Uprooting White Fragility: Intersectional Anti-Racism Within the Ethical Foodscape

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SisTot Vegan Lunchbox: Lessons About Gender, Sexual Orientation, and Eating Animals

 

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Colorful.

SisTot Vegan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s in your kid’s vegan lunchbox?

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

 

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town.

Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her book Scars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix) which explored how key Black vegan men us hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies.

BECOME A MONTHLY DONOR. THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT ALREADY HAS SEVERAL THOUSAND FOLLOWERS. JUST IMAGINE WHAT COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED IF HALF OR MORE FOLLOWERS PLEDGED $5-$15 PER MONTH.

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

 

Add subtitle text (1)


 

_DSC0419 _DSC0420

Colorful.

SisTot Vegan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s in your kid’s vegan lunchbox?

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

 

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town.

Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her book Scars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix) which explored how key Black vegan men us hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies.

BECOME A MONTHLY DONOR. THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT ALREADY HAS SEVERAL THOUSAND FOLLOWERS. JUST IMAGINE WHAT COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED IF HALF OR MORE FOLLOWERS PLEDGED $5-$15 PER MONTH.

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[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.

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On Beating Up “N*ggers” While on Patrol: An Engaged Mindfulness + Critical Race Feminist Response

She read the reports. She knew they used the word “nigger” to describe Black people. Using “nigger” in that context makes it incredibly difficult for many Black people to respond in a way that isn’t an “eye for an eye”… Judge Evans was able to not do an “eye for and eye”, despite that. That is a very difficult thing to do and the impact is amazing…

Thank you so much Judge Vonda Evans. You are one of my new heroes. Amazing how you first focused on the racism of white cops who just wanted to beat up “niggers” (which was captured on social media exchanged by cops who supported this activity)…. to explaining that this is a microcosm of systems of oppression, the lack of structural support of the city, the lack of training and mental health resources available for police officers, etc. She does not excuse them for the violently racist behavior towards this black man they nearly beat to death. However, she shows compassion in understanding how an exploitative system is unhealthy for all, including the racist cops who publicly believe they can beat up “niggers” as their pass-time. Judge Evans makes the connections…even bringing in Flint MI.

This is what a critical race feminist framing of justice and engaged mindfulness (I called it engaged Buddhism) looks like. Judge Evans  “reminds” the defending officer that despite his despicable behavior captured on video, he is still capable of being an amazing human being she knows he can be; that this one horrible act doesn’t mean that this is who he was in the past, who he is now, or who he will be in the future.

After the weeks of me trying to understand the constant hate towards my critical race feminist analysis, intersectional, and engaged Buddhist (some know it as mindfulness) approaches to ethical consumption, this video reminded me why we Black folk doing this work are so powerful; why we scare the white beneficiaries of this white supremacist capitalist racial caste system. Many of these beneficiaries don’t know they are ‘benefiting’ from this system and many do; many think they are being ‘objective’ but in fact, think and act as racialized white subjects And though Judge Evans doesn’t say it exactly, it is unclear who really benefits from this white supremacist capitalist racial caste system in the long run, including these white cops who may have racial privilege but do not have socio-economic privilege such a a system was supposed to guarantee for people who look like them.

Our intersectional approach to social justice with a critical race feminist framework is not playing “identity politics” , “playing the race card”, or has a “white hating” racist agenda (click here and here to see what I am referring to). Thank you again for reminding me of this Judge Evans. And even though you do not mention this in your sentencing, your embodied experience as a black woman in a white supremacist capitalist racial caste system, has produced a unique consciousness around ethics and justice that is a gift. And because of your powerful position, you were able to leverage that.

Without spite, Judge Evans served justice engaged mindfulness  to both the defending officer and the man he hurt so badly. Yes, you can tell her heart is broken and she is so frustrated, but you can tell that she is not an “eye for an eye” human being in this moment. She doesn’t pinpoint the one bad thing this officer was documented doing, via video, and then allow that to permanently define who he was, is, or can be.  


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

Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town.

Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her book Scars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix) which explored how key Black vegan men us hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies.

BECOME A MONTHLY DONOR. THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT ALREADY HAS SEVERAL THOUSAND FOLLOWERS. JUST IMAGINE WHAT COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED IF HALF OR MORE FOLLOWERS PLEDGED $5-$15 PER MONTH.

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Speaking Schedule of A. Breeze Harper

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

Sistah Vegan!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


sistahvegan06

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

Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town.

Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her book Scars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix) which explored how key Black vegan men us hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies.

BECOME A MONTHLY DONOR. THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT ALREADY HAS SEVERAL THOUSAND FOLLOWERS. JUST IMAGINE WHAT COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED IF HALF OR MORE FOLLOWERS PLEDGED $5-$15 PER MONTH.

patreon

2016-2017 Speaking Schedule of Dr. A. Breeze Harper

sistahvegan06

If you would like to attend a speaking event by Dr. A. Breeze Harper, look at the calendar below to see her upcoming events.

Want to hire Dr. Harper to speak at your event? You can see her availability below and write her at bookbreezeharper@gmail.com .

And be sure to subscribe to her Sistah Vegan blog posts by going here.

Emergency Intervention: A Hen and Chicks Living in a Bike Shoppe Window

Animal rescue help: Do you live in Berkeley, El Cerrito, or Albany CA?

There is a hen living in a Bike Shoppe window. she was given 12 eggs to hatch. 10 babies have died and the shoppe keeper says it’s because she is a new adoptive mother who never had babies before. I need help with trying to get the hen and the 2 babies (who I hope are still alive) out.

image

I have hardly any experience with this and need local help from animal compassion /vegan folk in the area. It’s Bikes on Solano 1554 Solano Ave, Albany, CA. If you could contact them and inquire about the health of the hen and the babies and ask why the other 10 are dead, I’d appreciate it. 510-524-1094. The more calls the better.

I just spoke to a bird sanctuary expert who says that there is almost no way that that hen would have smothered the babies and that they most likely died from hunger despite “good intentions”.

I’d like to do this without using cruel words or whatnot towards the shoppe keeper. Just keep focus on the health of the chickens and not demonizing the shoppe keeper. Most of us were not always vegans or AR folk and were ignorant too of non human animals suffering and agency.image image image image

Ruminating on Perpetually Being Labeled as a “White Hating Racist” and Other Thoughts

Bigot

UPDATED January 21, 2016 22:05 PM PDT

Over the duration of my scholarly endeavors (12 years), I have experienced increased hostility towards my critical race feminist engagement with ethical consumption , as well as Buddhism,  by primarily white identified people.

There is a difference between mindfully disagreeing with a person and being cruel , a bully, and violent because that person doesn’t agree with you.

So, here are some questions/thoughts…

What is the strategy  in gathering an army of white-identified people and teaching each other that the scholarship and other writings/work by A. Breeze Harper are”racist” and “bigoted”?  There has been 450+ years of racism/whiteness in operation in the USA (institutionally, legally, structurally, systemically). It has changed throughout time…and it is going to take a lot of work to understand and dismantle it, using various methods, including critical theory, legal studies, and grassroots activism.  I have found that these racialized systems of oppression have deeply affected ethical consumption in the USA; it’s inevitable, as ethical consumption was not developed in a vacuum. 

When I suggest how this white supremacist racial caste system has affected nearly everyone in the USA, I am intrigued by the amount of uproar and pure vitriol that comes from mostly white identified people. We are all racialized subjects with racialized consciousnesses that have been born out of a white supremacist racial caste system; the way we are socially and geographically located in that system affects how we frame, perceive, experience, everything. This includes ethical consumption. This isn’t about me saying individuals are bad vs. good. I’m more or less pointing out the damages/consequences of such a system… and that it affects most of us at a deeply somatic and unconscious level. 

It would seem that many of you have made it your full time job to intimidate me by immediately joining this army. Here is a gentle reminder: “white identified” people are ‘damaged’ by such systems as well, in the long run, despite the many privileges that come along with it. (And no, I didn’t make this up. I would love to send you a long list of citations that show these damages).

I consider myself on the continuum of many Black anti-racism activists and scholars that have come before. And during this continuum, various scare and intimidation tactics have been used to dissuade folk like me from doing the work that we are doing. I am not sure if you realize this, but thus far, these tactics have not worked throughout the centuries. It’s not going to work on me, so you may want to stop putting so much time into it; furthermore, even though many of you spent a lot of time trying to be cruel, verbally abusive, etc, I don’t ever react the same way towards you. I’m not an eye for an eye type of person. It’s just not going to happen.

I’m not going to dedicate my life to trying to destroy you or spend countless hours trying to gather an army of people to hatefully bully or troll you. Right now, I just accept that bullying, threats, etc towards me is coming from a place of fear, insecurity, anguish, etc.

Perhaps some of you can explain what the point is in gathering such armies and then trolling my social media sites and intimidating me by calling me things like a “white hating racist”…? Or making comments like beating me to death with a crow bar because I critique the ways well known leaders of mainstream food and sustainability movement frame their ethics through normative whiteness? I’d like to hear more concretely what those fears, insecurities, etc are– especially when I make it a point to not attack individuals but rather, understand racism and whiteness from the systemic and unconscious levels….and how we are affected by that machinery of whiteness as racialized subjects within that system. I cannot count enough , how many times I have been called a white hating racist when I simply give a talk about the work I’ve been doing.

Recently, I went to University of Oregon to talk about my new book Scars. I recorded the talk with my camera. Someone who watched a video of the recorded talk on my YouTube channel, posted that I was must hate white people and blame them for everything. They concluded this after spending 3 minutes watching the 60+ minute video of me reading from my new fiction novel and talking about how whiteness impacts the ways 2 characters practice plant based diets. The book had nothing to do with hate and everything to do with unconditional love and working through the collateral damages of racism together. These intensely hateful reactions to my writing and talks happen all the time and really only through social media and similar online platforms.

I’m curious about this tactic. As someone who wrote an award-winning Masters Thesis at Harvard focusing on, ‘But I’m not racist’ White vegans who used cyber space to ‘bully’ POC who wanted to engage in critical race interrogations of normative whiteness within AR and veganism, I’m not really surprised these reactions are coming my way, 12 years later, but still, if you could share what’s on your mind, I’d love to hear.

Perhaps I can share something with you that can help you leave the realm of spite, vitriol, and bullying…. When I was being critiqued for my ableist framing of my Sistah Vegan project’s early years (because I have able-bodied privilege it affected how I made assumptions about ability and health) , I chose to not gather an army. I chose not to bully those who are doing disability studies work and activism and/or living with disabilities. What did I do? I picked up some training materials and educated myself about how, even though I’m not “overtly” an ableist, I am still framing health and veganism from an “ableist” angle and need to STOP doing that. That as a visibly able-bodied woman, I have benefited from systemic ableism my entire life. I did not bully or harass those who call me out. Instead, I realized they are not attacking “me” but critiquing how I “frame” veganism and health (believe it or not, these are two different things) and that even though I may not agree with everything they say, I could learn a lot from them that can only strengthen my activism towards creating a world with less suffering and violence. I learned from those who have developed knowledge from the embodied experience of being systemically oppressed… and without saying they know everything, but without saying I know everything either.

I’m also interested in what the strategy is of ‘hiding’ behind social media to intimidate me. Feel free to respond on the social media you are using or on my blog, because I’m curious. Many of you block me, after you intimidate me and that makes it difficult to have an open dialogue (or perhaps your ultimate goal is just to intimidate me?) If you are so confident that I’m a “racist” or “hate white people”, then why immediately block me? Shouldn’t you have the confidence to believe in what you have said without needing to “Block” me?

When someone such as myself spends years using social science methods to TRACK themes/patterns , analyze them, and come to the conclusion that, “This is the new way in which [type in systemic oppressive patterns of white supremacist racism] operates” , this is not simply “making up new definitions” for racism. Many have implied I and other women of color doing critical race studies scholarship are ‘redefining’ racism to achieve some ‘hidden white hating agenda’. When many of you write me that I need to only use the Webster dictionary definition of “racism” from 70 years ago, you’re basically saying this dictionary definition should “trump” the complex definitions of ‘racism’ developed by the more recent critical race studies scholar. Those scholars developing that canon weren’t invited to write up the dictionary at that time, for obvious [racist] reasons.  What is the strategy in explaining to me that you are sending me the Merriam-Webster definition to “educate” me on how I am “incorrectly” using the word “racism” ?

I think you probably don’t understand this or how academic disciplines work, such as critical race studies. Critical race studies scholars don’t just ‘make up’ and randomly define the way new forms of racism and normative whiteness operate. We collectively go through a rigorous process to develop these theories through various methods that are usually “approved” by the disciplines we are working within. That’s how new theories/knowledge about systemic oppression are developed; we don’t refer to the dictionary definition via Merriam-Webster…

Just because you don’t like the results of what decades of critical race studies scholarship reveals, doesn’t mean the collectivity of people of color engaged in this scholarship are “racist” or “hate white people.” It means that we know something is very “wrong” within the moral fabric of the USA…. and has been for centuries. We are developing the tools to create a literacy and action plans around this. Even though at first, it makes many white people ‘mad’ and ‘uncomfortable’, this is what the results of this canon reveals: systemic racism/normative whiteness exists to a degree that significantly impedes people of color’s ability to thrive and be in safer environments, have the resources we need, etc. I can’t change or lie about those results (and why would I?). Some tips:

  • Consider taking time off from intimidating me and instead, explore the canon of critical studies of race and whiteness so you can develop a critical literacy skill set and a plan to dismantle these systems.
  • Get out of the Jim Crow era of simply using Webster dictionary definition of “racism”.
  • Be gentle to us and yourself by admitting you just didn’t know how new systems of racism and white supremacy operate…and that the anger and vitriol you have is a symptom of terror.
  • Consider the fact that maybe you are terrified about what this could all mean to your points of security and what you know as ‘normal’ and comfortable.
  • Let’s we work together, and like I said, it took 450+ years to create this, so why don’t we understand it’s going to probably take just as long to understand it and unravel it?

Again, I won’t engage in an eye for an eye. No matter what. The more hostility I receive, the more I want to understand it and find new ways of using mindfulness, unconditional love, my Engaged Buddhist practice, to break through it and enter a new sphere of possibilities.  The anger, vitriol, spite are symptoms of the collateral damage– the emotional and spiritual damage– that this systemic racial caste system has caused to the very white people who want to [un]consciously hold onto it.

For those of you interested in the spiritual poverty that systemic racism and white supremacy have created within the collectivity of white people living in the USA, I think the Starr King School of Ministry says it best for their Educating to Counter Oppressions core values. (*Please note that even though the below excerpt is within the context of religious education, this school of ministry promotes using spirituality and anti-oppression as their core values; fighting white supremacy is listed as part of their values. As an agnostic, I am still able to appreciate the use of ‘religious task’ for what I could interpret as ‘moral/spiritual task’ for myself):

People of color have resisted white supremacy in many ways. Communities of color teach patterns of resistance. Each person who survives oppression has found and moved along a path of resistance.

Those who ‘were never meant to survive’ but have survived, extend to the larger human community the wisdom and ways, options and opportunities, sounds and rhythms of resistance and survival. Such people make their lives a gift of authentic presence and witness.

Members of the dominant society often miss the opportunity for fuller human meeting. To become more fully present and engaged, we must all engage in the work of seeing how white identity has been constructed in narcissistic ways. An embrace of fuller humanness relinquishes self-centered needs, arrogance, and self-serving patterns, and contributes to fresh possibilities for just and sustainable community.

Members of the dominant society must accept responsibility for this religious task, without depending on people of color to be ‘the mirror that talks back’ and makes whites visible in their ignorance, thoughtlessness, or denial. At the same time, genuine and transformative human encounter happens when people are willing to speak the truth in love to one another and are open to being confronted.

White supremacy reveals a spiritual crisis at the heart of the dominant culture. Overconsumption and exploitation are hidden and tolerated for the sake of a quality of life that is neither abundant nor sustainable. Engaging white supremacy involves discovering a deeper experience of abundant life. This discovery, in turn, means confronting and changing social systems, including economic systems, that perpetuate too banal a sense of ‘the good life’, making it available to too few and causing harm to too many and to the earth.

Starr School for the Ministry, Educating to Counter Oppressions 

Fanon knew it.

DuBois knew it.

hooks knows it.

Yancy knows it.

Powell knows it.

The collectivity of us doing this work have always known it…. and that is what keeps many of us on this path, despite the threats and intimidation.


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

Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town.

Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her book Scars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix) which explored how key Black vegan men us hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies.

BECOME A MONTHLY DONOR. THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT ALREADY HAS SEVERAL THOUSAND FOLLOWERS. JUST IMAGINE WHAT COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED IF HALF OR MORE FOLLOWERS PLEDGED $5-$15 PER MONTH.

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[New Book Update] Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches by the Sistah Vegan Project

Become a Monthly Donor to Support Dr. Harper’s 3rd Book (Click Below for more details)



In 2017, Dr. Harper’s latest book Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches: A Critical Race Feminist’s Journey Through the ‘Post-Racial’ Ethical Foodscape will be released. It is this project as well as her continuous blogging and Sistah Vegan Conference planning that Dr. Harper needs ongoing monthly support for.


Structure of the Book

Part recipe book, part critical narratives, part memoir, with a touch of humor, Recipes for Racial Tensions Headaches is an entertaining and a thought-provoking book. The idea was inspired by Dr. Harper’s 2011 food demo at the San Francisco Greens Festival . The first and only of its kind that year, her food demo showcased a recipe for a plant-based green smoothie as a tool of anti-racism and self-care against racial battle fatigue. It was a creative way to use super greens to discuss the implications of living in a racial caste system (the supposed ‘post-racial’ USA) as a non-white woman engaged in anti-racism scholarship within the fields of ethical consumption and cultural food studies. Below is a snippet from her journal in 2011:

I attended the San Francisco Green Festival on November 11, 2012 to give a food demo. I think I may have been the only person presenting that included ”racial tension” and “racism” as descriptive words for my presentation. This is my first food demo I have ever given. I was nervous.
This comes from my years of work and personal experience of not being able to deal with the years of racist micro-aggressions to the overt direct in your face “Ima call you a n*gger”. I have talked about the days I have overdosed on vegan organic jelly beans after dealing with blatant white supremacist thinkers. And I have done this even though I know intellectually that I am not supposed to do that and then expect to feel ‘in harmony.’ So, when I was asked to participate this year, I decided that I would take the ‘bold’ step to send them my title, “Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches: Holistic Vegan Recipes to Combat the Stresses of Racism.” They accepted it. I was surprised since collectively, the framing of the event is ensconced in post-racialism, neoliberal whiteness, & neoliberal capitalism. LOL.
The audience was a mixed bunch but just about all the chairs were seated. I realized that people either were genuinely interested in what I had to say…. or were just staying through all food demos to get the free food at the end. Haha. So, maybe that is what I should do in the future when I talk about racism and USA’s racial caste system to a mainstream audience: offer food!

Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches will critically reflect on the past ten years of Dr. Harper’s journey as a critical race feminist through the ethical foodscape in the USA. At the end of each chapter’s narrative, Dr. Harper will share plant-based recipes that were inspired by her experiences. This book will include (but not limited to) creative and analytical narratives about her:

  • Treks to events like the Hip Hop vegan based youth dinner in Sacramento, CA that conveyed what anti-racism looks like through veganism.
  • Keynote talk at Brown Suga Youth Festival in Denver CO and speaking to the organizer DJ Cavem about fighting environmental racism and Prison Industrial Complex through veganism and eco-gardening.
  • Reflections on the racial-gender implications of traveling as a vegan Black woman to many keynote talks with her newborn daughters in tow, and nursing them on demand (even on stage at places like University of Oregon while discussing her new book Scars).
  • Frustrations and strategies for being called a ‘racist’ when employing social science methods to critique ideologies of whiteness in the ‘post-racial’ American ethical foodscape.
  • Organizing the Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter 2015 conference in which many white people responded with “All Lives Matter” or “this event is ‘racist’”, before and after the successful event
  • Exploration of how key Black vegan men have used hip-hop methodologies to create varying forms of “race-consciousness” that often conflict with each other (i.e., some resist cis-sexism, ableism, anti-feminism while others reinforce them.) Note: This idea was originally going to be its on book called “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix), but it will be integrated into Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches instead two chapters.
  • Adventures in nursing while on a super greens vegan diet while hiking through Utah’s national parks as the “token” Black person.

 

Funding The Annual Sistah Vegan Conferences: The Only Critical Race Studies Oriented Conferences about Vegan Praxis

In 2013, Harper organized a first-of-its-kind Sistah Vegan Project conference , focusing on Black embodied and Black feminist perspectives from Black vegan women and allies. This conference brought community leaders, activists and intellectuals together with an eager audience to speak about the links between social justice and animal rights, sexualization of the body, parenting and spirituality, cosmetic marginalization and indigenous foodways from non-white vegan perspectives.
In 2015, again, Dr. Harper organized another highly successful conference called the Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter .

As a Patreon monthly subscriber, you will help fund the Fall 2016, conference From Seed to Table[t]: Food+Tech in an Era of Systemic Racism and Neoliberal Capitalism (Challenges and Possibilities) which was inspired by Dr. Harper’s well received article, “From Seed to Table[t]: Can Foodie-Tech Startups Change a Neoliberal, Racist, and Capitalist [Food] System”? . This conference idea was also inspired by Dr. Harper’s innovative talk in San Francisco about intersections of anti-racism, smart app technology, and ahimsa:

 

 


What Dr. Harper Has Done Already: Her Critical Race Feminist Engagement with Food & Culture

Dr. Harper created and edited the ground-breaking anthology, Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak On Food, Identity, Health, and Society.

Building on the Sistah Vegan’s favorable reception, Harper created The Sistah Vegan website, a blog writes about intersections of ethical consumption, anti-racism, critical whiteness studies, and Black feminist thought. She recently posted the top 20 blog posts of 2015.

10+ years of anti-racism and Ahimsa based vegan scholarship and activism earned Dr. Harper the Vegan Unsung Hero Award for 2015.


 

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

Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town.

Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her book Scars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix) which explored how key Black vegan men us hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies.

BECOME A MONTHLY DONOR. THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT ALREADY HAS SEVERAL THOUSAND FOLLOWER. JUST IMAGINE WHAT COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED IF HALF OR MORE FOLLOWERS PLEDGED $5-$15 PER MONTH.

patreon