6 Black History Month Challenges for White Folk

Huey from The Boondocks

What would a Black ‘future’ month look like? How would you create a racially equitable system for the future? If it’s hard to conceive of that, ask yourself why. Learn more about why focusing on ‘equity’ is more effective than ‘equality’ rhetoric: https://www.centerforsocialinclusion.org/our-work/what-is-racial-equity/

Consider not using MLK Jr’s “I have a Dream Speech” coupled with mis-using his work as an example of ‘he didn’t care about skin color and we are all equal.‘ Instead, consider learning about EQUITY and MLK Jr’s framing of justice that interrogated capitalism and white supremacy/racism as a SPECTRUM (not some binary) that goes from from ‘liberal’ whites all the way to ‘conservative’ whites. http://www.beacon.org/A-More-Beautiful-and-Terrible-History-P1333.aspx

Map out your own anti-Black racism (conscious or unconscious). Then, actively combat it by being ‘anti-racist’ and not ‘post-racial’. Resource: https://aorta.coop/portfolio_page/dismantling-anti-black-bias-in-democratic-workplaces-a-toolkit/

If you have white children, talk to them about racial inequities and how they benefit from white privilege and anti-Black racism as a 400+ year long ‘system’/history. Try not telling them, “We don’t see color- we are all equal.” One of the most unproductive responses, if your white child comes home and tells you that a Black kid at school was bothered, “Because she was Black,” is to tell them, “That’s not right. Our family doesn’t see color. We are all the same.” Consider framing a productive answer through anti-racism curriculum: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10643-011-0458-95.

If you (as a white person) find the title and/or content of this post ‘racist’, ask yourself why. Believe me, when I point out the patterns of how white racialized consciousness operates in most white people’s heads, I am told I am ‘racist’– despite the research, my 3 degrees focused on black feminist thought and critical theory. I’m not saying it’s ALL white folk, however, there are obvious patterns and ways of thinking that have been shaped by white racist structures. Check out Arnold Farr’s work on racialized consciousness here: http://sistahvegan.com/2009/09/07/racialized-consciousness-and-impact-on-food-philosophies/
Lastly… Learn the difference between ‘race-neutral’ and ‘anti-racist’ behavior/thought patterns. And please stop being a bystander with the excuse that you didn’t want to hurt your mom’s, brother’s, best friend’s, son’s, etc feelings and therefore, didn’t want to challenge their anti-black racist (or any racist) comment, belief, action. Stop saying, “I just try to be neutral”. Overall, you cannot remain neutral on a white supremacist high-speed train in which the driver has fallen asleep. “Oh, I don’t want to hurt their feelings and ‘wake’ them up because I might embarrass them for falling asleep on the job [of being fully loving human being],” is going to get us ALL KILLED. If your physical safety or job security isn’t in jeopardy then speak up and act as an ally. You can refer to my article here http://sistahvegan.com/2017/11/26/the-return-of-the-ngger-breakers-the-white-racist-vegan-playbook/

“One White Man Did Not Single-Handedly ‘Free the Slaves’” (Talking to My Kids About Histories of Racism and Anti-Blackness)

Last Thursday, on the way back from gymnastics and parkour classes, my two eldest children, Eva Luna (8) and Sun (10.5) told me about some of the history they learned in school over the past year. It was another session that was a prime learning moment to engage in a more anti-racist retelling of history. Again, I just have to keep on repeating and re-telling as they are consistently ‘taught’ mis-truths as facts. We have had these conversations before and will continue to have them. Lincoln as the man who “freed the slaves” had been in a conversation we had last year. So, here is how I tried to teach the kids about history and who counts and how it’s narrated. I explained why it is deeply problematic that they are force-fed the narrative, Abraham Lincoln , “Freed the Slaves!”

I hear the former, ad nauseam, from the mouths of K-5 children, who are simply regurgitating what they have been taught, which reinforces the trope of white male saviors. And this myth is contingent upon the other mythic trope that Black and/or indigenous people in the USA have no agency and intelligence to affect massive change during the antebellum period through Jim Crow Era (or even now!)

1. “No one white man (Abe Lincoln) single handedly ‘freed’ enslaved Black people, Sun. It took the work, lots of deaths, and strength of a gazillion Black people, indigenous people, and some white allies.” And I reminded him about Tubman and gave more than a paragraph of information of what she actually did and told them how intelligent and bad ass she was. I explained that unfortunately, K-12 mainstream curriculum does not want to guilt or scare white kids and make white teachers uncomfortable so they tend to explain figures like Harriet Tubman in a more sanitized version . “Do you know how strong, strategic, and intelligent you have to be to free enslaved Black people– as a Black ‘fugitive’ woman, over and over again? Think about that, Sun and Luna. Yea, Lincoln picked up a pen and signed legislation, but Tubman and many like her have been made invisible in your textbooks (And I don’t think most people in the USA understand/know that not all enslaved Black people were ‘freed’ with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation).”

And Lincoln was a white man embedded in that system of white male privilege. He did have his own investments in keeping that system alive to a large degree (though reforming it), and he was “the white man’s president”, was very ‘progressive’ for his time, but let’s repeat: he was still invested in his own whiteness. More folk should really read more about this erasure from most K-12 history curriculum in the USA.

Lastly, I reminded Sun and Luna to say “enslaved People” vs. “slaves”. “Slaves” did not ‘come over’ from Africa. They were human beings with rich knowledge in math, science, agriculture, art, music… Their knowledge AND labor built the agricultural economy of the USA but that was stolen and benefited landowning white men. “Do you think that is fair? And we talked about the white/black household wealth gap and similar gap for indigenous people. It was 450+ years of this taking of land and labor and our intellectual contributions…” so, i tried to explain systemic inequities and if you had 500+ years to Racially exploit and dehumanize people, the collective results for white people in the USA are privileges from that arrangement. White people collectively are able to have easier access to political power, getting a house, amassing monetary wealth, networking, etc. Collectively, Black and indigenous folk have been hurt by that history and that 450+ year system of bias. And it still happens today, it’s just not necessarily legalized slavery or Jim Crow.

2. “Mom, was George Washington a ‘good’ president because he was honest” (reference to the cherry tree being cut down)?” My response: “Well Sun, it depends. He believed in freedom for landowning white men with enslaved Black people like himself. Please think critically about this and ask yourself why your teachers and history books keep on sanitizing this instead of teaching students that his situation was complex and his privilege as a white landowning man influenced how he thought of ‘freedom for all’. He was living on indigenous land . Stolen land. Genocide. Extreme cruelty towards indigenous and African peoples BENEFITED him and I highly doubt he wasn’t aware of this. He ordered it!”

3. And this led into me talking about Thomas Jefferson and I explained, “Thomas Jefferson did not have a cute romance with Sally Hemings. He owned people and enslaved his own children born out enslaved Black women that he owned and had sex with (they didn’t have a choice and this is called rape). So, ask yourself what type human being do you have to be to think that’s okay? Ask yourself why he is continuously taught as a hero and “progressive” for his time. Maybe he was ‘better’ than other white men, but the question still remains: What kind of human being would do this to their own children?” I explained why their Grandma Pat’s side of the family are both Sales and Jeffersons and that he is a descendant of Jefferson’s immoral and unjust belief system and behaviors.

4. And question 3 led to me telling the kids how Great Grandma Emma came about. Incredibly poor in Jim Crow era of Mississippi, her mother (Great Great Grandma Savannah) needed a new pair of shoes. A White Scottish man told her he’d ‘help’ her if she allowed him to have sex with her. He couldn’t just be kind and give her a pair of shoes. He had to use her the way white slave-owning men used to ‘use’ Black women for sexual, reproductive, etc power which affected how most white men interacted with Black women during the era of Jim Crow. She ended up pregnant and completely depressed about the entire situation. She would just stare into oblivion during much of her pregnancy, too young and too depressed to cope with such a horrific situation to have had to be put into: her reproductive health and agency were compromised, and yes, this is not psychologically or physically healthy... especially when you are pregnant in an area of segregation, you are poor, and you don’t have access to the best Prenatal/maternal care because of gendered-racism embedded in Jim Crow laws.

5. My 5 year old was singing about Columbus Sailing the Ocean Blue. The older two kids noted how and why Columbus Day is “indigenous people’s day”. I said it’s only in certain places (like the SF Bay area where we live) and I asked them to understand larger issues of colonization, creating nations and borders and then I spoke of how California used to be part of Mexico. And of course there is the history of demonizing Mexican people by mainstream white America and racist logic that ended up turning these human beings into ‘subhuman’ . This was the same type of racist system that defined Africans as ‘animals’ or 3/5s human….and then we started talking about legalized racism and xenophobia to the present , and mainstream USA’s “disgust” of Mexican immigrants who are actually on their own land (but, since it was ‘taken’ by the USA, borders and constructions changed and now they are labeled as ‘illegal’ on their own land… and then again, borders are constructs.). I reiterated that white supremacist racism makes it okay to exploit, enslave, etc nonwhite people so the mostly 1% wealthy white folk over the past hundreds of years in the USA can continue to ‘rule’ and convince mainstream America that it’s okay to treat nonwhite people in such a cruel way.

6. Colorism. I asked Luna to be mindful of always being complimented for her ‘pretty eyes’ (Sun too ) because they both have light colored eyes. I said, “How do you think Kira(their younger sister who is 6) feels who is darker and has brown eyes and NEVER gets complimented about HER eyes right after you are complimented and she is standing right next to you ?” I reminded them about colorism again and “You aren’t ‘pretty’ because you have lighter colored eyes and skin. ” Sun asked , “Why is it like that mom?” We talk again about all the images received about who is ‘beautiful’ and the books, movies, ads, teach mainstream USA that fair and lighter skinned people with lighter eyes are the standard of BEAUTY– even when it comes to nonwhite people, lighter skinned Black people are depicted as ‘prettier’. I told them to remember that they benefit from this colorist arrangement even if you aren’t actively colorist– and I benefit as a lighter skinned Black person in comparison to mom(my mother is much darker than me). It’s a spectrum. The closer to ‘whiteness’ the more ‘human’ and ‘prettier’ you are perceived by the mainstream.

7. And then I re-explained race and why it’s different from ethnicity. We went over again how Irish Catholics, for example, are now considered part of the ‘whiteness’ club in the USA when they were not considered ‘fully white’ when my grand father was a child. Granted, Irish Catholics were not racialized as Black and did not have the same unique history of antebellum slavery and Jim Crow, however, me noting this was more of an exercise in thinking about race, why it’s strategized in certain ways, and which demographic ultimately benefits from this whole ‘whiteness club’. Race is ‘made up’ but it has very NEGATIVE and REAL consequences. It doesn’t make sense. The categories change depending on how the 1% can benefit (in terms of capitalism) and how those who are considered white (or close enough) can benefit — because hey, capitalism is contingent upon racialization and racisms to work effectively. (He’s too young for us to get into Black Marxism and racial capitalism, as it relates to Black people…but, one day, though).

8. “Mom, are all white people racist?” Sun asked me this question and asked if his father/my husband is racist since he is white. “No, Sun, it isn’t that simple.” I then explained to Sun and Luna that there are plenty of white people who are either non-racist or anti-racist (both concepts are not the same). That whether white folk like it or not, they will be treated better and get certain privileges (in terms of RACE) just because they are white (similar to colorism and Sun and Luna’s treatment). “Papa doesn’t get pulled over by the police or denied a job, and this is due to assumptions about white men as ‘civilized’, ‘heroes’, and ‘intelligent’ which have been narrated so much that when mainstream society thinks they are thinking without bias, they still are. Papa isn’t racist, but he has benefited from how society is arranged in these racist ways and Papa knows this.”

So yea, this is a long post. I get a lot of parents asking me, “How can I talk to my children about racism?” The above are examples of how I do it. My parents did the same with me (of course they did, they are Black ). Mostly, it is white parents who tell me they don’t know how or when it is appropriate. Don’t keep on holding off. I like www.embracerace.org . Also, the SPLC “teaching tolerance “ series.

About A. Breeze Harper,PhD

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

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

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

Integrative DEI for Written Materials: Make Your Written Words Convey More

Ok, I just slam dunked another client deliverable.

Credit: https://www.vectorstock.com/royalty-free-vector/young-black-woman-basketball-player-with-ball-vector-14187918

I am asked to engage in critical-integrative DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) content editing of a manuscript or business materials all the time. I have wonderful clients ranging from bestselling authors on gender equity to top animal rights organizations.

What can I do for you?

You give me written/visual materials and I go over it to make sure you understand how your own embodied experience, privileges, lack their of, etc., shape how you write about the subject at hand and what assumptions you may have had. Beyond “individual” assumptions, I show you how systemic bias and oppressive ideas shape how most people write and think what is ‘universal’. Examples:

1. Many white women often want to write about ‘gender equality’ but collectively, many don’t realize they assume all women are white cisgender straight women. I help them unpack that to create more effective writing and communication.

2. Writing about animal rights and veganism? I will help the writer or organization critically examine how some taken for granted myths (but are believed to be facts) are can create a non-inclusive framing of AR/Veganism. For example, who is excluded when they frame veganism = healthy = skinny? Is this potentially biased rhetoric that may not persuade non-vegans to adopt a plant-based diet? I ask them to unpack that and how biased ideas around being fat, as well as sizeism, etc can impact their ethical writing around veganism and animal rights.

3. Reducing ableist language in a manuscript. For example, “Why are many white people so blind to racial issues?” Consider writing it in a way that excludes the use of ‘blind’ because it can be ableist and implies that blind people are incapable of understanding racial power dynamics simply because they can’t “see”. Try “race- neutral’ or “post-racial” instead. Consider replacing, “We stand for racial justice” to “we are in solidarity with”…. as not everyone can ‘stand’ physically.

Learn more here about my slam dunk services of integrative diversity, equity, and inclusion for your writing project, company materials, etc here at www.criticaldiversitysolutions.com

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

About Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. Harper

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

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

“She Didn’t Look Depressed to Me”: On Post Partum Depression and Funky Smelling [Black] Girls

Photo credit: https://webstockreview.net/explore/deodorant-clipart-underarm/

“ON POST PARTUM DEPRESSION AND ‘FUNKY’ SMELLING GIRLS” By Dr. A. Breeze Harper
This was written in 2014, but I’m re-sharing…
(2014) 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 woman 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 girl. 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 girl/woman’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.
Original and other posts can be found here: http://sistahvegan.com/2014/07/27/she-didnt-look-depressed-to-me-on-postpartum-depression-and-funky-smelling-girls/
Photo credit: https://webstockreview.net/explore/deodorant-clipart-underarm/

Almond Cheese with a Side of Diversity

Our next webinar by Dr. A. Breeze Harper is around the corner. With the rise in plant-based foods sector in the USA, find out how to increase social impact, diverse recruitment/retainment, marketing, and profit with a well integrated racial diversity and inclusion plan. Find out more by clicking on the link after the photo below.

Go here for more information: https://criticaldiversitysolutions.com/webinars-and-live-events/

[Webinar] Racial Diversity and Inclusion for Plant Based Foods Businesses

Sept. 10, 2019
10am-2pm PST

Ok, if you haven’t already, please sign up for an Intro to Racial Diversity and Inclusion in Plant-Based Food Business. We have individual tickets as well as organization (small, medium, large).

This is an incredibly important time to be thinking about racial diversity and inclusion in plant-based food business. It’s an era of food-tech startups. It’s also an era in which 92% of VCs are white men who are funding the same demographic at 91% while demographics such as Black women, are less than 1% funded.

Did you know USA alone loses 300 billion dollars in yearly revenue when nonwhite business owners are not funded or invested in?

It also means a lack of product innovation and profit that comes from having a racially diverse talent force. I mention this because so many may not prioritize the social/racial justice aspect in their business model in what is ‘loss’ when business startups are homogenous– but, yes, there is a loss of product innovation and yea, profit!!

However, if you want social impact and justice to be one of the primary focuses of your plant-based food business, but not sure how to start thinking about it…, then you may want to think about what talent is loss when a properly implemented inclusion strategy is not enacted and measured in your plant based food workplace. You lose more diverse perspectives on how to create a better product that can and does lead to positive environmental impact (plant based diets are the top ways in which climate change can be tackled).

Join us on September 10, 2019 via webinar. Can’t attend live? No worries, we have recordings of the event available for people who have registered. Click on the link below.

Leadership, Diversity, and the “Cruelty-Free” Conundrum

My Newest Novel: Black Girl Magic Across Space and Time, Critique of Green Capitalism, and Technocracy

I am writing a new book (as many of you know). Well, actually two books.

One is an Afro-futuristic themed novel, integrating ethical food objects to tell the story of systemic racism, violence, green capitalism, and the colonization of another planet to sustain the ‘better’ class of plant-based consuming elite….

My other one is a critical memoir, Black, Mama, Scholar: On Black Feminism, Food Ethics, and Toddler Tantrums.

Would anyone like to connect me with a publisher that you think would be interested in the new NOVEL that I am writing? I have already written two books: one is an anthology (Sistah Vegan) and the other is a social fiction novel (Scars). Both were groundbreaking in their approaches to interrogations of Black women and girls’ experience in the USA.

My academic credentials: BA, MA, PhD.

Scholar Website: www.abreezeharper.com

About Sistah Vegan Book: https://lanternbooks.presswarehouse.com/books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=235010

About Scars Book: https://brill.com/view/title/37503?lang=en

Leadership, Diversity, and the “Cruelty-Free” Conundrum

Date: September 10, 2019

Time:  10am-2pm PST

Description
Animal-free food alternatives are on the rise in the USA, ranging from veggie burgers, to cashew milk yogurts, to vegan D3 supplements. These products have been marketed as “cruelty-free”, conveying the narrative that non-human animals have not suffered, been harmed, or killed. However, underneath this narrative is often this uncomfortable reality: Company/organization leadership can be dedicated to alleviating animal suffering through “cruelty-free” products within a workplace climate in which marginalized human employees suffer from a lack of inclusive practices for racial and gender equity. This is a common conundrum that can have consequences on employee retention, recruitment, growth, and broader market outreach to name a few.

Join national speaker, strategic consultant, and groundbreaking author Dr. A. Breeze Harper for a leadership training to upgrade your professional diversity toolkit within the plant-based food world. Some questions to be addressed:

  1. How do racial power dynamics affect plant-based food businesses and organizations?
  2. How do race, gender, and socio-economic class affect marketing and outreach?
  3. How can plant-based food businesses and organizations recruit and retain an inclusive employee base with racial equity in mind?
  4. Why is labeling a product “cruelty-free” not enough to ensure workplace diversity, inclusion, equity and better social impact for animals and human beings?


Select Registration Type




Record Breaking News: Youngest Person to Summit Mt. Shasta is 7 year old Eva Luna Harper-Zahn #BlackGirlMagic #GirlPower

Record Breaking News:

My daughter, Eva Luna Harper-Zahn (age 7) is the youngest girl in history to make it to the summit of 14,180′ tall Mount Shasta, together with her brother Sun (age 10). Shasta is not an easy feat for even the fittest of adults. Our daughter and son are amazing!

Last year Eva Luna became the youngest girl to summit Mt. Whitney – the highest mountain in the contiguous US – at the age of 6. She wanted to set out for another goal for 2019 that would be more challenging, so…

This year (2019), her goal was to break the age record for summiting Mt. Shasta, previously held by a 9-year old boy. Shasta is more challenging than Mt. Whitney because its steeper slopes are covered in ice and snow. With her older brother Sun (10 years of age) and papa, Dr. Oliver Zahn, this past 4th of July weekend (2019) at the age of 7, she achieved her dream of reaching the summit.

A sport dominated by mostly men, Eva Luna is determined to carve out space for girls and kids of color within extreme outdoor sports like mountaineering (she is a rock climber as well).

It took them 3 attempts over the last 6 weeks to get to the summit of Mt. Shasta. I (her mama) went with Luna, Sun and my husband as the lead (and one who planned everything for months) the first time in June 2019. We made it to Horse Camp, pitched a tent, but then realized the next morning that the conditions and timing were not good enough to continue to Helen Lake and then summit (photo of me with her is below) so we didn’t do it.

Eva Luna Harper-Zahn and Dr. Amie “Breeze” Harper

The second attempt was with my husband (her papa) and her big brother. They made it to Helen Lake camp, started the ascent, but turned back due to 50 mph winds.

But on July 4, number three was the sweet number to achieve the goal.

After 7 hours of backpacking up, on July 3, they got to base camp of Lake Helen before 8pm, set up, ate dinner, went to sleep, and woke up at 2am, July 4, to start the ascent with headlamps, crampons, helmets and ice axes for emergency self arrest.

I think I need to emphasize that they first had to hike up the mountain to base camp for 7 hours. You can’t drive there! That means you hike up your camping gear, food, etc for 7 hours in very thin air. 7 hours just to make it to base camp and STILL, once you get there, set up, and rest, you have about 6-9 hours of technical steep ascent on ice ahead of you to the summit. This is not hiking but mountaineering – you need crampons for proper traction, a helmet for rock fall, and know how to use an ice axe to self arrest.

And she persisted…

Becoming tired, about 4 hours into their ascent to the summit, Eva Luna needed a break. After taking an hour long nap on her papa’s lap, Eva Luna was re-energized to make it to the summit and finally made it, late in the morning with her brother and father.

Congrats Eva Luna, Sun, and my husband Oliver for making it to the top (photos of the journey below). Oliver planned everything for months. An expert mountaineer, he knew exactly what to do and how to train the children. He is the epitome of super duper Dad who inspires the children to go for their dreams and passion…but with caution and non-arrogance. The key is to not think one can conquer anything (which is the common rhetoric in extreme outdoor sports) , but to learn more about yourself, the journey, and humility within the power and beauty of nature.

Eva Luna Harper-Zahn and Dr. Oliver Zahn

Missed Eva Luna’s record breaker for 2018 when she was 6 and summited Mt. Whitney Here is the video recap:

Eva Luna and Sun want to inspire others with their story! If news outlets are interested, let us know.

Sun Harper-Zahn and Eva Luna Harper-Zahn (July 2019, Mt. Shasta)

Black Feminist Runner: Tackling Hills With Hemp Seeds and Nursing on Demand

One of my deepest passions are intense hill running. I absolutely love it.

Dr. A. Breeze Harper, Tassajara Zen Center, California 2019

I was thinking of actually writing my next book and titling it, Black Feminist Hill Runner because I literally get my best ideas during my “runner’s high”.
Running hills keeps me “more sane” because of the intensely stressful work I do (antiracism and Black feminism) coupled with the triple work day of raising 4 young children.
My head explodes with ideas as I run up and up for 30 minutes.
One of my favorite things I love to do is to create absolutely superior plant-based nutrition for my specific needs.
I realize that despite a pretty demanding day, I have optimal endurance to run intense workout and I actually don’t get tired while running up the hills. The only reason I have to turn back around after 30 minutes is that I can only be away for about an hour total because I need to get back home to the kids.

Four Silly Harper-Zahn kids.

Some folks have asked me about my muscle tone and glowing skin. I have to admit that it could be genetic or it could be my diet and exercise. I don’t want to say that a plant-based diet will yield glowing skin or optimal performance. But, it’s probably a significant factor. Below is simply what I do and I’m guessing it does impact my exercises and skin health, but I don’t know to what degree genes play into that.

Also, folk ask me how it’s possible for me to have so much energy and endurance, stay fit within what applies to my needs (as everyone’s definition and goals of ‘fitness’ are subjective and tailored to their own needs), while nursing non-stop for the last 10 years and raising/running after 4 kids while doing my professional work. Anyway, here are the habits I engage in, below, that I do for my hill running that have been shown to create better muscle tone and healthier skin:

Phone of Dr. Harper in her home, holding a bag of herbs.
  1. No coffee. No Black tea. I do not and have never consumed hot caffeinated beverages to wake me up in the morning. I realized that what I need is a nutritional regimen that is holistic and will help me with stamina, endurance, and mental acuity without sugar and caffeine. I discovered Siberian Ginseng (aka Eleuthero root) and Ginkgo are excellent!. I take them in the morning and swear by it, either as a hot tea or I put the herbs in my smoothies.
  2. Spirulina and Chlorella. Spirulina is a salt water algae. Chlorella is a fresh water one. I take 1 tsp of each per day, usually mixing it in my plant-based smoothie. Full of vitamins and minerals, combining them is like a builder and a detoxifier together.
  3. Raw hemp seed hearts for protein. I do 3/4cup to 1 cup per day, blended in a smoothie. High in protein and omega 3, 6, 9, this is my pure awesome PROTEIN source that is easily digestible. It is high in magnesium which is great for workouts and recovery, along with plethora of other minerals like Zinc. Great for skin health. I use Manitoba or Nutiva.
  4. Fresh ginger root and turmeric. I throw a lot of fresh ginger into my raw smoothies in the morning as well. Gives me energy and jumpstarts my stomach and intestines. It’s naturally anti-inflammatory and an immune system builder. I take ginger along with fresh or organic turmeric powder, which is highly anti-inflammatory too and great for those who are trying to avoid inflammation in joints when running. I use high Curcumin Turmeric by Anthony’s. I buy the ginger root fresh.
  5. No fast carbs in the morning for breakfast, like white bread, sugary cereals, etc. My breakfasts are usually raw plant-based smoothies, with a little fruit like organic mango or grapefruit added.
  6. Dates. Low glycemic index and a great boost of energy, I put a date in my smoothie , or I will eat one before I go running.
  7. Fresh Peppermint or spearmint. I throw in copious amounts of mint into my smoothies in the morning as well.
  8. Vitamin D3 (vegan). I take 5000 IU of plant based Vitamin D3 per day. Country Life is the company I use. I have been doing this for about 3.5 years now , as before, I had no idea that I wasn’t getting enough—- especially as a Black person with more melanin then lighter skinned folk. Great for bone health and immunity.
  9. Lypospheric Vitamin C, 1000mg a day. Before I put any food or drinks in my tummy in the morning, I take Lypospheric Vitamin C on an empty stomach with about 4 ounces of water. It is highly absorbable and better than standard Vitamin C supplements on the market in which the body hardly absorbd the C. Wait 15 minutes before you eat, after taking it! This form of C rebuilds my body and adds a glow to my skin as well as boosts my body’s ability to repair damage. It is great for skin health and creating that ‘glow’.
  10. Water, water, water, with electrolytes. I rarely drink anything else. I drink at least a 1/2 gallon of water per day mixed with electrolytes. My favorite is TraceMinerals brand. Regular water while running won’t do. This also helps me prevent leg cramping and is high in magnesium. I hydrate a lot since I’ve been nursing for 10 years non-stop. You may not need 1/2 gallon a day.
  11. Castor oil, shea butter, and tea tree oil soap. Though not something I eat, after I go running, I shower and use Dr. Bronner’s Tea tree oil soap for my hair and body. After showering, I apply castor oil mixed with shea butter (I buy both in bulk) on my face and body which help with the glow and making my skin more supple. I notice that this works well AFTER I have workout out that day and SWEATED a lot. I also put the same thing in my hair. People have asked me about my hair “glowing” and looking healthy. Well, even though I do eat herbs and foods that help that, I like to apply castor oil and shea butter for that ‘outer glow’ and hair strength. I have received a lot of compliments on my French braids because of the ‘luster’ it has, along with my skin health. The secret topical cosmetic really is castor oil, which is REALLY cheap.

I also cannot emphasize enough that I have been nursing nonstop for 10+ years which can put a lot of stress on the body if you aren’t putting in what is coming out. Doing hill running while still nursing is a lot and so far, my bone density and health are excellent. Many nursing people can lose valuable minerals and vitamins while nursing and don’t know how to replace them. It is vital you know how to exercise and eat in a way that replenishes your body while creating optimal breastmilk for your baby/toddler.

So, that is my hill running hack recipe/regimen. With it, I notice that I repair and recover quicker when I abide by these 11 rules above. I’m never constipated, I rarely feel bloated or my system “sluggish”. I did a similar regimen for my last few pregnancies and all my babies were 9-10lb, vaginal births, full term. I know each body is different and you can plan as well as you can, nutritionally, and it may not guarantee these particular outcomes.

Photo of Dr. Harper with french braids, wearing a halter dress for her 43rd birthday in 2019.
Dr. Harper celebrating her 43rd birthday in 2019

However, I just wanted to share this with you since I get a lot of people asking me this, mainly because of the misconception that one cannot have given birth to 4 children, be over 40, and continue to engage in intense workouts without being ‘exhausted’. For me, it has been possible and I think I personally owe it to this personal journey I have had with nutrition and the fitness program that is right for me.

Pregnant? Check out this webinar below:

Take me to the pregnancy webinar! (Click here)

Have fun discovering what fitness programs and plant-based nutrition work best for your needs.


ABOUT DR. A. BREEZE HARPER

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

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

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

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

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