I do a reading of the food objects in the book and how they can tell us about racial and class power dynamics in an era of neoliberal whiteness. I also mention our conference I’m putting on that is online and interactive, The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matters.
If we are serious about redressing the racially focused violence inherent to the functioning of our economy and our society as a whole, then we need to become much, much more attentive to the role of white liberals in managing the institutions that enable and maintain such an antidemocratic and morally abject political consensus Too often, in the face of the continual efforts of the right to rescind voting rights, roll back educational desegregation, and ensure the perpetuation of a racial caste system by less overt means (e.g., by using the Drug War as the engine for the mass incarceration of black men in particular and poor people in general1) liberal institutions and individuals are given a pass. Yes, they could do more. Yes, they could do something. But they’re all that’s standing in the way of the Republicans! What choice do we have?! In the face of this argument— if one can really call it an argument rather than a defense
mechanism— I want to suggest a counter-intuitive hypothesis concerning the political function of liberalism in general and the social function of white liberals in particular. What if the fact that white liberals benefit from white supremacy is not simply an accident? What if the simplest explanation for the fact that white liberals are as ineffective as they are at preventing the economic and social violence that pervades our society is actually the best explanation? What if the truth about white liberals is that they are just as essential to the maintenance of white supremacy as those who administer state-sanctioned racially focused violence directly in their roles as cops, prison guards, prosecutors, judges, and civic leaders? What if it is actually the intellectual, spiritual, and moral bankruptcy of white liberals that constitutes the greatest obstacle to redressing the most enduring and fundamental injustices in our society.
-Excerpt from the bookEconomies of Whiteness by Marc Lombardo
Today, another well known vegan products company responded to my request for sponsorship for our conference with a “no”. They explained that they simply cannot do it because they receive too many requests to say yes to. I answered them in a appreciative letter, letting them know that their products have been essential for my healthy pregnancies and the new book I am working on.
I think most mainstream vegan products companies probably don’t think about the ‘racial healing’ aspect of their ingredients. I am hoping that my letter can get them and many other companies who take a ‘post-racial’ approach to their marketing and meaning of their products, to think about the possibility of partnering with the Sistah Vegan Project in the future and enact solidarity with anti-racism movements with something as ‘simple’ as hemp seeds, Spirulina, kale and other super food ingredients I suggest for racial healing.
I assume the best in people and truly believe that most of the mainstream vegan companies just need a little alternative education to understand how their products can fit into anti-racism AND anti-speciesism movements at the same time. They just need to understand that eating hemp seeds for their usual post-racial mainstream animal rights vegan may mean ‘I eat chia seeds to get calcium and magnesium in a way that doesn’t hurt animals’. Alternatively, an anti-racism vegan of color dealing with racism-induced relaxation problems at night applies a different meaning to hemp seeds: “I eat hemp seeds at night because the high amount of magnesium has been proven to relax me and give me a calmer sleep through the emotional turmoil I am experiencing after Ferguson… and I don’t have to hurt a non-human animal to do it.”
Here is an excerpt from a letter I sent below to the company that just emailed me an hour ago that they are unable to sponsor us:
“I will apply again next year for your company’s consideration to sponsor our annual conference. Also I am integrating many of your products into a new book I am writing called ‘Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches’ which is part recipe book and part critical analysis of systemic racism in the USA and how eating certain vegan foods can help with the emotional and physical toll that events such as Trayvon Martin’s murder and Ferguson can have on people of color engaged in anti-racism activism. I only want to suggest ingredients made by companies that are ethical and sell mostly vegan products. The high amount of magnesium found in hemp seeds is relaxing and helps for a better sleep and brain health during stress for many of my fans and activists who ask me for tips about eating a healthy plant based diet while surviving through systemic racism. The don’t need to just survive…I want them to be able thrive, and I know your products will help.”
I speak at Pomona College on April 17 2015. My talk is “Food, Wellness and the Scars of Race and Whiteness: A Critical Race Feminist Approach.” It is at 6pm, Edmund’s Ball room in Smith Campus Center. See below for details!
I am happy to report that Hnin W. Hnin of ROC-United will be giving a talk for the interactive web conference, April 24-25 2015 (10am-5pm PDT ).
Title: “Not Business as Usual: The Praxis of Black Lives Matter in Vegan Entrepreneurship”.
Veganism is trendy and profitable. There are more vegan products available in the mainstream than ever before, but they are simply that – products to be consumed as part of one’s “diet” or “lifestyle”, completely disconnected from ethics and analysis. To reclaim “veganism” and practice it within a political agenda and ethos, vegan entrepreneurs must include the Black Lives Matter movement in their bottom lines. Operating with a goal of Black Lives Matter allows us to create holistic models that refute the notion that dairy-free and meat-free products are by default “pure” and “clean”, absolving those who produce and consume them from the civic responsibility to eliminate racism and violence against Black people. This is an especially critical myth to debunk within a US capitalist economy where one’s identity is increasingly defined as what one produces and consumes rather than one’s relationship to historical struggles and social movements like Black Lives Matter.
To learn more about the conference and see the full line up of presentations, go here: www.sistahveganconference.com or click on the poster below.