The Sistah Vegan Project

Guest Post by Liz Ross: Why I Protested Thug Kitchen

Dr. A. Breeze Harper:

Since I gave a talk last week at Middlebury College on thug kitchen controversy, I thought this guest post by Liz Ross, on Hana Low’s page, would be helpful to read through.

Originally posted on Hana Low | opening cages for collective liberation:

In light of the recent controversy over the duo who created the blog, Thug Kitchen (TK), and hid their identities until the launch of their vegan cookbook under the same name, members of Cali Vegans of Color collaborated with a diverse group of ethical vegans and launched a protest campaign at TK book tour events that were scheduled to take place in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. As a result, all three October events were cancelled.

Michelle Davis’ and Matt Holloway’s cookbook is a banal attempt at crafting “rapper” words by two white individuals who obviously don’t mingle with a diverse and progressive group – a book viewed as creative and funny by those who only get their exposure of people of color through Hollywood stereotypes and the sensational evening news. Their vegan recipes aren’t particularly creative and blend in with the other dime-a-dozen cookbooks that clutter bookstores…

View original 1,236 more words

A. Breeze Harper in Marie Claire Magazine October 2014 Issue

Here I am, talking about my kale smoothie. Vegans representing!

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

“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”.  

Now Available: Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England

Hello fans. My new novel Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England is now available for order.

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Description:

Scars is a novel about whiteness, racism, and breaking past the normative boundaries of heterosexuality, as experienced through eighteen year old Savannah Penelope Sales. Savannah is a Black girl, born and raised in a white, working class, and rural New England town. She is in denial of her lesbian sexuality, harbors internalized racism about her body, and is ashamed of being poor. She lives with her ailing mother whose Emphysema is a symptom of a mysterious past of suffering and sacrifice that Savannah is not privy to. When Savannah takes her first trip to a major metropolitan city for two days, she never imagines how it will affect her return back home to her mother … or her capacity to not only love herself, but also those who she thought were her enemies. Scars is about the journey of friends and family who love Savannah and try to help her heal, all while they too battle their own wounds and scars of being part of multiple systems of oppression and power. Ultimately, Scars makes visible the psychological trauma and scarring that legacies of colonialism have caused to both the descendants of the colonized and the colonizer … and the potential for healing and reconciliation for everyone willing to embark on the journey. As a work of social fiction born out of years of critical race, Black feminist, and critical whiteness studies scholarship, Scars engages the reader to think about USA culture through the lenses of race, whiteness, working-class sensibilities, sexual orientation, and how rural geography influences identity. Scars can be used as a springboard for discussion, self-reflection and social reflection for students enrolled in American Studies, Sociology, Women’s Studies, Sexuality Studies, African American Studies, human geography, LGBTQ studies and critical whiteness studies courses, or it can be read entirely for pleasure.

 

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO REVIEW THIS, PLEASE EMAIL ME YOUR DETAILS SO I CAN DETERMINE IF YOU WOULD BE A GOOD FIT AS A REVIEWER. LET ME KNOW IF YOU ARE A BLOGGER, A RADIO SHOW HOST, PROFESSOR, ETC. CONTACT BREEZEHARPER@GMAIL.COM  . 

TO ORDER SCARS YOU CLICK HERE: Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England

TO BOOK SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS PLEASE CONTACT CRITICAL DIVERSITY SOLUTIONS: CRITICALDIVERSITYSOLUTIONS@GMAIL.COM

 

Cruelty-Free Orgasm: The Art and Ethics of Sexual Pleasure

There are so many drugs and products out there that rely on the use of animal experimentation. Sexual products, such as prescription drugs to help with health sexual function are not exempt. Hypnosis Erotic offers the ethical and cruelty-free** solution to ethical vegans and vegetarians. See below some of Talmadge’s work with a couple to achieve orgasmic pleasure. Even though there is no nudity or sexual activity in this video, the moaning is quite loud, so please be careful when listening if you are in a public space– in particular, work. Use headphones. I appreciate that the Talmadge makes it clear in this video and many other of his products and videos that these products should be used responsibly and with consent.

You can find more out about Hypnosis Erotic at this link.

Enjoy :-) and if you like articles like these, please donate to the Sistah Vegan project.

 

Fashionable Resistance: The Art of Critical Thinking and Change Making

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My new custom made earrings arrived in the mail the other day. Many of you know that I’m into earrings that make a statement and usually depict my favorite Black “change makers”, such as Malcolm X. Well, the brilliant and fellow sistah vegan Mercedes Martin helped me continue my “fashionable resistance” by designing and making a pair of Zora Neale Hurston earrings for me.  I told her that I wanted Zora Neale Hurston on earrings. She took a famous photo that most of us Hurston fans know, and did her magic. The result is the above image. If you look closely you’ll notice that there are actual gems around Hurston’s neck that Mercedes glued onto the earrings. And on the other side of the earrings are these words:

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Mercedes used recycled material to make her jewelry and other fashionable items. She made my earrings out of repurposed event flyers. Click on the images above to see more of her work.

If you don’t know who Zora Neale Hurston is, consider reading her book Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Also, for a future Sistah Vegan endeavor, I will be collaborating with artists and designers to make a new line of Sistah Vegan “approved” jewelry called “Fashionable Resistance”, which will showcase the activists and scholars who have been influential as critical thinkers and change makers for my scholarship and activism, such as the Malcolm X earrings I am wearing in this photo below, designed by Charisma Eclectic, another fellow sistah vegan. I would love to showcase folk such as pattrice jones, Angela Davis, Bryant Terry, DJ Cavem,  Lauren Ornelas (Food Empowerment Project), Octavia Butler (vegan by the way) and Queen Afua (with proper permission from them of course). A Kickstarter campaign will be coming soon for that :-)

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Also, check on my newest book project G’s Up, Hoes Down: Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix). 

Watching Slaughterhouse vs. Strawberry Harvest Videos: How Plant Harvesting is Often Romanticized as Cruelty-Free

I was on one of my FB sites dedicated to anti-speciesism. Someone posted this photo below.

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Source: Facebook

I do understand why they posted this.  But…

…I felt compelled to mention that strawberry harvesting, though not nearly as visually ‘gruesome’ and as directly ‘cruel’ as slaughtering non-human animals, does not mean that the harvesting of strawberries is cruelty-free (as applied to those of us who buy strawberries vs. those of us who have the ‘privilege’ of growing our own to pick). Thousands of human laborers, mostly brown people from what is considered Latin America, harvest strawberries (and many other vegetables and fruits) in cruel conditions. Being sprayed with pesticides, not having access to clean water and toilets, working for poverty level wages, etc are what a significant number of what these folk must go through. I don’t mean to throw a wrench in this image and text’s meanings, but I really think this is something I often see being elided within talks about how one’s conscious is more ‘clean’ by eating vegan diets of fruits and veggies in North America. Once again, I am not saying or equating the slaughter of non-human animals as the SAME as exploited and abused human farm laborers; both practices are disgusting and cause a lot of pain and suffering. However, I just want to point out that the former (non human animal slaughter) is always made visible amongst the vegan mainstream in the USA, while the latter (harvesting strawberries or other plants for human consumption under horrible and insufferable conditions) is painted as something one need not think deeply about [since non-human animals weren't directly harmed].

Here is a book that can help us think more about not getting swept up in what looks like an ‘easy’ binary to make. The cover has a laborer picking strawberries. Click on the title to learn more:

The Food Empowerment Project, a pro-vegan organization, also advocates more awareness around the human cruelty endured by farm laborers.   Lauren Ornelas, ED of the Food Empowerment Project,  discusses these issues in this video below:

Enjoy this article? See what Dr. Harper is doing for her next book project and how you help fund it. Click below.

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Surviving Through Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Eva Luna and Sun, healthier and happier in spring 2014.

Eva Luna and Sun, healthier and happier in spring 2014.

In January of 2014, my kids (a newborn, 2 year old, and 4 year old) all got Coxsackie A Virus at the same time. Better known as Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD), this virus is something most kids in the USA get by the time they are ten years old. Though usually benign, HFMD is a miserable experience in which one gets a blistering sore throat, slight fever, and throbbing headaches for 1-2 days. After these symptoms have subsided, the virus produces painful and itchy blisters in and on the mouth, hands, and feet. It is about a week of hell wrought with sleepless nights.

Having not caught HFMD as a child, my body had no immunity against it. However, I didn’t end up getting HFMD past a sore throat. The sore throat only lasted about 3 hours! My secret weapon against this virus was a holistic anti-viral dietary regiment that I put myself on as soon as my sore throat hit me. Allopathic practitioners will tell you that there is no cure for HFMD. That may be true, but just because you get the virus doesn’t mean you have to get the full-blown symptoms. I am living proof that you can avoid the supposedly unavoidable! As a matter of fact, within a few hours of starting this regiment and then taking a 2 hours nap, I started feeling much better. My sore throat vanished, and I felt brand new. I stayed on this dietary regiment for 5 days.

Take the sugar and coffee out of your diet. Replace with mostly high quality plant-based proteins and lots of greens like kale.

 

Sugar weakens the immune system so take it out. I removed the sweets and replaced most of my meals and snacks with mostly dark leafy greens and protein. Viruses love caffeine, so take it out of your diet. Below is the super green smoothie I drank with my breakfast and lunch. Using a high-quality blender, like a Vita-Mix, is highly recommended to finely grind the kale and ginger root. Ginger is essential to boost the immune system, but it also helps most of us digest raw  or lightly steamed cruciferous vegetables like kale.

  • ¾”-1” cube of fresh ginger root.
  • ½ bunch of raw Dino kale
  • 1 tsp of Organic Hawaiian based Spirulina
  • 30 oz of water
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 apple (optional to make it sweeter)

 

Apply Neem Oil.

Though it smells strongly like a mixture of sulfur and garlic, don’t let it deter you from using it. I rubbed it all over my face, hands, and feet 2 times a day to prevent getting the blister outbreaks. I recommended applying about 3-4 drops on your face, as well as 3-4 drops for the hands and feet. If you have sensitive skin, mix the Neem oil extra virgin coconut oil. You can do a ratio of Neem oil and coconut oil that is 1:4. Add several drops of Lavender essential oil to the mixture to decrease the pungent smell. I ended up mixing ½ ounce of Neem oil with 2 ounces of virgin coconut oil. I highly suggest using coconut oil because it is anti-viral and anti-bacterial as well.

 

Elderberry.

 I made Elderberry tea and drank it 3 times a day. Elderberry is a superb anti-viral and immune system-boosting berry. I buy my organic Elderberries in bulk because the syrup they have in the stores are pricey. Be sure to decoct your Elderberries for at least 20 minutes, as sometimes Elderberries can cause illness if they are eaten raw. I always use organic Elderberries. However, if you prefer to use a high quality Elderberry syrup over making your own tea, that is fine too and a little more convenient.

1000 mg of Vitamin C per Day.

I took 1000mg of vitamin C each day in two increments, at 500mg per dose. I took 500mg of ascorbic acid based Vitamin C in the morning and evening, with food. Don’t take 1000mg all at once, as your body can’t really make use of more than 500mg within a few hour period.

 

Goldenseal.

 

I took a Goldenseal tincture 3 times a day. Like Elderberry, it’s a superb immune system booster and anti-viral herb. My brand of choice is Herb Pharm. I prefer the glycerite, as alcohol-based tinctures tend to make me feel sicker.

Apple Cider Vinegar.

I drank 1tbsp of apple cider vinegar mixed with 8 ounces of water, 3x a day. Apple cider vinegar helps to prevent the virus from replicating any further, once it enters your body. You must use apple cider vinegar and not any other form.

Good luck and happy wellness to you and your family!

If you enjoyed this article, check out my new book project about ethical eating, hip hop, and black male vegans.

Bio:  is the director and founder of the Sistah Vegan Project. Her emphasis are in the the intersections of critical food studies, critical health studies, and multi-culturalism. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis and is currently a research fellow in the human ecology department of University of California. She is passionate about teaching how plant-based diets can help pregnant and lactating women thrive. The Sistah Vegan Blog and her official website, A. Breeze Harper, are the two websites you can go to in order to be updated about her writing, speaking, and videos.

 

Ouch! Systemic Suffering and The Third Noble Truth – Buddhist Peace Fellowship / Turning Wheel Media

http://www.buddhistpeacefellowship.org/ouch-systemic-suffering-and-the-third-noble-truth/

The above was written by my mentor Zenju and expresses systemic racism and suffering very well.

“She Didn’t Look Depressed to Me”: On Postpartum Depression and Funky Smelling Girls

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Dr. A. Breeze Harper

The other week, I was at my community park in Berkeley, CA. I overheard two men who work at the community park center, talking to each other. One of the men told his colleague that he saw a female colleague dancing at a club. He said that she was on disability leave because she had postpartum depression. Shaking his head disapprovingly at his colleague, he said, “I saw her at that club and she was having a good time. She didn’t look depressed to me.”
It wasn’t my conversation so I didn’t come over to correct this man and his assumptions about what it ‘looks like to be depressed.’ I decided to be ‘polite’ over being ‘politically correct’. Should have I?

…But then, a few days later, the same man started talking to me about one of the kids there at the park who was attending the summer camp program. He informed me that one of the preteen girls smelled ‘really funky’ and that he had to tell her mother that she needed better hygiene practices. He said that her mother was offended and he told me he said, “Well, would it be better if one of her friends told her she was really funky?” He said she needed antiperspirant. So, this 50 something year old man thought he was trying to be helpful, but I found it really uncomfortable that he was even talking to me about this.

When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I learned how I was supposed to be ‘ashamed’ of smelling bad. Boys apparently could smell nasty, but not us girls. It was all around me: ridiculous commercials that reminded me how disgusting and shameful it is to smell like less than a prize winning rose as a female. I also remember my mother telling me that I should make an effort to make sure I don’t smell while on my period. I never was able to solve that ‘problem’ though, as I was always very odoriferous during Aunt Flo’s visit. Puberty basically meant spending a lot of time using soaps, sprays, and anti-perspiration deodorants to mask my natural bodily odors; products that I would later learn were horrendous for my health.

Unfortunately, I grew up in an interesting culture in which people like my mother and this man at the park believe that one should use harsh chemicals to mask the shame of natural odors. And on top of this, I would later learn that as the only Black girl in an entirely white K-12 school system, I simply could not smell or make it appear that I had ‘bad’ hygiene practices because I had to represent an entire race of people (that, in itself, is another story!).

And of course most of us who subscribe to this culture don’t even know that products such as anti-perspiration deodorants are toxic to our systems. So, as this man at the park explained how he confronted this mother about her daughter’s odor, I kept thinking how this girl shouldn’t dunk her body in a bunch of chemicals that will increase her likelihood of yeast infections (FDS use) or using just to make people like this man, happy. But, I also thought about how this man commenting about her hygiene practices is Black and so is she. How much did that have to do with his need to tell her mother? Is he concerned about this issue with all kids he helps to take care of during summer camp, or are Black girls more of a concern because he doesn’t want them ‘embarrass’ all Black people?

Overall, this man’s perspective on cisgender female’s bodily processes (hormonal changes that cause postpartum depression and certain body odors starting with puberty) was quite disconcerting for me. However, I know that he is not an anomaly but rather represents what a majority of those in the USA think.

Maybe I will return to that park, armed with data that shows how postpartum depression is real and that most Americans have an unhealthy relationship with how they deal with the fragrant human body? I can leave a gentle note letting him know how his perspective is potentially harmful and hurtful.

If you enjoy the content of my writing, you can find out more about my latest book project. This book will be book number 3 for me. My first two were Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010) and Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014).

My new book is tentatively title “Gs Up, Hoes Down”: Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix). Don’t worry folk, the first part of the title is from DJ Cavem’s song of the same title which talks about Gs as “organic growers” and “hoes” as the garden tool. Go here to find out more.

Vegan Secret #1 For Minimal Menstrual Pain and Heavy Bleeding

So, I started my period today. I am going to be honest with you. There is no single nutritional and health regiment that will work for every single person who is menstruating. However, I wanted to share with you what I do so I can have a pleasant menstrual cycle each month.

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I made a white bean, kale, ginger soup. Kale is my go to herb for just about everything that ails me. Kale and ginger are anti-inflammatory. This is important, as an inflamed uterus means lots of bloating and pain. Kale is also high in nutrients such as lutein (great for eye health), Vitamin C (awesome immune system booster), and Calcium. When I do not have time to make a hot meal like soup, I will make a smoothie or lightly saute a half bunch of kale in a little olive oil and sea salt with fresh ginger slices. My favorite way to eat kale is via a smoothie. Whether it is my period or not, I eat kale nearly every day, but also take a break in between to be gentle on my thyroid. So, I will be on kale for 3 weeks and take 1 week off.

Stinging Nettles is another great herb to have in your diet, whether you are menstruating or not. I usually make a 1/2 gallon of nettles tea per week so I have enough to last me the week. I take a big pot, put 1.5 cups of nettles (dried. If you use fresh, wear gloves so you don’t get a rash. Don’t worry, the heat neutralizes the stinging component) and about 75 ounces of water into it. I bring to a boil and then once it boils, I turn low and simmer for 5 minutes, and then I turn it off, cover, put to the side, and let it infuse over night. This is called an infusion and this process allows the minerals and vitamins to be drawn out the stinging nettles. An anti-inflammatory plant, it is great for toning the uterus, cleansing the kidneys and liver, and provides Calcium and vitamin K to name a few. It is also excellent for fertility as well as achieving beautiful hair and skin.

Exercise four times per week . I hike or power walk with weights on me (a baby in an Ergo carrier) 3-5 times per week.

I also found that eliminating sugar and refined flour from my diet, the week before and during my period, is an excellent way to ensure low inflammation. Eliminate caffeine as well.

Of course there are many other things one can do, but these are my core dietary and exercise principles.

For the past 2 years, I’ve basically been listening to Stic.Man’s The Workout . It’s a brilliant pro-vegan and holistic health album. While pushing my babies up the steepest hill in Berkeley, Marin Ave, I like to have the song “Let It Burn” on repeat. As a matter of fact, Stic.Man will be one of 6 amazing black male vegans I’ll be writing about for my latest book project. This book will be book number 3 for me. My first two were Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010) and Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014).

My new book is tentatively title Gs Up, Hoes Down: Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix). Don’t worry folk, the first part of the title is from DJ Cavem’s song of the same title which talks about Gs as “organic growers” and “hoes” as the garden tool. Go here to find out more.

BREAKING NEWS: Man Dies; Veganism Blamed

Originally posted on Meaty Vegan:

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[BUFFALO CITY, OK] Harper County Police and the Harper County Medical Examiner’s Office are investigating the death of a Buffalo City man this morning.

A 92-year-old Buffalo City resident was found dead in his modest prairie home earlier this week. Local authorities believe his vegan lifestyle may have contributed to his unexpected death. David Nash, retired postal worker for Buffalo City, was discovered deceased in his reclining chair by a neighbor who felt “something was just not right.”

“I considered David a friend, in spite of the fact he only ever brought hummus and veggie burgers to our community cookouts,” said Daryl Leno, a neighbor of Nash’s. “Considering the bizarre diet he was on, I’m pretty sure that’s what killed him. I mean, come on, what is hummus anyway?”

The County medical examiner confirmed upon closer inspection of Nash’s home, they could only find whole foods, beans, rice, fruits, vegetables, and some form of…

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Race-consciousness, Hip Hop, and Veganism: A New Sistah Vegan Book Project Update

Here is an update to my newest project:

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Title: “G’s Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix).

Some of you have asked why would I use “hoes” in my title. “Isn’t that sexist and misogynistic, Breeze?” So, let me make it clearer (especially if you have not watched my Oberlin May 2014 talk that explains this). Well, I am actually not referring to Snopp Dogg’s song from 20 years ago, but DJ Cavem’s song from his Produce Section: The Harvest album from 2012. DJ Cavem is a vegan and expert gardener who teaches youths about being ecoconscious, cooking veganism, and awareness around the prison industrial complex. DJ Cavem uses “Gs” to mean “Organic growers” and “hoes” literally as the gardening tool to cultivate healthy and strong communities.

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Cee Knowledge (left), Breeze Harper, DJ Cavem (right)

Book Description: Vegan mainstream rhetoric often falls into a post-racial mindset; that is, the assumption that since the Civil Rights Acts, racism and legacies of colonialism are no longer significant impediments to achieving equality in the USA. Furthermore, rarely does the vegan mainstream reflect on how structural racism shapes one’s logic, goals, and communication strategies around ethical consumption.

In this book, I will explore how key Black male vegans are employing hip-hop methods to create race-conscious and decolonial approaches to vegan activism. Such icons will include vegan chef Bryant Terry, Kevin Tillman of the Vegan Hip Hop Movement, hip hop and eco conscious musician DJ Cavem, and Stic.Man of Dead Prez.

These men are examples of alternative black masculinities, cooking up complex and complicated models of ethical consumption, environmental justice, and nutritional activism that you won’t find in the popular PETA campaigns or the bestselling books Skinny Bitch and Skinny Bastard.

What also makes this book unique is that I will use social science based methodologies such as black feminism, decoloial theory, and critical pedagogies of consumption to analyze the work of these men. Simultaneously, the writing style will be fun, easily accessible, inspirational and critical; one need not have a graduate degree in critical theory to understand it.

Goal: Ultimately, the goal of the book is to show how intersectionality of race-conscious, decolonial thought, and hip hop activism do not DISTRACT from the tenets of veganism, but in fact strengthen it. This is Sistah Vegan Anthology’s sibling and long overdue. If you enjoyed Sistah Vegan, you will enjoy this new book project, which I gave an amazing introductory lecture about at Oberlin College this past spring 2014.

Delivery date to press: Fall 2016.

Funds will be used to pay for travel to areas such as Denver, CO to interview DJ Cavem, copy editing, proof reading, cover design, a new computer (mine died), and promoting the book.

I already have a press for the book. Once I sign the contract, I will let my fans know who it is with.

If you also want to know more about my writing and success in this field, you can go to http://www.abreezeharper.com .
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Update: G’s Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix)

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I have updated my new book goals and TITLE. Originally titled “Living Bling, Going Green”: Redefining Black Masculinities Through Hip Hop and Veganism, I changed it to this….

Title: “G’s Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix).

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Cee Knowledge (left), Breeze Harper, DJ Cavem (right)

 

Book Description: Vegan mainstream rhetoric often falls into a post-racial mindset; that is, the assumption that since the Civil Rights Acts, racism and legacies of colonialism are no longer significant impediments to achieving equality in the USA. Furthermore, rarely does the vegan mainstream reflect on how structural racism shapes one’s logic, goals, and communication strategies around ethical consumption.

In this book, I will explore how key Black male vegans are employing hip-hop methods to create race-conscious and decolonial approaches to vegan activism. Such icons will include vegan chef Bryant Terry, Kevin Tillman of the Vegan Hip Hop Movement, hip hop and eco conscious musician DJ Cavem, and Stic.Man of Dead Prez.

These men are examples of alternative black masculinities, cooking up complex and complicated models of ethical consumption, environmental justice, and nutritional activism that you won’t find in the popular PETA campaigns or the bestselling books Skinny Bitch and Skinny Bastard.

What also makes this book unique is that I will use social science based methodologies such as black feminism, decoloial theory, and critical pedagogies of consumption to analyze the work of these men. Simultaneously, the writing style will be fun, easily accessible, inspirational and critical; one need not have a graduate degree in critical theory to understand it.

Goal: Ultimately, the goal of the book is to show how intersectionality of race-conscious, decolonial thought, and hip hop activism do not DISTRACT from the tenets of veganism, but in fact strengthen it. This is Sistah Vegan Anthology’s sibling and long overdue. If you enjoyed Sistah Vegan, you will enjoy this new book project, which I gave an amazing introductory lecture about at Oberlin College this past spring 2014.

Delivery date to press: Fall 2016.

Funds will be used to pay for travel to areas such as Denver, CO to interview DJ Cavem, copy editing, proof reading, cover design, a new computer (mine died), and promoting the book.

I already have a press for the book. Once I sign the contract, I will let my fans know who it is with.

If you also want to know more about my writing and success in this field, you can go to http://www.abreezeharper.com .
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Foraging in my neighborhood: is it a privilege?

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I like to forage while I walk from home to get the kids from nursery school. I push them back up the hill in our double stroller and it takes 80-90 minutes. On the way, we eat herbs and fruit that grow every where. Plums, Meyer lemons, figs, blackberries, rosemary, and lemon verbena to name a few.

Yesterday I passed by a beautiful bush with clear purple berries. See photo above. Do you know what it is?

Is foraging a privilege or not? I feel like it is for me, for the most part. I live in North Berkeley. Most people who have a house here can afford a little land and have it landscaped professionally. For the renters of apartments and homes, the landlords do the same to the land. They have edible plants planted, but it seems more aesthetic than to eat for these residents. Why do I think this? The fruit usually ends up falling to the ground and rotting. So, this waste bothers me, so I try collect as much as I can, while walking down the sidewalk. If it’s on an apartment building complex, I do the same. I make sure that I’m picking from plants in which it is obvious no one cares to use or harvest it. If residents don’t want passerbys forage, they post signs stating that and I respect those wishes. At the same time, I try to be careful of how I forage and where. I know many may not want to hear this, but as a visibly Black person, I try to make sure when it is appropriate to forage. My area doesn’t have many Black folk and I worry that I may be read as ‘stealing’ or ‘trespassing’ when I forage, vs. when, say, white looking people do. I am acutely aware that whenever someone is arrested in the area for home break ins, I see the cops arresting a Black person 90% of the time. Again, I wonder what this does to the perception of the non Black residents who live there. Just some food for thought…

I also think about whether or not there is a connection to rises or declines in urban foraging to gentrification happening in the SF Bay area. Anyone have a take on that?

Also, do you forage? If so, why or why not? Like how I write? Wanna support more? Check out my 3rd book project about Black male vegan heroes: gofundme

 

 

Green Spirulina Avocado Monster

I have three preschoolers and they love Spirulina. Kira Satya is seven months old and loves my homemade popsicles. This morning she had avocado, fig, and Pacifica Hawaiian Spirulina popsicle I made yesterday using Zoku silicon Popsicle molds. I highly recommend Zoku mini pops mold for preschoolers. All other molds are too big and they never finish the pops.

In my Vitamix blender I added 1 medium Hass avocado, five figs, 1 tsp of Jarrow baby probiotics, and 1 tbsp of Spirulina in the blender. I then blended everything on level 10 for about thirty seconds. I filled the molds and froze.

Eva Luna (2.5 yrs) and Kira Satya loved it.

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Luna refers to herself as the Spirulina monster. Scary, no? LOL.

Sun is five now and I grew him on Pacifica Hawaiian Spirulina. He is in the photo below with me, mama. He started on Spirulina in utero!

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Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind: Concrete Ways to Support Families in Social Justice Movements and Communities

I went to the Live Oak Festival in Berkeley today. The only stand that I was really interested in was PM Press, located in Oakland, CA. I knew I was on to something when I saw pro-vegan and anti-racism books on the same table. The man tabling was named Steven Stothard (I will admit it that it is not often that I meet white guys with a BA in Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality studies).

So, folk are always asking me what I am reading to work towards liberation. Well, here are some titles from PM’s table that I will be starting this month. I am really excited about all of them, but am most excited about Don’t Leave You Friends Behind. Here is description of Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind:

A collection of suggestions, tips, and narratives on ways everyone can support parents, children, and caregivers involved in social movements, this book focuses on social justice, mutual aid, and collective liberation. One of the few books dealing with community support for issues facing children and families, this reflection on inclusivity in social awareness offers real-life ways to reach out to the families involved in campaigns such as the Occupy Movement. Contributors include the Bay Area Childcare Collective, the London Pro-Feminist Men’s Group, and Mamas of Color Rising.

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Sick of Children’s Music That Promotes Speciesism? Me Too.

As a picky mom when it comes to my children’s musical entertainment, it is hard to find vegan-friendly and non-human animal friendly music! I am glad we have Michal “Peanut” Karmi to help change that.

Michal is amazing and she visited us here in Berkeley, CA a few days ago. We met Michal a few years ago while she was in graduate school at UC Berkeley. A very committed animal rights oriented vegan, she also has the unique talent of connecting amazingly with little kids through song. My children, 2.5 and 5, are obsessed with her first album. She has a new album she is working on and I highly recommend it. It will help kids think in non-human animal friendly ways. And let’s face it: most children’s music albums in the USA are quite speciesist.  Please support her newest album through this kickstarter campaign. Also, enjoy the photos of her singing to our family. She is a wonderful spirit!

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The Best Damn Vegan Oriented Children’s Singer: Meet Michal Peanut Karmi

Michal is amazing and she visited us here in Berkeley, CA a few days ago. We met Michal a few years ago while she was in graduate school at UC Berkeley. A very committed animal rights oriented vegan, she also has the unique talent of connecting amazingly with little kids through song. My children, 2.5 and 5, are obsessed with her first album. She has a new album she is working on and I highly recommend it. It will help kids think in pro-vegan and anti-speciesist ways. And let’s face it: most children’s music albums in the USA are quite speciesist.  Please support her newest album through this kickstarter campaign. Also, enjoy the photos of her singing to our family. She is a wonderful spirit!

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[Dollar] Green Capitalism?: Starbucks, Oprah, and Educational Access in a Cup of Organic Chai

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I just left Seattle the morning of May 9 2014. While at the SEATAC airport, I spotted this advertisement. This is what I thought when I first saw the photo:

Once again, buying objects as a way towards social Justice, within a capitalist moral economy, seems contradictory. As if all you need to do is ‘buy’ your way into a cleaner conscious, through the site of Starbucks; an entity that sources ingredients from largely global South regions through methods that are mostly not fair trade.

So, Starbucks, tell me this: how does one extrapolate resources from certain regions of the world in an unethical manner, and then put up campaigns above that ensure patrons that whenever they buy this Oprah approved product, it goes towards creating better educational access for vulnerable populations? Am I missing something here?

Only 10 percent of the coffee Starbucks sells is Fair Trade Certified. As the largest buyer of coffee beans in the world, it seems like they should probably be trying a lot harder. After all, I am pretty sure that the people working under unequal conditions to harvest coffee beans for Starbucks most likely do not have educational opportunities that allow their communities to thrive, as well as not be so dependent on “green” capitalism.

Just my two cents.

[VIDEO] “What’s Sustainable?” Vegan and Vegetarian Black Men of Hip Hop Tell It Like it Is

 

Title: “What’s Sustainable?” Vegan&Vegetarian Black Men of Hip Hop Tell It Like it Is

Description: My talk I gave at Pacific Lutheran University on May 8, 2014 in Washington. I look at DJ Cavem, Bryant Terry, and Ashel Eldridge. Please note that my battery ran out about 10 minutes before the talk ended. This is the beginning stages of a book I am working out. It is very ‘introductory’ and I know I still have a lot more work to do. Below are the pivotal questions I am trying to answer.

  • How are black men of the hip hop generation responding to living in a nation in which structural racism, negro-phobia, speciesism, and white supremacist based moral system have been the norm since colonialism?
  • How does the Black vegan Hip Hop movement offer different ways of consuming, as well as being a ‘real’ man, from race-conscious, decolonial, eco-sustainable, and anti-specieist points of view?
  • How do prominent Black male Hip Hop vegans use Hip Hop to teach how food and health have been negatively shaped by corporate capitalism and a meat-centered industrialized food system?

“Real G’s Got Hoes”: Veganism, Black Masculinity, and Ethical Consumption(The Remix)

Here is the video to my latest talk I gave at Oberlin College a few days ago, “G’s Up Hoes Down”: Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption: The Remix. Just note that am one of the rare Black folk who didn’t grow up listening to a lot of hip hop or being engaged with hip hop culture to a significant degree in the USA. I was raised in an all white and rural working class New England town Lebanon, Connecticut. I listened to classical music from European and American USA traditions (my twin was much ‘cooler’ and he listened to hip hop and rap). Hence,  there is a lot I need to learn more about Hip Hop as I continued this much needed research. You also should know that this is the beginning stages of my book research and talks on this. What does that mean? Much will change, including my analysis and how I ‘understand’ what is going on with these men’s fabulous work as I work towards finishing this project by 2016. Enjoy.

“Mama, Do Police Eat Animals?” A Preschooler Navigates a World of Contradictions and Confusion

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Eva Luna (2.5 yrs) and Sun (5 yrs)

The other day, my 5 year old asked papa and I, “Do police eat [animal] meat?”
“Yes Sun, most do,” I replied.
“Why? I thought they weren’t supposed to do bad things,” Sun said.
In Sun’s mind, police are supposed to protect and keep everyone safe, including animals. He does not understand why most police officers would eat non-human animals.
Oh my, how to I explain this to a five year old? How do I first explain that we live in a culture dominated by capitalism and that the police aren’t necessarily here to protect people and non-humans animals; that they are part of a system of domination and oppression that keep the 1% and their interests/investments/wealth ‘protected'; that the 1% are invested in speciesism, as well as racism, classism, and sexism to name a few? And how do I then try to explain that eating non-human animals vs. not eating non-human animals isn’t a simple binary of ‘good’ vs. ‘bad’?
But, he is 5 years old, and he and his little sister are the only ones at their nursery school whose ‘protein’ for lunch is plant meat. He notices these things and starting to ask pretty critical questions about what he observes his friends and peers doing.

The other day, I found out that Sun had ‘learned’ from his friends at the playground that ‘squishing ants is okay.’ Me and my husband were disturbed by this. We had both taught him to never kill or harm insects or spiders unless they were obviously hurting him (i.e. pulling a deer tick off of you). He has witnessed us peacefully and politely removing insects and spiders from the house, over a hundred times. While transporting the beings outside, he has heard us explain to him, over and over again, why it is so important to not kill or hurt them. We have spent a lot of time asking questions like, “You wouldn’t want a dinosaur to come along and squish you or your sister, would you?” And he has agreed with us many times that that isn’t something he would like to experience. We have even heard him explain to Eva Luna, his 2.5 year old sister, that she too shouldn’t hurt insects or spiders because, “Eva, how would you like it if someone squished you? Then you’d be dead and never see us again. We ‘d be so sad.” He seemed to get it.
But then, on Easter Sunday, while walking on our family hike, I heard him tell Eva Luna not to step on a beetle crossing in front of his feet. He said, “It’s not okay to step on insects….but it’s okay to squish ants.”
Hold up! Say what!?
I knew several of his friends at the playground were squishing ants for fun, and I had told Sun that what they were doing was wrong and not to do it. He seemed to get it at the time. However, after telling Eva Luna this during our hike, I said, “Where did you learn that from? Have you been killing ants at the playground?” He admitted that he recently had because his friends had done it. I asked him how many times he had done it and he said it had been more than once.
I told my husband and we both told him we were very disappointed as well as upset with his actions. We explained to him that what he had done was uncompassionate and that we didn’t care what his friends do: you simply don’t kill or harm insects and spiders.
Later that night, Oliver (my husband) sat with him to find videos of dying ants on YouTube so Sun could understand what it means to kill another being. However, I don’t know if he really understood the implications of “killing for the sake of killing”, even if it’s “just an ant.”
My mind has been spinning around on how to address his questions about police, animal meat eating, and also his own actions that contradict everything I have told him and everything he has seen me do. Yes, I know he is only 5 years old, and yes, though I’m his mom and telling him all these things, he will ‘stray’ and be influenced by a mainstream world in which it’s okay to eat animals without thinking deeply about it, it’s okay to treat females as sex objects, it’s okay to be hetero-sexist, etc.
Any suggestions on how to give him the tools he will need to think critically and act in a way that is more compassionate and mindful, despite what everyone else is doing? I’ve already read him Ruby Roth’s vegan books for children, many times. I know I can only do my best, as it may very well be that he still decides to do the exact opposite of everything I try to teach him.

Afro-Vegan Book Launch Party and Bryant Terry: Video of Speech and Photos.

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I love Bryant Terry’s spirit. What a truly awesome being with endless talent and dedication. At the beginning of April 2014, Terry’s book launch party for Afro-Vegan took place in Oakland, CA at Impact HUB. It was a packed house of lots of people of color supporting this brother’s 4th book. Below is the video of Bryant giving his speech, along with two other folk whose Richmond, CA work inspire him. I also attended the event with my family and took photos.

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Luna and Sun Harper Zahn.

Luna and Sun Harper Zahn basically ate kale chips 1/2 the time.

Me and Kira.

Me and Kira.

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Ashara Ekundayo.

Ashara Ekundayo.

Bryant looking 'sharp' as my mom would say.

Bryant looking ‘sharp’ as my mom would say.

Tastes of Africa Serving up Vegan yumminess.

Tastes of Africa Serving up Vegan yumminess.

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Was honored that Bryant placed my book on the alter here in front of the stage he spoke on.

Was honored that Bryant placed my book on the alter here in front of the stage he spoke on.

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I'm laughing because I asked him to sign her instead of his cookbook.

I’m laughing because I asked him to sign her instead of his cookbook.

Lucky baby. Kira has gotten to meet Angela Davis and Bryant Terry within several months of being born. :-)

Lucky baby. Kira has gotten to meet Angela Davis and Bryant Terry within several months of being born. :-)

What Would Jesus Do? Easter Dinner and Lamb as Sites to Understand One’s Jesus, Compassion, and Consumption

Several things happened today, while I was walking with Kira Satya today, my five month old daughter. We were walking down Euclid St. in Berkeley, towards University of California, Berkeley. In the window of the convenience store at the corner of Ridge and Euclid, there was a poster up. I decided to take a photo of it:

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I thought it would have been more effective to type in ‘them’ instead of ‘him’, if the poster is implying that Christ or Buddha have reincarnated and are alive amongst us today. I wondered what the question assumed. I wondered what most people assumed the answer to be. Would Christ or Buddha reincarnate into a human? If so, would the human be a ‘him’/man/male? What if they reincarnated into a non-human being, like a blade of grass or the lamb taken away from his or her mama to be eaten by some humans who are celebrating Jesus for Easter dinner?

Then again, I am asking these questions as someone who is not a practitioner of Christianity, but have been born and raised in a culture in which Christianity is the national norm. Since I can remember, I have been bombarded with images of “Easter”, which have included chicken eggs, chocolate treats (usually via child slavery from wonderful corporations like Hershey and Nestle), and lamb dinners. It wasn’t until I encountered the scholarship of critical animal studies and critical consumption studies that I stopped accepting these traditions as non-problematic.

While walking down Cedar street, at the intersection of Shattuck Ave, I passed by the new butcher shoppe, which teaches those who can afford it, how to butcher the non-human animals. It really seems to be a trendy practice amongst ‘hip’ Easy Basy/SF people, tauted as ‘sustainable’, ‘local’ and ‘more humane’ than non-human animals raised for consumption in standard industrial agricultural space. The shoppe had this sign up:

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I am intrigued by the phenomenon of eating lamb for Easter dinner as a way to celebrate Jesus. I think of how in Christianity, the image of mother Mary holding baby Jesus is very sacred for millions. I also think of how that same type of sacredness is not afforded to the lamb and mother sheep who are torn apart to celebrate Easter. I invite people to discuss this with me, as well as my perception of what I find very contradictory to the construction of a Jesus that was supposedly all-loving and wanted to teach people how to alleviate and avoid perpetuating suffering and pain.

I also thought about Kira Satya and me and how it would be ‘insane’ for her to be taken from me to be eaten in order to celebrate the life of someone’s deity who supposedly embodied love and compassion.

The same can be said for the hundreds of thousands of Easter eggs that come out of the mass exploitation of chickens, whose babies are taken away from them. It’s amazing how here in the USA, these realities are made invisible to the plethora of children (and adults) who eagerly await celebrating Easter through the consumption of Easter eggs, lamb, as well as chocolate treats sourced from child slavery in the Ivory Coast.

What would Jesus do if they saw this sign hanging in front of the Butcher Shoppe? What would Buddha do?

These are hypothetical questions, as I know they are not going to have a ‘universal’ answer, but I’d like to start the conversation.

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