[Video]: "'Nigger' Hurts, and Never Heals": Scars, A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England

Below is a video from me reading the first chapter from my new book Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England. I also need new reviewers for the book. Also, if you would like to invite me to speak at your event, institution, book store, or on your media outlet (i.e. radio show, blog, etc), please contact me at bookbreezeharper@gmail.com.

The book can be purchased by clicking on the image of the book below.

SOCI Harper-PB_Finals

'Authentic Blackness' as Christian, Speciesist, and Heteronormative: Brief Thoughts on Being a Non-Christian Black Woman


Dr. Amie Breeze Harper, 2013

Unlike most Black folk I know, I was not raised in a household that subscribed to any particular religious beliefs. My parents were basically agnostic, but my parents were always open to my twin and I exploring religious philosophies. Many members of my extended family are or were Jehovah’s Witnesses or Baptists. One of my aunts gave my brother and I the gift of Watchtower subscription, a magazine dedicated to Jehovah’s Witness faith, when we were children. I found the stories and lessons both entertaining and confusing. However, for me, it just didn’t feel like the right path.

I remember I was at a family event one year. I was in my early 20s. My father was talking to one of my male family members who is a Jehovah’s Witness. Somehow, they started talking about animals. “Paul” (I’m just calling my male family member that to protect his identity) told my dad his interpretation of the Bible when it came to non-human animals: “God says we have dominion over them, so that means we can eat them.” My dad just shook his head and laughed to himself that one could interpret ‘dominion’ as ‘domination’ so they didn’t have to acknowledge and/or admit that non-human animals feel and suffer. That they can lie to themselves that animal are not sentient and can used for any human desire. Suffice to say, “Paul” simply didn’t care, because that is what his Bible said, case closed.

I also have the feeling that when I tell most Black folk that I am not Christian, that my Blackness and loyalties are questioned. The other week, I received a private email from a ‘fan’ who seemed very disappointed that I did not even talk about the importance of Christianity and healing in Black communities during the Sistah Vegan conference…and she also suggested that my new social fiction novel Scars marginalized ‘regular’ Black Christian straight girls like her (since the main character is a Black lesbian). You can go here http://sistahvegan.com/2013/10/21/the-black-queer-experience-is-not-our-experience-breeze-harpers-new-social-fiction-novel/ to read the post about her reaction to Scars .

Even though I do know that blackness is not a monolith, Black folk in the USA are stereotyped to be all Christian and heteronormative. This fan’s email got me thinking about how much not being raised as Christian– or with any form of organized religion– has deeply impacted my interactions with those [Black] people who can’t fathom a type of authentic Blackness WITIHOUT it being connected to Christianity, speciesism, and heteronormativity. My practice of Zen Buddhism often confuses Black folk.

Do you have a religious faith or not? How has having a religious faith (or not) impacted your sense of animal compassion and/or vegan philosophy? Did you grow up in a household in which religion was used to justify/rationalize the eating of animals (as well as perhaps other oppressions, such as racism, white supremacy, homophobia, transphobia, patriarchy, or ableism)?

Update on latest Breeze Harper book project: "Scars" that hetero-normativity and whiteness produce

UPDATE (OCTOBER 6, 2013). I received great news from a publisher. They want to seek out a contract for Scars.  I am very excited. I know this is a lot to ask, but would anyone be able to donate their copyediting services to me? The publisher would like me to have it professionally copyedited with other small additions (i.e. 2-5 page abstract to explain why the book is good for academic audiences) by around the 1st of February 2014. Please email me privately at sistahvegan (at) gmail (dot) com if you could do copy-editing pro-bono.

UPDATE (September 18, 2013): My book was supposed to be released on February 26, 2013. Unfortunately, without any warning, the press I signed the contract with decided to close the press and never communicated with me during the month of March, April, May, June, and July when I sent inquiries about why my novel had never been published. I am deeply disappointed and very upset about this. The publisher still has not answered my request to even take down the title from Amazon.com so I can pursue other publishing houses. You can read below about what I’m referring to and how I initially thought I finally had a press to publish a book that took me 8 years to write. If you know of a press that would love to consider this for publication, please let me know. I finished it in 2008 and it 5.5 years later, it is quite disappointing that I can’t secure a contract for this book that comes through! Those who have read the book have loved it and feel that it is a creative way to convey high end critical theories such as critical race theory and whiteness studies to a more lay audience.

(OLD NEWS IS BELOW. Just incase you you need to know what was up, last year….)

So excited! My new book is ready for pre-order.  The novel focuses on 18 year old Savannah Sales, an African American closeted lesbian who is growing up in rural white New England. Through her character and the relationships she has with others, I explore: internalized racism, normatie whiteness, internalized homophobia, racialized-sexualized violence, connections that food/consumption has to ‘liberation’, and the search for self-love. Her best friend is vegan and encourages Savannah to rethink her sense of justice by pointing out Savannah’s carnicentric and pro-corporate-capitalist consumption habits. This novel is based on my personal experiences growing up in New England and my award winning Dartmouth College thesis research (1998) that focused on black feminism, queer theory, and rural geographies.http://www.amazon.com/SCARS-Breeze-Harper/dp/0985476958/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351228806&sr=1-1&keywords=%22breeze+harper%22 .

Black Coffee Press publishers took the project and I have a ‘real’ cover design for it and real editors…. it’s even going to be available on Kindle. Go me! The artwork was specially designed by the brilliant Sarah Dorsey whose art encapsulates pushing the boundaries when it comes to ‘mainstream’ ideas about gender and sexuality. Her art reminds me of  a fusion of bell hooks, Octavia Butler, and Donna Haraway on a canvas.

This novel good for all ages past 18, but in particular, 18-23 year olds. Could be great reading material for college courses focused on sexuality, rural geographies, queer theory, women and gender studies, and Black Studies. It is rare that I find novels exploring the ‘black experience’ that is not in an urban setting and not heteronormative. When I have read about the ‘black experience’ within a Northeast USA context, it always takes place in a city. Scars explores this in rural and white environment.