[Podcast]: On Working with White Fragility as a Black Feminist and Food Studies Scholar

[New Podcast] Dr. A Breeze Harper on Working with White Fragility interviewed by Dr. Eric Garza. Fresh off the audio press.

Episode 19: Dr A Breeze Harper on Working With White Fragility


Despite having brown skin and being a “melanated peoples”, I burn in the sun in approximately 5 minutes. It can be as ‘cool’ as 69 degrees Fahrenheit and I will burn…My mother used to always joke, “You would have made a horrible field slave”, which kind of makes perfect sense. She has always enjoyed calling me an Oreo since I was a tween. Oreo was then promoted to the affectionate label of Oreo Double Stuff by the time I had graduated from high school in 1994 and I had been accepted into a gazillion PWIs like Smith College, Tufts University, Bryn Mawr, and Dartmouth College.  I vividly remember when I first discovered the Four Seasons when I was 14 years old. I asked my mother if she could buy it for me on CD. Boy was she elated that I was inquiring about the Four Seasons…. Except she thought that I misspoke and that I must have meant the Black Motown group The Four Tops (Yes, I meant some music composed by a dead white Italian man). #blackcardrejected #notauthenticallyblack

How did I get from being a white cream filled dark sandwich cookie with two left feet and an unhealthy obsession with Anton Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to being told I’m uber ‘articulate’ and ‘non-threatening’ in post-racial vegan venues? I could tell this story from so many vantage points. I thought long and hard about it, writing draft after draft, dropping some heavy critical theory sh$t from Angela Davis, to Frantz Fanon, to Charles Mills. But every time I tried to do this, it just wouldn’t work out. Critical theory takes deep concentration, plenty of sleep, and mental acuity….

…which is hella blown out of the water when you’ve got 4 damn kids– a 6 month old, a 3 year old, a 5 year old (the middle one with a damn freaking attitude and a propensity for sticking her hand in the monkey jar) and an 8 year old who continuously interrupt your prophetic destiny to be a  scholar with such greatness and [can’t think of an intelligent word because my 5 year old just came outside screaming and running towards me, naked, holding a bowl of Cheerios] that would make Sara Ahmed’s rumination on phenomenology and post-colonialism look like simple nursery school rhymes. #badphenomenologyjokes

-Dr. A. Breeze Harper. Draft from her upcoming book Black. Mama. Scholar: On Black Feminism, Food Ethics, and Toddler Tantrums in a ‘Post-Racial’ Era (2018).

In a delightful and humorous, yet deeply critical talk, Dr. A. Breeze Harper will ruminate on the past 12 years of her activism and scholarship as well as read excerpts from her upcoming book Black. Mama. Scholar: On Black Feminism, Food Ethics, and Toddler Tantrums in a ‘Post-Racial’ Era (formerly titled Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches). Get ready for a different side of A. Breeze Harper, PhD, as she uses a fusion of satire and critical race feminism to explore just how “post-racial” we are– in veganism and beyond.

This is a fundraising event for the Sistah Vegan Project. Register for the Live Lecture with Q&A below.


Ticket Options



If you can’t make her live webcast but are interested in inviting her to give a talk and/or workshop at your organization or university, contact her at bookbreezeharper@gmail.com .



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

Dr. Harper is the creator and editor of the first of its kind book about veganism and race: Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society(Lantern Books 2010).

Dr. Harper holds a PhD in social science from University of California Davis (with an emphasis in Black Feminisms, Critical Theories of Race, and Ethical Consumption). She has a Masters degree in Educational Technologies from Harvard University, with emphasis on Black Feminisms. Her thesis earned her the prestigious Dean’s award.

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

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

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

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

and

 

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Black Mammyism in Mainstream Veganism and Beyond

This was in 2011. I finished my PhD in 2013. But I wanted to reshare this video about Black Mammyism. I will reflect on this in my new book/talk event October 7, 2017 (see details after the video) .

Below is my upcoming event and information about my latest book project which, for the first time in my life, incorporates humor into the serious topics of Black feminism, veganism, food ethics, and Black motherhood. If you liked the above video, maybe you’d like to check out my more critical approaches to not just pregnancy and motherhood as a Black woman, but as a Black feminist scholar dabbling in the ethical foodscape over the past 12 years.


Despite having brown skin and being a “melanated peoples”, I burn in the sun in approximately 5 minutes. It can be as ‘cool’ as 69 degrees Fahrenheit and I will burn…My mother used to always joke, “You would have made a horrible field slave”, which kind of makes perfect sense. She has always enjoyed calling me an Oreo since I was a tween. Oreo was then promoted to the affectionate label of Oreo Double Stuff by the time I had graduated from high school in 1994 and I had been accepted into a gazillion PWIs like Smith College, Tufts University, Bryn Mawr, and Dartmouth College.  I vividly remember when I first discovered the Four Seasons when I was 14 years old. I asked my mother if she could buy it for me on CD. Boy was she elated that I was inquiring about the Four Seasons…. Except she thought that I misspoke and that I must have meant the Black Motown group The Four Tops (Yes, I meant some music composed by a dead white Italian man). #blackcardrejected #notauthenticallyblack

How did I get from being a white cream filled dark sandwich cookie with two left feet and an unhealthy obsession with Anton Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to being told I’m uber ‘articulate’ and ‘non-threatening’ in post-racial vegan venues? I could tell this story from so many vantage points. I thought long and hard about it, writing draft after draft, dropping some heavy critical theory sh$t from Angela Davis, to Frantz Fanon, to Charles Mills. But every time I tried to do this, it just wouldn’t work out. Critical theory takes deep concentration, plenty of sleep, and mental acuity….

…which is hella blown out of the water when you’ve got 4 damn kids– a 6 month old, a 3 year old, a 5 year old (the middle one with a damn freaking attitude and a propensity for sticking her hand in the monkey jar) and an 8 year old who continuously interrupt your prophetic destiny to be a  scholar with such greatness and [can’t think of an intelligent word because my 5 year old just came outside screaming and running towards me, naked, holding a bowl of Cheerios] that would make Sara Ahmed’s rumination on phenomenology and post-colonialism look like simple nursery school rhymes. #badphenomenologyjokes

-Dr. A. Breeze Harper. Draft from her upcoming book Black. Mama. Scholar: On Black Feminism, Food Ethics, and Toddler Tantrums in a ‘Post-Racial’ Era (2018).

In a delightful and humorous, yet deeply critical talk, Dr. A. Breeze Harper will ruminate on the past 12 years of her activism and scholarship as well as read excerpts from her upcoming book Black. Mama. Scholar: On Black Feminism, Food Ethics, and Toddler Tantrums in a ‘Post-Racial’ Era (formerly titled Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches). Get ready for a different side of A. Breeze Harper, PhD, as she uses a fusion of satire and critical race feminism to explore just how “post-racial” we are– in veganism and beyond.

This is a fundraising event for the Sistah Vegan Project. Register for the Live Lecture with Q&A below.

Ticket Options


If you can’t make her live webcast but are interested in inviting her to give a talk and/or workshop at your organization or university, contact her at bookbreezeharper@gmail.com .



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

Dr. Harper is the creator and editor of the first of its kind book about veganism and race: Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society(Lantern Books 2010).

Dr. Harper holds a PhD in social science from University of California Davis (with an emphasis in Black Feminisms, Critical Theories of Race, and Ethical Consumption). She has a Masters degree in Educational Technologies from Harvard University, with emphasis on Black Feminisms. Her thesis earned her the prestigious Dean’s award.

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

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

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

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

and

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do it now.

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

Now.

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

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

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

Dr. Harper is the creator and editor of the first of its kind book about veganism and race: Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society(Lantern Books 2010).

Dr. Harper holds a PhD in social science from University of California Davis (with an emphasis in Black Feminisms, Critical Theories of Race, and Ethical Consumption). She has a Masters degree in Educational Technologies from Harvard University, with emphasis on Black Feminisms. Her thesis earned her the prestigious Dean’s award. She does diversity and inclusion consulting, training, and workshops with a focus on ethical consumption and animal-rights oriented organizations and businesses. Her upcoming event Black Mama Scholar in October 7 2017 is a live webcast that will speak critically about her work as an anti-racism activist and ethical vegan within the often racially hostile climate of mainstream veganism in the USA (and beyond).

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

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

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

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

and

Contact information: sistahvegan at gmail dot com

SUPPORT THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT’S LATEST BOOKS AND EVENTS

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

[Updated May 23 2017, 17:30 PST]

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

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

What are your names and what does ACE do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anything else you want to add?

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

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

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

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

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


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

From Sacramento to Penn State: Uprooting White Fragility and Other Updates

 

 


The [Vegan] Praxis of Justice in an Era of Black Lives Matter– Deadline Extended to November 15 2016

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For Screen readers:

In 2010, Lantern Books published the groundbreaking anthology Sistah Vegan, edited by Dr. A. Breeze Harper. This is an anthology of Black women identified vegans who reflect on food, identity, health, and society.

Dr. A. Breeze Harper of the Sistah Vegan Project and Aph Ko of Black Vegans Rock will be organizing and co-editing a sequel to Sistah Vegan called ‘The Praxis of Justice in an Era of Black Lives Matter’ (working title). For this volume, we envision deeply critical engagements by Black identified vegans, who are doing social justice, food Justice, environmental justice, etc. from an intersectional framework. The volume will centralize the significance of living during the era of Black Lives Matter. How are you, as a Black identified vegan, engaged in the continuum of dismantling systemic racism (and other ‘isms’) that affect Black people throughout the world?

Who we are seeking: Black identified vegans who employ the tenets of ethical veganism through intersectional justice (i.e. anti-racism, anti-ableism, anti-speciesism, LGBTQ rights, Black Liberation); someone who does not frame veganism or Black Liberation within the often mainstream and confining narrative that is almost always cissexist, heteronormative, fat shaming, ableist, and classist to name a few.

What we are accepting: (1) Critical essays, poems, or narratives of no more than 6000 words; (2) Artwork/design ideas for the cover.

Deadline for abstracts: November 15, 2016.

Deadline for final submissions: April 15, 2017.

Email questions and abstracts to: Dr. A. Breeze Harper – sistahvegan@gmail.com


(Credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen 2016)
(Credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen 2016)

Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a senior diversity and inclusion strategist forCritical Diversity Solutions, a seasoned speaker, and author of books and articles related to critical race feminism, intersectional anti-racism, and ethical consumption. As a writer, she is best known as the creator and editor of the groundbreaking anthology Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010). Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her book Scars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix)which explored how key Black vegan men use hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies. In 2016, she collaborated with Oakland’s FoodFirst’s Executive Director Dr. Eric Holt-Gimenez to write the backgrounder Dismantling Racism in the Food System, which kicked offFoodFirst’s series on systemic racism within the food system

Dr. Harper is the founder of the Sistah Vegan Project which has put on several ground-breaking conferences with emphasis on intersection of racialized consciousness, anti-racism, and ethical consumption (i.e., veganism, animal rights, Fair Trade). Last year she organized the highly successful conference The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter which can be downloaded.

Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town. Her current 2016 lecture circuit focuses on excerpts from her latest book in progress, Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches: A Critical Race Feminist’s Journey Through ‘Post-Racial’ Ethical Foodscape which will be released in 2017, along with the second Sistah Vegan project anthology The Praxis of Justice in an Era of Black Lives MatterIn tandem with these book projects, she is well-known for her talks and workshops about “Uprooting White Fragility in the Ethical Foodscape” and “Intersectional Anti-Racism Activism.”

In the spring of 2016, Dr. Harper was nominated as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Humane Party— the only vegan political party in the USA with focus on human and non-human animals.

SUPPORT THE SISTAH VEGAN PROJECT'S LATEST BOOK

Vegan Praxis of Justice in an Era of Black Lives Matter (Deadline Extended)

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For Screen Readers:

In 2010, Lantern Books published the groundbreaking anthology Sistah Vegan, edited by Dr. A. Breeze Harper. This is an anthology of Black women identified vegans who reflect on food, identity, health, and society.

Dr. A. Breeze Harper of the Sistah Vegan Project and Aph Ko of Black Vegans Rock will be organizing and co-editing a sequel to Sistah Vegan called ‘The Praxis of Justice in an Era of Black Lives Matter’ (working title). For this volume, we envision deeply critical engagements by Black identified vegans, who are doing social justice, food Justice, environmental justice, etc. from an intersectional framework. The volume will centralize the significance of living during the era of Black Lives Matter. How are you, as a Black identified vegan, engaged in the continuum of dismantling systemic racism (and other ‘isms’) that affect Black people throughout the world?

Who we are seeking: Black identified vegans who employ the tenets of ahimsa-based veganism through intersectional justice (i.e. anti-racism, anti-ableism, anti-speciesism, LGBTQ rights, Black Liberation); someone who does not frame veganism or Black Liberation within the often mainstream and confining narrative that is almost always cissexist, heteronormative, fat shaming, ableist, and classist to name a few.

What we are accepting: (1) Critical essays, poems, or narratives of no more than 6000 words; (2) Artwork/design ideas for the cover.

Deadline for abstracts: October 15, 2016.

Deadline for final submissions: March 15, 2017.

Email questions and abstracts to: Dr. A. Breeze Harper – sistahvegan@gmail.com


 

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

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[Vegan Special Edition]: A Progressive Investment in Whiteness (‘Non-Racist’ ‘Cruelty-free’ Donor Power)

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[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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[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.


 

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 FOLLOWER. JUST IMAGINE WHAT COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED IF HALF OR MORE FOLLOWERS PLEDGED $5-$15 PER MONTH.

patreon