[Infographic] Racial Disparities in Health Care

Lot’s of information going on here. Let’s unpack this. It’s a start to visualize this information but what more could be added to this dialog? What is missing and what do you find really useful? When you think about healthcare, what do you think of? Standard allopathic medicine, alternative care, or is it not an easy binary?

What can be done to close the gaps? What does integrating vegan-antiracist-decolonial framings of health care mean when addressing racial disparities in health (and nutrition of course)?

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‘Decolonize Your Diet’ is a Culinary Response to Popular ‘Post-Racial/Post-Colonial’ Framing of Standard Recipe Books

This recipe book is not vegan. This should be made clear (it is plant-based using mostly vegan with some vegetarian ingredients like cow based butter). My excitement about the book comes more from the fact that it is written from a ‘decolonizing’ point of view. These perspectives, will vary depending on who is writing and how they define ‘decolonizing’;  ‘decolonizing’ anything is not a monolith. It would be interesting to know if future books they write will  consider a  ‘vegan’ framework for decolonizing  your diet.  Food Empowerment project has more info about a decolonizing the diet framework that is vegan oriented that you should check out.


About Dr. A. Breeze Harper

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.

 

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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Soapberri Shampoo: Going Beyond ‘Just Vegan’ for Creating More Ethical Shampoos and Soaps

GO HERE FOR ThE KICKSTARTER: Soapberri

Soapberri Brief (full)

Knee Joint Pain? Try Turmeric and These Other Vegan Wonders….

Sistah Vegan!

 

I have had new knee joint pains for several years, since giving birth to my 2nd baby in 2011. It was getting increasingly worse in the last 1.5 years. When I started biking to my new job in Fall of 2015, it was excruciatingly painful– particularly at night or when I was sitting for long periods of time. It affected my sleep. I dreamed and could feel the pain.

However, over the last 8 weeks, I discovered that taking fresh turmeric  everyday has nearly eliminated the problem. Below is a photo of my kale and other leafy greens salad.

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Those bright orange pieces in there are not carrots, but fresh organic turmeric root. I sliced up a piece that was about 1.25 inch long and about 1/2 inch wide  I also added the same amount of fresh ginger (Note: this may be a lot to start off with if you don’t have a high tolerance to ginger like I do. Start small, as too much can cause gastrointestinal issues).

Turmeric and ginger are both anti inflammatory, but turmeric is the powerhouse for joint pain reduction I have found. It’s actually been found to be more effective than Ibuprofen in some studies for joint issues such at arthritis. I am thrilled that this worked out for me. I really thought I had to deal with this chronic pain that was only getting worse, forever. In addition, I have found that adding stinging nettles (2-3 cups a day, several days a week) and dark leafy greens like kale, help with inflammation. The addition of the turmeric, though, was astounding. I eat it fresh but the organic dried root powder should be effective as well (as studies show). See citations below.

1. Managing Osteoarthritis and Other Chronic Musculoskeltal PainDisorders by A. Dublin in Medical Clinics of North America 100.1 (2016): 143-150

2. Grover, Ashok Kumar, and Sue E. Samson. “Benefits of antioxidant supplements for knee osteoarthritis : rationale and reality.” Nutrition Journal 15.1 (2016) 1.

3. Jefferson, Warren. The Healing Power of Turmeric. Living Publications, 2015.

4. Nieman, David C. Et al. “A commercialized dietary supplement alleviates joint pain in community adults: a double-blind, placebo-controlled community trial.” Nutrional Journal. 12.1 (2013) : 154

I’ll also be mentioning my use of turmeric in several recipes in my new book Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches (see below).  Along with knee joint problems, the turmeric has been one of my new go to herbs for dealing with racial battle fatigue and my recent experiences with hate and vitriol against the critical race work I do within veganism and other ethical consumption spaces.

Remember: talk to your practitioner before doing something new like this!


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Dr. A. Breeze Harper Giving a Talk about Scars at Pomona College in 2015

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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Hemp Seeds for Racial Tension Headaches: Kid Edition (SisTot Vegans)





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My three kids loved my strawberry hemp seed ice cream. I use a Vitamix Standard Blender for blending ingredients smoothly, and then I use a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. The lecithin blends and binds the ingredients very nicely. It creates a creamy and smooth texture.

Hemp seeds are a powerful super food. They are incredibly high in magnesium as well as brain building Omega 3-6-9. 3 tbsps give you 10 grams of protein. It’s a mineral rich seed and best of all, it’s an incredibly sustainable crop to grow. Some people do not like the strong taste of hemp. I got my kids started off on hemp seed based ice cream and cookies at a very early age. I prefer it to the soy milk vegan alternative when making ice cream. Hemp seeds also make powerful milkshakes as well! You can turn the recipe above into a milkshake by adding 4 ice cubes. Enjoy!

And now here is the part in which I will segue into Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches .  If you have been following my work for awhile, you know that I am working on a new book about my journey as a critical race feminist through the ethical foodscape of a “post-racial” USA. I wanted to offer how I have been using hemp seeds as a tool of health and resistance in a USA obsessed with being both “post-racial” and “anti-black” at the same time.

Mentioned earlier in this post, hemp seeds are high in magnesium. Magnesium is quite calming. Supplements such as the product Calm have the primary ingredient of magnesium to ensure a more relaxing and calm night for both children and adults. I know there is no one answer to tackling the injustices many of us witness and/or survive through that are rooted in anti-Black systemic racism. I do not mean to take the racial profiling and targeted violence of our Brown and Black communities very lightly by heading into the direction of what foods like hemp seed can offer. As I am writing this, I am thinking about ways in which we can thrive through the physical and emotional stresses of talking to our Black children about the kids that look like them being violently assaulted by police (see Tamir Rice and South Carolina Spring Valley student) .

Practitioners of Chinese medicine believe that the heart of the hemp seed can produce calming effects on human beings. This is actually due to the calming and relaxing effects of the magnesium and other minerals in the seed. Do you know what I do with my children? I talk to them about the social injustices affecting the Black community as well as other marginalized communities. I am real and upfront with them in asking them how they feel and what we can do to try to feel better as well as take action. I say things like, “You were really upset about hearing that a child was shot by a police officer. Let’s talk about it and about how we can take care of ourselves during times of such sadness and stress.” I will then start making hemp seed ice cream or cookies with them while we talk about these issues. Simultaneously, I and am teaching them that hemp seed can help them relax and feel less anxious about witnessing and/or hearing about such violent events.  My children are 2, 4, and 6.5 years of age and I honestly do not think they are too young to start making all these connections as well as not too young to feel like they have no agency in this.

Hemp seeds are just one of many ingredients I use in my Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches. My children also enjoy lemon balm which has a very calming yet non-sedating effect on the mind and body and is great for upset tummies due to either infection or “twisted tummy” due to emotional distress.

What are your Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches?


Like what the Sistah Vegan Project Does? Find out about our 2016 upcoming conference “The Role of Foodie+Tech Culture in an Era of Systemic Racism and Neoliberal Capitalism”. If you missed our Spring 2015, “The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter” you can download the recordings with slides, here

Also, learn about our other projects and how you can donate to keep the Sistah Vegan Project alive and vibrant.

Watch Cute kids loving vegan gluten free chia heempseed cookies!





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Warning, I am an improv baker half the time and did not use a recipe or write it down. However, just wanted to share what I do to get my kids to enjoy chia seeds, teff, almond meal, and hempseeds. I use banana as a sweetener and chia seeds as an egg white replacer. Let us see what the kiddos have to say about my latest concoction!


Like what the Sistah Vegan Project Does? Find out about our 2016 upcoming conference “The Role of Foodie+Tech Culture in an Era of Systemic Racism and Neoliberal Capitalism”. If you missed our Spring 2015, “The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter” you can download the recordings with slides, here

Also, learn about our other projects and how you can donate to keep the Sistah Vegan Project alive and vibrant.

Surviving Through Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Eva Luna and Sun, healthier and happier in spring 2014.
Eva Luna and Sun, healthier and happier in spring 2014.

In January of 2014, my kids (a newborn, 2 year old, and 4 year old) all got Coxsackie A Virus at the same time. Better known as Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD), this virus is something most kids in the USA get by the time they are ten years old. Though usually benign, HFMD is a miserable experience in which one gets a blistering sore throat, slight fever, and throbbing headaches for 1-2 days. After these symptoms have subsided, the virus produces painful and itchy blisters in and on the mouth, hands, and feet. It is about a week of hell wrought with sleepless nights.

Having not caught HFMD as a child, my body had no immunity against it. However, I didn’t end up getting HFMD past a sore throat. The sore throat only lasted about 3 hours! My secret weapon against this virus was a holistic anti-viral dietary regiment that I put myself on as soon as my sore throat hit me. Allopathic practitioners will tell you that there is no cure for HFMD. That may be true, but just because you get the virus doesn’t mean you have to get the full-blown symptoms. I am living proof that you can avoid the supposedly unavoidable! As a matter of fact, within a few hours of starting this regiment and then taking a 2 hours nap, I started feeling much better. My sore throat vanished, and I felt brand new. I stayed on this dietary regiment for 5 days.

Take the sugar and coffee out of your diet. Replace with mostly high quality plant-based proteins and lots of greens like kale.

Sugar weakens the immune system so take it out. I removed the sweets and replaced most of my meals and snacks with mostly dark leafy greens and protein. Viruses love caffeine, so take it out of your diet. Below is the super green smoothie I drank with my breakfast and lunch. Using a high-quality blender, like a Vita-Mix, is highly recommended to finely grind the kale and ginger root. Ginger is essential to boost the immune system, but it also helps most of us digest raw  or lightly steamed cruciferous vegetables like kale.

  • ¾”-1” cube of fresh ginger root.
  • ½ bunch of raw Dino kale
  • 1 tsp of Organic Hawaiian based Spirulina
  • 30 oz of water
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 apple (optional to make it sweeter)

Apply Neem Oil.

Though it smells strongly like a mixture of sulfur and garlic, don’t let it deter you from using it. I rubbed it all over my face, hands, and feet 2 times a day to prevent getting the blister outbreaks. I recommended applying about 3-4 drops on your face, as well as 3-4 drops for the hands and feet. If you have sensitive skin, mix the Neem oil extra virgin coconut oil. You can do a ratio of Neem oil and coconut oil that is 1:4. Add several drops of Lavender essential oil to the mixture to decrease the pungent smell. I ended up mixing ½ ounce of Neem oil with 2 ounces of virgin coconut oil. I highly suggest using coconut oil because it is anti-viral and anti-bacterial as well.

Elderberry.

 I made Elderberry tea and drank it 3 times a day. Elderberry is a superb anti-viral and immune system-boosting berry. I buy my organic Elderberries in bulk because the syrup they have in the stores are pricey. Be sure to decoct your Elderberries for at least 20 minutes, as sometimes Elderberries can cause illness if they are eaten raw. I always use organic Elderberries. However, if you prefer to use a high quality Elderberry syrup over making your own tea, that is fine too and a little more convenient.

1000 mg of Vitamin C per Day.

I took 1000mg of vitamin C each day in two increments, at 500mg per dose. I took 500mg of ascorbic acid based Vitamin C in the morning and evening, with food. Don’t take 1000mg all at once, as your body can’t really make use of more than 500mg within a few hour period.

Goldenseal.

 

I took a Goldenseal tincture 3 times a day. Like Elderberry, it’s a superb immune system booster and anti-viral herb. My brand of choice is Herb Pharm. I prefer the glycerite, as alcohol-based tinctures tend to make me feel sicker.

Apple Cider Vinegar.

I drank 1tbsp of apple cider vinegar mixed with 8 ounces of water, 3x a day. Apple cider vinegar helps to prevent the virus from replicating any further, once it enters your body. You must use apple cider vinegar and not any other form.

Good luck and happy wellness to you and your family!

If you enjoyed this article, check out my new book project about ethical eating, hip hop, and black male vegans.

Bio:  is the director and founder of the Sistah Vegan Project. Her emphasis are in the the intersections of critical food studies, critical health studies, and multi-culturalism. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis and is currently a research fellow in the human ecology department of University of California. She is passionate about teaching how plant-based diets can help pregnant and lactating women thrive. The Sistah Vegan Blog and her official website, A. Breeze Harper, are the two websites you can go to in order to be updated about her writing, speaking, and videos.

"She Didn't Look Depressed to Me": On Postpartum Depression and Funky Smelling Girls

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Dr. A. Breeze Harper

The other week, I was at my community park in Berkeley, CA. I overheard two men who work at the community park center, talking to each other. One of the men told his colleague that he saw a female colleague dancing at a club. He said that she was on disability leave because she had postpartum depression. Shaking his head disapprovingly at his colleague, he said, “I saw her at that club and she was having a good time. She didn’t look depressed to me.”
It wasn’t my conversation so I didn’t come over to correct this man and his assumptions about what it ‘looks like to be depressed.’ I decided to be ‘polite’ over being ‘politically correct’. Should have I?

…But then, a few days later, the same man started talking to me about one of the kids there at the park who was attending the summer camp program. He informed me that one of the preteen girls smelled ‘really funky’ and that he had to tell her mother that she needed better hygiene practices. He said that her mother was offended and he told me he said, “Well, would it be better if one of her friends told her she was really funky?” He said she needed antiperspirant. So, this 50 something year old man thought he was trying to be helpful, but I found it really uncomfortable that he was even talking to me about this.

When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I learned how I was supposed to be ‘ashamed’ of smelling bad. Boys apparently could smell nasty, but not us girls. It was all around me: ridiculous commercials that reminded me how disgusting and shameful it is to smell like less than a prize winning rose as a female. I also remember my mother telling me that I should make an effort to make sure I don’t smell while on my period. I never was able to solve that ‘problem’ though, as I was always very odoriferous during Aunt Flo’s visit. Puberty basically meant spending a lot of time using soaps, sprays, and anti-perspiration deodorants to mask my natural bodily odors; products that I would later learn were horrendous for my health.

Unfortunately, I grew up in an interesting culture in which people like my mother and this man at the park believe that one should use harsh chemicals to mask the shame of natural odors. And on top of this, I would later learn that as the only Black girl in an entirely white K-12 school system, I simply could not smell or make it appear that I had ‘bad’ hygiene practices because I had to represent an entire race of people (that, in itself, is another story!).

And of course most of us who subscribe to this culture don’t even know that products such as anti-perspiration deodorants are toxic to our systems. So, as this man at the park explained how he confronted this mother about her daughter’s odor, I kept thinking how this girl shouldn’t dunk her body in a bunch of chemicals that will increase her likelihood of yeast infections (FDS use) or using just to make people like this man, happy. But, I also thought about how this man commenting about her hygiene practices is Black and so is she. How much did that have to do with his need to tell her mother? Is he concerned about this issue with all kids he helps to take care of during summer camp, or are Black girls more of a concern because he doesn’t want them ’embarrass’ all Black people?

Overall, this man’s perspective on cisgender female’s bodily processes (hormonal changes that cause postpartum depression and certain body odors starting with puberty) was quite disconcerting for me. However, I know that he is not an anomaly but rather represents what a majority of those in the USA think.

Maybe I will return to that park, armed with data that shows how postpartum depression is real and that most Americans have an unhealthy relationship with how they deal with the fragrant human body? I can leave a gentle note letting him know how his perspective is potentially harmful and hurtful.

If you enjoy the content of my writing, you can find out more about my latest book project. This book will be book number 3 for me. My first two were Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010) and Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014).

My new book is tentatively title “Gs Up, Hoes Down”: Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix). Don’t worry folk, the first part of the title is from DJ Cavem’s song of the same title which talks about Gs as “organic growers” and “hoes” as the garden tool. Go here to find out more.

Vegan Secret #1 For Minimal Menstrual Pain and Heavy Bleeding

So, I started my period today. I am going to be honest with you. There is no single nutritional and health regiment that will work for every single person who is menstruating. However, I wanted to share with you what I do so I can have a pleasant menstrual cycle each month.

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I made a white bean, kale, ginger soup. Kale is my go to herb for just about everything that ails me. Kale and ginger are anti-inflammatory. This is important, as an inflamed uterus means lots of bloating and pain. Kale is also high in nutrients such as lutein (great for eye health), Vitamin C (awesome immune system booster), and Calcium. When I do not have time to make a hot meal like soup, I will make a smoothie or lightly saute a half bunch of kale in a little olive oil and sea salt with fresh ginger slices. My favorite way to eat kale is via a smoothie. Whether it is my period or not, I eat kale nearly every day, but also take a break in between to be gentle on my thyroid. So, I will be on kale for 3 weeks and take 1 week off.

Stinging Nettles is another great herb to have in your diet, whether you are menstruating or not. I usually make a 1/2 gallon of nettles tea per week so I have enough to last me the week. I take a big pot, put 1.5 cups of nettles (dried. If you use fresh, wear gloves so you don’t get a rash. Don’t worry, the heat neutralizes the stinging component) and about 75 ounces of water into it. I bring to a boil and then once it boils, I turn low and simmer for 5 minutes, and then I turn it off, cover, put to the side, and let it infuse over night. This is called an infusion and this process allows the minerals and vitamins to be drawn out the stinging nettles. An anti-inflammatory plant, it is great for toning the uterus, cleansing the kidneys and liver, and provides Calcium and vitamin K to name a few. It is also excellent for fertility as well as achieving beautiful hair and skin.

Exercise four times per week . I hike or power walk with weights on me (a baby in an Ergo carrier) 3-5 times per week.

I also found that eliminating sugar and refined flour from my diet, the week before and during my period, is an excellent way to ensure low inflammation. Eliminate caffeine as well.

Of course there are many other things one can do, but these are my core dietary and exercise principles.

For the past 2 years, I’ve basically been listening to Stic.Man’s The Workout . It’s a brilliant pro-vegan and holistic health album. While pushing my babies up the steepest hill in Berkeley, Marin Ave, I like to have the song “Let It Burn” on repeat. As a matter of fact, Stic.Man will be one of 6 amazing black male vegans I’ll be writing about for my latest book project. This book will be book number 3 for me. My first two were Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010) and Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014).

My new book is tentatively title Gs Up, Hoes Down: Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix). Don’t worry folk, the first part of the title is from DJ Cavem’s song of the same title which talks about Gs as “organic growers” and “hoes” as the garden tool. Go here to find out more.

[Video] Scars of Suffering and Healing: A Black Feminist Perspective on Intersections of Oppression

This is the talk I gave at the Activist’s Table Conference, which took place at UC Berkeley on March 15, 2014. It was sponsored by the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition. I talk about Sistah Vegan and also read from and analyze my newest book, Scars, a social fiction that intersects issues of racism, internalized homophobia, and speciesism to name a few. This is my first public presentation of my new book and reading excerpts from the much anticipated novel.

In addition, check out the graffiti on the wall of the bathroom stall that was right down the hall from where I gave my talk. Perfect timing!

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