Workshops, Discussions, and Talks (Tentative and Growing)
“Funding Pro-Vegan Anti-Racist Projects: Challenges and Strategies in a ‘Post-Racial’ Era” | Panelists: Alissa Hauser and Dr. A. Breeze Harper”
“‘The Pig is a Filthy Animal’: Challenging Speciesist ‘Race-Conscious’ Black Liberation Rhetoric (Before, After, and Beyond Ferguson) | Speaker: TBD
“Dear White People, Black Lives Matter: An Introductory Workshop For White Vegans on Being an Ally”| Speaker: TBD
“The Origins of the Criminalization of Blackness in the Context of a ‘Race Neutral’ Analysis and how it Helped Shape Policing Policies” | Speaker: Liz Ross
“ALL Black Lives Matter: Dismantling Transphobia and Heteronormativity in Mainstream Black ‘Conscious’ Plant-Based Dietary Movement” | Speakers: TBD
“Black Lives [Don’t] Matter: Michael Vick and the Demonization of Blackness Among White Vegans and Animal Rights Activists”| Speaker: Harlan Eugene Weaver, PhD
“Animal Liberationists for No More Prisons and No More Police”| Speaker: Dr. Anthony J Nocella II
“Dispelling the Myth of ‘Cruelty-Free’ Commodities Within the Context of Black Lives Matter and a Racist Food System: A Dialogue Between Lauren Ornelas of the Food Empowerment Project and A. Breeze Harper”
“Pro-Vegan Self-Care for Racial Justice Activists: Building a Long-Term Community of Support”| Speaker: Jessica Rowshandel, LMSW
“Memory and Betrayal: An Inquiry into Race, Empire, and Relationship During an Era of Black Lives Matter” |Speaker: Martin Rowe
“Ten ways to combat racism effectively in the vegan community and mobilize activists to be advocates of intersectional issues.” | Speaker: Christian Sebastian McJetters
“Abolitionist Veganism and Anti-Oppression Within the Context of Black Lives Matter” | Speaker: Sarah K. Woodcock
This is not the first time I have had to sit down and write a letter to the collectivity of you who continue to be post-racial/post-human, yet benefit from systemic racism and white supremacy while simultaneously making claims like “stop playing the race card” or “I don’t see race.” Most recently, with the Black Lives Matter movement, I have gotten a significant number of white vegans responding to the theme of my conference with, “Everyone Matters” or “All Lives Matter”. The theme of the 2015 conference is The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter: Challenging Neoliberal Whiteness While Building Anti-Racist Solidarity Among Vegans of Color and Allies (Before, After, and Beyond Ferguson). And for some reason, this upset some of you. Maybe you do not know it, but saying things like “All Lives Matter” or “Everyone Matters” are actually called racial micro-agressions and really don’t help with our collective struggle with racial battle fatigue. Please revisit this concept of Ahimsa and extend it to all human animals as well and not get so defensive when a Black feminist vegan scholar with a doctorate in critical studies of food and race, organizes a vegan conference with Black Lives Matter in the title. By the way, in 2005 when I did a Call for Papers for the groundbreaking book Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010), I got similar racial microaggressions from white vegans committed to ending cruelty against non-human animals. As a matter of fact, in 2007, I wrote an award winning Harvard Masters Thesis about the verbal violence spewed when I did this call for papers on a vegan forum. Essentially, Sistah Vegan call for papers said “black womyns lives matter within vegan praxis” and it didn’t sit well with many of the white vegans on that forum.
When you say “All Lives Matter”, what you most likely mean is the following:
Well, what about me? My whiteness is reality and has always been center [but I have been dysconsciously aware of its racist implications until now]. Since Black Lives Matter has infiltrated my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and tumblr worlds, my unacknowledged privilege, my unacknowledged white socio-spatial epistemological narrative of the world, and my addiction to neoliberalism (i.e. proclaiming we live in a ‘post-racial world’) have all been called out. Revealed is that I literally am in collusion with maintaining economies of whiteness (i.e. systemic racism, neoliberalism, and anti-blackness)… Ok, I’ll try not to panic (trying to breath and not appear too nervous). I’ll just keep on saying ‘All Lives Matter’ or ‘Everyone Matters’ [so I can shift the lens back onto me, pretending] to show I am in solidarity with all suffering beings and that I’m ‘beyond race’ since I know we all suffer; even us white people. (Trying to breath and not appear too nervous). [Internal monologue: Wow, who knew that giving up my speciesist privilege would be far easier than actively dismantling systemic racism/white supremacy? Giving up my organic eggs for tofu scramble, leather car seats for pleather car seats, and cow milk for soy milk are wayyyyy easier than dealing with the implications of Black Lives Matter on my comfortable white embodied experience.]
So, I offer you this: instead of responding with “All Lives Matter” or “Everyone Matters”, I invite you to participate in the online Sistah Vegan Conference, April 24-25, 2015. This will be a mindful space in which all can learn about how Black Lives Matter enhances vegan praxis and does not ‘play the race card’ or ‘distract from non-human animal suffering.’
For those of you in solidarity with the Sistah Vegan Project, please consider donating to make this conference a success, as well as make it possible for other critical Sistah Vegan projects and services to happen. I am currently working on a book called “G’s Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix). Click below on the image to find out more.
(Updated December 17, 2014 with a reading list and other comments)
Does anyone else feel like the #BlackLivesMatter movement has a lot of participants that don’t realize the original methodology and demands behind the movement? Started by Alicia Garza, after the Trayvon Martin murder verdict, Garza makes it clear that the movement is to include all Black lives….but it seems like the focus by the majority out in the streets (at least the ones I hear and see in the news), since Ferguson, is that only the lives of Black cisgender straight male victims of police and/or vigilante violence matter. Am I hallucinating here? Those like Marissa Alexander,CeCe McDonald, and Renisha McBride have been left to the margins; basically forgotten it feels like. Marissa used her firearm to fire a warning shot into the ceiling of her own house to prevent her abusive ex husband from entering and hurting her and her children again. She had just given birth 9 days earlier. Even though she stood her ground, she was sentenced to 60 years in jail, led by the same lawyer who helped to get Zimmerman off; this was despite the medical records showing she has been beaten by her husband and he is violent and her ex husband admitting that he was there to cause trouble. CeCe McDonald, a transwoman, defended herself from her transhating attacker and went to jail after it was determined she ‘should’ be punished because the man who attacked her died from the injuries she inflicted upon him.
Renisha McBride got into a car accident and left her car to seek help. She knocked on a man’s door and he responded by shooting her because of his ‘negrophobia’.
I don’t get it.
BlackLivesMatter started off as a black feminist queer oriented movement. How many out there, who have joined the protests, have actually taken the time to go to the website and read the ‘About’ section. This section will school people on how ALL Black Lives Matters (not just Black cisgender males). Garza also sets it straight: that making the claim ‘ALLLIVESMATTER’ completely dismisses anti-black violence and racism. Who else is perplexed by the #AlllivesMatter hastag/logic? Seriously, it’s like when I explain to a white liberal, the anti-black racism I have experienced, and she responding, “Well, all human beings are discriminated against– some for skin color, some for socio-economic class.” What is it with this addiction to completing disregarding the REALITY that we live in a racial caste system in which non-black people, historically, have fought hard to not be considered as ‘black’ because that is the ‘lowest of the low” and hurts your life chances of happiness and success? Why do I keep on seeing #alllivesmatter hashtags? Gee, what a wonderful way to derail the conversation around the violence of systemic racism and anti-black ideologies that the USA was founded upon and still function within. What a great way to make invisible the the violence of white supremacist system and institutions that even white liberals benefit from, regardless if they are or aren’t one of those ‘bad overtly racist white’ people (because only neo-Nazis and white Tea Party members are the ‘real’ beneficiaries of racism and white supremacy). Instead of diverting the conversation to #alllivesmatter, can we please bring it back to the black feminist queer tenets of #BlackLivesMatter? Can we please not repeat the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s when Black cisgender males became the central figures for the ‘Black experience’ and those most affected by racism? Can white liberalism please not override the original Black feminist queer praxis that Garza wants the movement to operate within?
And don’t get me wrong. I am not dismissing the pain and hurt of my Black cisgender male victims of police violence. I’m just saying that I see a similar pattern happening again and folk should be aware of the basic goals of the BlackLivesMatter movement and school themselves, if they haven’t already, on what a black feminist queer “black Lives Matter” movement actually SHOULD look like.
Yes, I know there is an intersection of oppressions, but I do not think #alllivesmatters is productive at all, since #BlackLivesMatter started off to address the violence of white supremacist racist violence, at the systemic, structural, and institutional levels that negatively affect BLACK PEOPLE. The audacity for many to co-opt BlackLivesMatter into AllLivesMatters and then obliterate the core objective to dismantle white supremacist violence against all Black Lives has my head spinning. Talk about discursive violence in full effect! And please don’t start talking about how I must be against [cisgender] [straight] Black men and how they have been victims of state violence. If you think that this is what this post is about, then, once again, you have not educated yourself with the core principles of Black feminist queer praxis.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness(Great book, but I acknowledge that using the term ‘colorblind’ is ableist and wish post-racial would be used instead. ‘Blind’ assumes those who are blind are incapable of understanding racial power dynamics and/or are incapable of being anti-racist activists)