work out. Critical theory takes deep concentration, plenty of sleep, and mental acuity….

…which is hella blown out of the water when you’ve got 4 damn kids– a 6 month old, a 3 year old, a 5 year old (the middle one with a damn freaking attitude and a propensity for sticking her hand in the monkey jar) and an 8 year old who continuously interrupt your prophetic destiny to be a  scholar with such greatness and [can’t think of an intelligent word because my 5 year old just came outside screaming and running towards me, naked, holding a bowl of Cheerios] that would make Sara Ahmed’s rumination on phenomenology and post-colonialism look like simple nursery school rhymes. #badphenomenologyjokes

-Dr. A. Breeze Harper. Draft from her upcoming book Black. Mama. Scholar: On Black Feminism, Food Ethics, and Toddler Tantrums in a ‘Post-Racial’ Era (2018).

In a delightful and humorous, yet deeply critical talk, Dr. A. Breeze Harper will ruminate on the past 12 years of her activism and scholarship as well as read excerpts from her upcoming book Black. Mama. Scholar: On Black Feminism, Food Ethics, and Toddler Tantrums in a ‘Post-Racial’ Era (formerly titled Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches). Get ready for a different side of A. Breeze Harper, PhD, as she uses a fusion of satire and critical race feminism to explore just how “post-racial” we are– in veganism and beyond.

This is a fundraising event for the Sistah Vegan Project. Register for the Live Lecture with Q&A below.

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If you can’t make her live webcast but are interested in inviting her to give a talk and/or workshop at your organization or university, contact her at bookbreezeharper@gmail.com .



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

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.

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 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.

and

 

Secret Ingredients of Whiteness and Intersectional Anti-Racism and Other Updates

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The NPR Secret Ingredient podcast is not available now, but I will update you once it is available and will provide the link.  To learn more about the show, go here.


(Credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen 2016)
(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. Her current 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 FoodscapeIn tandem with this book project, she is well-known for her talks and workshops about “Uprooting White Fragility in the Ethical Foodscape” and “Intersectional Anti-Racism Activism.”


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)

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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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The Preschool Lunchbox: On Vegan Treats, Lessons About Gender, and Sexual Orientation

 

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Colorful.

SisTot Vegan.

Lunchbox. The Preschool Lunchbox: Vegan Treats & Lessons About Gender/Sexual Orientation ‘Norms’ http://www.sistahvegan.com/2016/02/17/sistot-vegans-the-preschool-lunchbox/

Some of you have asked me what I feed my kids for lunch. Above is a colorful description of what my 2 and 4 year olds often eat for their lunch. In the silicon Bento boxes above, we’ve got Wildwood Sprouted Tofu, marinated in Bragg Liquid Aminos. We’ve got organic sweet peas from Cadia mixed with organic frozen blueberries. I prefer sprouted tofu for better digestion and nutrition. Lastly, there is vegan cheese in there that my mother in law brought over from Germany, where she lives. It is the best vegan cheese my husband and I have ever tasted by the company Wilmersburger. When we first tasted it, we thought it really was cow dairy based cheese.

The girls simply love their SisTot Vegan Lunchbox. Right now I am soaking black beans and chick peas so they can have that and some buckwheat soba noodles and some fresh kiwi slices for tomorrow’s lunch. Luna, the 4 year old, always tells me that she is careful that she doesn’t eat animals during her lunch time. She often asks me why the other children do eat animals. I am trying to teach her how to talk about this at school without making other children feel bad and confused about the choices their parents have made in feeding them.

Today, she also told me that several children told her that “Boys can’t marry boys and girls can’t marry girls.” However, she promptly told me, “But that’s not true mom. You can marry anyone you want to.” And this is because that is what I taught her. Regardless of gender or sexual orientation, “Human beings fall in love with other human beings, period. It’s that simple.” Although only in preschool, she is mis-learning a lot about sexual orientation, ethical eating, and even gender. Of course this small community has good intentions, but I’m always focused on the potential for negative impact from those good intentions if they come from ideologies our of systemic oppression.

She often reports back to me what other children have told her…and it almost always contradicts my critical race feminist vegan teachings. I consider their SisTo Vegan lunchbox a edible version of critical race feminist veganism. Why? Because it helps to open up discussion around many social and environmental justice issues. I explain each item to the kids and how I am hoping that it contributes to creating a more just world and make them achieve health and happiness.

During PlayDoh time, she makes me pizza and presents it, “Here mom. It’s vegan and organic.” I love it.

There is a bunny rabbit at their pre-school. The rabbit lives in a cage. She tells me all the time that animals should not be in cages and that she is glad that the rabbit is released from the cage during the day to run around. However, she has learned a lot from me. She has been saying that “It’s not nice to put animals in cages.”

Preschool is a difficult space for me. I work full time now to do the good diversity, inclusion, and equity work. So, the girls are now in someone else’s care and they are receiving conflicting ‘information’ about non-human animals, gender, what is ‘food’, sexual orientation, etc which is only normal in a world with diverse experiences, beliefs, etc. I appreciate that they are being cared for an enjoy their new pre-school experience. I can only hope that the foundations I lay for them will be strong enough for them to develop critical thinking skills that will promote a more just world that alleviate suffering.

What’s in your kid’s vegan lunchbox?

Girls Yosemite
Kira Satya (2) and Eva Luna (4)

 

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 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.

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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(UPDATED) The [White Savior] Elephant in the Room: Ally Theater, Savior Complex, and Speaking for ‘The Other’

[THIS POST IS UPDATED FROM YESTERDAY. I DIDN’T KNOW I HAD PUBLISHED AN EARLIER VERSION WHICH LEFT OUT PATTRICE JONES’ WORK]

Ally Theater (2)

[Note: Christopher Sebastian McJetters is a Black and vegan man who approaches non-human animal compassion activism with anti-racist and decolonial frameworks.]

Years ago (but post-2000), my friend, a person from Africa ( I won’t be too specific to protect their identity) was studying at UC Berkeley as an Anthropology doctoral student. They told me that they saw a disturbing poster in their Anthropology department. The poster had the images of indigenous African people and gorillas, with the question, “Who will speak for them?”

They were appalled, but certainly not surprised; the traditional discipline of Anthropology in the USA was fundamentally a white colonialist/imperialist project: on many levels, that poster reflected that continuing tradition, whether intentional or not (because it’s all about impact and not intentions). My friend wrote on a public forum about the experience:

The now infamous Gorilla poster is wrong on so many levels; however, my initial views concerning the poster’s phrases and imagery straddled the line between applauding the conservationism and masking my embarrassment over the overt paternalism inherent in the question: “Who will speak for them?”

Did it occur to the creators of the poster that they (meaning the “Indigenous people”) could speak for themselves? That rather than speaking for someone they could act as allies transmitting their message to areas they cannot reach, if in fact they are incapable of reaching such areas on their own?

Despite being bothered by the line, I wasn’t the least bit shocked by the poster. I’m kinda used to encountering that line of thinking, even at Cal. This type of conditioning results from a life time of hearing, seeing, and reading others act as if they can speak on my “Indigenous” behalf in the way that parents do for their children.

P.D.
It didn’t occur to me that the poster’s content could be interpreted as comparing Sub-Saharan Africans to Gorillas. The notion that some groups of people are “monkey-like” is not universal and certainly not an a priori form of perception and understanding. Sadly, some of the people making such comparisons will do so regardless of reason and truth. We can just work to ensure that that crowd becomes (or remains) a minute minority that doesn’t perpetuate its perspective

(Source: http://savageminds.org/2012/03/04/a-plea-for-anthropology/)

Though savior complex and ally theater are not limited to white people, I am focusing more or less on white savior complex within the USA. This is because a significant number of POC (vegan and non-vegan) experience ‘post-racial’ white people involved in animal rights (and other spaces) as being on a mission[ary] to be their allies save them. But, these “saviors'” are collectively ignorant about a centuries old history of [white] savior complex and have not engaged in any self-interrogation about its impact on how they both relate to non-white people and non-human animals…and how that, in turn, racializes and socializes them into whiteness.

And by ‘save them’, I mean the goal is to save the collectivity of POC from their perspectives that are so centered on anti-racism (which is read as “irrational and distracting” by the collectivity of white animal rights/vegans). POC must be saved and taught that non-human animals come first while issues around race and whiteness are not only secondary, but divisive and distracting.

However, veganism and animal rights are not the only spaces in which [white] savior complex and speaking for the ‘other’ can happen. White anti-racist and vegan activist pattrice jones’ recent book Oxen at the Intersection, critically analyzes the impact of white supremacist and ableist logic in terms of speaking for ‘the animals’. The book narrates the story of two oxen at a Vermont College, Bill and Lou, that focuses on locavorism and ‘traditional’ pre-industrial use of non-human animals. Even though there is a lot going on in her brilliant book, I can’t emphasize enough how students, staff, and faculty at Green Mountain College felt compelled to speak for the oxen through their white supremacist and speciesist imagination of how the oxen can ‘best’ serve the mostly white bodied campus. They ‘saved’ the oxen from having ‘meaningless’ lives by forcing them into a life of servitude and being part of a nostalgic white pre-industrial agricultural narrative…nothing short of the ‘noble savage’ narrative applied to the non-human animals who cannot speak for themselves or have their own agency to determine if they even want to be part of this white bygone-era farming narrative.

As I read the book, I couldn’t help but get the sense that collectively, these people who wanted to decide the fate of Lou and Bill considered themselves non-human animal allies. These ‘good allies’ were teaching Bill, Lou, and other non-human animals how to make a mostly white campus look ‘ethical’ and ‘holier than thou’ when it comes to sustainability and creating a better food system.  The ‘white innocence’ agricultural narrative and image, depended on how this pro-locavore white Green Mountain College community spoke for these animals as both their ‘allies’ and their saviors– whether Bill and Lou truly benefited or not (which isn’t really the point; branding a white dominated college in white dominated Vermont as the symbol of white ethical practices around farming and food is the point).   (Click on title below for more info)

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So, now that you’ve read this post, here are some questions below (but don’t feel limited by them).

  1. What was your initial reaction after reading the quotes?
  2. Have you ever engaged in ally theater or savior complex?
  3. Were you ever called out because you were engaging in ally theater or savior complex behavior, and if so, how did you respond?
  4. If you identify as white, have you every leveraged ‘being an ally’ or savior  for non-white folk and/or non-human animals to show how you are ‘one of the good whites’? (You may not even be conscious of having done so)

Thanks Christopher Sebastian McJetters for starting this conversation and giving me permission to post. Thanks pattrice jones for your amazing book.


About the Author and The Sistah Vegan Project

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

Dr. Harper currently manages the Staff Diversity Initiative’s Multicultural Education Program at UC Berkeley and is the founder of the Critical Diversity Solutions. Check her profile out on LinkedIn. Inquire about Dr. A. Breeze Harper lecturing or giving a workshop at your organization, school, or business.

[Opinion] Most Venture Capitalists Would Never Invest Into Foodie+Tech Projects That Dismantle the Systemic Racism They Collectively Benefit From

From Seed to Tablet


 

About the Author and The Sistah Vegan Project


Dr. Harper currently manages the Staff Diversity Initiative’s Multicultural Education Program at UC Berkeley and is the founder of the Critical Diversity Solutions. Check her profile out on LinkedIn. Inquire about Dr. A. Breeze Harper lecturing or giving a workshop at your organization, school, or business.