The Sistah Vegan Project

Traumatic Memories Passed Through DNA?

Originally posted on Trauma Response Syndrome:

Traumatic Memories Passed Through DNA?

My most recent interest has been Ancestral Trauma, including PTSD Slave Syndrome. My interest was sparked after discussing the impact the movie 12 years a slave had on my African American client. He identified the cultural acceptance of “whoopings” among his family with the beatings that the slaves received. The acceptance of beatings as a “norm” could be a way to rationalize the horrific treatment they had to endure. People have to “make sense” of their traumatic environments any way possible. This is evident among trauma survivors today with the self-deprecating coping skills children develop to survive. (see post on Internalized Blame of Self)

In addition, he shared about the times his mother would dismiss the compliments he received from people as being “such a good boy,” by telling them of his “acting out” behaviors at home. Dr Joy DeGruy, a leading scholar in PTSD…

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Dear White [Vegan] People, Whiteness Matters Too: Books that Make You Go Hmmmm

Dear White [Animal Rights and Vegan] People,

Whiteness cannot be ignored.  I have been asked by many of you, what resources are out there to help you become aware of the consequences of being ‘post-racial’ and/or assuming anti-racism solidarity has nothing to do with your pro-vegan philosophies. Below are two phenomenal new books I just read, by white vegan anti-racist allies, pattrice jones and Martin Rowe. Please check these titles out to not only understand how ‘whiteness matters’, but how to create your own role as an ally of anti-racism and anti-speciesism.  Start now with the brilliant and engaging titles below.

Oxen At The Intersection: A Collision by pattrice jones.

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This is a brilliant book by pattrice jones. jones tries to understand what led to the death of one of two oxen (Lou and Bill) who had been living at, and exploited by, Green Mountain College in Vermont. Written in the style of a murder mystery novel, jones brings in intersectional understanding to how Green Mountain College, as well as Vermont itself, has been mythically constructed as having always been a agricultural region based on ‘animal husbandry.’ Unraveling the mystery of the ox’s death means to unravel the mystery of how colonialism, white supremacist ideas around non-human animals should be treated, and the myth of ‘locavorism’ have greatly mis-informed and mis-educated the white Vermont imagination around ‘ethical’ and ‘green’ living for a post-2000 age. Also, many time the ableist rhetoric goes unchecked in mainstream society. Able-bodied vegans are not exempt from promoting ableist notions of heath, food, and ethical consumption either. I like how jones talks about eugenics and ableism and purity of whiteness are fused together when Green  Mountain College representatives sincerely believe and tell her that when an animal is injured and is no longer ‘able-bodied’, they need to be euthanized when their injury permits them from being a ‘good slave’ for people; yet the injury isn’t life-threatening. Below are two excerpts from the book that were very central themes for me:

Skiers and leaf-peeping tourists notwithstanding, Vermont is dairy country. Even more than the state economy depends on cheddar, the state psychology rests upon the presumption that blond boy over brown cow is the natural order of things. Vermonters need to believe that this state of affairs is not only non-injurious but righteous. (location 91 in Kindle version of the book)

Meantime, thanks to advertising by the tourism and dairy industries, the mythic white male settler with his livestock came to seem to be the only authentic ancestor of Vermont. And so we come to the Green Mountain College “farm,” at which a white man sporting and old-time had and beard raises an old-time buggy whip over the back of Bill and Lou. Don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying that the farm manager or any of his acolytes were in any way aware of the implicit whiteness of their version of rural purity. Nor do I mean to say that Green Mountain College or its friends in state government in any way  endorse the past program of eugenics and disinformation by which dairying and other forms of animal agriculture came to seem such a natural and venerable aspect of the Vermont landscape. But I am suggesting that the existential quality of the struggle over Bill and Lou– the emotional fervor with which college and state officials defended animal agriculture as if the very soul of Vermont depended upon the right of men like them to control and kill animals– was rooted in the history by which people with other ways of relating to animals were displaced by the ancestors of those who now see themselves as the rightful owners of the land and its wildlife. (location 986 in the Kindle version of the book)

You can purchase Oxen at The Intersection here or by clicking on the photo above.

The Elephants in the Room: An Excavation by Martin Rowe.

elephants

The Elephants in the Room: An Excavation was written by Lantern Books co-founder, Martin Rowe. Another brilliant book, The Elephants in the Room guides the reader through how colonialism, white supremacy, and conservationism come to together within the sphere of human and elephant relationships in Africa. Rowe tells the story of two women from very different backgrounds: Noble Peace Price winner indigenous African Wangari Maathai, and Dame Daphne Sheldrick, the daughter of white male African imperialist. However, author Rowe does not exempt himself from the equation: as a storyteller and a man of white, class, and male privilege from England, Rowe engages in critical reflections around how his own layers of racial privilege shaped his [mis-]perceptions around his relationship to England, as well as the people and non-human animals of ‘the Dark Continent’. The book is an intelligent and thought-provoking work that brings the problems of colonial whiteness into the conversation about animal rights, conservationism, and the consequences of ignoring racial privilege during colonial and post-colonial times. Below is a notable quote from the book

Above all, I would have to confront a number of elephants: from the actual creatures we continue to slaughter, the bones of whose ancestors were stitched together in the Hall of Extinct Mammals, to the metaphorical ones that are apparent now but were, despite their seeming unavoidability, once invisible…and even now are hard to meet head on: the poisonous prejudices of racism, the troubling legacies of empire, and the noxious assumptions of patrimony and misogyny. I also needed to look at the other elephantine quality, memory, and more particularly of the evasions and occlusions that occurs when any of us try to tell our stories or those of others, and the fantasties we project onto the ‘other.’ (location in the Kindle Version of Elephants in the Room).

 

The Elephants in the Room can be purchased here. If you get a chance to check these titles out, I’d love to know what you think about them.

Best,

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

A Reminder Why “Going Vegan” is Not ‘Easy’ for Everyone: FEP Reports on Lack of Access to Healthy Foods

Lauren Ornelas, the ED of Food Empowerment Project, just sent me this new report below. I think this is, once again, another great example of what intersectional approaches to social justice, environmental justice, and animal liberation can look like. Notice below that dairy alternatives are not supported by certain WIC programs. These are examples socio-economic class, food justice and vegan/animal liberation issues being addressed all at the same time by Food Empowerment Project. This is what solidarity looks like and an answer to the ever so popular questions I have gotten over the last ten years: “What does [type in your social justice issue that ISN'T animal rights] have to do with veganism? Going vegan is ‘easy’, right?”.

Thanks for sharing Lauren!

————

Report Finds Lack of Access to Healthy Foods, Time, and Money Are Barriers to Good Nutrition and Health for Communities of Color and Low-Income Communities in San José

November 12th, 2014, Cotati, CA—A new report released by Food Empowerment Project discusses the unequal access to healthy foods that exists in communities of color and for low-income communities in San José. The report, titled “Bringing Community Voices to the Table,” was developed through feedback from community focus groups.

“With the release of our first report, we knew that lack of access to healthy foods in communities of color and low-income communities of San José is very real. However, we wanted a better understanding of the problem and the needs of the community, so we organized focus groups to make sure the voices of those in these areas would be heard,” said lauren Ornelas, Executive Director of Food Empowerment Project.

Local community groups Somos Mayfair, Sacred Heart Community Services, and CommUniverCity recruited participants from their own members for the focus groups.

Focus group participants cited high or expensive food prices as the biggest barrier to access to foods in general—healthy foods, quality foods, and organic foods. Participants also described how the lack of supermarkets near their work and homes influenced where they shopped and what they bought.

While good nutrition was identified as a top priority to participants and their families, participants expressed the frequent need to adapt their meals because certain healthy food items are difficult to obtain due to distance, lack of time, or limited availability. One participant described her attempt to buy fresh tomatoes in her neighborhood. After finding only rotten tomatoes at convenience stores, she bought tomato sauce.

Participants also discussed the challenges of access to non-dairy alternative foods for themselves or family members who may be lactose-intolerant or vegan. Some participants claimed that dairy alternatives were difficult to find. Others were enthusiastic about the lower cost and longer shelf life of non-dairy alternatives and preferred them to dairy products for these reasons. Other participants found that agencies such as WIC were unable to support a diet that excludes dairy products.

Several participants reported that they ate healthier and grew much of their own food in their native countries. After coming to the U.S., they had to adjust to eating more processed foods because their access to healthier options is limited.

The consequences of long-term constrained access to healthy foods is one of the main reasons that these communities suffer from statistically higher rates of type 2 diabetescardiovascular disease, and other diet-related conditions when compared to the general population. “This isn’t simply a public health issue, it’s a social justice problem,adds Ornelas.

“Bringing Community Voices to the Table” lists several recommendations to help improve access to healthy foods for all San José residents. A key finding from the report is that focus group participants are very aware of what is taking place in their neighborhoods and how the importance of what they eat impacts their health.

When asked how access to foods can be increased, focus group participants’ most common response was the request for more information on farmers’ markets, nutrition, and how to prepare healthy foods. They also expressed interest in learning more about organic foods and the opportunity to grow their own foods at home or at community gardens.

“Food access is important to the health and well-being of all of our families. This report highlights key recommendations for how our community can work together to make sure that everyone, regardless of income or race, has access to healthy food,” said Zelica Rodriguez, Director of Programs at Somos Mayfair. “Access to healthy and nutritious food has been a long-time barrier and challenge for low-income communities of color. Talking about food access is an equally important social justice issue as human rights and access to quality health care.”

The report is available in English and Spanish:

English: http://www.foodispower.org/wp-content/uploads/FEP_community_voices_report.pdf

Spanish: http://www.foodispower.org/wp-content/uploads/FEP_community_voices_report_Espanol.pdf

About Food Empowerment Project

Founded in 2006, Food Empowerment Project seeks to create a more just and sustainable world by recognizing the power of one’s food choices. We encourage healthy food choices that reflect a more compassionate society by spotlighting the abuse of animals on farms, the depletion of natural resources, unfair working conditions for produce workers, and the unavailability of healthy foods in low-income areas. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit, F.E.P. is based in Sonoma County. For more information, please visit www.foodispower.org.

lauren Ornelas

Founder/Executive Director

Food Empowerment Project

P.O. Box 7322

Cotati, CA 94931

530.848.4021

www.foodispower.org

www.veganmexicanfood.com

Because your food choices can change the world

About 1.8 million children toil in West Africa’s chocolate industry, where they may be exposed to the worst forms of child labor, including hazardous work and slavery. Please sign the petition asking Clif Bar to disclose where they get their cocoa beans
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/229/288/148/

Be a better advocate for animals. Read Bleating Hearts:
http://www.markhawthorne.com/Bleating_Hearts.html

A Reminder Why “Going Vegan” is Not ‘Easy’ for Everyone: FEP Reports on Lack of Access to Healthy Foods

Lauren Ornelas, the ED of Food Empowerment Project, just sent me this new report. I think this is, once again, another great example of what intersectional approaches to social justice, environmental justice, and animal liberation can look like. Notice below that dairy alternatives are not supported by certain WIC programs. These are examples socio-economic class, food justice and vegan/animal liberation issues being addressed all at the same time by Food Empowerment Project. This is what solidarity looks like and an answer to the ever so popular questions I have gotten over the last ten years: “What does [type in your social justice issue that ISN'T animal rights] have to do with veganism? Going vegan is ‘easy’, right?”.

Thanks for sharing Lauren!

——

Report Finds Lack of Access to Healthy Foods, Time, and Money Are Barriers to Good Nutrition and Health for Communities of Color and Low-Income Communities in San José

November 12th, 2014, Cotati, CA—A new report released by Food Empowerment Project discusses the unequal access to healthy foods that exists in communities of color and for low-income communities in San José. The report, titled “Bringing Community Voices to the Table,” was developed through feedback from community focus groups.

“With the release of our first report, we knew that lack of access to healthy foods in communities of color and low-income communities of San José is very real. However, we wanted a better understanding of the problem and the needs of the community, so we organized focus groups to make sure the voices of those in these areas would be heard,” said lauren Ornelas, Executive Director of Food Empowerment Project.

Local community groups Somos Mayfair, Sacred Heart Community Services, and CommUniverCity recruited participants from their own members for the focus groups.

Focus group participants cited high or expensive food prices as the biggest barrier to access to foods in general—healthy foods, quality foods, and organic foods. Participants also described how the lack of supermarkets near their work and homes influenced where they shopped and what they bought.

While good nutrition was identified as a top priority to participants and their families, participants expressed the frequent need to adapt their meals because certain healthy food items are difficult to obtain due to distance, lack of time, or limited availability. One participant described her attempt to buy fresh tomatoes in her neighborhood. After finding only rotten tomatoes at convenience stores, she bought tomato sauce.

Participants also discussed the challenges of access to non-dairy alternative foods for themselves or family members who may be lactose-intolerant or vegan. Some participants claimed that dairy alternatives were difficult to find. Others were enthusiastic about the lower cost and longer shelf life of non-dairy alternatives and preferred them to dairy products for these reasons. Other participants found that agencies such as WIC were unable to support a diet that excludes dairy products.

Several participants reported that they ate healthier and grew much of their own food in their native countries. After coming to the U.S., they had to adjust to eating more processed foods because their access to healthier options is limited.

The consequences of long-term constrained access to healthy foods is one of the main reasons that these communities suffer from statistically higher rates of type 2 diabetescardiovascular disease, and other diet-related conditions when compared to the general population. “This isn’t simply a public health issue, it’s a social justice problem,adds Ornelas.

“Bringing Community Voices to the Table” lists several recommendations to help improve access to healthy foods for all San José residents. A key finding from the report is that focus group participants are very aware of what is taking place in their neighborhoods and how the importance of what they eat impacts their health.

When asked how access to foods can be increased, focus group participants’ most common response was the request for more information on farmers’ markets, nutrition, and how to prepare healthy foods. They also expressed interest in learning more about organic foods and the opportunity to grow their own foods at home or at community gardens.

“Food access is important to the health and well-being of all of our families. This report highlights key recommendations for how our community can work together to make sure that everyone, regardless of income or race, has access to healthy food,” said Zelica Rodriguez, Director of Programs at Somos Mayfair. “Access to healthy and nutritious food has been a long-time barrier and challenge for low-income communities of color. Talking about food access is an equally important social justice issue as human rights and access to quality health care.”

The report is available in English and Spanish:

English: http://www.foodispower.org/wp-content/uploads/FEP_community_voices_report.pdf

Spanish: http://www.foodispower.org/wp-content/uploads/FEP_community_voices_report_Espanol.pdf

About Food Empowerment Project

Founded in 2006, Food Empowerment Project seeks to create a more just and sustainable world by recognizing the power of one’s food choices. We encourage healthy food choices that reflect a more compassionate society by spotlighting the abuse of animals on farms, the depletion of natural resources, unfair working conditions for produce workers, and the unavailability of healthy foods in low-income areas. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit, F.E.P. is based in Sonoma County. For more information, please visit www.foodispower.org.

lauren Ornelas

Founder/Executive Director

Food Empowerment Project

P.O. Box 7322

Cotati, CA 94931

530.848.4021

www.foodispower.org

www.veganmexicanfood.com

Because your food choices can change the world

About 1.8 million children toil in West Africa’s chocolate industry, where they may be exposed to the worst forms of child labor, including hazardous work and slavery. Please sign the petition asking Clif Bar to disclose where they get their cocoa beans
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/229/288/148/

Be a better advocate for animals. Read Bleating Hearts:
http://www.markhawthorne.com/Bleating_Hearts.html

Finally, a FAIR TRADE Vegan Butter that is ORGANIC and More SUSTAINABLY SOURCED!

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A lot of vegans I know use Earth Balance for their vegan butter. I stopped using Earth Balance awhile ago, after I wrote my dissertation and discovered that, at least for me, they are not as ‘ethical’ as they market themselves to be. The sourcing of their coconut and palm oil was not transparent. I did not know if the human laborers harvesting their ingredients were being treated fairly (actually, I don’t like the word ‘fairly’ so much. I like the words ‘mindfully’, ‘lovingly’ ,and ‘compassionately’ when describing the conditions in which human beings should be entitled to work/exist within.)

At the market, I saw that the company Nutiva is offering a vegan butter spread that is  organic, more sustainably sourced, and “Fair For Life” certified. I have been enjoying Nutiva’s products for years, as they offer healthy, organic, vegan and sustainably sourced items for quite a while. Their hemp products have been consumed by my family, for years. I have blogged about how I grew all my babies on Nutiva brands of hempseed oil, hemp seeds, and chia seeds. I found this new buttery product by Nutiva to be quite good and not nearly as salty as Earth Balance  ( I personally do not like salty butter spreads). I’m also grateful to see that the packaging is non-BPA (however, people are so focused on BPA-free I am wondering about other potentially harmful chemicals in packaging that not only effect the consumer, but also those who must make it in factories and the environment it usually ends up polluting). I’m just hoping that eventually these containers can be compostable. One of my biggest gripes about vegan products that tout themselves to be ‘so ethical’, is that the packaging is obnoxiously wasteful. I know a lot of resources are used to even make compostable packaging, however, I’d argue that this is far less cruel to the environment than the current packaging options used by many companies making food products, vegan or not.

(But, this post isn’t really directly about Nutiva’s buttery spreads, is it Breeze?)

It is safe to say that many of us privileged vegan consumers need to understand that MOSTLY everything we eat( unless otherwise noted via fair labor/trade practices) is mostly likely sourced via CRUEL methods. Yes, a non-human animal may not have been directly harmed in many our favorite snacks, drinks, meals, etc., but what about the human animals? There has been a lot of focus on fair trade and organic cocoa and coffee for years, but one must understand that this is just the tip of the iceberg. We live in a globalized capitalist world economy. By default, capitalism = exploitation of non-human animals, human animals, and what human beings (at least here in the global North) call natural resources (i.e. water, land, minerals, etc). I get a lot of people arguing with me about my definition of capitalism = exploitation as being just plain pessimistic. For the record, I draw my understanding and definitions from Henri Lefebvre, Neil Smith and Angela Davis to name a few; critical thinkers who have written and researched extensively about how capitalism is the anti-thesis of cruelty-free. Capitalism CANNOT exist without exploitation and abuse. Hence, if you are buying vegan certified products, because they are within the globalized system of capitalist economies/commodity chains, there is a very small chance that they are actually ‘cruelty-free’ beyond ‘no non-human animal was directly killed for this product to be in existence.’ I talk about this in my blog post from a few months ago, in which I critique a pro-vegan meme that suggests strawberry harvesting and ‘cruelty-free’ in comparison to watching videos of slaughterhouse animals.

Anyway, I just wanted to leave you with a few of the things that were going through my head while testing this new Nutiva product out. I really have no answers about how to create cruelty-free products that really encompass my definition of ‘fair’.  I perhaps am pessimistic, but it would seem that is is capitalism that is the problem. Even with ‘green capitalism’, it is unclear to me that that is ‘fair’, as there are many communities that are forced to sell their resources even under ‘fair’ and ‘green’ practices when they’d rather just not be part of any economy based on capitalist logic; however, because it may mean poverty or not, many of these communities must become part of ‘green capitalism’ in order to survive versus just doing their own thing outside of capitalist logic.

I would love to hear what people think about this. I know comments may already be heavily biased towards the consumer-privileged end, as it’s rare that I have any posting as the person who harvests vegan resources (because I’d imagine that would be a completely differently embodied knowledge about the commodity chain that is not romanticized through the eyes of neoliberal capitalism).

Anyway, I just wanted to give a shout out to Nutiva brands anyway. They may not be perfect, but I think so far, they are a better example of ethically sourced and produce vegan products. But, unless you are the person working on that plantation in which these ingredients are sourced, you will never know how cruelty-free and ‘fair’ it is. And I think that is what a lot of people on the ‘privileged’ end of vegan consumerism need to ALWAYS REMEMBER. Just because a company’s label claims it is ‘fair’ or ‘cruelty-free’, doesn’t mean you should accept it without thinking more deeply about it. I know I probably won’t be buying this product again, but wanted to check it out and let people know about it. I use local sourced olive oil for our family’s ‘buttery’ needs. What is the likelihood that people working on these plantations have access to using social media to constantly tweet and Facebook about the conditions in which they work and live? Thus far, all the ‘information’ I receive about new ‘ethical’ products come from the consumer/company end and not the end of the actual people harvesting and living there. I do not want to imply that Nutiva is dishonest– I just wanted to put it out there that you just don’t know if you aren’t there where the resources come from.

(IF YOU SEE ANY TYPOS IN THIS POST, FEEL FREE TO POINT THEM OUT. MY COMPUTER SCREEN IS BROKEN. I NEED TO SEE THROUGH PINK AND PURPLES LINES IN ORDER TO TYPE. ) 

 

[Video]: “‘Nigger’ Hurts, and Never Heals”: Scars, A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England

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

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

SOCI Harper-PB_Finals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Lorrie:

I don’t get this protest.

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

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

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

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

Breeze’s Response:

Lorrie

Thanks for posting your comments.

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

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

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

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

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

Just my two cents.

Thanks for discussing ;-)

Ebola is Not a Funny Halloween Trick

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This is a quick post. The other evening, my kids went out with their costumes for Halloween in the San Francisco Bay Area, CA. I took the above photo of a prop in someone’s yard because it really shows how unmindful some people can be. I took this photo in a neighborhood that is pretty wealthy and where homes easily sell for around $1 million or more.

I am amazed that someone would put this up as a Halloween prop in their yard. This just reminds me that “even in liberal SF Bay Area”, people can do tasteless things. No, I’m not being sensitive, especially since I’m sure there are people in the SF Bay area who have relatives who have been greatly affected by the Ebola outbreak and don’t need to see that prop hanging out in this person’s yard. Just imagine if this prop said “AIDS, Beware of My Blood”. EXACTLY, IT WOULDN’T HAPPEN IN THIS AREA. This is probably because most SF Bay area folk are ‘too civilized’ to not poke fun at those who are living with AIDS and/or have died from AIDS related complications.

Anyway, I am dropping a note off at this person’s house this week to let them know that even though it is their private estate and they have the ‘right’ to do whatever they want, that this prop was cruel and mean in my opinion. I will be polite about it, but I think they should know that not everyone thinks it’s a funny.

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…

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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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