[Video] On Ferguson, Thug Kitchen &Trayvon Martin: Intersections of [Post] Race-Consciousness, Food Justice and Hip-Hop Veganism.

On October 22, 2104, I gave a lecture at Middlebury College. It was called On Ferguson, Thug Kitchen & Trayvon Martin: Intersections of [Post] Race-Consciousness, Food Justice and Hip-Hop Veganism.” 

Unfortunately, the recording quality of this video isn’t very good. The audio is very low, so I do apologize to the hearing impaired. I usually bring my own camera to record but I lost my SD Card, so the university fortunately recorded it. I do suggest that those who can hear well enough, to wear earphone on high while listening to this. I also had problems with trying to play various YouTube videos. The audio simply wouldn’t work, so I do apologize for that.

I really felt at home at Middlebury College for the brief time that I was there. I stayed at the Middlebury Inn. A 1/2 block away was the Middlebury Coop that had plenty of yummy vegan goods to select from. As usual, I brought my baby with me, across country, so I could nurse her on demand. At 11 months old, Kira has been to about 6 of my lectures now. I am incredibly thankful for all the students who helped to make my and Kira’s stay very nice.

Thank you Charles Griggs for initially inviting me to speak and organizing a dinner at the eco sustainable student coop. Charles and other students cooked an amazing vegan gourmet dinner. Vegan plant-meat based stroganoff with three different types of mushrooms, a golden beet and red beet fennel salad, an artichoke spinach dip, and for dessert, a chocolate smoothie made using sunflower seed butter. It was a delight! Thank you Andrew Scott Pester for helping with all the logistics, like hotel, contract signing, and hotel. Thanks Nina for watching Kira while I gave my talk. Thanks Matt for picking me up from the airport, so late at night.

Anyway, I really enjoyed giving this talk. It was challenging to take an intersectional approach to social justice issues surrounding race and food, but I wanted to do this so badly. I decided to use Thug Kitchen as a springboard to discuss issues ranging from white privilege, to Tupac Shakur’s “geographies of thug life”, to how race-conscious Black male vegans are using hip hop methodologies to promote racial justice, food justice, and combat the prison industrial complex.

I also wanted to share that one of my Sistah Vegan followers wrote me a comment that she didn’t understand what that big deal was about Thug Kitchen. I wanted to share my response to her comment which can be read fully here on this post. I thought it would be helpful to share my perspective and am thankful that she offered her take on ‘thug’ to engage me in thought-provoking conversation.

From Lorrie:

I don’t get this protest.

Going by the above post (especially the second paragraph), the disagreement is based ONLY on personal opinion. Some people DO like their cookbooks. Why protest just because you (you, I mean in general anyone) don’t like their cookbooks. To each their own. Were there complaints BEFORE they identified themselves?

Also, who cares what color they are? I know very little about them but I had assumed they were white all the time, because most vegans in America are white. Did they ever lie and say they were black? Had they been black then it would be OK for them to say “Thug” and use street slang, but being white it’s not alright?

Thug, to me, by they way they had used it, meant someone with a positive confident attitude.

Sorry, I just don’t understand all the negative hoopla about the authors and their book.

Breeze’s Response:


Thanks for posting your comments.

You wrote: “Thug, to me, by they way they had used it, meant someone with a positive confident attitude.”

There are thousands — and I mean thousands- of Black and Brown people who experience the word ‘thug’ differently, including myself– and [I figured this out] after I spent a good 6 months on my dissertation chapter, researching about Trayvon Martin and then making intersectional connections to the violence enacted upon him because he was demonized as a ‘thug’ who ‘deserved’ preemptive strike. This research came out of an entire canon of critical race studies that shows how ‘thug’ is part of a long history of words with a socio-historical context that are strategically used as tools of white supremacist based violence against Brown and Black people. As a social scientist focused on critical issues of race, feminism, and food, I’m interested in the fact that there are a significant number of Black and Brown people who have the exact same feelings that Liz does about Thug Kitchen…and that there are plenty of academic scholars who have written about the problem of using ‘thug’ as a code word for a ‘scary black man’ (See George Yancy’s critical race philosophical work like Look, A White!.)

Yes, there are a lot of people who like the Thug Kitchen blog and cookbooks— I’m not disputing that… But, there are also a lot of people who like to do and say things that will illicit horror and pain from us that are clearly speciesist. When we vegans protest it, we too are asked things like, “Who cares what people eat?” or “Who cares that that chef wrote a cookbook about how to eat veal and lamb?” I know these are not the same as your critique of Thug Kitchen controversy, but I know that you have mentioned in the past that you won’t read certain books that have speciesist language in them , even though these books don’t seem to traumatize nearly everyone else. I totally understood where you were coming from and would have understood why you would protest a book (not that you did that, but if you wanted to) because of that language used, in order to make people aware of the suffering the underlies such privileged use of speciesist language/behaviors.

It’s not that they are making a big deal about nothing, in my opinion. The book, the author’s white racialized consciousness around their use of the word thug (and not knowing why some people find it upsetting), simply reveal a more interesting microcosm about how race is lived in the USA for MOST white people; it says a lot that over 75% of white people in the USA only have white friends in their close friends network/developed intimate relationships with. I don’t think the authors are ‘bad’ people at all; as a matter of fact, I don’t even think that that is the point of this controversy. But, after nearly a month of this controversy and the the authors still haven’t even said something like the following, is a little confusing for a lot of us who support Liz’s stance—> [What Breeze would like them to say]—> “You know, not everyone experiences the word thug the same way. However, over the past few weeks, I realized that my own whiteness has pretty much protected me from the racialized history of ‘thug’— I would never be Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, or Jordan Davis because my whiteness protects me. It has protected me so much that for the past month, I simply could not understand how ‘thug’ could also be traumatizing for many– especially for those in Ferguson who are currently there to symbolize that Black and Brown people are sick of being born into this White settler nation in which they are immediately racialized as a ‘thug’. I had no idea that I could quite possibly be promoting blackface at a deeply unconscious level– I didn’t even know what it was or that it could manifest in different ways PAST literally painting a white person’s face with black paint…Even though we put a lot of effort into making this blog and cookbook fun for everyone, these past few weeks have allowed me to realize that there continues to be a lot of physical and emotional pain experienced by Brown and Black people in the USA, due to structural and systemic racism that I never really understood was still a problem because, like I said before, my whiteness protected me from it. Maybe I can start looking at how I can merge vegan activism with being a white ally anti-racist activist for my next book project. ”

My fantasy response above is called “cultural humility”, and is discussed in the book Pondering Privilege.

Just my two cents.

Thanks for discussing 😉

On Ferguson, Thug Kitchen, and Trayvon Martin: Intersections of [Post]Race-Consciousness, Food Justice, and Hip Hop Vegan Ethics

Source: http://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&docid=-9_zPb5d46VUGM&tbnid=G8qMiGbA9qkGKM&ved=0CAgQjRw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fhiconsumption.com%2F2014%2F07%2Fthug-kitchen-eat-like-you-give-a-fck-cookbook%2F&ei=c9w2VO3vEImtyATn14CwCQ&psig=AFQjCNGGZ3fjt3fwfGc0sRr_SHGjzNqfWA&ust=1412967923374273
Source: http://cdn.hiconsumption.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Thug-Kitchen-Eat-Like-You-Give-a-Fck-Cookbook.jpg

“On Ferguson, Thug Kitchen, and Trayvon Martin: Intersections of [Post]Race-Consciousness, Food Justice, and Hip Hop Vegan Ethics” is the title of the talk I will be giving at Middlebury College in Middlebury Vermont, October 22, 2014 for their food justice oriented conference.

Here is a snippet from the talk I am writing for the event. And, as usual, I video record all of my lectures and post them onto the blog. This lecture will hopefully be a chapter or section in my book I am doing crowdfunding for. My book is tentatively called “G’s Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix).   Also, I’m hoping to add Bryant Terry (Afro Vegan author) and Kevin Tillman (founder of Vegan Hip Hop Movement) perspectives on Thug Kitchen and Ferguson Riots in the lecture as well as book. Tillman and other vegans of color have helped to organize protests against Thug Kitchen book readings in California . Below is the excerpt from my lecture I am writing. Reminder, this is a work in progress and will change.

I [Breeze Harper] can understand how ‘thug’ can be triggering for thousands of Black people in the USA, in light of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, and Michael Brown’s murders. Please understand, this is all within a USA context in which the term ‘thug’ as been racialized to mean ‘a threatening Black male who deserves preemptive strike against just for walking around while Black’ . This change in the social/racial meaning of ‘thug’ has happened within the past decade, with great significance. Many have argued, ‘thug’ is the PC way to call a Black male the n-word.

I can understand why the term, ‘thug’, can illicit such pain and suffering amongst a significant number of Black Americans who fear that their husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons will be perceived as ‘thugs’ by the White American imagination ensconced in centuries of negrophobia. In fear and anticipation, many of us Black identified folk in the USA wonder if our Black family members and friends will come back home that evening from school or work, alive. “He’s late? I hope an officer didn’t pull him over and shoot him. I hope he won’t end up like Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, or Michael Brown.” Critical race philosopher, George Yancy, has argued for years that one need not be consciously racist to still have deeply somatic fear of Black male bodies walking around in public space. As a matter of fact, many times it is dysconsious racism and somatic fear that drives ‘preemptive strikes’ against Black males (envisioned as dangerous ‘thugs’) by white institutions, white dominated districts, and white communities.

There are plenty of social science based books and articles that discuss the racialization of the word ‘thug’ in a Post-racial/Obama age. When reading about the controversy surrounding Thug Kitchen and how a group of vegans of color mobilized to shut the Bay Area reading down through protest,  maybe we can understand how this protest wasn’t some random anomaly; that it wasn’t really about Thug Kitchen at all. These protests are not single-issue and social phenomenon does not happen in a vacuum. Thug Kitchen and vegans of color protest is a microcosm that reflects the current racial climate in the USA. The book’s support and ‘post-racial’ comments by a significant number of mostly white people says a lot: it says “I don’t have the trauma of racialized and state violence against my body that Black people do( and other racial minorities do). Why should I care about the word ‘thug’ and the racially violent history and recent events (i.e. Oscar Grant and Michael Brown) that trails behind it? As a matter of fact, I don’t even have to realize that the term has been racialized and used against murder victims such as Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin to justify their deaths.”

To me, as a critical race feminist theorist, it makes absolute sense that one’s relationship/reaction to the word ‘thug’ will illicit different responses in the USA due to racialized embodied experiences. I do not agree that the book reading should have been canceled. It would have been wonderful if the protestors and authors could have agreed to have the book reading and then have an intersectional talk about why a significant number of vegans of color have found the use of thug problematic.  I think it would have been a wonderful opportunity to discuss these issues to try to build bridges and solidarity with anti-speciesist and anti-racist movements.

If you enjoyed this snippet, I hope you can attend if you are in the area. If you want to see the book this lectures reflects, come into existence, please support the project: “G’s Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix). 

If you would like Dr. A. Breeze Harper to come speak at your institution or organization or for your event, please contact her at sistahvegan@gmail.com and Subject Head it: “Inquiry on Speaking Availability and Fees”.  

"All racial identity is racist!": The Broken Record of White Post-Racial Utopian Fantasies


I must sound like a broken record by now.

But, here I go.

In 2005, I did a call for papers for contributions to the Sistah Vegan Anthology book project. The call for papers went out onto the web and ended up on many sites, including the site VeganPorn, which had nothing to do with porn. However, it was a hot spot for vegans to talk and discuss. Upon seeing my call for papers and the title word ‘sistah’, as well as reading that I was searching for black female vegans, an 80 page discussion thread was generated from largely white identified vegans claiming many things: the project was ‘racist’; gender had nothing to do with veganism; race had nothing to do with how one enters their vegan practice; racism is no longer an issue in the USA so why talk about it?; why is Harper using Black English (i.e. ‘sistah’), as anyone who can’t speak proper English shouldn’t be surprised if they can’t find a job; Black English sounds like one was born to a ‘crack addicted mother.’

Long story short, this thread became empirical data for my award winning Harvard Masters thesis which interrogated how covert whiteness operated within cyberspaces dominated by ‘liberal’ white vegans and animal rights proponents(The shortened version of this, published in a peer-reviewed journal, can be found here). Less than a year after being granted my Masters degree, I would then continue my work as a doctoral studies student. I was awarded a 2 year coveted fellowship at University of California to pursue intersections of veganism, ethics, and how whiteness and racialization impacted one’s relationship to, and perception of, the vegan food commodity chain. I was awarded my PhD and deemed an ‘expert’ in this intersectional field of study.

The other weekend, the Sistah Vegan Web Conference took place. As some of you know, it focused on the “Embodied and Critical Perspectives on Veganism from Black Women and Allies.” Before the event, Vegan Society of the UK posted it to their Facebook page. They actually sponsored the event, showing solidarity with the fact that how we practice food ethics is not in a vacuum and is dramatically influenced by systemic oppressions such as speciesism as well as racism, whiteness, and sexism. Even though there were comments in support of the conference’s intentions, these were some of the other post-racial comments in response to the posting:

  • “All racial identity is racist!”
  • “Omg why O why must we have such division!! Life is so complicated ! Ugh.”
  • “Actually, white men are the minority.”
  • “‘Black female vegans’ LOL!”
  • “R u playing the minority card- EVERYONE IS A MINORITY – lets unite – not divide- This makes me sick!!!!”

8 years later, the same broken record from the same collective demographic of post-racial [almost always white] people who actually think talking about ‘race’ is ‘racist.’ I think this is funny. No really, I do. WEB DuBois, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Roland Barthes, and Frantz Fanon, if you were alive right now, what would you be thinking? Would you be surprised, or would you not be surprised, just really disappointed in the same theme; the same broken record?

I’ve been reading the book Combined Destinies: Whites Sharing Grief About Racism  over the past week. It was recently released and is an anthology of stories from white identified people who speak about how deeply hurtful racism and white supremacy has been to their own humanity. It has really helped me extend my compassion and understanding (don’t get me wrong, I’m still dealing with anger and disappointment) towards those white identified people who continue to define ‘racism’ in a way that completely distracts and deflects from its true meaning; distracts and deflects from the fact that racism, at least here in white settler nations like the USA, greatly influences most, if not all of the consciousnesses of those of us who were either raised here, or spent most of our lives here. From reading Combined Destinies so far, I got to hear the confessions and testimonies of many whites who admitted that they know that racism exists and that they do benefit from systemic white supremacy…and they know that he consequence is that collectively, people of color in the USA have suffered greatly. However, many confess that they just lied to themselves, verbally punished people of color who wanted to share their racialized suffering, etc; they realized how violent and ‘pathological’ being part of whiteness could be to their consciousness. One reader recalls how her father reacted to the police beatings of black people in California who were protesting against institutionalized racism. The daughter was crying as she witnessed the brutality and her father didn’t react the way she thought he should: he yelled at her for feeling sorry for such lazy people who should stop complaining and just work hard like he did and maybe they wouldn’t be in the ghettoes without resources. They deserved the beatings from the police, after all, slavery had ended so they had only themselves to blame.

There are countless stories like that above, throughout the anthology: white parents explaining and apologizing for the violence of pathological whiteness to their children, masking it as ‘normal’ and that their children should not think that it is a moral problem. The children grew up to be adults of course, still confused about how racism and white supremacy REALLY function, versus the lies and misinformation their parents had taught them. So many confessed being almost just like their parent’s in response to witnessing later forms of racial violence against Indigenous, brown, and black people; they had learned to react violently (verbally and maybe physically) to people of color who sincerely expressed the pain and suffering they endured BECAUSE of the pathology of whiteness.

But, this anthology is also about how all the contributors changed; it took years, but they changed and are still in the process of transforming their consciousness and going through the pain of acknowledging how their own unconscious collusion with the pathology of whiteness– as children basically forced to accept this ‘normal’ USAmerican ethic– negatively affected their own self-love as well as their potential to love those who were not white during their adult lives. As I read Combined Destinies , I hold in my heart that those who continue to sound like a broken record titled White Post-Racial Utopian Fantasies will eventually go through similar transformations. Then again, there is no guarantee, as plenty of people KNOW racism is a problem but they admit that they just don’t care, or that they LOVE benefiting from it. There were quite a few voices in the book that admitted that they knew that acknowledging racism and then fighting to dismantle it would ultimately mean they would have to be comfortable with letting go of power, privileges, and resources that this racialized system of power afforded to them collectivity; that was scary and unsettling, as who would want to give that up? It was much easier to yell at people of color and tell them that they are creating divisions by simply wanting to share how being racialized as non-white put them in a completely different world; create a completely different consciousness and identity than the white mainstream middle to upper class norm.

My mother has confessed to me many times that she is very scared of the work I do. Tomorrow I will speak about how neoliberal whiteness shapes PETA’s marketing and campaign strategy. I sent my mother the flyer of the event, which will take place at Scripps College. It’s called “‘Never Be Silent’: On Trayvon Martin, PETA, and the Packaging of Neoliberal Whiteness.” She emailed me immediately that she didn’t think I should be talking about this in public; that it is too controversial and that I could potentially be stabbed, shot, etc if I talk about this. I tried to explain to her that this was from my completed dissertation and that I’m not trying to get myself killed; this is what I do as a social-scientist trying to understand the cultural phenomenon of veganism; how it operates in the USA in a neo-liberal supposed ‘post-racial’ age. But, she didn’t hear that the first 6 times I emailed her, trying to explain my lecture. I know that all she saw was the reality that it is still not THAT safe to talk about racism and white supremacy as a black woman, “Even if you have a doctorate in it.” I know she probably saw the same little 12 year old girl who came home from her first day of junior high, in 1990, in an all white town, crying that someone had called her daughter a “nigger” and that no one said or did anything; that in a crowded hall of white teenagers who must have heard that boy loudly called me ‘skinny little nigger’, no one did or said anything. She couldn’t protect me when I was out there. And she still cannot protect me or my twin brother from the pathology of whiteness that has come to define and uphold the tenets of humanity in the USA.

ScrippsFlyer Breeze Harper


Transphobia and Heterosexism are not "Liberating" or "Cruelty-Free": On Veganism, Ce Ce McDonald, and Trayvon Martin

I just read The Unjust Murder of Trayvon Martin is a LGBT/Feminist/Human Rights Issues by Dr. Eric Anthony Grollman.

Source: http://mjcdn.motherjones.com/preset_12/cece2v2_0.jpg
CeCe McDonald                                      Source: http://mjcdn.motherjones.com/preset_12/cece2v2_0.jpg

I have been pondering over how the mainstream media in the USA tends to focus on racially motivated violence enacted on cisgender-identified Black males… and how the injustice enacted upon Ce Ce McDonald and many other transgender people of color, do not garner the same type of outrage.

I do not wish to simplify matters, but I am rather disappointed (but not surprised since we live in a transgender-hating USA) by the amount of hate and disgust against LGBTQ people of color from hetero-normative Black folk who are simultaneously enraged about Martin’s murder. I have been trying to think about how to write about this for weeks. If you are not familiar with my work, my research and activism have focused on food, healing, and structural oppression as experienced by Black vegetarians and vegans in the USA and; how the [invisible] violence of neoliberal whiteness has ‘colonized’ mainstream vegan rhetoric coming from organizations like PETA. Simultaneously, I am also interested in understanding how veganism is used to ‘decolonize’ the Black USA community from legacies of colonialism. However, I can’t tell you how disturbing it is to realize that a majority of Afrocentric vegan/raw foods rhetoric is ensconced in heterosexist/hetero-normative/trans-phobic logic. Yet simultaneously, the same ‘liberating’ and ‘decolonizing’ canon has an outpouring of sympathy and understanding for Black [cisgender-identified hetero-normative] folk who collectively suffer under systemic anti-black racism and white supremacy in the USA.

For example, even though I appreciate the work of Queen Afua’s Sacred Woman, as it did help me to cure my fibroid tumors, her entire book makes the assumption that all Black identified women and girls are cisgender identified and heterosexual; that the most ‘sacred’ romantic union that I as a Black female can be in is with a man of African descent. This also automatically implies that transgender, as well as lesbian and bisexual women of African descent cannot be part of a new future ‘healthy’ Black nation. Such an exclusive Black nation, in Sacred Woman, can be achieved through proper vegan food preparation to feed one’s family and self. Let me clear: Afua never directly says she hates people who are not straight or not hetero-normative gender conforming; but the absence of including transgender and non-straight women of African descent says something very profound about what bodies, sexualities, and genders are normalized and can be nutritionally ‘cleansed’ and ‘purified’ towards a moral or correct type of healthy Black nation (see Harper 2013). An Afrocentric guru who has been direct about his disgust with non-straight and non-gender conforming Black people is Dr. Llaila Afrika. His work has advocated that a properly planned holistic vegan or raw diet can “cure” queer Black folks. His rationale is that “gender-confused” and/or non-straight people of African descent have impure gender and sexual behaviors due to consuming the white colonizer’s industrialized and carnicentric diet (Afrika 1994; 1998). This logic is dangerous, unmindful, and unloving. But of course the Afrocentric canon of holistic health is not a singular anomaly in the mindset in the USA; it’s a microcosm that simply reflects the moral fabric of an entire mainstream USA that may have progressed a little better in terms of understanding how racism impacts Black [cisgender identified] people, but are still in the dark ages in understanding how violent it is to teach us that hetero-normative gender binaries are ‘common sense’, ‘natural’, and ‘pure.’ After all, PETA’s vegan anti-fur campaign from a few years ago delivered an anti-transgender message, “Wearing fur is a drag”,. The campaign depicted a picture of a drag queen wearing fur. Why are we supposed to want to throw blood on her? Are we supposed to be disgusted by a person wearing fur? Or are we [cisgender identified people] supposed to ‘naturally’ be disgusted by a person wearing fur who is transgender-identified?

I have organized a web conference for September 14, 2013. It is called “Embodied and Critical Perspectives on Veganism by Black Women Vegans and Allies.” Many topics are covered. Not surprisingly, I could not find one person to submit a proposal about the anti-transgender and/or heterosexist rhetoric that undergirds the canon of mainstream veganism. I have extended the call for papers deadline to August 20, 2013. I don’t want to speak for a demographic of people that I am not (i.e. transgender identified), however, if I cannot find anyone to present on this dire matter, I will need to contextualize and speak about both Martin and Ce Ce McDonald’s tragedy: How do transphobic Afrocentric ‘food liberation’ rhetoric, as well as the realities of USA’s white supremacist value system, help to perpetuate the unjust outcome of McDonald and to leave her suffering as invisible and inconsequential to mainstream media? Why is her tragedy not garnering outrage for justice even by mainstream American sympathizers of injustice? Trayvon Martin should not distract us from thinking about racialized-sexualized-gendered, etc. forms of violence that take place on minorities within a minority (i.e. transgender people of color).  How can USA mainstream simultaneously acknowledge that racism not only affects the “ heterosexual Black cisgender identified males” but also sexual and gender minorities? How can we hold both Martin and McDonald in our hearts and consciousness and understand, as Dr. Grossman says,  “that the Unjust Murder of Trayvon Martin is a LGBT/Feminist/Human Rights Issue”?

 Works Cited

Afrika, Llaila O. 1998. African holistic health. Rev. 6th ed. Brooklyn, NY: A&B Publishers Group.

 Afrika, Llaila O. 1994. Nutricide : the nutritional destruction of the Black race. 1st ed. Beauford, SC: L.O. Afrika.

 Harper, Amie Louise. 2013. Vegan Consciousness and the Commodity Chain: On the Neoliberal, Afrocentric, and Decolonial Politics of ‘Cruelty-Free’. Dissertation, Geography, University of California, Davis, Davis.

Pointing Out a System of Racism is ‘Absurd’ (a.k.a. “Black People, Shut the F*ck Up”) | Frugivore Magazine


Below is the latest article that I have written for Frugivore online magazine. It is in response to the “Health Ranger” Mike Adams and his insensitive response to the realities of anti-black racism in the USA and Obama’s talk about Trayvon Martin the other week. Here are the first few paragraphs.

Pointing Out a System of Racism is ‘Absurd’ (a.k.a. “Black People, Shut the F*ck Up”) | Frugivore Magazine, by A. Breeze Harper


I just read Mike Adam’s latest Natural News article and it blew me away. It’s called “Racism theater: How the media, Obama and the racism industry are tearing America apart for their own selfish gain.” He has made it clear that Black Americans, including Obama, need to basically shut the f*ck up about racism; if we at all talk about realities of things like racial profiling (like Obama implied in his talk after the George Zimmerman verdict), then we are promoting “the racism industry for our own selfish gain.” If you don’t know who Mike Adams is, he considers himself the “Health Ranger.” He advocates healthy eating and exercise as a way to be liberated and healthy.

Mike Adams positions himself as a ‘expert’ on my and most Black Americans experiences with racism as a system. He is completely enraged that Obama is part of the ‘racism industry’ in the USA, simply because Obama spoke frankly about Trayvon Martin in July 2013. Obama let us all know what it means to be read as a Black man in a country in which Obama’s propensity for being racially profiled is far greater than that of those like Mike Adams (white, straight, economically stable, and able-bodied). 

To continue reading more, please go here and comment: http://frugivoremag.com/2013/08/pointing-out-a-system-of-racism-is-absurd-a-k-a-black-people-shut-the-fck-up/


On Trayvon Martin and Using Nutritional Healing for Our Racism Induced Illnesses and Pain

The San Francisco Greens Workshop that Dianna is referring to can be seen here

Dianna’s letter is all to real for many of us. In addition to having received her letter, for many of non-white minorities in the USA, the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial left us deeply troubled, traumatized, and angry. It was a direct reminder that racist narratives about Black people– particularly young Black males– seem to greatly influence many non-Black people’s understanding of whose lives are of value, and whose lives are not. It’s so deeply part of the USA’s moral fabric, I am convinced that most people hold these beliefs about Black people to be true, whether it is conscious or unconscious. As a mother to a 4 year old boy of African descent and during this past week, I have had to curb my own fears and anxieties about what the future in the USA holds for him, my daughter, and other young children in this country who do not “pass as white.”

Racism-induced stress, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, digestive problems, etc., are all too real for many of us, including myself. This past week, I had to be diligent about taking care of my emotional distress about the meaning of the George Zimmerman verdict. I reached for foods and herbs that can help the body and mind not become depleted during times of stress. For example, when I want to reach for a pint of vegan ice cream before going to bed, I tell myself, “If you’re already having insomnia problems trying to deal with the verdict and thinking about Sun (my son’s name), how is a food packed with SUGAR going to help you sleep or calm down?” I must lovingly remind myself to make my lemon balm tea and skullcap tea. They are nurturing and will help me continue with my anti-racism and decolonial work. After all, it’s hard to do much of anything when you cannot sleep.

In light of Dianna’s letter to me, and the trauma and stress that the Zimmerman verdict has caused for tens of thousands of people, I have decided to post again that I am offering a comprehensive webinar that more deeply addresses nutritional recipes (and other anti racism/decolonizing ‘health’ regiments) that can be part of self-care and empowerment for people whose health have been greatly affected by racism-induced trauma(s). I will offer suggestion for:

    • Alleviating anxiety and stress induced insomnia with 4 simple herbal teas and remedies

    • Using this one aromatic popular tea to reduce hypertension

    • Making this special dairy-free whole foods ice cream in place of less nutritionally healthy ‘junk’ comfort ice cream treats during stressful times.


    August 18, 2013

    10:00 am PST/1:00pm EST (USA Time Zones)


    90 minutes (approximately)

    Registration: You can Register by clicking here.

    Technology requirements: a computer with a fast internet connection and a free Anymeeting.com (my webinars are hosted through Anymeeting.com so if you don’t want to call a regular phone number to access it ,you can join the webinar with a password via a free Anymeeting.com account). You should have speakers or headphone to hear. I will be using video and audio so participants will be able to hear me present while viewing Powerpoint slides. The webinar will be recorded and available to access for free for you who have registered, to refer to as long as you desire. Lecture will be 60 minutes long followed by a 30 minute Q and A.

    About the Instructor: Dr. A. Breeze Harper is the director and founder of the Sistah Vegan Project, a organization dedicated to critical race feminist perspectives on veganism, as seen through the collective experiences of Black North American females. Dr. Harper started the project in 2005. She holds degrees from Dartmouth College, Harvard University, and University of California-Davis. Her innovative ability to integrate the use of educational technologies to analyze Black female vegans food and health philosophies earned her the Dean’s Award from Harvard University in 2007 for her Master Thesis work: this is an honor only bestowed upon one candidate per program.

    Dr. Harper’s knowledge about diversity within the field of food and wellness has marked her as a highly sought after paid consultant and speaker for many American universities. She has given many keynote addresses including at Boston University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Oregon, and Southwestern University. She teaches students, faculty, and staff 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 ability. She has published extensively, including Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010). She graduated summa cum-laude from University of California-Davis with a PhD in critical geographies of race and food.

    If you enjoy the work I have done, if it has helped you, your organization, your students, your family, etc, and you want to see it go to the next level of a non-profit social justice organization, please contribute what you can by clicking on the GOFUNDME Link below. When Sistah Vegan becomes a well supported non-profit, I hope to offer a diversity of educational material (webinars, workshops, books, articles) that guide people through ways to raise pre-school aged children on a fun and healthy plant-based diet.  If you do not want to use this method, but prefer paypal, click on the link on the right upper corner of this blog page to donate via PAYPAL.


    Disclaimer: I am not a certified practitioner or medical doctor. Please consult with your practitioner before trying any of the foods or herbs that I recommend

    Trayvon Martin, “White” Worldview, and the Importance of Context and Culture

    George Zimmerman Trial Continues

    Rachel Jeantel


    The other evening, I received an email from the author, and my friend, Dr. Gwen Fortune. She gave permission for me to re-post to my blog. Her perspective on language and meaning, within the context of the Trayvon Martin witness testimony of Rachel Jeantel, brings critical race, critical class, and critical age analysis that I have yet to see in the mainstream media depiction and interpretation of the trial.

    From: Gwendoline Fortune <>

    To: A. Breeze Harper <breezeharper@gmail.com>

    Sent: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 5:30 PM

    Subject: The important of context and culture

    Reluctantly, I am preparing for another gross miscarriage of justice in the American judicial system. Beginning the, undoubtedly, confrontational and confounding task of observing the George Zimmerman trial, I watched and listened to the young woman, Rachel Jeantel, who was on the telephone with Trayvon Martin just before Zimmerman shot him, being interviewed. Within five minutes I discerned that the young woman, age 19, is of modest intellect and achievement, from a community that probably is “labeled” working class. She is not unintelligent! She is a product of her environment. It is amazing to read and hear the opposite of what SHE said, transcribed in the media. She said they were not boyfriend and girlfriend, but friends. Much is being made of Trayvon’s comments to her of “creepy-ass white cracker “and,” The nigger is” following me. These were not racial epithets said to Zimmerman, but the way in which black kids talk to one another in their own territory.

    What is needed and will not be recognized is the cultural difference between this woman and her adversaries in the court. The situation is one that demonstrates a persistent duality in American society. Seriously, the use of a language translator would be appropriate. Although the language of Zimmerman’s attorney and that of Miss Jeantel sounds as if it is the same, it is not.

    I remember deliberately speaking a form of Chicago black ghettoese to a young community representative and not having my white suburban middle-class students able to decipher the two or three simple sentences exchanged.

    The attempts by Zimmerman’s attorney to trap the young woman in his “standard American legal jargon (argot)” made me want to grab him by the neck (I mean b@###) and throw him out of the court. The young woman explained that she had lied about her age, because she did not want to be involved with the law. She explained that she did not go to Trayvon’s wake and service because she felt guilty for her having been the last person  to speak with him, and her concern for his parents. I saw the taboo of seeing a dead body in her comments. She mentioned that her mother was out of the country at the time of the killing. Her heritage is Haitian. She grew up speaking Spanish and Creole. I hear other than “standard” US cultural influence (read “white”) as well as class and caste differentials. Within  cultural context I comprehend what she is saying and why. She said that she does not watch “any news,” but she is conversant with TV shows. She referred the court to a show “48…” as why she didn’t contact law enforcement. “They always call you,” she said. When the only knowledge of an institution–legal or other–is formed from exclusively watching TV entertainment, her inquisitor, trained in the legal system, is not able to comprehend her world-view, language or affect. I observed the defense–and later TV commentators–to be totally off the mark in interpreting the woman’s testimony. Being able to understand something of the actuality of her perspective, perception, and experience, I find her report of the final hour of 17 year old Trayvon Martin completely credible, while the western-white court and media judge her testimony on the basis of a world-view, as alien as any two widely separated cultures.

     The commentator Toure tried to get some of this viewpoint across to a white woman commentator a bit earlier. Cultural difference was totally missed–denied by the woman commentator–not a woman of color. . THEY cannot hear what is being said–on the terms of the witness. Knowing the makeup of the jury I hope that the prosecution has a bridge over these troubled waters or Trayvon Martin will not get justice. 

    I compare this trial, so far, with the indulgence given to Jodie Arias a few weeks ago; this was a young, white woman who is obviously emotionally and mentally in arrears. Her lies were obvious; still she was able to bamboozle one jury member away from the death penalty in the sentencing phase of the trial. I am not in favor of the death penalty. but seeing how Miss Arias ruled the court, and one of her expert witnesses, a woman psychologist who was taken in by her, was amazing. She was attractive–by European standards–and an articulate liar, who was allowed to remain on the stand for 18 hours.

    Unless some “expert” who is knowledgeable in cross-cultural affect is allowed to testify, the accurate testimony of this important witness will be lost in the misapplication of a majority culture norm, against an equally valid minority culture norm.  How is this to be accomplished? During a long lifetime of observing equal and similar unawareness of cross-cultural  validity is the reason for my refusal to acquiesce in the matter of “a jury of one’s peers.” No one in a controlling role in that Florida courtroom is a PEER of Rachel Jeantel. If Zimmerman is judged “Not Guilty,” it will be due to socio-cultural-historical ignorance, as well as conscious and unconscious manipulation by ruling power.

    Gwendoline Y. Fortune, Ed. D.


    About Dr. Fortune

    A native of Texas, with paternal roots in the Carolinas, Gwendoline Alpha Young Fortune has lived most of her life in Illinois.

    Gwen Fortune’s intent and goal are to share perspectives on American life that differs from the stereotypical model of people of color. BA elementary teaching, grades 4-8. H. C> Smith U, cum laude. MS, Social Science, South Carolina State University. Master of Philosophy Roosevelt U. Ed. D. in Higher Education from Nova U. She began college at Bennett College,  continuing at Juilliard School of Music.  Courses: U of MA, Michigan State U for study-tours in Africa and China. Taught:  Chicago Public Schools.  Instructional Team Coordinator/LASS teacher, Old Orchard Junior High, Skokie, IL. Professor of History and Social Science, and Coordinator of Ethnic Studies Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, IL.  Ethnic Studies Consultant, Chicago Consortium of Colleges and Universities, Loyola U.

    Novels are Growing Up Nigger Rich, and, Family Lines. A poetry chapbook Dancing as Fast as We can and Inner Scan.

    Papers at Meredith College, the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching,, the African American Association of Historical Research and Preservation, Seattle University, with essays on aging among African Americans and more.

    Dr. Fortune recorded a thirteen program series titled, “We do it all, classical music composed and performed by people of African descent.”

    A non-fiction memoir monograph, “Outsider in the Promised Land: A Black Family in a Jewish Community,”is under contract. It reflects her family’s experience in the tumult of the 1960s.  She has three adult sons and three granddaughters. She enjoys having a “one-world family,” called by her son “Afro-Eur-Asian. Find our more about her at : http://gyfortune.com

    Gwendoline Y. Fortune, Ed. D.


    If folk reading this blog, or other work I have done or share, if it has helped folk, your organization, your students, your family, etc, and you want to see it go to the next level of a non-profit social justice organization, please contribute what you can by clicking on the GOFUNDME Link below. My non-profit will offer webinars and literature about reproductive health that are holistic and plant-based. If you do not want to use this method, but prefer paypal, click on the link on the right upper corner of this blog page to donate via PAYPAL.


    On PETA, Trayvon Martin, and Being a Black Critical Race Researcher in White Spaces


    The full title of this talk is actually “‘Never Be Silent’ and the Packaging of Neoliberal Whiteness: On Trayvon Martin, PETA, and Being a Black Critical Race Researcher in White Spaces”. I just could’t fit the entire title in the WordPress title setup box.

    I gave this talk on June 4, 2013 at University of California, Davis for the GGG Speaker Series. I critique the ‘cruelty-free’ products that PETA promotes in their Vegan Shopping Guide which is accessible online. I use critical race materialism and decolonial world-systems analysis to question how any commodity sold to us vegans as ‘cruelty-free’, can truly be ethical if it relies on human exploitation. For example, I speak about racialized-sexualized exploitation of indigenous Mexican females to harvest ‘cheap’ tomatoes for the Global North. I also question how PETA can support a plethora of cocoa products that are ‘free’ from animal-products, yet the cocoa from companies such as Nestle and Hershey source their cocoa using African Child slavery.

    I examine PETA’s superficial use of Trayvon Martin’s murder as a way to ‘boost’ their animal liberation campaign, and argue that PETA falsely constructs Trayvon Martin’s tragedy as ‘true racism’ they are against. The problem is that PETA never engages a dialogue about the structural racism and coloniality that make the ‘cruelty-free’ vegan commodities they advocate, possible. It is contradictory to their ‘intersectional’ animal liberation campaign that asks people to “Never Be Silent” about injustices in the world.

    At the end of this talk, I explain why I am ‘nervous’ and ‘out of breath”: because it is emotionally difficult for me, many times, to show up in a predominantly white space, as a black critical race feminist in a supposed ‘post-racial’ era, and talk about ‘whiteness’ and ‘white supremacy’ to a predominantly white audience.

    I have to admit that the most notable memory from this experience was the first question I received during the Q&A. This question was from a white male who said he was completely unfamiliar with the Trayvon Martin incident. He asked that I provide him information about it. I do not expect everyone to know everything that is going on in the USA, but there is something to be said about the question about Trayvon Martin being asked. As a ‘survival’ rule, I personally need to be cognizant of racial profiling of us brown and black folk, here in the USA, so I stay up to date on these tragedies.

    If you enjoy the work I have done, if it has helped you, your organization, your students, your family, etc, and you want to see it go to the next level of a non-profit social justice organization, please contribute what you can by clicking on the GOFUNDME Link below. If you do not want to use this method, but prefer paypal, click on the link on the right upper corner of this blog page to donate via PAYPAL.


    Breeze Harper at UC Davis TODAY: "Trayvon Martin, PETA, and the Packaging of Neoliberal Whiteness"

    Dr.Breeze Harper


    If you enjoy the work I have done, if it has helped you, your organization, your students, your family, etc, and you want to see it go to the next level of a non-profit social justice organization, please contribute what you can by clicking on the GOFUNDME Link below. If you do not want to use this method, but prefer paypal, click on the link on the right upper corner of this blog page to donate via PAYPAL.


    "Never Be Silent": On Trayvon Martin, PETA, and the Packaging of Neoliberal Whiteness