[PODCAST] Madonna’s “White” We at the Washington DC Women’s March of 2017

Madonna’s “White” We at the Washington DC Women’s March of 2017

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Yesterday I started listening to snippets of the speeches in DC for the Women’s March. I was disappointed but not surprised how Madonna said “we” had all become too comfortable with everything. This is white second (maybe even first) wave feminism. Madonna, don’t you mean ‘you’ and millions of white liberals got cozy and comfortable with their white privilege that they never named as ‘white privilege’? Below are more of my thoughts via a 15 minute podcast.

 


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

Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a senior diversity and inclusion strategist for Critical Diversity Solutions, a 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 known 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 offFoodFirst’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 candidate for the Humane Party— the only vegan political party in the USA with focus on human and non-human animals.

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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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“Suspicious” [Black] Person Moving In? Or Maybe They Treat Everyone That Way?

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Moved out of our house yesterday, into a friend of a friend’s house a few blocks away. I moved quite a few boxes and other things from our car last night into the house. I was jokingly wondering to myself if I’d look “suspicious” carrying several boxes of things into our temporary home since Albany is 4% Black.

This morning, we get a knock on the door and two police officers say they are responding to ‘suspicious’ activity that some neighbors reported From yesterday. They asked for my husband’s license. He is a white man. As they asked, I was wondering what could have happened if he had gone into work today and I had answered the door. I don’t think I’m paranoid but will ask the question…

Are you a Brown or Black person who has ever moved into a new and mostly white neighborhood, only to have the police come because neighbors thought something was ‘suspicious’?

This is complex, of course, because my husband also carried things to the house EARLY that morning. I stayed at the other place moving and cleaning things. After we moved out of our permanent house that morning, we went straight to a July 4 family event at the park, and then went back to our new temporary housing after 4pm. I had not been to the place since I checked it out 4 weeks ago to see if we wanted to stay there. Anyway, my husband asked that I take all the stuff out of the van because his back was shot, so I went back and forth for about 20 minutes and am wondering if that was the ‘suspicious’ activity they were talking about.

Or, maybe they just have a neighborhood policy in which the neighbors agree to call the police when they see people going in and out of a house that aren’t the family members that usually reside there. As long as they report ‘suspicious’ behavior to police when it involves any person they see, I’m okay with that, but still, this is the place where, last year, when a Muslim woman and her daughters came to pick up some free cycle things from us, a white woman yelled at the Muslim elder, “Go back to your own country” when she didn’t like that the elder had double parked temporarily to pick up some rugs from us.

My husband joked, after the police left, “Who would bring an entire moving truck to a house they wanted to illegally occupy?” Yea, they’d be incognito about it, right?

I write about these situations all the time because yea, it’s emotionally painful to know that there is a strong possibility that people make their ‘sincere’ decisions based on racism… And homophobia….and elitism… Etc. It’s the repetitive things like this that happen– particularly in an increasingly hostile American US climate in which  there is documentation of racial and xenophobic profiling (or whatever you want to call it) happening all the time. When I mention it, of course, almost all the time it is white people who need to comment and then me that I’m making  big deal about nothing (but how can you have the audacity to say that when there is extensive documentation that shows how racism/white supremacy/xenophobia are weaved into the consciousnesses of most of the mainstream population in the USA?)  Yes, I may never know why the police were called, but the mere fact that I have to always be on edge and ‘wonder’ if it’s because I don’t look like Taylor Swift, that that is why. 

Ask yourself this: Who looks ‘suspicious’ to you and why? Is it informed by racial bias? Or heterosexist bias? Or elitist bias? (I could go on and on about the list of biases, but you get the ideas)…..

Anyway, other than that, at least we finally moved into a temporary situation for 4 weeks. I am sitting here at the park down the street with my Nina Simone earrings on and lovely Afro, glistening with Shea butter and castor oil. I look haggard and tired. At nearly 6 months pregnant, moving and hauling sh*t for a week straight with minimal sleep was tough… But I survived.

As I sit here at the park, I’m tempted to start a ‘polite’ public dialogue, as the only visibly Black person here, and ask folk under what situations would they call the police if they think someone is ‘suspicious’…. Seems like the USA, in general, lacks these general spontaneous conversations in mostly white spaces like the Albany Memorial playground (or other mostly white spaces in the East Bay area). In general Albany has a diversity and inclusivity problem on many levels. The lack of affordable housing, the ‘No Section 8’ for rentals ads, the horrible rent control, the fact that the Albany Unified School District didn’t have a Black History Celebration event for students until 2016, the Albany movie theater having shown nearly all white movies during the past year (with the exception of a few Asian movies)– really point to a particular type of person that they do want as part of their overall community (whether it is conscious or not). It’s this backdrop that has had me really questioning why the police were called in this morning.


(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 focus 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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2016 Birthday Wishes and Update on Book Project

I would love for you to help me meet my project fundraising goals for my birthday within the next two weeks.

In addition, your support would go to the next installment of Sistah Vegan anthology.  The first one came out in 2010 and was groundbreaking. Here is a teaser for the call for papers for the sequel. I have already invited about 5 prominent Black identified vegan women to contribute and will open it up to all to submit this summer:

Sistah Vegan: The Praxis of Justice in an Era of Black Lives Matter (working title)

Call for Papers and other Expressive Art Forms

In 2010, Lantern Books published the groundbreaking anthology Sistah Vegan. This was an anthology of Black women identified vegans who wrote about their practice that Dr. A. Breeze Harper edited. 

The Sistah Vegan project would like to organize and edit a sequel to Sistah Vegan called Sistah Vegan: The Praxis of Justice in an Era of Black Lives Matter (working title). For this volume, we envision deeply critical engagements amongst Black women vegans who are actively doing social justice, food Justice, environmental justice , etc from intersectional frameworks. The theme of the volume would centralize being in an ‘era’ of Black Lives Matter and how you as a Black identified vegan woman  is engaged in the continuum of dismantling systemic racism (and other isms) that affect Black people— not just in the USA, but throughout the African diaspora. We hope to have this published by end of 2017 and already have a publisher who would like to take this on.

Link to Patreon for Sistah Vegan is here.


(Credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen 2016)
(Photo 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.

 

“Veganism Should Always ‘Trump’ Intersectionality: Make Veganism Great [and White] Again!”

(Credit: Sistah Vegan Project 2016)
(Credit: Sistah Vegan Project 2016)

In 2005, when I first proposed to embark on my Black feminist vegan journey to learn how being racialized as Black women affected Black women vegans, I got a significant number of white vegans furious with the idea; an idea that eventually became the Sistah Vegan anthology, published in 2010.

In 2007, I completed my Masters Thesis at Harvard University that earned the Dean’s award for interrogating how covert whiteness operated amongst ‘well intended’ and ‘but I’m not racist’ white vegans on an internet site.

A few days ago on Facebook, it was posted that VegFest UK would be having their first ever conference on “intersectionality” within veganism. Shared on someone’s page, there were 5 comments– all negative and all written by white men (at least that is how I read them) who were obviously furious with the idea of ‘intersectionality’ being applied to veganism…and thought it implied that speciesism would not be part of the conference. Essentially, their responses implied that talking about how racism and sexism operate within veganism having nothing to do with veganism. They made a lot of assumptions and it was clear none of them had picked up Kimberle Crenshaw’s publications on intersectionality (nor picked up any other POC scholar engaged in holistic and intersectional approaches to racial justice, social justice, environmental justice, etc over the last 30+ years)… but these men were confident that they knew that ‘intersectionality’ has no place in veganism and that it was erasing engagement with speciesism.

It made me think about Trump and his, “Make America Great [and White] Again” rhetoric. These comments from these white vegan men made me think they were essentially saying, “Make Veganism [White &] Great Again.” This framework is cut from the same cloth, though I’m quite certain these men would never want to associate themselves with such fabric…

….that cloth is from the fabric of a white supremacist racial caste system. Really, it is no surprise that the same foundational thoughts I witness from Trump and his supporters can easily be found in the mainstream white vegan movement amongst well intended, mostly white, people who become upset and furious that “their” veganism is being “tainted” by folk like me/us (i.e. those non-white people crossing into your philosophical borders that you supposedly own as intellectual property and have always had the power to define). Aph Ko spoke about similar ‘border crossing’ within vegansim at the Whidbey Institute’s Intersectional Social Justice Conference in March of 2016.

I responded to the comments. I explained what intersectionality is and referred them to Kimberle Crenshaw (the woman who coined the term, though many people of color were engaged in the concept, long before). I then asked those who commented, what they thought about this literature and the canon developed from this. I asked them if they could tell me more of what they have learned from critical race feminism and critical animal studies which should enable them to tell me how they concluded what they have concluded about how ‘damaging’ intersectionality is, when applied to veganism … (Of course they haven’t read this canon, but I’m asking them to respond and engage because if you’re going to white mansplain ‘intersectionality’ to a Black woman with a PhD in it and a Black woman who is a vegan, you’d think you would have done some of the foundational readings to have a valid argument on why you disagree. For example, I would never jump into a conversation about a topic or discipline that I have NO FOUNDATIONAL knowledge in– just assumptions– and then confidently DEFINE what it is and should be.)

Just a reminder: You can have a vegan conference that successfully focuses on anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-classism, etc., without damaging veganism. Intersectionality (within the context of Crenshaw and similar scholars) is an enhancement to non-violence, compassion, and justice.

I personally have been written by countless numbers of non-white people over my last 10 years, who have told me that the reason they went vegan was because of how my fusion of anti-racism, critical race feminism, critical whiteness studies, and critical animal studies was more relevant and aligned more with their racialized embodied experiences; it helped to get them ‘woke’ about the importance of ahimsa veganism. That is what my intersectional scholarship and activism has done and continues to do: frame veganism in an intersectional way (using critical race feminism and critical animal studies– but not limited to) that is inclusive and inviting to a majority of non-white people who are trying to survive through and fight against systemic racism.


(Credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen 2016)
(Photo 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.

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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[Video] Afrofuturism and Black Veganism: Towards a New Citizenship

The other month I attended the Whidbey Institute’s Intersectional Justice conference where I gave a talk about Uprooting White Fragility. Aph Ko also spoke and gave us holistic food for thought around moving beyond “intersectionality” into the realm of afro-futurism. Christopher Sebastian McJetters is the amazing moderator for the entire event. The video is below and I highly advise you watch it!

Aph Ko created Black Vegans Rock and co-blogs with her sister on Aphro-ism.


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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[VIDEO] Uprooting White Fragility: Intersectional Anti-Racism in the ‘Post-Racial’ Ethical Foodscape

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March 2016, some of us from Black Vegans Rock attended the Intersectional Justice Conference in Clinton WA at the Whidbey Institute (see photo above). It was an amazing event that you can learn more about here at Pax’s Funcrunch blog recap. Thanks Pax. Below is the professionally recorded video of Dr. A. Breeze Harper giving a talk at conference. The talk is called “Uprooting White Fragility. ”

Video Credit : Photon Factory


 

NOTE: I have given many talks with the same or similar titles but the content is always unique; I do not give the same talks over and over again.

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.

patreon

“How could ‘we’ let Trump happen?” Don’t include [Black] me in your [white] ‘we’]

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Are white people who consider themselves non-racist and non-Trump/non-Cruz supporters really SURPRISED that there are millions of violently racist white people in the USA ” all of a sudden?”
Here’s a confession: I am more angry and pissed off about this convenient lack of awareness from “moderate” and/or liberal “But I am not racist” white people than I am from the obvious racist and xenophobic Pro-Trump or Pro-Cruz supporters I see going viral on social media. This lack of awareness is more traumatizing for me to hear from my white friends and acquaintances; especially when they keep on telling me that they are “shocked” or “surprised” that “we” let this happening or, “I don’t understand how we in the USA let this happen!?”
 
First of all, don’t include me in your ‘we’– I didn’t let sh*t happen. Own it and what you really should be saying is, “How did we ‘but I’m not racist’ white people let this happen?”
 
Stop sending me essays and articles that talk about “how did ‘we’ let this happen?” and then never take any ally-building actions. Sharing an article on Facebook or Twitter is not the type of activism that is going to tackle both systemic racism and your learned ignorance. 
Oh, and my quick answer is this: this has been happening since colonialism. Systemic racism, overt racism, etc isn’t new. The mere fact that you don’t have the racial literacy to understand how and why it is happening is frustrating to me. Muhammad Ali had the same frustrations about the ‘not all white people are racist’ in 1970….
The racial ignorance of ‘non-racist’ white people is strategically designed to be this way; this ignorance is the ‘glue’ that keeps the more extreme ‘white racists’ in the place that they are in and have always been in; it is the glue that sustains the millions of White people that support Trump and Cruz. And I repeat: just sharing posts about ‘bad racist whites’ on social media is not enough. I still consider it bystander mentality. If you don’t [want to] understand the impact of white liberal ignorance (read Marc Lombardo); if you don’t [want to] understand the evolution of the 500+ year long white supremacist racial caste system in the USA…If you didn’t even know that we’re supposed to ‘know’, then of course, “that is how YOU (not ‘we’) let this happen.”
And let’s face it: you’ve been this way since the ante-bellum slavery officially ended. You were that ‘moderate’ white person who didn’t think Black people should be “slaves”… but also didn’t think they really should have the same power, resources, agency as any white person. And yea, you considered yourself one of the ‘good’ whites since you weren’t lynching Black people like those ‘bad’ whites; yours was a kinder non-racist racism.
And I am frustrated that since I was a child, I’ve been trying to explain what a lack of white racial literacy means; what the horribly racialized consequences/impacts are. I have pointed it out, testified, published, etc., and many of my white liberal friends and colleagues just didn’t want to engage and/or have dismissed my concerns and experiences. Many of you have kept on sending me articles with this same theme over and over again:
How could ‘we’ let Oscar Grant Happen?
How could ‘we’ let the mass incarceration of Black and Brown people happen?
How could ‘we’ let Trayvon Martin happen?
How could ‘we’ let Dylann Roof happen?
How could ‘we’ let Trump Happen?
Let’s face it: You have just as much a “progressive”/possessive investment in [neoliberal whiteness] as Trump/Cruz supporters have in their strange investment in Jim Crow-esque or antebellum era types of whiteness. This is what is going on. Some of you are conscious of it while some of you are engaging in it unconsciously. (I’d gander most are unconsciously doing it). A majority of you continue to be a fake bystander in this –– not because you don’t know what to do… but because you un/consciously  know that if you actually do something to dismantle systemic racism you will lose the privileges, resources, power, etc afforded to you as part of the [neoliberal], “but I’m not racist like Trump” [whiteness] club.
P.S. It’s amazing that the majority of people are white who say they will leave the USA if Trump wins; white people who don’t even talk about how being an “ex-patriot” is a white racial privilege when sh*t hits the fan. When you tell me that you have plans to move to a European country, this blows my mind. A lot of non-white ‘we’ don’t have this privileges and a lot of us would opt to stay and fight. I know there are non-white people who have plans to leave too, but there are far more white people saying this than non-white folk in my life.

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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Intersectional Anti-Racism: The Myth of Happy Eggs, White Fragility, and Omnivorous Fragility in the Ethical Foodscape

Last week I gave this talk: Uprooting White Fragility: Intersectional Anti-Racism Within the Ethical Foodscape.

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This is the first time I have ever given a ethical food studies oriented workshop that builds on the work of Dr. DiAngelo, who coined the term white fragility.

White Fragility is basically the derailment of any action to confront white people about white privilege, the existence of a racial caste system,  or the existence of racism by invoking strong emotions and defensiveness– or just ‘being silently neutral’. It’s one of the biggest impediments in getting ‘non-racist’ white people to become true anti-racist allies. Read the whole article if you need to learn more.

I have written about white fragility and received hate, rage (when I wrote my Joel Salatin article and questioned the racist and sexist framing of ‘food and sustainability.’) However, last Friday was the first time I decided to go beyond research and writing about whiteness and offer a workshop with take away tools.

This was a great experience for me. There were about 30+ plus people who showed up from the Stanford  University community and surrounding areas. They enjoyed a catered meal from Veggie Grill. I always appreciate when I’m invited to speak and the catered meals are all vegan .

2 hours to give a workshop was certainly not enough time to talk about all the issues I wanted to, but it was more of a micro-workshop to get the ideas rolling. What I really wanted to emphasize during the workshop was that I am planting “seeds” as tools to use in creating intersectional approaches to anti-racism in the ethical foodscape (and beyond).

Intersectional anti-racism means attempting to become anti-racist activists without replicating other ‘isms’ (i.e., make sure one’s framing of anti-racism doesn’t perpetuate cissexism, ableism, etc).  I wanted to make sure that folk knew the basic racial concepts and terminology, so, I supplied a definitions sheet that explained these ideas as well as an explanation of the disciplinary studies/tools/methods that unpack them (i.e. defining racism, non-racist, and critical race feminism). I also asked folk to think about the impact systems of oppression have had on not only shaping our social identities (race, class, gender, age, ability, etc), but how most of us are unaware of how our unconscious bias around such social identities shape how we frame “ethical foodscape”; well, how we frame everything. I was not so much concerned about conscious bias as much as unconscious and its unintended consequences; even amongst those of us who think we are ethical food activist. I said, “If you don’t know you have unconscious bias and you are in a privileged social location, you will end up having negative impact by default.” I explained that for years I didn’t know I was cisgender woman with cisgender privilege, so my framing of veganism was cissexist, and though not intentional, had negative impact on transgender and gender non conforming people. Unconscious bias is very powerful. I explained how the original Sistah Vegan book and early years of my blog was framing vegan as cissexist and of course this was exclusionary and taught other cisgender identified women and men how to replicate this exclusionary vegan praxis (unintentionally, but still, it has negative impact and that is the point!).

At the end of the workshop, even though I wanted more time to explore these questions, I asked folk to talk about how and why they intervene when white fragility takes place within spaces of ethical consumption (and beyond). “What do you do when white people start talking about how they are uncomfortable, their emotions are hurt, become angrily defensive?” I wanted them to take away the idea that compassionately understanding the roots of white fragility is important, but also assertively intervening and calling white people out on that behavioral pattern is essential. I also made it clear that white people and non-white people have difference of safety when ‘intervening’- that for white people, it may just be ‘safer’ to intervene as opposed to non-white people, simply because white people are more open to, and less ‘scared’ to listen to white people, than a non-white person calling them out on their unconscious bias/unconscious racism. I asked about safety and implied that that, in itself, can be a privilege. We also brought up the dynamic of when it is appropriate to ‘intervene’ and how do you know it would not jeopardize your job (i.e., you could be a white person who has a boss in a food organization that enables white fragility, but you don’t know if you can say anything without losing your job; maybe your dissertation advisor enable white fragility and you can’t really say anything about it because of that power dynamic.)

The most memorable moment for me, during the workshop, was when a new graduate student from China approached me and asked me what was up with veganism and why vegans do not eat eggs, “Even if that animal isn’t killed.” In a brief minute, I explained to her the murder of tens of thousands of baby chickens (being ground alive, being suffocated, etc.) and the hell life that hens go through. Her response, “Why don’t more people know about this!? Everyone should know about this because I didn’t know about this. This should be part of basic education.”  I responded, “Because it’s too profitable for an animal-centric agricultural economy. You can’t sell the truth. You can’t put the photo of baby chickens being ground alive on an egg carton and expect people to buy it. You have to sell people the myth that that animal is ‘happy’. ( I wrote about this last year)” .

The mini-workshop, I hope, helped people realize not just  how white fragility operates, but also how omnivorous fragility operates (i.e. the fragile and hyper defensive responses from omnivores who have the privilege to access a vegan diet but decide to believe that narrative of ‘happy meat’ or ‘happy eggs’ despite the research showing otherwise or despite asking themselves if they’d really be ‘happy’ if they knew they’d eventually be slaughtered).  This is only a beginning…. this white supremacist racial caste system took 500 years to build, so I don’t expect a workshop to dismantle that over night (or even in my lifetime).

I will be doing more Uprooting White Fragility workshops and talks throughout the next year. Check my speaking schedule below.

If you’d like to have me come and give a talk or workshop on this subject matter or something similar, contact me at bookbreezeharper@gmail.com . My speaking schedule is below, via Google Calendar.


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

About 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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[Vegan Special Edition]: A Progressive Investment in Whiteness (‘Non-Racist’ ‘Cruelty-free’ Donor Power)

vegan-dollars-and-donors4 (9)

[Updated February 11 2016 to explain “progressive” a little better]

It’s been awhile, but the above is the latest from the Snarky Fanon series by The Sistah Vegan Project. Snarky Fanon is the comic/visual representation of how I experience the USA as a Black cisgender bisexual woman (raised in a working class household)…who then discovered how to analyze the meaning of my embodied experience through critical race feminism and Frantz Fanon’s groundbreaking critical race psycho-analysis. Fanon, though not perfect (but who is?), broke it down. He showed the collateral damage of living in a white supremacist-based racial caste system. Snarky Fanon is a kind of ‘inside joke’ for like-minded folk.

Lipsitz’s mid 1990s work on the possessive investment in whiteness inspired me to update the title for this Snarky Fanon comic above, to progressive investment in whiteness. In addition, Robin DiAngelo sheds light on the white ‘backlash’ against educational programming that directly confronts systemic racism:

If and when an educational program does directly address racism and the privileging of whites, common white responses include anger, withdrawal, emotional incapacitation, guilt, argumentation, and cognitive dissonance (all of which reinforce the pressure on facilitators to avoid directly addressing racism). So-called progressive whites may not respond with anger, but may still insulate themselves via claims that they are beyond the need for engaging with the content because they “already had a class on this” or “already know this.”

Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility

If the comic, Lipstiz, and DiAngelo sum up your experience as a non-white vegan and/or animal liberation scholar or activist, I’d like to know (hey, white anti-racism vegan activists, sure, you can share too). If I had a dime for every time my critical race feminist scholarship was called ‘racist’ or ‘white-hating’, the Sistah Vegan Project would be fully funded! LOL. Interesting that an investment in “cruelty-free” for many of these major donors is only focused on non-human animals; human “cruelty” manifests through not actively divesting from  their progressive/possessive investment in whiteness. This may not be their intent but it’s certainly the power of their impact as “progressive” and “non-racist” white identified people.

Being ‘non-racist’ (and I don’t mean ‘anti-racist’ which is NOT the same) + white + having financial wealth has major impact; it’s a collective action/identity that upholds the current white supremacist based racial caste system via white ‘progressive’ politics. I am flipping this term on it’s head to imply that white progressives are not invested in changing the government/state/institutional responsibilities that would name and dismantle polices and practices that continue to make systemic racism possible (which “progressive” has been historically connected to)– even in a a post-Civil Rights age!

For example, I can’t tell you how many times the simple answer to creating a vegan world amongst racial-class privileged leading pro-vegan organization, is to vote with your dollars and buy vegan. “We can change how we eat through voting with our dollars and choice“– though seemingly innocent at first, this is a “progressive” belief embedded in using the ‘free market’ to make change.  This  is very privileged and limiting, once one breaks down the racial-class privileges of both voting and choice in a USA in which those resources (yes, voting and choice are resources!) are impacted by the white supremacist racial caste system….Not to say buying power doesn’t have power, but first you have to get to the point in which everyone is on equal playing ground to vote with their dollars… But I’d like to argue that this is difficult, if not impossible in a system of globalized exploitative capitalism that needs systemic poverty and racism in place to make vegan products possible for a privileged few to vote for (My 2013 dissertation work focuses on this and the neoliberal whiteness concept of ‘cruelty-free’). In referring back to the comic, the major donor base and board (almost always white with financial stability ) is voting with their dollars in a method that is  not divesting away from this white supremacist racial caste and capitalist system.

I also have experienced many white identified people in leaderships/donor positions at pro-vegan organizations as implying that they are ‘non-racist’. The intent is to not appear racist but:

Non-racist(a.k.a as ‘post-racial’ or the ableist term ‘colorblind’):  non-racist is an identity claim that denies any role one has  in upholding the continuation of a white-supremacist based racial caste system. Mostly used by white identified people, those who identify as “non-racist” do not take accountability nor do they take responsibility to actively dismantle the systemic racism they benefit from.  While overt racism is enacted and maintained by those who identify as overt racists (i.e. KKK members, Nazis, etc.), systemic racism is most often perpetuated by self-identified non-racists who fail to challenge racism through acts of neutrality and/or silence. Neutrality/silence is actually a form of consent.

So, are you involved with a pro-vegan organization as staff, board member, or even as a donor? Is your pro-vegan organization committed to divesting in both the white supremacist-based racial caste system and non-human animal exploitation? Or, are you not there yet? Or, do you even not know if you’re supposed to be there yet?

What is your story?


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.

patreon