The Sistah Vegan Project

UPDATE: Seeking mentor for alternative black masculinities Postdoctoral fellowship research

Dj Cavem, a vegan hip hop activist that I will be analyzing for my postdoctoral research about alternative black masculinities and decolonial vegan politics.

UPDATE: As of November 29 2012, I found a mentor. Thanks everyone for all your help who wrote me privately about suggestions.

Anyway, here is my earlier message below if you don’t know what I’m talking about.


Hello Sistah Vegan project followers and fans! I need your help with finding a suitable mentor for a postdoc I’m applying to at UC Berkeley. Here is the situation….

The person I wanted to originally mentor me for the UC Berkeley post doc I applied cannot because she isn’t tenured; the application is incomplete. If you know anyone at UCB who would want to mentor me for the UC President’s  Postdoc Fellowship so I  can research “alternative black masculinities, decolonial politics, and hip hop vegan pedagogies”, please let me know ASAP! The letter from a potential mentor is due by Dec 1 at 1159 PST. They can be emailed directly to the program. I have pasted the project below and my CV is located here.


“Living Bling, Going Green”: Alternative Black masculinities, Hip Hop Eco-Consciousness, and Decolonial Vegan Politics

How does the black vegan hip hop movement produce counter-narratives of black masculinity?  How do male vegan hip hop activists urge their intended audience of young black and brown people, to know how racism (nutritional, environmental, structural) is linked to industrialized dietary cultural practices and a non-sustainable future? How do these young black male vegan hip hop activists use hip hop pedagogies to teach youth how culinary spaces have been largely constructed and shaped by consumer capitalism (Williams Forson 2006; Witt 2004)?

As a UC Berkeley President’s Postdoctoral Fellow I would write a book showing how plant-based philosophies are being reshaped and reformulated through Black American men of the hip hop generation. These activists seek to define wellness activism through pedagogies of hip hop and race-consciousness, educating and mobilizing people of color about health disparities caused by corporate capitalism, as well as environmental and institutional racisms.

Chapter Summaries

In chapter 1, “Roots of hip hop Activism and African American Wellness” I will give a brief socio-historical context of how black Americans have been advocates for healthy livelihoods. I will also explain the emergence of hip hop activism in the USA.

Chapter 2 is titled “Cooking up hip hop, Cooking up Health,” which will analyze vegan chef, eco-activist, and hip hop enthusiast Bryant Terry’s popular cookbooks (Inspired Vegan and Vegan Soul Kitchen). How  has Oakland, CA shaped Terry’s hip hop and ‘green’ vegan consciousness?  How does he respond to Oakland’s racialized uneven development that makes food access challenging for low-income people of color?

Chapter 3 will be titled “‘Living Bling, Going Green’.” DJ Cavem, a hip hop recording artist, vegan, and eco-sustainable activist living in Denver, teaches youths about “Hip-Hop history and how to grow greens.” I will show how Cavem’s vegan consciousness is affected by the space he was born and raised in (Denver, CO) as well as the spaces of an Afrocentric past (his practice of veganism is from a pre-colonial Khemetic Egypt); under examination will be his 2012 album The Produce Section: The Harvest. His album centralizes the eradication of legacies of colonialism and white supremacy on black community health through urban gardening, eating organic and whole foods veganism

Chapter 4 is titled “Vegan Consciousness as ‘Race-consciousness.'” This chapter analyzes how the urban geography of New York City has shaped vegan Supa Nova Slom’s decolonial food politics and his rap music. I will also examine how the race-consciousness of his vegan mother (the infamous Queen Afua) shaped his relationship to the body, food, and land.

Chapter 5 is titled “VeganhoodTV: Changing the Landscape of Food through Cyberspace Communication.” Under examination will be how cyberspace, vegan food politics, and race-consciousness converge on the blog and internet television show VeganhoodTV.  How do vegan Hip-Hop activists change the landscape of food deserts via cyberactivism? Furthermore, how do the two men who host the show, intertwine alternative performances of masculinity, blackness, and food politics?

Lastly, Chapter 6 is titled, “Vegan Hip Hop Movement and Re-Signifying the Place of the Edible Animal.” In this chapter, I will be analyzing Kevin Tillman of the. unlike the other men in chapters 2-5, Tillman focuses on veganism as a way to decolonize what he perceives as the legacies of colonialism on black males bodies and non-human animal bodies. His animal liberation stance proposes that true black masculinity cannot be positively achieved through the mainstream hip hop culture. To Tillman, the mainstream hip hop culture falsely dictates that black manhood can only be achieved through performances of misogyny, homophobia, and speciesism. In this chapter, I will discursively analyze how Tillman’s Vegan Hip Hop Movement re-signifies animals through the framework of ahimsa (harmlessness)  and the language of hip hop poetry to advocate alternative black masculinities and decolonial relationships with non-human animals amongst black men of the hip hop generation in the USA. Ultimately, Tillman proposed that animal liberation and black liberation must happen together.

What makes these particular vegan activists unique, is that they engage in veganism through the perspective of anti-racism and decolonization; in the USA, mainstream representations of veganism have always been from the perspective of white ‘post-racial’ animal rights activists. However, this book project is not about vegan fundamentalism, but rather, it will encourage readers to interrogate the socio-economic, racial, geographical, and material contexts of how and why plant-based dietary philosophies manifest amongst these particular men. Most importantly, this innovative research I will be undertaking will give context to why these hip hop and vegan activists use veganism as their method for decolonizing the black community from effects of racialized colonialism (i.e. environmental racism, food deserts, and health disparities) to create their vision of a ‘sustainable’ future.

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