The Sistah Vegan Project

Archive for the category “Scientific/Social Science Based Research”

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”.  

[Video] Scars of Suffering and Healing: A Black Feminist Perspective on Intersections of Oppression

This is the talk I gave at the Activist’s Table Conference, which took place at UC Berkeley on March 15, 2014. It was sponsored by the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition. I talk about Sistah Vegan and also read from and analyze my newest book, Scars, a social fiction that intersects issues of racism, internalized homophobia, and speciesism to name a few. This is my first public presentation of my new book and reading excerpts from the much anticipated novel.

In addition, check out the graffiti on the wall of the bathroom stall that was right down the hall from where I gave my talk. Perfect timing!

image

The Black Queer Experience is Not ‘Our’ Experience: Breeze Harper’s New Social Fiction Novel

It is official. 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

Scars_cover

The painting above will be used in the design of the cover. It was created by Sarah Dorsey after she read the novel.

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 ScarsI 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.

Preface for Scars

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

[TALK] Dr. Breeze Harper at Scripps College Sept 25, 2013: “Never Be Silent: On Trayvon Martin, PETA, and the Packaging of Neoliberal Whiteness.”

Are you in the LA area? I will be giving a talk tomorrow (Sept 25) at Scripps College. Here is the poster and also a blog piece you can read because toward the end of the blog are my mother’s ‘fears’ of me talking about whiteness and jeopardizing my safety.

Can’t make it? Don’t worry, I record and upload all my talks to my blog :-)

ScrippsFlyer Breeze Harper

Sistah Vegan Conference: Updated Speaker Schedule and Early Bird Registration

 

 Click on Book to purchase a signed copy

1st Annual Sistah Vegan Web Conference

“Embodied and Critical Perspectives on Veganism by Black Women and Allies”

Date: September 14, 2013

Time: 10:00am-6:00pm PST (USA)

Location: Web Conference Using Anymeeting.com. This means the location is on the Internet, accessible by computer or telephone. 

Please go here to the official Sistah Vegan Conference Page to See Speaker Line-up and to Register

 

Register for the Sistah Vegan Conference: “Embodied and Critical Perspectives on Veganism by Black Women”

(Tentative Presentation and Discussion Line-Up)

Please note that anyone can register as an audience member to learn about the critical and embodied perspectives of women of color vegans. One need not identify as a woman of color

Click on Book to purchase a signed copy

1st Annual Sistah Vegan Conference

“Embodied and Critical Perspectives on Veganism by Black Women and Allies”

September 14, 2013

Location: Web Conference Using Anymeeting.com. This means the location is on the Internet, accessible by computer or telephone. 

Time: 10:00am-6:00pm PST (USA)

Early Bird Registration Fee: $35.00 until August 15, 2013. After August 15, it will be $45.00

Click here to register

——————— 

Introduction: How Veganism is a Critical Entry Point to Discuss Social, Animal, and Environmental Justice Issues for Black Women and Allies.
Speaker: TBD
Length: 10 minutes

In this introduction to kick off the conference, the speaker will introduce how the concept of veganism can shed light on critical issues effecting Black girls and women in the USA. She will explain how veganism, as both method and philosophy, is an often overlooked perspective in a USA society that has normalized the exploitation and abuse of racialized minorities such as Black females, as well as the normalization of violence against the environment and non human animals used for human edification. This talk will be an introductory segue into the scheduled talks and discussions. It should hopefully open up innovative ideas by intersecting veganism, health activism, food politics, animal compassion, and anti racism into the lives of Black women and our allies. In addition, the speaker will introduce what is means to be an “ally” in the context of the Sistah Vegan Project.

——————————————–

Keynote Talk: How Whiteness and Patriarchy Hurt Animals

Anastasia Yarbrough

Inner Activism Services

Length: 30 minutes (20 minute presentation; 10 minute Q&A)

Abstract: In the animal rights movement, racism and sexism are treated primarily as separate forces comparable to but not wholly relevant to animal protection, with the exception of leftist pockets inspired by ecofeminist animal liberation thought, the Animal Liberation Front and other direct action groups, and the emerging Critical Animal Studies.  As recent as the 2013 Animal Rights Conference, the “mainstream” animal rights movement tends to treat anti-racist, anti-sexist movements as struggles of the past that inform the new frontier social justice movement that is animal rights.  However, the goal of this talk is not to argue how and why this tokenizing is a problem.  Instead, my focus is to spark a dialogue on how white supremacy and patriarchy directly impact the animals we’re striving to help and protect, thus giving further relevance in the animal rights movement to become more conscious of how racism and sexism operate in society.  As a black woman who is also a long-time activist for animal liberation and justice, I have the unique position to see these intersections and notice that human violence towards animals is rarely ever lacking color or gender, nor is it always simple to tease apart from systemic issues like racism and sexism. Therefore, I hope that this talk can serve as a useful and engaging spark that is relevant not just to animal rights activists but also to social justice activists who are just beginning to consider animals.

____________________________________________ 

Presentation Title: PETA and the Trope of “Activism”: Naturalizing Postfeminism and Postrace Attitudes through Sexualized Bodied Protests

Aphrodite Kocięda

University of South Florida

Length: 30 minutes (20 minute presentation; 10 minute Q&A)

Abstract: For this presentation, I will explore PETA’s marketing campaigns that use the trope of “activism”, couched in vegan and anti-animal cruelty rhetoric, to naturalize postfeminist ideas and postrace attitudes about women’s bodies. In this postfeminist space, attaining a white sexy body becomes activist work. For PETA, the ethical aims of the vegan diet (is purported to) coincide with attaining a particular type of femininity that excludes women of color. Women of color are only strategically used in their campaigns as authentic signifiers of “diversity”  where the white framework remains undisturbed. PETA uses “activist” rhetoric in their ads to bolster and naturalize the postfeminist and postrace ideas inherent in their logic.

_________________________

Presentation Title: An Embodied Perspective on Redefining Healthy in a Cultural Context and Examining the Role of Sizeism in the Black Vegan Woman Paradigm

Nicola Norman, B.S. Nutritional Science

Baltimore, MD

Length: 20 minutes; 10 minute Q&A

This presentation takes a look at sizeism and how it affects attitudes in the Black community and the mainstream towards Black Vegan Women. Body Mass Indexes calibrated to white norms contribute to producing stigmas and increasing challenges to women whose bodies seem to exist at the intersection of social and cultural pressures/expectations. How big our hips, buttocks, and thighs are, are constantly being put under a microscope by family, friends, community, and the bigger society that we live in. This may be affecting Black women on the fence about trying veganism for its health benefits or deter them already due to these pressurized standards. Black vegan women of all sizes are often chastised for not meeting those standards. Black female bodies are very commonly exoticized in society.  I will give examples of this and look at how sizeism is many times at the crux of this. Lastly, I will offer suggestions on how to combat the challenges of sizeism within mainstream vegan rhetoric in the USA.


____________________________________________ 

Presentation Title: Cosmetic Marginalization: Status, Access and Vegan Beauty Lessons from our Foremothers

Pilar Harris

Pilar in Motion (pilarinmotion.com)

Length: 30 minutes (20 minute presentation; 10 minute Q&A)

Abstract: The terms ‘Vegan’ and ‘Cruelty Free’ are labels that help lend integrity to commercially produced cosmetics. Yet these labels may also be used for marketing purposes, particularly in campaigns not created with black identified women as the intended target consumer. Although the internet has largely transformed access to cosmetic products labeled ‘Vegan’, there exists a degree of status and exclusivity in terms of the price point and distribution of these products, so that many black identified women remain marginalized. These products include body care, makeup and feminine hygiene items, the things we use daily and that are closer to our bodies than the clothing we wear. One option in taking a stance against cosmetic marginalization is to extract from our histories (personal, cultural and otherwise) the beauty lessons that were intended to nourish, protect and cleanse our bodies long before they could be known as ‘Vegan’.

____________________________________________ 

Open Discussion: “Why I Relinquished the Gospel Bird and Became a Vegan”: Girls and Women of African Descent Share Their Reasons for Choosing Veganism

Length: 45 minutes

 During this hour long moderated and open discussion, Black girls and women will share their reasons for choosing veganism. If you would like to participate, email sistahvegan (at) gmail (dot) com to secure your space to speak. Space is limited to about 8 storytellers. You will have about 5-7 minutes to share your journey.

____________________________________________ 

Keynote Talk : “Midwifery, Medicine and Baby Food Politics: Underground Feminisms and Indigenous Plant-based Foodways and Nutrition”

Length: 35 minutes (25 minute talk, 15 minute Q and A)

Claudia Serrato

University of Washington

Doctoral Student of Sociocultural Anthropology

http://www.claudiaserrato.info

During this decolonial era, Indigenous midwifery in East Los Angeles despite the several attempts to dismantle this ancestral practice along with their Indigenous plant based nutritional advice thrives as the alterNative to biomedicine. The Indigenous foodways and nutritional ways of knowing guided by these midwives is critical in restoring or decolonizing pregnancy, birthing, feeding experiences and most importantly health. In placing the decolonial present into perspective, a herstoricalfeminist narrative of early Los Angeles, midwifery, medicine, law, and the baby food industry discloses a critical dimension of the colonial matrix of power, which has neglectedly been overlooked in determining changes in diet, health, and birthing. In recovering Indigenous foodways and nutrition, underground feminist practices in the urban ethnoscape of Los Angeles restores womb and taste healing memories.

____________________________________________ 

Presentation Title: Constructing a Resource Beyond Parenting as a Black Vegan: Discussing Geography and Theology and Their Contradictions Within

Candace M. Laughinghouse

Regent University, PhD Candidate (Theology of Animals)

 Length: 30 minutes (20 minute presentation; 10 minute Q&A)

Abstract: Surprisingly, I receive more support from non-blacks when it comes to parenting as a black vegan. Within the black community, I am guaranteed heavy doses of skepticism and defensive responses if I choose to reveal that my children have never ingested a hot dog, hamburger, bacon, and chicken!  But beyond parenting as a black vegan are the challenges that relate to geography, theology, and even my own appearance. The Sistah vegan movement (as I like to call it) is inspiring as I pursue a doctoral degree in theology of animals and the effects on black theology. As a parent, my job is to protect my children and teach them the road to fulfillment in life involves education, using their talents, and compassion for all sentient beings.  I want to present the above topics as many black parents have a theological foundation that can be seen as contradictory to being vegan.

____________________________________________ 

Panel Discussion: Yoga for the Stress Free Soul Sista

And Radical Self-Care Teaching: Exploring Privilege in Yoga & Veganism for Girls of Color

with Sari Leigh

Anacostia Yogi www.anacostiayogi.com

and

Kayla Bitten

Length: 50 minutes (40 minute discussion; 10 minutes Q&A)

 

Abstract: Sari Leigh will give black women,  practical yoga tools to help resolve stressful home situations, past racial traumas, heartbreaks and reconnecting to spirit. Participants will learn the 15 second Mind Cleanse, A Soulful Flow yoga sequence and the revolutionary power of Mantra.  Kayla Bitten will address how, on a daily basis, we people of color continue to reap the oppressive consequences of a society who refuses to see us as part of the movement to a society of innovative development and solidarity. Working with young girls and women, Kayla has witnessed first hand the effects of a society whose racist and misogynistic views has stifled them; stifled them in a way that has them questioning their worth, pushing them to participate in harmful ways of nourishment both physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and their all around position as a young girls of color living in America. Advocating ways to engage in radical self love and care is an important practice that Kayla teaches these promising young girls. She achieves this through eating habits and yoga, but she also continues to realize the lack of representation in an area where engaging in such self care is considered ‘for white people only’ (or westernized to an unnoticeable position), blatantly financially unattainable, not having the access, or being taught by those who do not have an ‘all inclusive’ work ethic. Kayla will discuss how we can began to help young girls learn and unlearn ways to decolonize and resist through acts of self care such as accessibility to spaces where we can learn about vegan/vegetarianism/ healthy eating (and ultimately how to create our own spaces where these resources can be attainable) and yoga.

_________________________________

Open Discussion: Reflections on the Sistah Vegan Anthology

Moderator: Dr. A. Breeze Harper (tenative)

Length: 45 minutes

In 2010, Lantern Books published Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society. It was the first book of its kind to centralize the Black female vegan experience in the USA. Regardless of racial or ethnic identity, all are invited to openly dialogue about how Sistah Vegan anthology, as well as the Sistah Vegan Blog, affected their lives. How did you end up with the book? What chapters stood out for you? Did you give the book to a friend or family? Do you teach with the book? What would you like to see in the second volume? Email sistahvegan (at) gmail (dot) com if you would like to participate. Space is limited, so please reserve your spot.

 ___________________

End of Conference Keynote Address:

Is Black Decolonization Possible in a Moral Economy of Neoliberal Whiteness? How USA Black Vegan Liberation Rhetoric Often Perpetuates Tenets of Colonial Whiteness 

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Research Fellow

Department of Human Ecology, Community and Regional Development

University of California Davis

Length: 60 minutes (45 minute presentation; 15 minute Q&A) 

Abstract:   For this concluding keynote, I analyze the food that a popular Black vegan guru promotes in order to ‘purify’, ‘decolonize,’ and ‘liberate’ Black Americans from legacies of colonialism and racism. First, through an Afrocentric framework, I show how this Afrocentric philosopher resists anti-black conceptualizations of Black women as “unfeminine” and “breeders.” Such a stance is empowering and a declaration of anti-racism against the mainstream USA narrative that Black women and girls are disposable and worthless. After this analysis, I use Black feminist theorizing to explore how the meanings this famous health activist places on particular vegan commodities, unconsciously reproduces heterosexist, ableist, and black middle-class ‘reformist’ conceptualizations of a ‘healthy’ Black nation. Lastly, I explore how USA Black vegan consumer activism may often be at the expense of oppressing other vulnerable communities (i.e. how certain Black liberation empowering super-foods come to us because of economic policies embedded in neoliberal whiteness).  If we engage in vegan consumerism without regard for how our vegan commodities get to us (i.e. sweatshops, child slavery, displacement of indigenous communities) what does this truly mean in terms of liberation, as well at the limits of decolonization within a USA capitalist moral economy?

Early Bird Registration Fee: $35.00 until August 15, 2013. After August 15, it will be $45.00

Click here to register

I ask for a registration fee to pay speakers, pay for webinar service, and also to fund the Sistah Vegan project to become a non-profit organization. Go here to learn more about that.

On PETA, Trayvon Martin, and Being a Black Critical Race Researcher in White Spaces

logo

The full title of this talk is actually “‘Never Be Silent’ and the Packaging of Neoliberal Whiteness: On Trayvon Martin, PETA, and Being a Black Critical Race Researcher in White Spaces”. I just could’t fit the entire title in the WordPress title setup box.

I gave this talk on June 4, 2013 at University of California, Davis for the GGG Speaker Series. I critique the ‘cruelty-free’ products that PETA promotes in their Vegan Shopping Guide which is accessible online. I use critical race materialism and decolonial world-systems analysis to question how any commodity sold to us vegans as ‘cruelty-free’, can truly be ethical if it relies on human exploitation. For example, I speak about racialized-sexualized exploitation of indigenous Mexican females to harvest ‘cheap’ tomatoes for the Global North. I also question how PETA can support a plethora of cocoa products that are ‘free’ from animal-products, yet the cocoa from companies such as Nestle and Hershey source their cocoa using African Child slavery.

I examine PETA’s superficial use of Trayvon Martin’s murder as a way to ‘boost’ their animal liberation campaign, and argue that PETA falsely constructs Trayvon Martin’s tragedy as ‘true racism’ they are against. The problem is that PETA never engages a dialogue about the structural racism and coloniality that make the ‘cruelty-free’ vegan commodities they advocate, possible. It is contradictory to their ‘intersectional’ animal liberation campaign that asks people to “Never Be Silent” about injustices in the world.

At the end of this talk, I explain why I am ‘nervous’ and ‘out of breath”: because it is emotionally difficult for me, many times, to show up in a predominantly white space, as a black critical race feminist in a supposed ‘post-racial’ era, and talk about ‘whiteness’ and ‘white supremacy’ to a predominantly white audience.

I have to admit that the most notable memory from this experience was the first question I received during the Q&A. This question was from a white male who said he was completely unfamiliar with the Trayvon Martin incident. He asked that I provide him information about it. I do not expect everyone to know everything that is going on in the USA, but there is something to be said about the question about Trayvon Martin being asked. As a ‘survival’ rule, I personally need to be cognizant of racial profiling of us brown and black folk, here in the USA, so I stay up to date on these tragedies.

If you enjoy the work I have done, if it has helped you, your organization, your students, your family, etc, and you want to see it go to the next level of a non-profit social justice organization, please contribute what you can by clicking on the GOFUNDME Link below. If you do not want to use this method, but prefer paypal, click on the link on the right upper corner of this blog page to donate via PAYPAL.

logo

Animal Liberation, Tokenizing ‘Intersectionality’, and Resistance Ecology: Critical Race Perspectives

This is a video of the keynote address of Dr. Breeze Harper of the Sistah Vegan Project and Lauren Ornelas of Food Empowerment Project. We did an interactive keynote discussion format for the the Portland State University’s “Resistance Ecology” conference on June 1, 2013.

Did you enjoy this video?
If you enjoy the work I have done, if it has helped you, your organization, your students, your family, etc, and you want to see it go to the next level of a non-profit social justice organization, please contribute what you can by clicking on the GOFUNDME Link below. If you do not want to use this method, but prefer paypal, click on the link on the right upper corner of this blog page to donate via PAYPAL.

logo

How do racial experiences affect vegan dietary and animal compassion activism?

sv

logo

How do racial experiences affect vegan dietary and animal compassion activism?

This is just one of the many questions I hope the Sistah Vegan Project can answer, through rigorous social-science based methods and research. However, we are far from completing this goal, but this is how you can help us…

My name is Dr. Amie Breeze Harper and I am the founder of the Sistah Vegan Project. (http://www.sistahvegan.com ) My birthday was yesterday, and my wish for this year is to transform the Sistah Vegan Project into a passion that sustains me spiritually as well as financially. I am going to take a bold, exciting, and awesome step and turn the Sistah Vegan Project into into an official non-profit organization; it would be my full-time work. What would we do? Here are a few goals:

  • Investigate and report how USA plant-based dietary philosophies and animal compassion are impacted by racial/ethnic experience.
  • Provide webinars and workshops that teach about plant-based dietary philosophies with special emphasis on cultural, racial, ethnic identity in the USA. For example, a workshop about becoming vegan that acknowledges the realities of how racial health disparities and environmental racism significantly impact food access and knowledge of low-income communities of color.
  • Publishing scientifically based online materials about plant-based nutrition and health for varying demographics, but in particular, pregnant and lactating girls and women.
  • Create yearly Sistah Vegan Healing Conference/Retreat for females of color and allies. This event would enable us to share knowledge and build our leadership skills around plant-based dietary philosophies, but rooted in anti-racism, decolonial activism, and animal compassion that reflect the collective needs of females of color.
  • Publish 2 seminal media projects that investigate alternative black masculinities within the sphere of vegan food politics:
    • Brotha Vegan! Black Male Vegans Speak On Food, Identity, Health, and Society. This would be an anthology collection similar to Sistah Vegan.
    • “Living Bling, Going Green”: Alternative Black Masculinities, Hip Hop Eco-Consciousness, and Decolonial Vegan Nutrition. This would be a social-science based book which will investigate how plant-based philosophies are being reshaped and reformulated by Black men of the hip hop generation. How do they engage pedagogies of hip-hop, educating and mobilizing people of color about health disparities, as well as environmental and institutional racism, and animal cruelty?
  • Create Android and Apple smartphone apps and media that help you make more informed decisions about food, health, social justice, and eco-sustainability.

I ask you for your help to make this non-profit possible. The primary resources I need are monetary and would be used for the following:

A Social Media Intern. I would be seeking the help of a part-time social media intern who knows how to use the latest social media apps. Duties would include promoting the book Sistah Vegan and notifying people about my new speaking events and blog posts. Ideally, I would want to pay this intern, but would need to do it through donations. This would be a tele-commuting position.

An Android and IOS 5 App Programming Intern. I would need funding for a smartphone app programming intern who can create apps and digital media for our organization.

Public Speaking and Events Coordinator Intern. The bulk of my income comes from speaking engagements in which I receive an honorarium. However, thus far, Sistah Vegan Project is a one woman show. I have two pre-school age children and inadequate child-care help and have only been able to secure several speaking gigs each year. I simply do not have enough time to take care of my babies and actively search and network the numerous possibilities out there for public speaking. What I need is an intern who can promote my work to universities, businesses, and non-profits, in a concise and creative way, so these organizations can hire me to talk about 2-3x month. Ideally, I would want to pay this intern, but would need to do it through donations. This would be a tele-commuting position.

Resources and Funding for Travel to Conferences and Workshops. Over the past few years, I have been unable to attend numerous conferences because of registration and travel fees associated with them; in addition, I would have had to leave my babies at home and pay for childcare (which is so expensive, I just opt to stay home). For example, I am hoping to be accepted to the Interrogating Critical Studies of Whiteness Conference at Trier University in Germany, which takes place this summer. However, the plane ticket alone during ‘high’ season for traveling is $1600. Conferences are spaces in which I can share the social justice research of the Sistah Vegan Project as well as learn about new ideas and methods to strengthen the work that I do. I see financial donations or plane miles to help with such expenses.
Visiting Scholar Fees. Because I was not offered any type of academic position this year, I no longer have access to resources of a university: office space, scholarly community collaboration, auditing classes, online library services, etc. I will be applying to be a ‘visiting scholar’ at several local universities in my area. What this means is that I will have the resources I need to do my Sistah Vegan Project work. However, I would have to pay the university about $500 in ‘fees’ to be a ‘visiting scholar’.
501 C 3 Non-Profit Status. For 2013, I want to turn Sistah Vegan Project into an official non-profit. Fees accompanied with this transition are about $350.
Board Members. Once we are an official non-profit, I will be inviting candidates to send me a CV and short cover letter about why they would like to be part of the board. I will be seeking about 4 or 5 board members. At this point, board members will be volunteer.
Technology Costs. From WordPress Pro, to Vimeo Plus, to Comcast Cable Internet subscription, to Cisco WebEx, the Sistah Vegan Project relies on internet technologies as our primary method of educational outreach. However, these technology services are pricey and we seek donations that can help cover these costs.
Peer Reviewed Journal. Lastly, I envision us releasing a Critical Race and Vegan Studies journal twice a year.My goal for this year is to raise $80,000. Originally I had stated $60,000, but I have updated our needs to include a smartphone app programmer. This fundraising goal would provide enough money so I can work on the Sistah Vegan Project at a salary that is equivalent to want I need to pay for day-care, my rent, utilities, student loans, food, etc, as well as offer modest compensation to part-time temporary interns. I have been doing this work for years, and as much as I enjoy it, I can no longer do it for free. If you enjoy the work I have done, if it has helped you, your organization, your students, your family, etc, and you want to see it go to the next level of a non-profit social justice organization, please contribute what you can by clicking on the GOFUNDME Link below. If you do not want to use this method, but prefer paypal, click on the link on the right upper corner of this blog page to donate via PAYPAL.

logo

Beyond a Single-Issue Vegan Social Justice Project: Going Big to Fund Critical Change

sv

logo

My name is Dr. Amie Breeze Harper and I am the founder of the Sistah Vegan Project. (http://www.sistahvegan.com ) My birthday was yesterday, and my wish for this year is to transform the Sistah Vegan Project into a passion that sustains me spiritually as well as financially. I am going to take a bold, exciting, and awesome step and turn the Sistah Vegan Project into into an official non-profit organization; it would be my full-time work. What would we do? Here are a few goals:

  • Investigate and report how USA plant-based dietary philosophies and animal compassion are impacted by racial/ethnic experience.
  • Provide webinars and workshops that teach about plant-based dietary philosophies with special emphasis on cultural, racial, ethnic identity in the USA. For example, a workshop about becoming vegan that acknowledges the realities of how racial health disparities and environmental racism significantly impact food access and knowledge of low-income communities of color.
  • Publishing scientifically based online materials about plant-based nutrition and health for varying demographics, but in particular, pregnant and lactating girls and women.
  • Create yearly Sistah Vegan Healing Conference/Retreat for females of color and allies. This event would enable us to share knowledge and build our leadership skills around plant-based dietary philosophies, but rooted in anti-racism, decolonial activism, and animal compassion that reflect the collective needs of females of color.
  • Publish 2 seminal media projects that investigate alternative black masculinities within the sphere of vegan food politics:
    • Brotha Vegan! Black Male Vegans Speak On Food, Identity, Health, and Society. This would be an anthology collection similar to Sistah Vegan.
    • “Living Bling, Going Green”: Alternative Black Masculinities, Hip Hop Eco-Consciousness, and Decolonial Vegan Nutrition. This would be a social-science based book which will investigate how plant-based philosophies are being reshaped and reformulated by Black men of the hip hop generation. How do they engage pedagogies of hip-hop, educating and mobilizing people of color about health disparities, as well as environmental and institutional racism, and animal cruelty?
  • Create Android and Apple smartphone apps and media that help you make more informed decisions about food, health, social justice, and eco-sustainability.

I ask you for your help to make this non-profit possible. The primary resources I need are monetary and would be used for the following:

A Social Media Intern. I would be seeking the help of a part-time social media intern who knows how to use the latest social media apps. Duties would include promoting the book Sistah Vegan and notifying people about my new speaking events and blog posts. Ideally, I would want to pay this intern, but would need to do it through donations. This would be a tele-commuting position.

An Android and IOS 5 App Programming Intern. I would need funding for a smartphone app programming intern who can create apps and digital media for our organization.

Public Speaking and Events Coordinator Intern. The bulk of my income comes from speaking engagements in which I receive an honorarium. However, thus far, Sistah Vegan Project is a one woman show. I have two pre-school age children and inadequate child-care help and have only been able to secure several speaking gigs each year. I simply do not have enough time to take care of my babies and actively search and network the numerous possibilities out there for public speaking. What I need is an intern who can promote my work to universities, businesses, and non-profits, in a concise and creative way, so these organizations can hire me to talk about 2-3x month. Ideally, I would want to pay this intern, but would need to do it through donations. This would be a tele-commuting position.

Resources and Funding for Travel to Conferences and Workshops. Over the past few years, I have been unable to attend numerous conferences because of registration and travel fees associated with them; in addition, I would have had to leave my babies at home and pay for childcare (which is so expensive, I just opt to stay home). For example, I am hoping to be accepted to the Interrogating Critical Studies of Whiteness Conference at Trier University in Germany, which takes place this summer. However, the plane ticket alone during ‘high’ season for traveling is $1600. Conferences are spaces in which I can share the social justice research of the Sistah Vegan Project as well as learn about new ideas and methods to strengthen the work that I do. I see financial donations or plane miles to help with such expenses.
Visiting Scholar Fees. Because I was not offered any type of academic position this year, I no longer have access to resources of a university: office space, scholarly community collaboration, auditing classes, online library services, etc. I will be applying to be a ‘visiting scholar’ at several local universities in my area. What this means is that I will have the resources I need to do my Sistah Vegan Project work. However, I would have to pay the university about $500 in ‘fees’ to be a ‘visiting scholar’.
501 C 3 Non-Profit Status. For 2013, I want to turn Sistah Vegan Project into an official non-profit. Fees accompanied with this transition are about $350.
Board Members. Once we are an official non-profit, I will be inviting candidates to send me a CV and short cover letter about why they would like to be part of the board. I will be seeking about 4 or 5 board members. At this point, board members will be volunteer.
Technology Costs. From WordPress Pro, to Vimeo Plus, to Comcast Cable Internet subscription, to Cisco WebEx, the Sistah Vegan Project relies on internet technologies as our primary method of educational outreach. However, these technology services are pricey and we seek donations that can help cover these costs.
Peer Reviewed Journal. Lastly, I envision us releasing a Critical Race and Vegan Studies journal twice a year.My goal for this year is to raise $80,000. Originally I had stated $60,000, but I have updated our needs to include a smartphone app programmer. This fundraising goal would provide enough money so I can work on the Sistah Vegan Project at a salary that is equivalent to want I need to pay for day-care, my rent, utilities, student loans, food, etc, as well as offer modest compensation to part-time temporary interns. I have been doing this work for years, and as much as I enjoy it, I can no longer do it for free. If you enjoy the work I have done, if it has helped you, your organization, your students, your family, etc, and you want to see it go to the next level of a non-profit social justice organization, please contribute what you can by clicking on the GOFUNDME Link below.

logo

[LECTURE]: On racist [micro] aggressions: turning your experiences of discursive violence into opportunities for research and activism

Photo 187

On May 11, 2013, I will be giving a short talk at University of California-Davis for the Annual Women of Color Conference, which is from 9am-5pm. 

Location: Student Community Center; Session #4 – SCC Room E

Time: 12:00-12:50pm

Title: On [cyber]bullying and racist [micro] aggressions: turning your experiences of discursive violence into opportunities for research and activism

Abstract: I will be discussing the research and activism I did as a PhD student, which investigated whiteness and neoliberalism within vegan spaces. I will draw special attention to how I had to navigate the tremendous amount of direct hate as well as covert racist micro-aggressions that I experienced largely from white identified people. Most importantly, I will speak of how I turned these situations into research and activist opportunities. I will try to answer what I think it means to do this type of work as a critical race feminist and Black woman in a ‘post-racial’ USA.

If you are unable to attend this free conference, do not worry; I will be video recording it like I always do and then uploading it to my blog.

On the Neoliberal, Afrocentric, and Decolonial Politics of “Cruelty-Free”

Tonight I gave a lecture to a class at California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. I spoke about my dissertation work for about an hour. They asked me to specifically come and talk about vegan politics and how I engage in critical studies of race.

So, I wanted to share with y’all the dissertation abstract to get a sense of what it is that I’m doing and  in what direction the manuscript is heading. After the abstract will be the table of contents for you to see as well.

Vegan consciousness and the Commodity Chain: On the Neoliberal, Afrocentric, and Decolonial Politics of “Cruelty-Free”

Abstract

In my dissertation, I analyze how neoliberal whiteness, race consciousness, decolonization, and anti-racism operate within three different vegan food guides: Sacred Woman (Afua 2000), Food Empowerment Project’s Ethical Food Choices (FEP), and PETA’s Vegan Shopping Guide. PETA, FEP, and Sacred Woman are located within the landscape of vegan food philosophies to produce “cruelty-free” and “ethical” spaces across multiple scales (i.e. consciousness, the body, the home, the community, and the globe). However, these three sites represent three different engagements with vegan commodities as the method for achieving ethical consumption and spaces. Such differences are not so much about food, as much as they are about the social, political, and economic relationships underlying the food commodity chain. Through the lenses of critical studies of race, decolonial world-systems theory, food semiology, and black feminism, this dissertation explores such underlying relationships.

Chapter two is titled, “Feeding a Black Nation: Afrocentric Vegan Food Politics and Queen Afua’s Kitchen.” Queen Afua is one of the most popular and widely read health activists amongst Black women in the USA. She offers an approach to diet and health from an Afrocentric perspective. In this chapter, I analyze the vegan commodities that Afua (2000) recommends in the “Sacred Foods” section of Sacred Woman as a way to ‘purify’, ‘decolonize,’ and ‘liberate’ Black Americans from legacies of colonialism and racism (i.e. racialized nutritional health disparities). First, through an Afrocentric framework, I show how Afua’s vegan philosophy combats anti-black conceptualizations of Black women as “unfeminine” and “breeders.” After this analysis, I use Black feminist theorizing (Collins 2000; Williams-Forson 2006) to explore how the meanings Afua places on particular ‘liberating’ vegan commodities simultaneously reproduce heterosexist, ableist, and black middle-class ‘reformist’ conceptualizations of a ‘healthy’ Black nation.

Chapter three is titled, “PETA and Marketing Neoliberal Whiteness as ‘Cruelty-Free.’” This chapter explores how neoliberal whiteness operates within PETA’s Cruelty-Free Vegan Shopping Guide. Through the analytical frameworks of dysconscious racism (King 1991) and decolonial world-systems analysis (Grosfoguel and Cervantes-Rodríguez 2002), I show how “cruelty free” vegan commodities rely on the cruelty of uneven development and structural racism-poverty-sexism (i.e. NAFTA) to make tomato and cocoa based vegan commodities such as Tofutti Pizza Pizzaz, Amy’s Spinach Pizza, and So Delicious chocolate non-dairy desserts possible. Most importantly, I show how PETA’s fundamental understanding of ‘cruelty-free’ and ‘ethical’ are shaped by PETA as being beneficiaries of neoliberalism, First World geopolitical status, and socio-economically privileged USA consumer-citizens within global food commodity chain.

Lastly chapter four is named “FEP, Semiotics of Coloniality, and the Underside of Veganized Modernity.” FEP is pro-vegan food justice organization in South Bay California. They place great emphasis on farmworker rights and alleviating environmental racism. FEP knows that most ‘eco-conscious’ USA vegan consumers have been ‘educated’ to believe that companies selling vegan labeled ‘sustainable’ products ‘guarantee’ that no animals or the environment have suffered to make their product. However, engaging with decolonial world-systems analysis, along with Roland Barthes theories of food semiotics (1972) and his treatise on the objects of post-empire whiteness (Sandoval 1997), I show that vegan food justice organization FEP exposes how neoliberalism, corporate-capitalist profits, and hyper-consumerism dictate “ethical” vegan marketing schemes and labels such as “sustainable,” “ethically sourced,” and “Fair Trade.” FEP achieves this by re-signifying the meaning of ‘sustainable’ palm oil products and cocoa through the semiotics of coloniality and grounded reality of exploited human laborers of the global South. FEP’s advocacy to boycott the incredibly popular ‘eco-conscious’ and ‘sustainable’ labeled vegan products from Earth Balance and CLIF Bar are the case studies employed.

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Introduction, Methods and Methodologies, and Chapter Summaries                 4

A Critical Food Studies Approach to Vegan Food Guides: An Introduction…………………………………………… 4

Brief Overview of Veganism in the USA………………………………………… 7

Brief Genealogy of Racial and Feminist Analysis in Veganism…………………….. 10

Burgeoning Literature in Intersections of Critical Race and Vegan Food Studies…………………………….. 18

Methods and Methodologies……………… 22

Black Feminist Theorizing…………………………… 23

Critical Studies of Race…………………………………….. 27

Critical Studies of Whiteness: White Supremacy as Structures and Systems………………. 30

Decolonial World Systems Analysis……………….. 34

Afrocentrism……………………………………. 36

Methods: Material Culture Approach and Discursive Analysis………… 37

Chapter Summaries……………………….. 38

Chapter Two: Afrocentric Vegan Food Politics and Queen Afua’s Kitchen…….. 41

Introduction: Sacred Woman, Re-Signifying Veganism, and Black Feminist Theorizing…… 41

From Capitalist Commodity to the Sacred Divine: Reclaiming the Space of the Black Female Womb  …..   45

Queen Afua’s Kitchen: Revolutionary Black Feminism or [Race-Conscious] Middle Class Food Reform?       64

Decolonization and the Limits of “Returning of Home”………………….. 79

Chapter Three: PETA: From Vegan Consciousness to Vegan Commodity…………………. 88

“Never Be Silent” and Trayvon Martin: PETA’s Illusion of Transparency………… 94

PETA Approved: Getting your vegan chocolate “fix” through child slavery…………… 107

PETA, Neoliberal whiteness, and Vegan Consumer Activism…………………… 114

Chapter Four: Food Empowerment Project and the Underside of Veganized Modernity        127

Food Justice Beyond a Single [vegan] Issue……………….. 128

Critical Pedagogies of Consumption, Earth [In]Balance, and Doing what is Right: A Tale of Two Butters                  131

FEP and the Contested Semiotics of Vegan Chocolate: Unpacking the ‘invisible knapsack’ of vegan consumer privilege        151

Conclusion…………………….. 176

Works Cited……………………………….. 177

Works Cited

Afua, Queen. Sacred Woman: A Guide to Healing the Feminine Body, Mind, and Spirit. New York: Ballantine Publishing Group, 2000.

Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. New York,: Hill and Wang, 1972.

Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Feminist Thought Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Rev. 10th anniversary ed. New York: Routledge, 2000.

Grosfoguel, Ramón, and Ana Margarita Cervantes-Rodríguez. The Modern/Colonial/Capitalist World-System in the Twentieth Century : Global Processes, Antisystemic Movements, and the Geopolitics of Knowledge, Contributions in Economics and Economic History, No. 227. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002.

King, Joyce E. “Dysconscious Racism: Ideology, Identity, and the Miseducation of Teachers.” The Journal of Negro Education 60, no. 2 (Spring, 1991) (1991): 133-46.

Sandoval, Chéla. “Theorizing White Consciousness.” In Displacing Whiteness: Essays in Social and Cultural Criticism, edited by Ruth Frankenberg, 86-106. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997.

Williams-Forson, Psyche. Building Houses out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, & Power. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2006.

Snarky Fanon: Cruelty-Free Vegan-Consumerism

What is cruelty-free? What is sustainable? In whose interest?

So, this is the comic version of chapter three of my dissertation. I wish I could substitute 40 pages of one chapter with one Snarky Fanon (my new comic series and Sistah Vegan venture) comic. Maybe the dissertation committee would be okay with that? Goddess, I wish it were that easy!

Here is a little snippet from the chapter in progress to give you a little more context. Remember, this is just a snippet, and this is from a 200 page document:

One of the most important ideas that the reader is left with is the notion that just because a company claims ‘sustainability,’ doesn’t mean they will actually create sincere actions around it. Readers who have clicked on the link to the Der Spiegel article, from the Food Empowerment Project (FEP)page, read an unsettling idea about corporate concepts of sustainability:

Despite claims of sustainability, many companies continue to deforest the area. A concession costs about $30,000 in bribes or campaign contributions, reports a former WWF employee who worked in Indonesia for a long time. ‘Sustainble palm oil, as the WWF promises with its RSPO certificates, is really nonexistent,’ he says. (Glüsin and Klawitter 2012, 2)

Yes, Earth Balance’s own webpage about sustainability claims that they source their palm oil from Malayasia and Brazil, not Indonesia. However, in reading the above paragraph excerpt from Der Spiegel, the reader is left with the potential initiative to start questioning how sincere Earth Balance’s sustainability initiatives are, and to what degree profit is the defining factor for sustainability, particularly if RSPO is working with World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Readers learn that WWF was initially established and financially support by incredibly wealthy people with big interests in preserving certain wildlife areas for their own amusement, such as ‘big game’ hunting. Largest financial capital investments that WWF received have come from Shell and BP oil companies, Monsanto and Cargill as well as backing from nuclear, tobacco, and arms industry. One of the most striking realities implied in the Der Spiegel article is never-ending roles that European colonial configurations of the globe, economy, and people play into palm oil industry’s construction of ‘sustainable.’ Overall, those who have clicked on this article link from FEP are left with the knowledge that RSPO, WWF, and the palm oil industry are simply legalized forms of colonialism and cultural imperialism that benefit the same groups of wealthy white Europeans from a lineage that started over four hundred years ago during the racial colonial project.

Rich Europeans or Americans are allowed to behave as if the colonial period had never ended. They are allowed to shoot elephants, buffalo, leopards, lions, giraffes and zebras, and they can even smear the blood of the dead animals onto their faces, in accordance with an old custom. A WWF spokesman defends this practice, saying that quotas have been established, and that the proceeds from this “regulated hunting” can contribute to conservation.(Glüsin and Klawitter 2012, 3)

 Only one of 55 article hyperlinks on FEP’s page, the FEP’s campaign against the use of palm oil functions as pedagogical tool to decode the language that Earth Balance and Smart Balance present to the USA consumer as ‘sanitary’ and ‘feel-good.’ Most importantly, FEP re-narrates the landscape of which the palm oil is coming from, explaining to USA consumers that the story of ‘wellness’ they are being marketed, is a myth. Through careful analysis, consumers learn that corporate capitalist’s sense of ‘sustainable’, ‘wellness,’ and ‘healthier world’ are not universal, but are rather defined by the logics of neoliberal whiteness; vegan products by  Smart Balance and Earth Balance are no different. It is another type of ‘white talk’ or ‘white logic’ that has set the rules for what is ‘ethical.’ Such ‘white logic’ means European and US American consumer’s material privileges are protected, while fooling them into thinking that their consumerism is ‘helping’ primitive non-white people go through “development” (Cárdenas 2012).

Works Cited

Cárdenas, Roosbelinda. “Green Multiculturalism: Articulations of Ethnic and Environmental Politics in a Colombian ‘Black Community’.” Journal of Peasant Studies 39, no. 2 (2012): 309-33.

Glüsing, Jens, and Nils Klawitter. “Green Veneer: Wwf Helps Industry More Than Environment.” Der Spiegel May 26, 2012, no. 22 (2012): http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/wwf-helps-industry-more-than-environment-a-835712-2.html.

Would You Harbor Me: Food Justice, Decolonial Vegan Politics, and Solidarity

The videos below are my keynote address for the Environmental Justice Conference on April 7 2012 at the University of Oregon-Eugene, hosted by the Coalition Against Environmental Racism. I speak about Angelia Davis’s ‘vegan’ stance on social justice, Queen Afua’s Afrocentric veganism as a form of decolonial politics, and how Sistah Vegan fills the ‘gaps’ that I see in some of the Afrocentric and Afrikan Holistic Health rhetoric.  I think it went “well” if you consider the fact that Eva Luna kept me awake all nite and then I had to wake up at 530 (after finally falling asleep at 430) to catch my morning flight. I love how babies don’t understand they should sleep when it is dark and that they should not want to play.

I also wanted to share this: I registered for school finally. Wahoo! Thank you all for your generous donations. I almost have everything that I need to pay off the bill that I just received last week. I am $900short, so if you would like help with donations I appreciate it. This will help me be enrolled for spring and summer. I accept paypal donations to the email address breezeharper (at) gmail (dot) com. Your donations help me do the work that I do and I truly appreciate it.

Part I

Part II

I did want to note that in the talk I say that Queen Afua’s Sacred Woman doesn’t mention the terms animal rights, speciesism, or animal liberation. However, she draws her healing philosophies from the principles of Ma’at, that have the stipulation of “I shall not mistreat animals.” I did not make this clear during my lecture, so I do apologize.

Video: Race and Sistah Vegan Consciousness: Southwestern University, Feb 27 2012 Keynote Talk

and

In this video, I am talking at Southwestern University’s “Brown Symposium: Back to the Foodture”, which looks at food from all different perspectives. This took place in Georgetown, TX on February 27, 2012

Also, these are the things I want to mention but didn’t get a chance to. I also want to give more context to this video.

  1. This took place in Texas, at a university that was overwhelmingly white called Southwestern University. I have never been to Texas and didn’t know what to expect, since I had been invited to literally talk about race, whiteness, and veganism: three things I thought would probably be difficult to talk about in Texas. LOL. But I am conditioned to think these things because of media constructions of Texas. Of course Texas is not a monolith and that Rick Perry doesn’t necessarily represent a definitive consciousness of all living in Texas who are white racialized subjects.
  2. Was given a vegan care package of “tastes of Texas” and discovered that Texas makes olives and olive oil. Was give the local brand “Texas Olive Ranch.” I was excited because I love olive oil tasting! Click here: Texas Olive Ranch
  3. I really appreciated the mindfulness around “where my food comes from” by the students there. Southwestern University definitely has a “green” and “social justice” conscious. I certainly felt this throughout my stay there. Students held a food exhibition event in which audiences could learn about local food justice, food and sustainability, and food/nutrition education initiatives occurring in the local area. I met a young woman who was excited about figuring out creative ways for young children to enjoy “healthy” foods that most would think is “tasteless”.
  4. Mad props go out to Laura Hobgood-Oster and Sue Smith for pulling this event off and really being their for us keynote speakers. Laura did something that I never seem to receive: being taken seriously as a professional woman who also wants to put her newborn FIRST. When I originally was asked to attend and be a keynote speaker, I think I signed my contract BEFORE I knew I was pregnant with Eva Luna (who is now 6.5 months old). Several months ago, I had the the courage to ask Laura if I could bring my daughter with me because I nurse on demand and do not want to leave her home on formula for two days. I asked if I could get this support, which would mean I would need a babysitter for about 2.5 hours for two of the talks I was required to give. Not only did she say yes, she and others made sure I had a stroller, a car seat, a high chair, a Pack n Play to make sure Eva Luna was comfortable. This is what it looks like to support a woman who wants to simultaneously do the type of work I do and be there for her newborn. It seriously takes a village y’all, and I thank Laura and others for simply understanding this. 
  5. Professor Michael Cooper is awesome. I had dinner with him with other faculty on Monday evening. He is a music professor and he was uber excited that I had begun my talk with a song. He got me thinking about how I can merge my love of music with food justice. I told him about hip hop musicians/activists/vegans Supa Nova Slom, DJ Cavem Moetavation, and Stic.Man, and how I would love to do a post-doctoral research fellow that allows me to research how these young men are fusing hip hop consciousness with vegan food consciousness.
  6. I got to meet Winona LaDuke, but have to admit that even though we were both keynote speakers, I was too shy to talk more. I am stupid for being shy, so sorry Winona if you’re wondering why I didn’t try to talk more.
  7. The original title of my talk is something I didn’t explain during my talk. The original title in the Food symposium brochure is “On Being and Not Being the Wretched of the Earth: A Critical Race Feminist Analysis of Vegan Consciousness”. The reference of Wretched of the Earth is a book title by psychoanalysist and anti-racist, anti-colonialist Frantz Fanon. The Wretched  the Earth refers to those who have been racialized as “black subjects” and gone through hell due to a white supremacist/colonial society. My title inferred that those who are collectively part of the demographic of “wretched of the earth” (brown and black demographic I am studying in veganism) and those who are not (white middle class collectivity) have thematically different relationships with food, veganism, and the concept of animal rights.
  8. Lastly, I am going to admit this now: what I am reading to the audience was completely IMPROV. I had written a 23 page talk about whiteness and vegan consciousness that I was going to read, but then literally changed my mind once I arrived on stage and felt that maybe I should talk about something else, or at least try to convey race, food, and consciousness in a very different way than what I had planned. I am a very open person, so I will admit that I had anxiety around talking only about whiteness to an audience of what seemed to be mostly white people, despite the energy of the campus being “liberal”. After my talk, an older white man came up to me and introduced himself as a speech coach. He said my message was powerful, but got lost in the 153 times I said “kind of”. I explained to him that I was nervous, had done it improv, and that I said “kind of ” because of the psychological difficulty I was having with talking about “whiteness” in that environment. I was intimidated. I will have to work on this, but I am wondering if he fully understood my reasons for being nervous. However, I do thank him for letting me know I said “kind of” and “um” one million times. I can try to be conscious of that and not say it next time, even when or if I am nervous.

Breeze Harper to speak at UC Berkeley, November 16, 2011 for Critical Animal Studies Series

 

Studying racialization in vegan cultural studies

—————————————-

I am still raising funds for my continuation of my education and to finish my PhD for a graduation of summer 2012. If you would like to help the remaining $4000 that I need, you can send a paypal donation to the email breezeharper (at) gmail (dot) com.

Books:

Martinot, Steve. The Machinery of Whiteness : Studies in the Structure of Racialization. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2010.

Sullivan, Shannon, and Nancy Tuana. Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance, Suny Series, Philosophy and Race. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2007.

Yancy, George. What White Looks Like : African-American Philosophers on the Whiteness Question. New York: Routledge, 2004.


“Angry asshole looking for racism with a chip on her shoulder”: Interpretations of Sistah Vegan Project

Breeze Harper

I ran across a vegan blog in which people were discussing my critical race vegan work; in particular, an article that I had published last year that looks at how access to certain vegan commodities in the USA are still contingent upon structural racism and poverty on the global scale. I also questioned why and how it is that certain white middle-class vegans really think veganism is a ‘single-issue’, and that as long as they aren’t ‘overt racist’, they need not think about racism, whiteness, and 1st world privilege. The article they were discussing is a small excerpt from my dissertation in progress, and the language is grounded in ‘academic writing’ and I come from the discipline of geography, so the concept of ‘space’ is crucial to my analysis.

After claiming he/she had looked at my blog, this one vegan referred to me as a ‘angry asshole looking for racism’ and ‘with a chip on her shoulder.’ So much anger and misunderstanding. I didn’t participate in the forum, just observed, but it reminded me of why I need to continue doing this work, despite my fellowship funding not being renewed for 2011-2012 academic year. This of course is not the first time I’ve seen such hate and anger towards the work I do. When I decided to engage in a discursive analysis of Skinny Bitch and show how it’s an example of normative whiteness, a white identified female vegan posted, “Get over your black self and just be human for a day” last year. And there was a complete Veganporn discussion, back in 2006, dedicated to why my Sistah Vegan anthology proposal was basically ridiculous. Some white identified folk didn’t know why it was important to consider race and gender within vegan culture in the USA; others were disgusted by my use of the word ‘sistah’ versus the ‘proper’ Standard English word of ‘sister.’ I didn’t participate in the forum, just observed and ended up writing an award-winning Master’s thesis during my graduate studies at Harvard University in 2007. A portion of this was recently published in an academic volume, chapter titled: “Veganporn.com & ‘Sistah’: Explorations of Whiteness through Textual Linguistic Cyberminstrelsy on the Internet.” Click here for more details: http://www.igi-global.com/bookstore/chapter.aspx?titleid=53775

If my work has benefited you, or you have enjoyed watching my health advice over the past few years, I’m wondering if you can return a favor. Please see the video below:

In this video I am asking for your help. My fellowship to pursue critical race and critical vegan studies at the doctoral level was not renewed for 2011-2012, through University of California, Davis. I would like to finish my PhD and need some help.

I know the goal may seem overwhelming, but I have about a combined support network/friends/followers of 1000 people (through Facebook, blog subscribers, and Twitter followers). If you could spare $10 to $25 a piece, then this goal could be met I think.

Paypal email donation: breezeharper (at) gmail (dot) com or go to the right side top of the screen and click on donation link.

UPDATE: As of June 9, 2011:

Donated: $1970

Needed for completion of goal: $8,030

Deadline: September 2011 (so I Can register for 2011-2012 academic year)

Other creative ways to help would be to buy a personalized signed copy of Sistah Vegan book directly from me if you don’t already have a copy or want to give it as a gift. Click on the image of the book on the right if you want to do that.

I also had one person ask if they can pay me to speak to their social justice group, via video Skype, for an hour. They agreed to pay me to do that, so that is another possibility.

I’m also open to doing paid talks and lectures that are no more than a 2 hour drive from where I live. Could fly out if I were not in my 3rd trimester, but driving there is still an option.

If you’re asking the question, “Why should I fund this woman? What has she done?” Please refer to my CV so you can see the type of person you are investing in and how ‘productive’ she can be :-)
http://web.mac.com/sistahvegan98/research/Curriculum_Vitae.html

Critical race vegan studies PhD: Help a sistah out!

In this video I am asking for your help. My fellowship to pursue critical race and critical vegan studies at the doctoral level was not renewed for 2011-2012, through University of California, Davis. I would like to finish my PhD and need some help.

I know the goal may seem overwhelming, but I have about a combined support network/friends/followers of 1000 people (through Facebook, blog subscribers, and Twitter followers). If you could spare $10 to $25 a piece, then this goal could be met I think.

Paypal email donation: breezeharper (at) gmail (dot) com or go to the right side top of the screen and click on donation link.

UPDATE: As of June 5, 2011:

Donated: $1157

Needed for completion of goal: $8,843

Deadline: September 2011 (so I Can register for 2011-2012 academic year)

Other creative ways to help would be to buy a personalized signed copy of Sistah Vegan book directly from me if you don’t already have a copy or want to give it as a gift. Click on the image of the book on the right if you want to do that.

I also had one person ask if they can pay me to speak to their social justice group, via video Skype, for an hour. They agreed to pay me to do that, so that is another possibility.

I’m also open to doing paid talks and lectures that are no more than a 2 hour drive from where I live. Could fly out if I were not in my 3rd trimester, but driving there is still an option.

If you’re asking the question, “Why should I fund this woman? What has she done?” Please refer to my CV so you can see the type of person you are investing in and how ‘productive’ she can be :-)
http://web.mac.com/sistahvegan98/research/Curriculum_Vitae.html

Connections: Racism, Speciesism, and Whiteness as The Norm

Hello my Sistah Vegan supporters. First, I wanted to thank those of you who have helped me towards my goal of finishing my PhD. The other week, I made a video that explained how my fellowship for my PhD work was not renewed. I was rather disappointed, as the fellowship helped me bring to you research and writing that applies critical race feminist analysis to the topic of veganism and health. It is incredibly difficult to do this type of work because critical vegan and critical race studies are often seen as ‘taboo’ and ‘too controversial’ within a country in which structural speciesism and structural racism continue to be the norm. I have reached $1000 of my $10,000 goal within about 10 days. I need $9000 more by September 2011 so I can register for school.

Second, I have a new chapter that has just come out in the volume Sister Species: Women, Animals, and Social Justice, edited by Lisa Kemmerer. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/025207811X/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=sistvegawebs-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217153&creative=399349&creativeASIN=025207811X

My essay is Chapter Four: “Connections: Racism, Speciesism, and Whiteness as The Norm”

I was able to write these types of pieces because of my fellowship. If you want to learn more about how you can help me continue to do this type of work and finish my PhD, please read/listen further below.

My birthday was on Monday, May 30. I have a wish and am hoping that you can make this possible. Please click on the video below.

In this video I am asking for your help. I would like to finish my PhD and need some help.

Paypal email donation: breezeharper (at) gmail (dot) com or go to the right side top of the screen and click on donation link.

UPDATE: As of June 2, 2011:

Donated: $900

Needed for completion of goal: $9,000

Deadline: September 2011 (so I Can register for 2011-2012 academic year)

Other creative ways to help would be to buy a personalized signed copy of Sistah Vegan book directly from me if you don’t already have a copy or want to give it as a gift. Click on the image of the book on the right if you want to do that.

I also had one person ask if they can pay me to speak to their social justice group, via video Skype, for an hour. They agreed to pay me to do that, so that is another possibility.

I’m also open to doing paid talks and lectures that are no more than a 2 hour drive from where I live. Could fly out if I were not in my 3rd trimester, but driving there is still an option.

If you’re asking the question, “Why should I fund this woman? What has she done?” Please refer to my CV so you can see the type of person you are investing in and how ‘productive’ she can be :-)
http://web.mac.com/sistahvegan98/research/Curriculum_Vitae.html

Veganporn.com & “Sistah”: Explorations of Whiteness through Textual Linguistic Cyberminstrelsy on the Internet (9781609605919): Amie Breeze Harper: Book Chapters

IGI Global: Veganporn.com & “Sistah”: Explorations of Whiteness through Textual Linguistic Cyberminstrelsy on the Internet (9781609605919): Amie Breeze Harper: Book Chapters.

Above is my latest academic publication.

-Breeze Harper

“People are in prison because they make that choice, Animals don’t”: Creating critical race literacies for a “post-racial” USA

“People are in prison because they make that choice, Animals have no choice”: Creating critical race literacies for post-racial whiteness in 2011 is a 25 minute long talk about how I attempt to create more effective dialogues with post-racial AR/Veg people, mostly white middle class, who do not understand how and why animal liberation cannot be successfully achieved if they ignore the realities of normative whiteness and structural and institutional racism in the USA.

Book List:

White Logic, White Methods: Racism and Methodology

New Critical Race and Food Studies Community

If you haven’t already, I invite you to join the new online Critical Race and Food Studies community here: http://criticalracefood.ning.com or http://criticalracefood.ning.com/?xgi=1cmegP0uoS6Y05

I created this listserv to help those of us find the support we need in a burgeoning field of CRITICAL food studies that takes seriously a critical race analysis of food. In terms of ‘race’ inquiries, this can be incorporating how racialization, racism, anti-racism, normative whiteness, racialized colonialism and neocolonialism, racialized globalism, racial identity building, etc., affect one’s relationship to and with food/farming (or any other ‘food’ related topic).

I know race does not exist in a vaccuum. Class, gender, sexaulity, language, religion, sexual orientation, economics, etc affect “race and food” as well.Please bring these issues to the table.

I am hoping that this will be an active and critical community. I would love to see people being mentored by people who have been in the field much longer. I get quite a few undergrads writing me, “I want to incorporate food and race into my studies but I don’t know where to start and my advisors know race but nothing about food… or nothing about race but know food.”

I am also hoping that this site will help us help each other with paper workshopping, mentoring, idea brainstorming, etc.  Writing a book or just published a paper related to food and or race? Let us know! Do you have an event you want to put on? Let us know! Know if funding or jobs of interest for this communty? Let us know.

My other goal for this group is to eventually put together a peer reviewed journal that focused on Critical Race and Food Studies intersections. If you are interested in making this happen, please  let me know. If you have experience with putting together a journal from scratch, I’d love to have you on board as an advisor.

Food is big in the USA, but I simply feel that mainstream critiques of food really lack that critical component that questions race, class, gender, national, able bodied, etc., privilege and power around food.

You make this community happen. You can add forum discussion, add events, add blog posting, start your own sub research groups on any topic. All I ask is that participants be mindful and compassionate in how they dialogue here. This should be a ‘safe’ space for us to talk about topics that we are often asked to be ‘silent’ about in our departments or organizations. Such topics are, but no limited to:  ‘fatphobia’ within vegan rhetoric, ableism and healthy foods rhetoric, animal rights and food, speciesism, dominance of white middle class 1st world able bodied perspective within alternative foods movement, how fair and ethical is ‘fair trade’? , the dismissal of non-academic epistemologies as ‘non-scholarly’, etc.  Though thsee are not directly connected to ‘race’, a critical race perspective can be applied to these ‘tabboo’ topics.

Best,
Breeze Harper
PhD Candidate
Critical Food and Critical Race Geographies
UC Davis
breezeharper (at) gmail (dot) com
http://www.breezeharper.com

Sistah Vegan is seeking black women vegans doing revolutionary social activism!

In this video, I speak of my call for help for my dissertation work. For my work, I would like to incorporate and analyze black female vegans who merge a black feminist/womanist/critical race/ vegan consciousness into their social justice activism. If you think you fit the criteria, please send me an email at breezeharper (at) gmail (dot) com . I am looking for critical reflections from black female vegans activists who offer open minded critiques of racism, ableism, homophobia, fatphobia, transphobia, classism, normative whiteness and speak of how opposition against these ‘isms’ are incorporated into their vegan consciousness and activism.

Breeze Harper: Brief Intro to My Consciousness Formation

As the release of Sistah Vegan approaches, I wanted to share with people a little bit about my background. I know I can’t tell you everything in 15 minutes, but I truly think that it is important to let people know the histories, processes, experiences, etc., that have heavily influenced my consciousness and how/why I have such a great interest in critical race studies, black feminisms, and critical food geographies. My often controversial interests in race/racialization/whiteness as the norm, as it relates to food, didn’t just come out of thin air. See below:

Post Navigation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,274 other followers