[Event] The Black Radical Tradition, Food Justice, and Vegan Hip Hop Methodologies (Whitman College)

 

 

Upcoming talk in Walla Walla, WA by Dr. A. Breeze Harper: “Sustainability Remixed: The Black Radical Tradition, Food Justice, and Vegan Hip Hop Methodologies.”

Date: November 9 2017

Time: 7pm-8pm

Location: Maxey Auditorium, Whitman College, Walla Walla WA

Diversity, Inclusion, and Disrupting ‘Professional’ Spaces as a [Black] Nursing Mom Doing Anti-Racism Work

 

Dr. A. Breeze Harper wearing Maison Lucine professional nursing dress (Photo Credit: Dr. Oliver Zahn)

I travel to discuss and motivate people to take action against systemic racism and white supremacy within veganism , animal rights, and beyond. I founded the LLC Critical Diversity Solutions with Elise Aymer which is a DEI strategic consulting business.

On October 16 I showed up at Hilton Hotel in downtown Portland OR for Animal Grantmakers annual conference. Not only was I one of two Black speakers and participants during the entire event, I was the only one who brought a child. During my 2.5 day stay there, I had seen no one bring a child into the hotel which is a primary point of business stay. I spent about 8 hours in the lobby area (where I worked while a baby sitter took care of my child or I chilled out with my child when the babysitter wasn’t there).

It is rare that professionals travel with their kids in the USA . I do. I don’t hide it and in many spaces, I stick out as not just the only Black professional but the only one who dares to bring her baby with her to nurse on demand since that is a food justice issue.

Most intriguing is whether or not to enter the often mostly men-dominated spaces of end of the day professional conference culture of bars– all while a tv channel is on about baseball, basketball, or football.

Disrupting this space with a nursing baby attached to a Black bodied cisgender woman is both frightening and revolutionary. Sometimes I do it and sometimes I don’t.

I think about how I have my sh*t together (at least when it comes to delivering what I’ve been hired to do– my messy house is another story, ha!) , I am well prepared and always deliver what I came to do in innovative and skillful ways. All this while taking care of a baby more than 25 times while traveling over the last eight years while each of my four kids were under two years of age. I have often been sleep deprived due to caring for them during the night– but I deliver!!

I often wonder what it is like to travel as a white and cisgender man into these spaces with no children in tow as well as rarely having to worry about other safety issues such as navigating safely through red counties, informal sundown towns, or even navigating spaces in which you can be the recipient of sexual harassment or assault(yes it is all genders who are victims but it is highly and disproportionately women and girls in the work place in the USA).


The dresses I am wearing in these photos is a nursing dress by Ingrid Jones and her company Maison Lucine. The one right above is “cruelty free” , sweatshop free, and ingeniously designed. You unzip the area where the breasts are to nurse, but you can’t see it because it is well hidden. If you don’t believe in wearing animal based leathers, no worries, my dress has faux leather and is suitable for ethical vegetarians. Ingrid has three young kids and her innovation has allowed me to look fashionable and professional while still being able to nurse without hassle. Dresses are named after influential women like Amelia Earhart which is the one I’m wearing above.

This is what the world of business and innovation looks like when designed by under represented groups like moms of color in the USA– a country that continues to not support us structurally and institutionally and expects us to choose a “paid job/career without kids” or “stay home and parent your kids without pursuing a career.”

Each mom is unique. What’s your hack when it comes to traveling with children for your work– especially if you are nursing on demand?

These are my observations as SlackerHackerMom, my new Black feminist hack into mothering and beyond. Don’t worry, we aren’t getting rid of Sistah Vegan, but SlackerHackerMom will be launching in early 2018.

Got to www.slackerhackermom.com  

and sign up to be notified.


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

Dr. A. Breeze Harper has a PhD in Critical Food Geographies. She is the creator of The Sistah Vegan Project and the editor of the ground-breaking anthology, Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak On Food, Identity, Health, and Society, is a sought-after speaker, writer, and consultant at Critical Diversity Solutions (www.criticaldiversitysolutions.com).

Her most recently published book is Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014). Scars interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of protagonist 18 year old Savannah Sales, the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town. In 2018, her latest book project will be published, tentatively titled Black Mama Scholar: On Black Feminism, Food Ethics, And Toddler Tantrums .

Overall, Dr. Harper’s work focuses on how systems of oppression- namely racism and normative whiteness- operate within the USA. She uses food and ethical consumptions cultures, within North America, to explore these systems. Her favorite tools of analysis are critical whiteness studies, decolonial world systems theory, Black feminisms, critical race feminism, critical animal studies, and critical food studies. She is known for using engaged Buddhism as the choice method to explain her research and broach these often difficult topics of power, privilege, and liberation.

Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. Her talks explore how and why people have unique relationships to food and wellness and how these relationships are impacted by race, socio-economic class, gender, sexuality and physical abilities.

If you are interested in having A. Breeze Harper speak at your college, conference or organization please contact her at breezeharper@gmail.com. Learn more about her on her author and publications page here.

Sistah Vegan at Chicago Vegan Mania 9/23: “Black, Mama, Scholar: On Motherhood, Black Feminism, and the Vegan Foodscape in ‘Post-Racial’ USA (Before and During and Era of Trump)”

Dr. A. Breeze Harper will be at Chicago Vegan Mania today. Her 2pm talk will be “Black, Mama, Scholar: On Motherhood, Black Feminism, and the Vegan Foodscape in ‘PostRacial USA (Before and During and Era of Trump)”.

The New Vegan Flag: A Critical Race Perspective (GUEST POST: DR. MENEKA REPKA)

A Critical Race Perspective on the Vegan Flag

By Dr. Meneka Repka (Guest Contributor)

Source: Hakimi, G. (2017).  Vegan Flag  [Jpeg]. Retreived from (https://www.deqa.net/vegan-flag)

On June 9, 2017, Gad Hakimi released an official vegan flag with the intention of unifying the vegan movement and developing a clear and consistent “brand” for veganism.  The flag is freely available online and is meant to be shared widely as a mass-mediated image amongst vegans and other mainstream public spaces.  In a recent analysis of the emerging interest in the vegan flag, Frances McCormack  argues that the flag erroneously centers vegans, rather than nonhumans as a marginalized group, that it upholds a capitalist approach to veganism, and that it assumes that the vegan movement is currently in a state of unification.  Following McCormack, I would like to further problematize the flag from a critical race and de-colonial perspective.  I contend that the flag covertly upholds Western imperialist and racist ideology through its conceptualization as a flag, its dependence on Western linguistic and alphabetic conventions, and the symbolic associations of its colours. 

Primarily my concern with the vegan flag is that fundamentally, all flags are entangled with a historical colonialist narrative.   The notion of a flag to denote a symbolic and “legal” claim to land, resources, and peoples was popularized by Western societies and continues to function as a marker of Eurocentric power structures globally.  For racialized people, flags in general are a reminder of ownership and occupation, as well as the violence, genocide, and cultural theft that come along with colonization. In the current social and political climate, flags are also clearly aligned with the military industrial complex, a system that merges corporate interests with government and military to further entrench a colonial legacy.  In addition to upholding speciesism by displacing nonhumans from their natural homes and forcing them to participate in military activities, the immediate connotations of nationalism that are conjured by a flag are underpinned by the school to prison pipeline and an overrepresentation of racialized people in prison systems.  Therefore, marginalized groups remain subjugated as a result of what flags represent.  Even seemingly benign uses of flags, such as the Girl Guides flag, are still connected to colonial traditions and participate in a system that continues to uphold Western imperialism and values.  By ignoring this history and its residual effects, the vegan flag perpetuates the myth that a flag is an appropriate and universal tool to unify vegans of colour with the mainstream (white vegan) movement. 

In the vegan flag, the dominant visual element is a large “V” located in the center and extending to the top corners.  The “V” represents veganism in English and in other language systems that are Eurocentric in origin, but also signifies the colonization of ideas and language by Western cultures.  While the term “veganism” is still fairly new to mainstream Western discourse, there have been civilizations throughout history and around the globe that ate veganically and continue to celebrate their identities through the consumption of only plants.  Indigenous societies all over Africa, India (the Shakaharis for instance), Southeast Asia, and the Americas who use different language systems but have been eating veganically for centuries have been effectively erased by the this flag.  The idea of eating plants, through the dominance of a “V” becomes congruous with mainstream (white) veganism and is indicative of culturally coded assumptions of Eurocentrism and European alphabets as universal.

Finally, the ideas represented by the colour choices of the flag continue the embodiment of Eurocentric representations of reality and truth.  Although interpretations of colours and their meanings can vary, the designers state (without irony) on their official website that they chose white for its associations with “light, goodness, success, and beginning” and blue as symbolic of “heaven.”  Again, the idea of heaven is a primarily Eurocentric idea and eliminates many Eastern traditions.  Further, the obsession with white as an indicator of goodness and success has been used throughout history to oppress and subjugate people who do not meet the criteria to be racially “white.”  The reason the colour white can be accepted as symbolic of goodness and success is because “white” people have determined themselves to be inherently good and successful, implicitly reinforcing the colour black’s negative interpretations.  Thus, those who are not white must be better suited to life of enslavement and servitude. This paradigm is reinforced by the blazing white “V” on the vegan flag, reminding us that the vegan movement is a white movement, with the most dominant vegan voices being those that de-emphasize or ignore racism and other human struggles in the quest to forward animal rights.   


Bio: Meneka Repka, PhD is an instructor at Alberta College of Art and Design.  Her current research questions the neutrality of curricular discourse in Alberta by examining how dominant interests in the meat industry influence schools.  Prior to completing doctoral studies, she worked as a high school and junior high teacher.  Meneka’s research interests include: Animal liberation, Critical/Radical Animal Studies, Critical Sociology, Critical Race Studies, environmental sustainability, environmental education, discourse analysis, youth activism, and social justice education. 

Part II: AR/Vegan Groups Silence on Anti-Racism/Anti-White Supremacy Statement and Action Plans


Below is what I posted on August 16, 2017.

If you have not already done so,  urge your favorite and other USA based animals rights and / pro-vegan organizations to release an official statement and action plan on how they do not support white supremacy/racism(if they have not yet done this).

Urge them to not take the ‘cosmetic diversity‘ approach and to understand that racism can take on many forms, not just Neo Nazis and KKK groups (check out racial micro-aggressions and neoliberal racism for instance).

Urge them to commit to fighting against white supremacy and systemic racism in a way that integrates these into their organizational goals and values.

Urge them to learn how to operationalize racial equity ( as well as other forms of equities along gender, class, ability, sexual orientation, age, etc ).

Let them know that they cannot be neutral about the white [supremacist] elephant in the room (and that ‘room’ is a white settler nation called the USA in which the logics of white supremacy were its foundational CORE values and still operate today– from the logic of Neo-Nazis, to the logic of white savior complex, to the logic of racial profiling, to the logic of gentrification, to the logic of ‘tracking’ in K-12 education, to the logic of engaging in missionary language when campaigning about animal rights and veganism).

And on a similar note, if you know of pro-vegan and/or animal rights organizations and businesses that are mostly white led and constantly try to convert communities of color to ‘go vegan’, yet have not issued any statements and action plans that show a true commitment to fighting against a white supremacist USA racial caste system, call them out. Many of these entities  will claim that they don’t understand why their organization or business is “so white”, or that they can’t get non-white people “on board” , or that they are an equal opportunity employer and don’t need to talk more about racism– yet they continue to not make it clear that they are actively fighting against white supremacy/racism.

Hold them accountable and make sure they are not engaging in either possessive investment in whiteness or culturally competent racism while asking,  How could ‘we’ have let Trump happen?  

Hold them accountable if they have used images of Black people being lynched, Jewish people in the Holocaust, or Native American genocide to promote non-human animal rights but have yet to issue any action plan and/or statement of ongoing true solidarity with anti-racism and anti white-supremacists activists.

Hold them accountable if they continue to use racial micro-aggressions such as “All Lives Matter” yet have shown zero commitment to ending white supremacist racial caste system.

Hold them accountable when they tell you that talking about race is “divisive” and that “we all are oppressed”. Remind them that this is the same tactic and logic used when Trump makes the claim that there is “hate on many sides”, implying that to focus on white supremacy and racism is divisive if we are to bring the country together.

Do it now.

And same goes for non-vegan/non-AR groups, businesses etc. Urge them to do the same and if they don’t make it clear that they will, consider no longer supporting them until they make it clear that they will be committed to both anti-racism and anti-speciesism. Shift your support to the organizations and businesses that are powerhouses in their anti-racism/anti white-supremacy and anti-speciesism work.

Now.

To everyone in the struggle against white supremacy in the USA, from Charlottesville VA to Ella Baker Center in Oakland, CA, I will continue fighting. My heart goes out to the victims of the violence of white supremacist racism from last weekend in Charlottesville VA and the countless numbers of people in the USA over the last 5 centuries here. It is a continuum of violence that I hope will vanish within my lifetime.


Dr. 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. She does diversity and inclusion consulting, training, and workshops with a focus on ethical consumption and animal-rights oriented organizations and businesses. Her upcoming event Black Mama Scholar in October 7 2017 is a live webcast that will speak critically about her work as an anti-racism activist and ethical vegan within the often racially hostile climate of mainstream veganism in the USA (and beyond).

Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact being a Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town. She has taught university staff and students how to use the book as a tool to develop literacy around unconscious bias and understand how deeply impactful systemic racial and socio-economic inequities are.

After observing numerous white vegans making the claim that race doesn’t matter (i.e. the passive-aggressive responses to Black Lives Matter with “All Lives Matter”) , Dr. Harper organized the highly successful and professional conference The Praxis of Black Lives Matter. The conference taught participants how to operationalize racial equity during an era of Black Lives Matter with a focus on plant-based foodie culture like veganism and raw foodism. 

In 2016, Dr. Harper collaborated with Oakland’s FoodFirst’s Executive Director Dr. Eric Holt-Gimenez to write the report Dismantling Racism in the Food System, which kicked off FoodFirst’s series on systemic racism within the food system. Dr. Harper is well-known for her talks and workshops  about “Operationalizing Racial Equity” and  “Intersectional Anti-Racism” in ethical consumption, which were given at top universities this past year (University of Chicago, Stanford University, and Penn State to name a few). 

You can check out Dr. Harper’s 2016 talk at Whidbey Institute below about Uprooting White Fragility in the Ethical Foodscape as well as the University of Oregon-Eugene talk Reading Food Objects: A Black Feminist Materialist Reading of Scars in Oregon.

and

Contact information: sistahvegan at gmail dot com

SUPPORT THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT’S LATEST BOOKS AND EVENTS

AR/Vegan Groups Silence on Anti-Racism/Anti-White Supremacy Statement and Action Plans

If you have not already done so,  urge your favorite and other USA based animals rights and / pro-vegan organizations to release an official statement and action plan on how they do not support white supremacy/racism(if they have not yet done this).

Urge them to not take the ‘cosmetic diversity‘ approach and to understand that racism can take on many forms, not just Neo Nazis and KKK groups (check out racial micro-aggressions and neoliberal racism for instance).

Urge them to commit to fighting against white supremacy and systemic racism in a way that integrates these into their organizational goals and values.

Urge them to learn how to operationalize racial equity ( as well as other forms of equities along gender, class, ability, sexual orientation, age, etc ).

Let them know that they cannot be neutral about the white [supremacist] elephant in the room (and that ‘room’ is a white settler nation called the USA in which the logics of white supremacy were its foundational CORE values and still operate today– from the logic of Neo-Nazis, to the logic of white savior complex, to the logic of racial profiling, to the logic of gentrification, to the logic of ‘tracking’ in K-12 education, to the logic of engaging in missionary language when campaigning about animal rights and veganism).

And on a similar note, if you know of pro-vegan and/or animal rights organizations and businesses that are mostly white led and constantly try to convert communities of color to ‘go vegan’, yet have not issued any statements and action plans that show a true commitment to fighting against a white supremacist USA racial caste system, call them out. Many of these entities  will claim that they don’t understand why their organization or business is “so white”, or that they can’t get non-white people “on board” , or that they are an equal opportunity employer and don’t need to talk more about racism– yet they continue to not make it clear that they are actively fighting against white supremacy/racism.

Hold them accountable and make sure they are not engaging in either possessive investment in whiteness or culturally competent racism while asking,  How could ‘we’ have let Trump happen?  

Hold them accountable if they have used images of Black people being lynched, Jewish people in the Holocaust, or Native American genocide to promote non-human animal rights but have yet to issue any action plan and/or statement of ongoing true solidarity with anti-racism and anti white-supremacists activists.

Hold them accountable if they continue to use racial micro-aggressions such as “All Lives Matter” yet have shown zero commitment to ending white supremacist racial caste system.

Hold them accountable when they tell you that talking about race is “divisive” and that “we all are oppressed”. Remind them that this is the same tactic and logic used when Trump makes the claim that there is “hate on many sides”, implying that to focus on white supremacy and racism is divisive if we are to bring the country together.

Do it now.

And same goes for non-vegan/non-AR groups, businesses etc. Urge them to do the same and if they don’t make it clear that they will, consider no longer supporting them until they make it clear that they will be committed to both anti-racism and anti-speciesism. Shift your support to the organizations and businesses that are powerhouses in their anti-racism/anti white-supremacy and anti-speciesism work.

Now.

To everyone in the struggle against white supremacy in the USA, from Charlottesville VA to Ella Baker Center in Oakland, CA, I will continue fighting. My heart goes out to the victims of the violence of white supremacist racism from last weekend in Charlottesville VA and the countless numbers of people in the USA over the last 5 centuries here. It is a continuum of violence that I hope will vanish within my lifetime.

If you are ready to put your plan into action for your group/organization/business/school you can learn about implementation here: Operationalizing Racial Equity. This is a powerful and amazing toolkit.

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. She does diversity and inclusion consulting, training, and workshops with a focus on ethical consumption and animal-rights oriented organizations and businesses. Her upcoming event Black Mama Scholar in October 7 2017 is a live webcast that will speak critically about her work as an anti-racism activist and ethical vegan within the often racially hostile climate of mainstream veganism in the USA (and beyond).

Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact being a Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town. She has taught university staff and students how to use the book as a tool to develop literacy around unconscious bias and understand how deeply impactful systemic racial and socio-economic inequities are.

After observing numerous white vegans making the claim that race doesn’t matter (i.e. the passive-aggressive responses to Black Lives Matter with “All Lives Matter”) , Dr. Harper organized the highly successful and professional conference The Praxis of Black Lives Matter. The conference taught participants how to operationalize racial equity during an era of Black Lives Matter with a focus on plant-based foodie culture like veganism and raw foodism. 

In 2016, Dr. Harper collaborated with Oakland’s FoodFirst’s Executive Director Dr. Eric Holt-Gimenez to write the report Dismantling Racism in the Food System, which kicked off FoodFirst’s series on systemic racism within the food system. Dr. Harper is well-known for her talks and workshops  about “Operationalizing Racial Equity” and  “Intersectional Anti-Racism” in ethical consumption, which were given at top universities this past year (University of Chicago, Stanford University, and Penn State to name a few). 

You can check out Dr. Harper’s 2016 talk at Whidbey Institute below about Uprooting White Fragility in the Ethical Foodscape as well as the University of Oregon-Eugene talk Reading Food Objects: A Black Feminist Materialist Reading of Scars in Oregon.

and

Contact information: sistahvegan at gmail dot com

SUPPORT THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT’S LATEST BOOKS AND EVENTS

Veganism, Hip Hop, and Dining

Keith Tucker, my colleague and fellow vegan activist friend is putting on another amazing vegan Hip Hop Dinner. I’ll be writing about Keith’s work in my latest book Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches and support the work that he is doing (and has done for years). Check out their latest press release. I blogged about speaking at and attending a Hip Hop dinner in Sacramento in 2015 and it was amazing.


Equal Opportunity Day Health Workshop Series and Hip Hop Dinner on June 16-17, 2017

As you know today more than ever young people are suffering from disease, cancer, heart attack, stroke, diabetes and kidney failure are taking many people in our communities and it’s directly connected to what they choose to eat.   So today we are all coming together speaking and inspiring communities through the Hip Hop Green Dinner.

 The Hip Hop Green Dinner is our most successful project and it is the first and only event in the world combining Hip Hop and serving full plant based meals to youth and families and over the last couple of years we have  produced the first ever plant based Hip Hop tours in history. To date we have served over 5000 healthy plant based meals to youth and families around the country.  

 Over the past eight years we have assembled a team of some of the best vegan Hip Hop artists, chefs, authors and speakers, and we have been fortunate to see the positive results our Hip Hop Green Dinner events have had on young people and their families. We are the pioneers in this new Green Age of Hip Hop and we make being healthy cool to young people. We are coming to Indianapolis for the first time and we would love to partner with you.

Thanks for taking a look at our event and organization. You can support us by purchasing an AD

 

This year we will offer this amazing tool to all of our attendees and the local community. Phresh Start Magazine is the first Plant Based Hip Hop Magazine geared towards assisting young people and families on their new plant based journey. Over the years we have noticed that more and more people are becoming open to plant based options and to serve this need we have produced this magazine. This first issue is a collaboration effort of many Hip Hop top chefs, artist and nutritionist all sharing keen insights to inspire health & wellness in our communities.

Your AD also supports paying for the printing and is a great way to support our efforts as your information is literally in the hands of new potentials customers and patrons. 

Please provide HI RES Print Ads in JPEG form with BLACK text only. 200dpi image quality.

Together we can both serve as an attraction and catalyst to the community with the goal of inspiring and educating about health & wellness. 

Contact: Keith Tucker  hiphopisgreen@gmail.com


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 off FoodFirst’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.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Opportunities: An Interview with Animal Charity Evaluators

[Updated May 23 2017, 17:30 PST]

The Sistah Vegan Project was excited to hear about the work Animal Charity Evaluators  (ACE) is doing in the animal advocacy world in terms of implementing new diversity initiatives. We decided to ask them a few questions about their organization, their new diversity and inclusion initiative, as well as telecommuting opportunities available at ACE– which is great for those of you seeking paid opportunities that focus on animal advocacy.

The mainstream animal advocacy movement continues to be homogenous and challenged by a climate and a collective perspective that creates exclusivity. As an organization that now recognizes this homogeneity (and to some degree their own unintentional collusion with this), ACE has decided to work on solutions– first by acknowledging that there is a problem and second by taking responsibility to self-reflect and act.

What are your names and what does ACE do?

Our names are Jon Bockman (Executive Director) and Toni Adleberg (Researcher), and we are co-workers at Animal Charity Evaluators, a charity that works to find and promote the most effective ways to help animals. We do this by conducting research to identify effective animal charities and interventions, and promoting our findings as free resources for all advocates.

ACE recently made a commitment to integrating diversity and inclusion into its culture. Can you talk more about this?

At many animal advocacy events, diversity can be the elephant in the room. At the Animal Rights Conference in 2016, David Carter gave a speech in which he told the audience to look around the room and count the number of Black people that we saw. He then asked how we expect to change the world for animals if we only direct our efforts to a very limited audience.

Most animal advocates support the idea of diversity and inclusion in theory, but we think that many of them fail to appreciate how much active work we have to do to achieve diversity and inclusion in the movement in practice. Animal advocates may reluctant to do this kind of work, because they worry that it would take resources away from animal advocacy and make it harder rather than easier to do the most good we can for nonhuman animals.

Knowing that we were positioned as a meta-charity that provides advice to animal advocates and charities, we decided that we were in a unique position to promote the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the movement. However, we also knew that we had a lot of learning to do on the subject, so we started doing more research in this area, and we also partnered with Critical Diversity Solutions so that they could advise us about how to implement positive changes at ACE and encourage positive changes in the movement as a whole.

What job opportunities are offered at ACE and how does this connect to your new diversity and inclusion initiative?

We have several job opportunities at ACE right now, and each of them have a connection to our diversity and inclusion initiative.

The Digital Media Manager will oversee our social media content, and thus have an opportunity to help ACE identify and share materials from a wide range of outlets. This work will help educate animal advocates as well as ACE itself on a number of important and neglected topics.

The Media Relations Specialist will coordinate with the media, which will allow us to build relationships with new contacts and outlets and share ideas about effective animal advocacy with them.

The Research Associate will be involved with crafting our research initiatives and conducting our annual charity evaluations. We are currently integrating considerations of diversity and inclusion into our evaluation criteria while improving our evaluation process in other ways as well, and this position would assist in those efforts.

Anything else you want to add?

ACE operates as a part of the animal advocacy movement and effective altruism movement. Both of these movements have problems with diversity and inclusion, and we want that to change. We understand that simply adding new faces to these movements will not be enough. We hope to see the animal advocacy and effective altruism movements incorporate new perspectives and world-views, and we hope to see people with marginalized identities better represented at every level in animal advocacy and effective altruist organizations.

Promoting diversity and inclusion is the right thing to do. We should be supporting other social movements for their own sake, whether or not we stand to benefit from doing so. That said, we do think that supporting other social justice movements will benefit the animal advocacy and effective altruism movements. Relatively diverse charities may develop more accurate world-views than less diverse charities by integrating a wide range of perspectives and experiences. On a practical level, as our movements become more diverse and inclusive, they will expand their reach, and thus, their impact.

However, we know that—even though promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion is the right thing to do—we may not be the right people to do it on our own. We are also cognizant of the fact that there are long-standing problems in this area that will not be fixed with a simple initiative. We are incredibly happy to be working with Critical Diversity Solutions to ensure that we are taking responsible measures to improve as efficiently as possible.

If people have questions about ACE and these new opportunities as well as your new diversity and inclusion initiatives, how can they reach you?

We would love to hear from you! You can find each of our emails on our team page, or you can contact Jon or Toni at their respective email addresses:


Critical Diversity Solutions is the diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting service that was founded by Dr. A. Breeze Harper of the Sistah Vegan Project. CDS looks forward to seeing how ACE will develop their new commitment to integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion into their culture.

Even Vegans Die: A Quick Review from the Sistah Vegan Project

Overall, a fantastic and first of its kind to address the many myths and false promises of a vegan diet…. but from pro vegan authors who are well known in their fields. They call out the ableism, illness shaming, the fat shaming, and denial of death that thousands of vegans proselytize.

I love how they write things that address how of course Christie Brinkley looks “good”— but it is not because of a vegan diet. They note that it is because she is wealthy and can afford the money it takes to look that the conventionally “beautiful” (i.e., white, slim, clear skin, etc). Having the wealth and time to have fitness instructors, personal chefs, outstanding healthcare access, etc., are factors that contribute to one’s “good” or “healthy” appearance.

The authors also lay out how to treat vegans who are ill or even dying. They suggest supporting them and to not shame them. They ask readers to make sure they face death (their own) and get their legal affairs in check before they die. Also, it was great for them to tell the readers that when or if a vegan (but this could and should apply to all people, vegan or not) says they are ill, not to respond with, “Well have you tried [type in vegan based remedy]?” This is the best way to sound non supportive and judgmental to someone who is already suffering and overwhelmed due to illness or injury.

I would have appreciated more critical reflections on race , whiteness on the issues brought to light and how the authors own racial and class privileges affect their engagement with the myths of veganism. I also wanted to know who the assumed audience of vegans are … but authors can’t do everything and I understand this. They started the conversation with action plans and now it is up to the rest of those reading it to integrate it into their lives.

Overall, great read … You can buy this book by clicking on the image below:


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 off FoodFirst’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.

SUPPORT THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT'S LATEST BOOK

The Culturally Competent Racist and Sanitizing White Supremacy

Often, when racism/white supremacy occur at a predominantly white school or in a work environment, human resources bring in “cultural competency” trainings or workshops as well as organize a day of  “Let’s celebrate our differences” .

Let’s be frank: the issue is not “cultural competency” (this is a sanitizing term) or the need to “celebrate our differences.”  Such a response to racist attitudes/behavior simply masks systemic racism and white supremacy; these are the fundamental problems– some happy day of celebrating “all the colors of the rainbow” will not remedy this. First, how about these places use exact and direct language and call it what it is: racism and white supremacy. Bringing in curriculum labeled “Anti-racism training” or “Systemic white supremacy literacy and intervention” unveils the reality of what needs to be dealt with.  Instead of simply focusing on “cultural difference” and/or “cultural competency”, require pragmatic interventions about anti-Blackness and USA’s white supremacist racial caste system, to name a few.

Also, do not tell me that the person who just called me “nigger”, says that “all Black men are thugs,” or has made the claim that I don’t sound “ghetto like most Black people” needs to be taught to have racial tolerance towards me; towards Black people. What I hear is, “Yea, HR knows that Black people are intolerable making it nearly impossible for white people to not lash out with racially offensive words or imagery when they have to be around them. How about we send you to a class so you can learn how to at least tolerate them and to not do anything that is ‘culturally inappropriate.'” 

I know my framing of intervention doesn’t bode well with the mainstream because of ‘white fragility'(white rage), but coddling [mostly] white feelings by implying “it’s just about cultural difference” when it’s about white supremacist racism is an epic fail . You can have a training that doesn’t individually attack white people but rather, shows how racism and white supremacy operate at the systemic and institutional levels. Making sure that the racial status quo “doesn’t feel bad” or “guilty” is ridiculous. Teaching about how a white supremacist racial caste system operates (from the micro to the macro levels) is not about feelings; it’s about justice and doing what is right. I repeat, bringing in cultural competence ‘experts’ is not usually the best course of action. Why…?

If a white person at work or in class calls a Black person “nigger” or posts lynching signs, they are truly culturally competent in the fundamental roots of anti-Blackness and white supremacy that the USA was founded upon. They are very literate in this. They know the right words or non-verbal actions to reinforce the white supremacist racial caste system that the USA uses as a bedrock for normative culture.

Let’s move beyond cosmetic diversity and towards operationalizing racial equity, social and restorative justice in response to racism on every level.

Now for some yummy kale chips to fight against the constant racial battle fatigue symptoms that plague thousands of racialized minorities in the USA that spend oodles of time trying to explain this (sigh). Kale is an amazing nutritional tool that helps me get through my anti-racism work through intense nutritional support. You’ll be hearing more about my project that merges recipes for racial battle fatigue, analysis of the ethical foodscape, and black feminist theory that is coming out next year: Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches….


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 off FoodFirst’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.

SUPPORT THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT'S LATEST BOOK