Angela Davis on veganism, nonhuman animal cruelty, and commodities in a capitalist culture
Originally posted on KVARM:
“I usually don’t mention that I’m…
View original 487 more words
Angela Davis on veganism, nonhuman animal cruelty, and commodities in a capitalist culture
Originally posted on KVARM:
“I usually don’t mention that I’m…
View original 487 more words
This past weekend I gave the keynote talk at the Princeton University hosted Ivy League Vegan Conference. My talk was titled Oppositional Bodies of Knowledge: Black Feminist Perspective on Race, Gender and Embodiment in Vegan Politics. Here are my thoughts and the recorded talk.
Below are the notes I wanted to use to start an interactive dialogue around [invisible] whiteness. However, I didn’t get a chance to do that but wanted to share the notes with you anyway. These notes are the vegan oriented version of Peggy McKinstosh’s famous essay about white privilege (Also, for more thoughts on this, look at Emptying the White Knapsack that was just posted.). Let’s use these tools to continue the conversation, okay?
I will be giving the keynote address for the Ivy League Vegan Conference this weekend, in Princeton, NJ on Feb. 8, 2014 at Princeton University. My talk is titled: Oppositional Bodies of Knowledge: A Black Feminist Perspective on Race, Gender, and Embodiment in Vegan Politics. it is from 230pm to 4pm.
I am very honored to be speaking at this event about these topics. When I first started The Sistah Vegan Project and anthology in 2005, the idea was not well received by the mainstream. I received comments and rants about how race, whiteness, and power had nothing to do with veganism or animal liberation work. My inquiries were seen as pointless and even racist (because apparently interrogating the phenomenon of racial dynamics through social science training is ‘racist’ [shaking my head]). However, I stuck to my scholarly research and got the Deans award for my Masters thesis work at Harvard. Six years later, I graduated summa cum laude from UC Davis with a PhD in intersections of critical race and critical food geographies. My dissertation pushed the envelope further about racial power dynamics and whiteness within the landscape of veganism , during a global era of racial neoliberalism . I am honored as well as looking forward to returning to my old stomping ground of Princeton, where I lived from 1998 to 1999.
Go here to learn more about the conference, speakers, and more.
Here is a snippet from my journal entry from yesterday. Just a moment of frustration I’d like to share.
After walking up a hill from Totland playground for 75 minutes, I get to the 65 AC Transit bus stop with my stroller [, at Cragmont and Euclid]. My 2 preschoolers are in the double stroller and I have my 2 month old attached to me in the ergo carrier. The bus pulls up 3 minutes later, the door opens, 7 people exit from the bus. The driver looks at me and the stroller and says, “I don’t have room for you. Sorry,” then closes the door and drives away. Am just amazed that the people sitting where the stroller would go can’t move they asses and make room for me and my kids. Yea, the bus had a lot of people in it, but room COULD HAVE BEEN MADE. I would have and do make room for similar situations. But no, just sit on your asses and stare at us from out of the window; don’t stick up for me or tell the bus driver that some of you can MAKE ROOM. Oh Berkeley, if not here, then where?
Once again, feeling punished for daring to have children.
The next bus wouldn’t come for another 35 minutes. I think that the bus could have fit us. It was not packed; especially since about 7 people had exited the bus. I am sure the bus driver isn’t a horrible or bad person, but I’m wondering how or why this can happen. Maybe he was just having a bad day? Perhaps he felt stressed and needed to ‘be on schedule.’ I jsut don’t know.
In terms of the folk who just ‘stare’ when they could be doing something to remedy a problem….Berkeley is supposed to be this progressive and social-justice oriented region of the USA, but there are many moments like these in which I feel like something is amiss. I have had several challenges with taking public transportation while with my children who were in our double stroller.
Does anyone else have experiences like this with public transportation, or is it really just me?
About Speciesism the movie.
Originally posted on The Broccoli Bulletin:
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
Last week, on January 23rd, ‘Speciesism: The Movie’ made its Texas premiere at The Magnolia theater in Dallas. The documentary was written, directed and produced by Mark Devries, who was present at the screening.
Walking into the film, I expected an exposé about the way humans treat nonhuman animals, along with a philosophical discussion. I wasn’t wrong, but I also wasn’t expecting much humor. While I had heard that the movie had some humorous moments, I was surprised to find myself (and other attendees) truly laughing out loud several times, more than twice. Devries himself narrates the documentary, managing to articulate and raise important questions about complex and heavy issues without boring the audience. He made us laugh, without belittling the issues. For those wondering, animal abuse footage was kept to a minimum.
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Dear Dr. Angela Davis,
I saw you at the Farmer’s Market in Oakland, CA yesterday. I was too shy to approach you myself. However, my lovely husband convinced me to go up to you and introduce myself briefly. I know you must get scores of people each day, coming up to you. Who can blame us, as you have been an inspiration for so many!
The last time we had a brief interaction was back in February 2012, at the University of California Davis, where I was earning my PhD. You had given a talk as part of the social justice teach-in, initiated by the university after the 2011 pepper-spray incident. I asked you to give the audience more explanation about your take on the treatment of non-human animals. I was so pleased to hear your anti-speciesist take on the suffering that goes into the production of a chicken meal. You reminded us that most people’s lack of awareness around the suffering was a dangerous sign of how our minds have been colonized by capitalism. It is rare that I find scholars who are both black feminist oriented and conscious of how speciesism is imbricated in USA capitalist moral economy. I often have felt lonely and the ‘sole’ black feminist scholar who understands how both anti-capitalism and anti-speciesism do, and must, fit into social justice scholarship and activism.
Yesterday, I didn’t think you would remember me; but, you said that you did. I wish I had had a copy of Sistah Vegan on me to give to you, as I am sure you would enjoy it. Though we may never meet in person again, I just wanted to let you know that you have made a tremendous impact on my life and I know for a fact that my children will feel that impact. The photo of you, me, and my youngest newborn daughter Kira Satya is a moment I will treasure forever.
On this 26th Day of January, 2014, I want to wish you a happy 70th birthday. I feel truly blessed that you were birthed into a world that truly needs a spirit such as yourself, to help transform our minds and start the necessary process of decolonization that includes both the lives of humans as well as non-human animals.
Dr. Amie “Breeze” Harper
Even though this is posted Jan 26, 2014, I wrote this about a month ago.
Oh wait, wrong photo… That was before I had kids. LOL. Today I just wanted to share with you that bodies change; my body changes and I’m okay with that. I think it’s detrimental to most of our mental health and happiness to start asking ourselves or even others, What’s your excuse [for not looking a certain way]?
I videoed myself about 5 1/2 weeks ago, and showed how my belly looked more like I was 7 months pregnant. My uterus was still huge, 10 days postpartum. So, right now, it is December 21, 2013. I am about 7 1/2 weeks post partum. We’re going to celebrate Winter Solstice tomorrow at Limantour Beach. I will be wearing my orange bikini of course, and this is what I’ll look like.
Stretchy, leathery, multi-colored, post-partum pouch belly: this is after 3 full term pregnancies. My belly looks like I’m about 4 1/2 months pregnant. I have mentioned this before, but plenty of people (even those who have had babies) publicly chastise women for revealing their postpartum bellies in public if they have stretch marks, are ‘pouchy’, don’t have hard abs, etc. That’s just not cool. A fellow Sistah Vegan wrote that she posted her photo of her post-partum bikini body on Facebook and more than one friend told her that she couldn’t believe that she would display her stomach because her stomach had the typical loose skin, pouchy, discolored look that most post-partum bellies look like. Wow, why would you tell your friend that and what exactly is wrong with anyone being out wearing their bikini with their unique and changing body type, period? My husband bought me this bathing suit 8 years ago. The first photo at the beginning of this post was from 2005 and the first day I wore it. It was my birthday present.
My bikini and I have been through three pregnancies, to Mexico, Italy, Plum Island, and California to name a few. No matter what, I wear this bikini whenever I can, pre pregnancy, during pregnancy, and postpartum, whether I am 121lb with no stretch marks, or 144lb with stretch marks; whether I have a flat tummy, or have a beautifully stretched out post-partum belly, you can’t take me away from wearing my bikini!
When in Mexico (see above) , I looked about four months pregnant and I didn’t care. Anyway, the point of my blog post is to basically share that all our bodies change, we all live our unique lives and situations and shouldn’t be bullying anyone about ‘What’s your excuse’? It’s just plain rude, unmindful, and cruel. Most likely, my body will never look like it did before I had babies, but I just thought it was important for me to share that this is what it looks like now, and despite being trained in this US culture to hide it and be ashamed of it, or have to answer to certain people who demand, “What’s your excuse for [not looking like me], I have 3 kids under the age of 4?”
Back in 2012, I wrote a comical blog piece about how most of us women who have had babies, can look like Beyoncé, several months after giving birth. Click here (Look Like Beyonce at Giving Birth) for a little laugh.
Sarah Juanita Dorsey created the artwork (see above) that will grace the cover of my new book Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers, 2014). Below is a 5 minutes video that explains Dorsey’s inspiration behind the gorgeous and intricate work of art. I am psyched that the cover was designed by a like-minded woman of color and that her creative genius so well suits the protagonist of Scars, Savannah Penelope Sales.
I have signed a contract with Sense Publishers to publish the book Scars for 2014. Sense Publishers is the perfect press for Scars. They embody exactly what I would like my novel to achieve. Below is a description of this publisher’s social fiction series of which Scars will be included:
“The Social Fictions series emerges out of the arts-based research movement. The series includes full-length fiction books that are informed by social research but written in a literary/artistic form (novels, plays, and short story collections). Believing there is much to learn through fiction, the series only includes works written entirely in the literary medium adapted. Each book includes an academic introduction that explains the research and teaching that informs the book as well as how the book can be used in college courses. The books are underscored with social science or other scholarly perspectives and intended to be relevant to the lives of college students—to tap into important issues in the unique ways that artistic or literary forms can.”
-Patricia Leavy, PhD
Below is the full Preface for Scars. However, before you read the preface, I wanted to share this next tidbit withyou. The title of this blog piece, “The Black Queer Experience is Not ‘Our’ Experience”, was inspired by an email I received a few days ago from a Black identified Christian woman who had found out about Scars. Via a long email, she ultimately let me know that the premise of Scars alienated regular Black girls like her and that it was not ‘our’ story; ‘our’ being Black people’s story or authentic way of being. Even though she has not read the book, I found it incredibly interesting and as well as heartbreaking that she sent me an email that basically let me know she was disappointed in this new project. She sincerely thinks that the book’s main character (a Black teen lesbian) is too ‘controversial’ and ‘edgy.’ Hence, ‘regular’ Black girls like her (heterosexual) were being marginalized and she felt that I should be using my prominent voice to write about more pressing and important issues affecting the Black community. So, essentially, this book hasn’t even been published yet and I’m already receiving these types of messages. Anyway, I wanted to share that tidbit with you because I am constantly amazed by how “Blackness” and authenticity amongst Black folk is a complex and controversial issue; how we are monitored when we fall outside of being a ‘regular’ Black person (which I assume means hetero-normative and Christian identified). It is worrisome and disturbing to think that there are many Black folk who honestly feel that the queer experience is not part of our history; that we’re not part of the authentic community of Blackness in the USA. Even though this is her opinion, and the email she sent me was written respectfully and politely, it still hurt very deeply to read that. However, this is why I continue to write and do the work that I do. I feel like silence just creates more suffering and pain, so my writing becomes a platform to discuss these issues that are taboo for so many, including not just homosexuality, but also how white supremacy in the USA affects the emotional and physical health of everyone– not just people color. I welcome you read the preface to Scars. I am also hoping that if the preface strikes a chord with you would you have interest in inviting me to come and speak and create interactive discussion from Scars. Please email me at breezeharper (at) gmail (dot ) com to discuss my honorarium fees and travel requirements. Also, I am open to be interviewed for radio, tv, blogs, and other forms of media.
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 lens of race, whiteness, working-class sensibilities, sexual orientation, and how rural geography influences identity consciousness. What makes this novel unique its emphasis on Black and lesbian teen experience of whiteness and racism within rural geographies. Often, interrogations of whiteness and socio-economic class are left out of fictional literature within popular LGBTQ literature. My intention with Scars is to fill this gap by creating emotionally intense dialogues among four primary characters: Savannah Penelope Sales, Davis Allen, Esperanza Perez, and Erick Roberts.
Davis Allen is one of Savannah’s best friends. A straight white male who grew up on a rural dairy farm in Savannah’s home town, Davis and Savannah have been close friends since they were toddlers. Davis is the only white friend Savannah has ever chosen to develop a close relationship with. When Davis and Savannah interact with each other, the intimacies of their conversations reveal an interesting dynamic: Davis’s perception of reality manifests from what Savannah has marked as “a privileged point of entry”: white, male, lower-middle class, and straight. Davis can never experience Savannah’s embodied experience as a Black lesbian. Growing up in a country that has institutionally legitimized whiteness and heterosexuality as ‘normal’, Davis’s white and straight identity limits him to superficially interpreting Savannah’s verbal hostility as nothing more than stereotypical “angry Black female” banter.
The second theme developed in Scars is the irreconcilable differences that Erick Roberts and Savannah endure in their rocky new platonic relationship. Erick and Savannah both identify as same gender loving, however, that is where similarities between them end. Their frequent antagonistic verbal intercourses deconstruct the common myth that being gay or lesbian means they will instantly connect emotionally to each other as comrades in the same battle against heterosexism. The exhaustive energy it takes for both to maintain their volatile relationship has it’s roots in Erick’s oblivion to the fusion of his upper-middle class status and his white male privilege when attempting to advise Savannah about being and coming out as a [Black, poor, and rural] lesbian.
The third and more subtle theme developed in Scars centers on how Savannah’s perception of oppression is positioned within a geopolitically global North perspective. Savannah never acknowledges her privilege as a USA national; only her lack of privileges as a non-white person. She considers herself revolutionary in thought in comparison to the people living in the provincial town she grew up in. Simultaneously, she has no awareness of her perpetuation of inequality outside of the USA; for example, Savannah is unaware of how many people of color outside of the USA are exploited so she buy cheap coffee, chocolate, and Coco-Cola. Esperanza Perez, a key character, is one of her best friends. Esperanza, a vegan and fair trade anti-globalization activist who originally grew up in Guatemala, visits Savannah from college. Through honest and heartfelt dialogues with Esperanza, Savannah’s oblivious understanding of her geopolitical Northern privilege is revealed. I hope to engage the reader to empathize with Savannah’s realistic struggles with “whiteness as the invisible norm in the USA,” while also addressing the need for Savannah to engage deeper into social injustice by encompassing and linking Black struggles and USA racism to a broader range of social and ecological inequalities throughout the world.
Born out of my Dartmouth College thesis social research in feminist geography, award winning Masters work at Harvard University, and my dissertation work at the University of California-Davis, Scars emphasizes how rural geographies of whiteness can impact the consciousness and young identity development of non-white youth who seemingly ‘don’t belong’ in rural settings of whiteness and hetero-normativity; yet, the reader sees during Savannah’s trip to her first major metropolitan city, she is very much out of place. Furthermore, Savannah contrasts the mainstream media stereotype that the “authentic Black experience” is from heterosexual Blacks raised in predominantly urban landscapes. Even though the critical theory in this novel has been translated into creative writing format, it is notable that Scars was significantly influenced by a strong canon of Black critical thinkers and writers stemming back to W.E.B. DuBois. My choice to title the book Scars reflects the legacy of Black anti-colonialist Frantz Fanon and his intense dedication to making visible, the psychological trauma and scarring that colonialism, white supremacy, and racism have caused to both the colonized and the colonizer. Furthermore, this book continues the traditions of bell hooks, Audre Lorde, and Octavia Butler who have written extensively about the ‘the problem of the color line.’ However unlike Fanon and DuBois’ more hetero-normative and masculinist analyses, hooks, Lorde, and Butler have complicated the ‘problem of the color line’ with intersectional analysis of gender and sexual orientation.
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.
-A. Breeze Harper, PhD
So, I have a simple question in which a Google search reveals complicated and confusing answers: how should I prepare and eat chia seeds to absorb their nutrients?
For the past three years, I soak the seeds for ten minutes in water. I have put 2 ounces in a blender with 20 oz of water and blend for 2 minutes on high. I have a Vitamix. I do this because I thought one passes seeds without absorbing anything if they are eaten whole and not ground up or chewed thoroughly.However, every where on the internet that has information about how to eat them says to eat whole. Huh?
If I wanted to eat them for fiber and hydration I get why I would eat them whole. However, the chia seed is marketed to be packed with nutrients like Omega 3, calcium, and boron, hence, I assume one absorbs those nutrients once they eat the seed grounded or milled.
What is the right way to eat chia seeds for maximum nutrition absorption?
Finally, a vegan white cheddar puff snack! I have not had cheese puffs, made from cow dairy, since 2005! So, Earth Balance makes a vegan one and that is pretty cool.
They use navy beans powder for the ‘cheese’. 180 mg of sodium per serving, which isn’t bad. I hate salty things, so this was a pleasant surprise. 3g of protein per serving. A full bag has 4 servings but I can easily eat the whole thing in one sitting. They use non GMO corn and no soy.
Earth Balance , why is your packaging not recyclable or compostable? Also, at nearly $4 a bag, I would expect all the ingredients to be organic. None are organic!
Overall, great taste, texture, and size! A nice step up from Veggie Booty, but since it is pricey, I will probably buy it a few times per year! Would buy more often if it were organic and of the company had better packaging.
What are your thoughts?