The Sistah Vegan Project

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3rd Annual International Food Workers Week, Nov 23-29 2014

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Traumatic Memories Passed Through DNA?

Originally posted on Trauma Response Syndrome:

Traumatic Memories Passed Through DNA?

My most recent interest has been Ancestral Trauma, including PTSD Slave Syndrome. My interest was sparked after discussing the impact the movie 12 years a slave had on my African American client. He identified the cultural acceptance of “whoopings” among his family with the beatings that the slaves received. The acceptance of beatings as a “norm” could be a way to rationalize the horrific treatment they had to endure. People have to “make sense” of their traumatic environments any way possible. This is evident among trauma survivors today with the self-deprecating coping skills children develop to survive. (see post on Internalized Blame of Self)

In addition, he shared about the times his mother would dismiss the compliments he received from people as being “such a good boy,” by telling them of his “acting out” behaviors at home. Dr Joy DeGruy, a leading scholar in PTSD…

View original 295 more words

Dear White [Vegan] People, Whiteness Matters Too: Books that Make You Go Hmmmm

Dear White [Animal Rights and Vegan] People,

Whiteness cannot be ignored.  I have been asked by many of you, what resources are out there to help you become aware of the consequences of being ‘post-racial’ and/or assuming anti-racism solidarity has nothing to do with your pro-vegan philosophies. Below are two phenomenal new books I just read, by white vegan anti-racist allies, pattrice jones and Martin Rowe. Please check these titles out to not only understand how ‘whiteness matters’, but how to create your own role as an ally of anti-racism and anti-speciesism.  Start now with the brilliant and engaging titles below.

Oxen At The Intersection: A Collision by pattrice jones.

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This is a brilliant book by pattrice jones. jones tries to understand what led to the death of one of two oxen (Lou and Bill) who had been living at, and exploited by, Green Mountain College in Vermont. Written in the style of a murder mystery novel, jones brings in intersectional understanding to how Green Mountain College, as well as Vermont itself, has been mythically constructed as having always been a agricultural region based on ‘animal husbandry.’ Unraveling the mystery of the ox’s death means to unravel the mystery of how colonialism, white supremacist ideas around non-human animals should be treated, and the myth of ‘locavorism’ have greatly mis-informed and mis-educated the white Vermont imagination around ‘ethical’ and ‘green’ living for a post-2000 age. Also, many time the ableist rhetoric goes unchecked in mainstream society. Able-bodied vegans are not exempt from promoting ableist notions of heath, food, and ethical consumption either. I like how jones talks about eugenics and ableism and purity of whiteness are fused together when Green  Mountain College representatives sincerely believe and tell her that when an animal is injured and is no longer ‘able-bodied’, they need to be euthanized when their injury permits them from being a ‘good slave’ for people; yet the injury isn’t life-threatening. Below are two excerpts from the book that were very central themes for me:

Skiers and leaf-peeping tourists notwithstanding, Vermont is dairy country. Even more than the state economy depends on cheddar, the state psychology rests upon the presumption that blond boy over brown cow is the natural order of things. Vermonters need to believe that this state of affairs is not only non-injurious but righteous. (location 91 in Kindle version of the book)

Meantime, thanks to advertising by the tourism and dairy industries, the mythic white male settler with his livestock came to seem to be the only authentic ancestor of Vermont. And so we come to the Green Mountain College “farm,” at which a white man sporting and old-time had and beard raises an old-time buggy whip over the back of Bill and Lou. Don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying that the farm manager or any of his acolytes were in any way aware of the implicit whiteness of their version of rural purity. Nor do I mean to say that Green Mountain College or its friends in state government in any way  endorse the past program of eugenics and disinformation by which dairying and other forms of animal agriculture came to seem such a natural and venerable aspect of the Vermont landscape. But I am suggesting that the existential quality of the struggle over Bill and Lou– the emotional fervor with which college and state officials defended animal agriculture as if the very soul of Vermont depended upon the right of men like them to control and kill animals– was rooted in the history by which people with other ways of relating to animals were displaced by the ancestors of those who now see themselves as the rightful owners of the land and its wildlife. (location 986 in the Kindle version of the book)

You can purchase Oxen at The Intersection here or by clicking on the photo above.

The Elephants in the Room: An Excavation by Martin Rowe.

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The Elephants in the Room: An Excavation was written by Lantern Books co-founder, Martin Rowe. Another brilliant book, The Elephants in the Room guides the reader through how colonialism, white supremacy, and conservationism come to together within the sphere of human and elephant relationships in Africa. Rowe tells the story of two women from very different backgrounds: Noble Peace Price winner indigenous African Wangari Maathai, and Dame Daphne Sheldrick, the daughter of white male African imperialist. However, author Rowe does not exempt himself from the equation: as a storyteller and a man of white, class, and male privilege from England, Rowe engages in critical reflections around how his own layers of racial privilege shaped his [mis-]perceptions around his relationship to England, as well as the people and non-human animals of ‘the Dark Continent’. The book is an intelligent and thought-provoking work that brings the problems of colonial whiteness into the conversation about animal rights, conservationism, and the consequences of ignoring racial privilege during colonial and post-colonial times. Below is a notable quote from the book

Above all, I would have to confront a number of elephants: from the actual creatures we continue to slaughter, the bones of whose ancestors were stitched together in the Hall of Extinct Mammals, to the metaphorical ones that are apparent now but were, despite their seeming unavoidability, once invisible…and even now are hard to meet head on: the poisonous prejudices of racism, the troubling legacies of empire, and the noxious assumptions of patrimony and misogyny. I also needed to look at the other elephantine quality, memory, and more particularly of the evasions and occlusions that occurs when any of us try to tell our stories or those of others, and the fantasties we project onto the ‘other.’ (location in the Kindle Version of Elephants in the Room).

 

The Elephants in the Room can be purchased here. If you get a chance to check these titles out, I’d love to know what you think about them.

Best,

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

A Reminder Why “Going Vegan” is Not ‘Easy’ for Everyone: FEP Reports on Lack of Access to Healthy Foods

Lauren Ornelas, the ED of Food Empowerment Project, just sent me this new report below. I think this is, once again, another great example of what intersectional approaches to social justice, environmental justice, and animal liberation can look like. Notice below that dairy alternatives are not supported by certain WIC programs. These are examples socio-economic class, food justice and vegan/animal liberation issues being addressed all at the same time by Food Empowerment Project. This is what solidarity looks like and an answer to the ever so popular questions I have gotten over the last ten years: “What does [type in your social justice issue that ISN’T animal rights] have to do with veganism? Going vegan is ‘easy’, right?”.

Thanks for sharing Lauren!

————

Report Finds Lack of Access to Healthy Foods, Time, and Money Are Barriers to Good Nutrition and Health for Communities of Color and Low-Income Communities in San José

November 12th, 2014, Cotati, CA—A new report released by Food Empowerment Project discusses the unequal access to healthy foods that exists in communities of color and for low-income communities in San José. The report, titled “Bringing Community Voices to the Table,” was developed through feedback from community focus groups.

“With the release of our first report, we knew that lack of access to healthy foods in communities of color and low-income communities of San José is very real. However, we wanted a better understanding of the problem and the needs of the community, so we organized focus groups to make sure the voices of those in these areas would be heard,” said lauren Ornelas, Executive Director of Food Empowerment Project.

Local community groups Somos Mayfair, Sacred Heart Community Services, and CommUniverCity recruited participants from their own members for the focus groups.

Focus group participants cited high or expensive food prices as the biggest barrier to access to foods in general—healthy foods, quality foods, and organic foods. Participants also described how the lack of supermarkets near their work and homes influenced where they shopped and what they bought.

While good nutrition was identified as a top priority to participants and their families, participants expressed the frequent need to adapt their meals because certain healthy food items are difficult to obtain due to distance, lack of time, or limited availability. One participant described her attempt to buy fresh tomatoes in her neighborhood. After finding only rotten tomatoes at convenience stores, she bought tomato sauce.

Participants also discussed the challenges of access to non-dairy alternative foods for themselves or family members who may be lactose-intolerant or vegan. Some participants claimed that dairy alternatives were difficult to find. Others were enthusiastic about the lower cost and longer shelf life of non-dairy alternatives and preferred them to dairy products for these reasons. Other participants found that agencies such as WIC were unable to support a diet that excludes dairy products.

Several participants reported that they ate healthier and grew much of their own food in their native countries. After coming to the U.S., they had to adjust to eating more processed foods because their access to healthier options is limited.

The consequences of long-term constrained access to healthy foods is one of the main reasons that these communities suffer from statistically higher rates of type 2 diabetescardiovascular disease, and other diet-related conditions when compared to the general population. “This isn’t simply a public health issue, it’s a social justice problem,adds Ornelas.

“Bringing Community Voices to the Table” lists several recommendations to help improve access to healthy foods for all San José residents. A key finding from the report is that focus group participants are very aware of what is taking place in their neighborhoods and how the importance of what they eat impacts their health.

When asked how access to foods can be increased, focus group participants’ most common response was the request for more information on farmers’ markets, nutrition, and how to prepare healthy foods. They also expressed interest in learning more about organic foods and the opportunity to grow their own foods at home or at community gardens.

“Food access is important to the health and well-being of all of our families. This report highlights key recommendations for how our community can work together to make sure that everyone, regardless of income or race, has access to healthy food,” said Zelica Rodriguez, Director of Programs at Somos Mayfair. “Access to healthy and nutritious food has been a long-time barrier and challenge for low-income communities of color. Talking about food access is an equally important social justice issue as human rights and access to quality health care.”

The report is available in English and Spanish:

English: http://www.foodispower.org/wp-content/uploads/FEP_community_voices_report.pdf

Spanish: http://www.foodispower.org/wp-content/uploads/FEP_community_voices_report_Espanol.pdf

About Food Empowerment Project

Founded in 2006, Food Empowerment Project seeks to create a more just and sustainable world by recognizing the power of one’s food choices. We encourage healthy food choices that reflect a more compassionate society by spotlighting the abuse of animals on farms, the depletion of natural resources, unfair working conditions for produce workers, and the unavailability of healthy foods in low-income areas. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit, F.E.P. is based in Sonoma County. For more information, please visit www.foodispower.org.

lauren Ornelas

Founder/Executive Director

Food Empowerment Project

P.O. Box 7322

Cotati, CA 94931

530.848.4021

www.foodispower.org

www.veganmexicanfood.com

Because your food choices can change the world

About 1.8 million children toil in West Africa’s chocolate industry, where they may be exposed to the worst forms of child labor, including hazardous work and slavery. Please sign the petition asking Clif Bar to disclose where they get their cocoa beans
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/229/288/148/

Be a better advocate for animals. Read Bleating Hearts:
http://www.markhawthorne.com/Bleating_Hearts.html

A Reminder Why “Going Vegan” is Not ‘Easy’ for Everyone: FEP Reports on Lack of Access to Healthy Foods

Lauren Ornelas, the ED of Food Empowerment Project, just sent me this new report. I think this is, once again, another great example of what intersectional approaches to social justice, environmental justice, and animal liberation can look like. Notice below that dairy alternatives are not supported by certain WIC programs. These are examples socio-economic class, food justice and vegan/animal liberation issues being addressed all at the same time by Food Empowerment Project. This is what solidarity looks like and an answer to the ever so popular questions I have gotten over the last ten years: “What does [type in your social justice issue that ISN’T animal rights] have to do with veganism? Going vegan is ‘easy’, right?”.

Thanks for sharing Lauren!

——

Report Finds Lack of Access to Healthy Foods, Time, and Money Are Barriers to Good Nutrition and Health for Communities of Color and Low-Income Communities in San José

November 12th, 2014, Cotati, CA—A new report released by Food Empowerment Project discusses the unequal access to healthy foods that exists in communities of color and for low-income communities in San José. The report, titled “Bringing Community Voices to the Table,” was developed through feedback from community focus groups.

“With the release of our first report, we knew that lack of access to healthy foods in communities of color and low-income communities of San José is very real. However, we wanted a better understanding of the problem and the needs of the community, so we organized focus groups to make sure the voices of those in these areas would be heard,” said lauren Ornelas, Executive Director of Food Empowerment Project.

Local community groups Somos Mayfair, Sacred Heart Community Services, and CommUniverCity recruited participants from their own members for the focus groups.

Focus group participants cited high or expensive food prices as the biggest barrier to access to foods in general—healthy foods, quality foods, and organic foods. Participants also described how the lack of supermarkets near their work and homes influenced where they shopped and what they bought.

While good nutrition was identified as a top priority to participants and their families, participants expressed the frequent need to adapt their meals because certain healthy food items are difficult to obtain due to distance, lack of time, or limited availability. One participant described her attempt to buy fresh tomatoes in her neighborhood. After finding only rotten tomatoes at convenience stores, she bought tomato sauce.

Participants also discussed the challenges of access to non-dairy alternative foods for themselves or family members who may be lactose-intolerant or vegan. Some participants claimed that dairy alternatives were difficult to find. Others were enthusiastic about the lower cost and longer shelf life of non-dairy alternatives and preferred them to dairy products for these reasons. Other participants found that agencies such as WIC were unable to support a diet that excludes dairy products.

Several participants reported that they ate healthier and grew much of their own food in their native countries. After coming to the U.S., they had to adjust to eating more processed foods because their access to healthier options is limited.

The consequences of long-term constrained access to healthy foods is one of the main reasons that these communities suffer from statistically higher rates of type 2 diabetescardiovascular disease, and other diet-related conditions when compared to the general population. “This isn’t simply a public health issue, it’s a social justice problem,adds Ornelas.

“Bringing Community Voices to the Table” lists several recommendations to help improve access to healthy foods for all San José residents. A key finding from the report is that focus group participants are very aware of what is taking place in their neighborhoods and how the importance of what they eat impacts their health.

When asked how access to foods can be increased, focus group participants’ most common response was the request for more information on farmers’ markets, nutrition, and how to prepare healthy foods. They also expressed interest in learning more about organic foods and the opportunity to grow their own foods at home or at community gardens.

“Food access is important to the health and well-being of all of our families. This report highlights key recommendations for how our community can work together to make sure that everyone, regardless of income or race, has access to healthy food,” said Zelica Rodriguez, Director of Programs at Somos Mayfair. “Access to healthy and nutritious food has been a long-time barrier and challenge for low-income communities of color. Talking about food access is an equally important social justice issue as human rights and access to quality health care.”

The report is available in English and Spanish:

English: http://www.foodispower.org/wp-content/uploads/FEP_community_voices_report.pdf

Spanish: http://www.foodispower.org/wp-content/uploads/FEP_community_voices_report_Espanol.pdf

About Food Empowerment Project

Founded in 2006, Food Empowerment Project seeks to create a more just and sustainable world by recognizing the power of one’s food choices. We encourage healthy food choices that reflect a more compassionate society by spotlighting the abuse of animals on farms, the depletion of natural resources, unfair working conditions for produce workers, and the unavailability of healthy foods in low-income areas. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit, F.E.P. is based in Sonoma County. For more information, please visit www.foodispower.org.

lauren Ornelas

Founder/Executive Director

Food Empowerment Project

P.O. Box 7322

Cotati, CA 94931

530.848.4021

www.foodispower.org

www.veganmexicanfood.com

Because your food choices can change the world

About 1.8 million children toil in West Africa’s chocolate industry, where they may be exposed to the worst forms of child labor, including hazardous work and slavery. Please sign the petition asking Clif Bar to disclose where they get their cocoa beans
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/229/288/148/

Be a better advocate for animals. Read Bleating Hearts:
http://www.markhawthorne.com/Bleating_Hearts.html

Finally, a FAIR TRADE Vegan Butter that is ORGANIC and More SUSTAINABLY SOURCED!

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A lot of vegans I know use Earth Balance for their vegan butter. I stopped using Earth Balance awhile ago, after I wrote my dissertation and discovered that, at least for me, they are not as ‘ethical’ as they market themselves to be. The sourcing of their coconut and palm oil was not transparent. I did not know if the human laborers harvesting their ingredients were being treated fairly (actually, I don’t like the word ‘fairly’ so much. I like the words ‘mindfully’, ‘lovingly’ ,and ‘compassionately’ when describing the conditions in which human beings should be entitled to work/exist within.)

At the market, I saw that the company Nutiva is offering a vegan butter spread that is  organic, more sustainably sourced, and “Fair For Life” certified. I have been enjoying Nutiva’s products for years, as they offer healthy, organic, vegan and sustainably sourced items for quite a while. Their hemp products have been consumed by my family, for years. I have blogged about how I grew all my babies on Nutiva brands of hempseed oil, hemp seeds, and chia seeds. I found this new buttery product by Nutiva to be quite good and not nearly as salty as Earth Balance  ( I personally do not like salty butter spreads). I’m also grateful to see that the packaging is non-BPA (however, people are so focused on BPA-free I am wondering about other potentially harmful chemicals in packaging that not only effect the consumer, but also those who must make it in factories and the environment it usually ends up polluting). I’m just hoping that eventually these containers can be compostable. One of my biggest gripes about vegan products that tout themselves to be ‘so ethical’, is that the packaging is obnoxiously wasteful. I know a lot of resources are used to even make compostable packaging, however, I’d argue that this is far less cruel to the environment than the current packaging options used by many companies making food products, vegan or not.

(But, this post isn’t really directly about Nutiva’s buttery spreads, is it Breeze?)

It is safe to say that many of us privileged vegan consumers need to understand that MOSTLY everything we eat( unless otherwise noted via fair labor/trade practices) is mostly likely sourced via CRUEL methods. Yes, a non-human animal may not have been directly harmed in many our favorite snacks, drinks, meals, etc., but what about the human animals? There has been a lot of focus on fair trade and organic cocoa and coffee for years, but one must understand that this is just the tip of the iceberg. We live in a globalized capitalist world economy. By default, capitalism = exploitation of non-human animals, human animals, and what human beings (at least here in the global North) call natural resources (i.e. water, land, minerals, etc). I get a lot of people arguing with me about my definition of capitalism = exploitation as being just plain pessimistic. For the record, I draw my understanding and definitions from Henri Lefebvre, Neil Smith and Angela Davis to name a few; critical thinkers who have written and researched extensively about how capitalism is the anti-thesis of cruelty-free. Capitalism CANNOT exist without exploitation and abuse. Hence, if you are buying vegan certified products, because they are within the globalized system of capitalist economies/commodity chains, there is a very small chance that they are actually ‘cruelty-free’ beyond ‘no non-human animal was directly killed for this product to be in existence.’ I talk about this in my blog post from a few months ago, in which I critique a pro-vegan meme that suggests strawberry harvesting and ‘cruelty-free’ in comparison to watching videos of slaughterhouse animals.

Anyway, I just wanted to leave you with a few of the things that were going through my head while testing this new Nutiva product out. I really have no answers about how to create cruelty-free products that really encompass my definition of ‘fair’.  I perhaps am pessimistic, but it would seem that is is capitalism that is the problem. Even with ‘green capitalism’, it is unclear to me that that is ‘fair’, as there are many communities that are forced to sell their resources even under ‘fair’ and ‘green’ practices when they’d rather just not be part of any economy based on capitalist logic; however, because it may mean poverty or not, many of these communities must become part of ‘green capitalism’ in order to survive versus just doing their own thing outside of capitalist logic.

I would love to hear what people think about this. I know comments may already be heavily biased towards the consumer-privileged end, as it’s rare that I have any posting as the person who harvests vegan resources (because I’d imagine that would be a completely differently embodied knowledge about the commodity chain that is not romanticized through the eyes of neoliberal capitalism).

Anyway, I just wanted to give a shout out to Nutiva brands anyway. They may not be perfect, but I think so far, they are a better example of ethically sourced and produce vegan products. But, unless you are the person working on that plantation in which these ingredients are sourced, you will never know how cruelty-free and ‘fair’ it is. And I think that is what a lot of people on the ‘privileged’ end of vegan consumerism need to ALWAYS REMEMBER. Just because a company’s label claims it is ‘fair’ or ‘cruelty-free’, doesn’t mean you should accept it without thinking more deeply about it. I know I probably won’t be buying this product again, but wanted to check it out and let people know about it. I use local sourced olive oil for our family’s ‘buttery’ needs. What is the likelihood that people working on these plantations have access to using social media to constantly tweet and Facebook about the conditions in which they work and live? Thus far, all the ‘information’ I receive about new ‘ethical’ products come from the consumer/company end and not the end of the actual people harvesting and living there. I do not want to imply that Nutiva is dishonest– I just wanted to put it out there that you just don’t know if you aren’t there where the resources come from.

(IF YOU SEE ANY TYPOS IN THIS POST, FEEL FREE TO POINT THEM OUT. MY COMPUTER SCREEN IS BROKEN. I NEED TO SEE THROUGH PINK AND PURPLES LINES IN ORDER TO TYPE. ) 

 

[Video] On Ferguson, Thug Kitchen &Trayvon Martin: Intersections of [Post] Race-Consciousness, Food Justice and Hip-Hop Veganism.

On October 22, 2104, I gave a lecture at Middlebury College. It was called On Ferguson, Thug Kitchen & Trayvon Martin: Intersections of [Post] Race-Consciousness, Food Justice and Hip-Hop Veganism.” 

Unfortunately, the recording quality of this video isn’t very good. The audio is very low, so I do apologize to the hearing impaired. I usually bring my own camera to record but I lost my SD Card, so the university fortunately recorded it. I do suggest that those who can hear well enough, to wear earphone on high while listening to this. I also had problems with trying to play various YouTube videos. The audio simply wouldn’t work, so I do apologize for that.

I really felt at home at Middlebury College for the brief time that I was there. I stayed at the Middlebury Inn. A 1/2 block away was the Middlebury Coop that had plenty of yummy vegan goods to select from. As usual, I brought my baby with me, across country, so I could nurse her on demand. At 11 months old, Kira has been to about 6 of my lectures now. I am incredibly thankful for all the students who helped to make my and Kira’s stay very nice.

Thank you Charles Griggs for initially inviting me to speak and organizing a dinner at the eco sustainable student coop. Charles and other students cooked an amazing vegan gourmet dinner. Vegan plant-meat based stroganoff with three different types of mushrooms, a golden beet and red beet fennel salad, an artichoke spinach dip, and for dessert, a chocolate smoothie made using sunflower seed butter. It was a delight! Thank you Andrew Scott Pester for helping with all the logistics, like hotel, contract signing, and hotel. Thanks Nina for watching Kira while I gave my talk. Thanks Matt for picking me up from the airport, so late at night.

Anyway, I really enjoyed giving this talk. It was challenging to take an intersectional approach to social justice issues surrounding race and food, but I wanted to do this so badly. I decided to use Thug Kitchen as a springboard to discuss issues ranging from white privilege, to Tupac Shakur’s “geographies of thug life”, to how race-conscious Black male vegans are using hip hop methodologies to promote racial justice, food justice, and combat the prison industrial complex.

I also wanted to share that one of my Sistah Vegan followers wrote me a comment that she didn’t understand what that big deal was about Thug Kitchen. I wanted to share my response to her comment which can be read fully here on this post. I thought it would be helpful to share my perspective and am thankful that she offered her take on ‘thug’ to engage me in thought-provoking conversation.

From Lorrie:

I don’t get this protest.

Going by the above post (especially the second paragraph), the disagreement is based ONLY on personal opinion. Some people DO like their cookbooks. Why protest just because you (you, I mean in general anyone) don’t like their cookbooks. To each their own. Were there complaints BEFORE they identified themselves?

Also, who cares what color they are? I know very little about them but I had assumed they were white all the time, because most vegans in America are white. Did they ever lie and say they were black? Had they been black then it would be OK for them to say “Thug” and use street slang, but being white it’s not alright?

Thug, to me, by they way they had used it, meant someone with a positive confident attitude.

Sorry, I just don’t understand all the negative hoopla about the authors and their book.

Breeze’s Response:

Lorrie

Thanks for posting your comments.

You wrote: “Thug, to me, by they way they had used it, meant someone with a positive confident attitude.”

There are thousands — and I mean thousands- of Black and Brown people who experience the word ‘thug’ differently, including myself– and [I figured this out] after I spent a good 6 months on my dissertation chapter, researching about Trayvon Martin and then making intersectional connections to the violence enacted upon him because he was demonized as a ‘thug’ who ‘deserved’ preemptive strike. This research came out of an entire canon of critical race studies that shows how ‘thug’ is part of a long history of words with a socio-historical context that are strategically used as tools of white supremacist based violence against Brown and Black people. As a social scientist focused on critical issues of race, feminism, and food, I’m interested in the fact that there are a significant number of Black and Brown people who have the exact same feelings that Liz does about Thug Kitchen…and that there are plenty of academic scholars who have written about the problem of using ‘thug’ as a code word for a ‘scary black man’ (See George Yancy’s critical race philosophical work like Look, A White!.)

Yes, there are a lot of people who like the Thug Kitchen blog and cookbooks— I’m not disputing that… But, there are also a lot of people who like to do and say things that will illicit horror and pain from us that are clearly speciesist. When we vegans protest it, we too are asked things like, “Who cares what people eat?” or “Who cares that that chef wrote a cookbook about how to eat veal and lamb?” I know these are not the same as your critique of Thug Kitchen controversy, but I know that you have mentioned in the past that you won’t read certain books that have speciesist language in them , even though these books don’t seem to traumatize nearly everyone else. I totally understood where you were coming from and would have understood why you would protest a book (not that you did that, but if you wanted to) because of that language used, in order to make people aware of the suffering the underlies such privileged use of speciesist language/behaviors.

It’s not that they are making a big deal about nothing, in my opinion. The book, the author’s white racialized consciousness around their use of the word thug (and not knowing why some people find it upsetting), simply reveal a more interesting microcosm about how race is lived in the USA for MOST white people; it says a lot that over 75% of white people in the USA only have white friends in their close friends network/developed intimate relationships with. I don’t think the authors are ‘bad’ people at all; as a matter of fact, I don’t even think that that is the point of this controversy. But, after nearly a month of this controversy and the the authors still haven’t even said something like the following, is a little confusing for a lot of us who support Liz’s stance—> [What Breeze would like them to say]—> “You know, not everyone experiences the word thug the same way. However, over the past few weeks, I realized that my own whiteness has pretty much protected me from the racialized history of ‘thug’— I would never be Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, or Jordan Davis because my whiteness protects me. It has protected me so much that for the past month, I simply could not understand how ‘thug’ could also be traumatizing for many– especially for those in Ferguson who are currently there to symbolize that Black and Brown people are sick of being born into this White settler nation in which they are immediately racialized as a ‘thug’. I had no idea that I could quite possibly be promoting blackface at a deeply unconscious level– I didn’t even know what it was or that it could manifest in different ways PAST literally painting a white person’s face with black paint…Even though we put a lot of effort into making this blog and cookbook fun for everyone, these past few weeks have allowed me to realize that there continues to be a lot of physical and emotional pain experienced by Brown and Black people in the USA, due to structural and systemic racism that I never really understood was still a problem because, like I said before, my whiteness protected me from it. Maybe I can start looking at how I can merge vegan activism with being a white ally anti-racist activist for my next book project. ”

My fantasy response above is called “cultural humility”, and is discussed in the book Pondering Privilege.

Just my two cents.

Thanks for discussing ;-)

Ebola is Not a Funny Halloween Trick

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This is a quick post. The other evening, my kids went out with their costumes for Halloween in the San Francisco Bay Area, CA. I took the above photo of a prop in someone’s yard because it really shows how unmindful some people can be. I took this photo in a neighborhood that is pretty wealthy and where homes easily sell for around $1 million or more.

I am amazed that someone would put this up as a Halloween prop in their yard. This just reminds me that “even in liberal SF Bay Area”, people can do tasteless things. No, I’m not being sensitive, especially since I’m sure there are people in the SF Bay area who have relatives who have been greatly affected by the Ebola outbreak and don’t need to see that prop hanging out in this person’s yard. Just imagine if this prop said “AIDS, Beware of My Blood”. EXACTLY, IT WOULDN’T HAPPEN IN THIS AREA. This is probably because most SF Bay area folk are ‘too civilized’ to not poke fun at those who are living with AIDS and/or have died from AIDS related complications.

Anyway, I am dropping a note off at this person’s house this week to let them know that even though it is their private estate and they have the ‘right’ to do whatever they want, that this prop was cruel and mean in my opinion. I will be polite about it, but I think they should know that not everyone thinks it’s a funny.

Guest Post by Liz Ross: Why I Protested Thug Kitchen

Dr. A. Breeze Harper:

Since I gave a talk last week at Middlebury College on thug kitchen controversy, I thought this guest post by Liz Ross, on Hana Low’s page, would be helpful to read through.

Originally posted on Hana Low | opening cages for collective liberation:

In light of the recent controversy over the duo who created the blog, Thug Kitchen (TK), and hid their identities until the launch of their vegan cookbook under the same name, members of Cali Vegans of Color collaborated with a diverse group of ethical vegans and launched a protest campaign at TK book tour events that were scheduled to take place in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. As a result, all three October events were cancelled.

Michelle Davis’ and Matt Holloway’s cookbook is a banal attempt at crafting “rapper” words by two white individuals who obviously don’t mingle with a diverse and progressive group – a book viewed as creative and funny by those who only get their exposure of people of color through Hollywood stereotypes and the sensational evening news. Their vegan recipes aren’t particularly creative and blend in with the other dime-a-dozen cookbooks that clutter bookstores…

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A. Breeze Harper in Marie Claire Magazine October 2014 Issue

Here I am, talking about my kale smoothie. Vegans representing!

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BREAKING NEWS: Man Dies; Veganism Blamed

Originally posted on Meaty Vegan:

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[BUFFALO CITY, OK] Harper County Police and the Harper County Medical Examiner’s Office are investigating the death of a Buffalo City man this morning.

A 92-year-old Buffalo City resident was found dead in his modest prairie home earlier this week. Local authorities believe his vegan lifestyle may have contributed to his unexpected death. David Nash, retired postal worker for Buffalo City, was discovered deceased in his reclining chair by a neighbor who felt “something was just not right.”

“I considered David a friend, in spite of the fact he only ever brought hummus and veggie burgers to our community cookouts,” said Daryl Leno, a neighbor of Nash’s. “Considering the bizarre diet he was on, I’m pretty sure that’s what killed him. I mean, come on, what is hummus anyway?”

The County medical examiner confirmed upon closer inspection of Nash’s home, they could only find whole foods, beans, rice, fruits, vegetables, and some form of…

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A Vegan Driving a Hummer vs. Omnivore driving a Prius: The Writing’s on the Wall

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Check out the photo above. I took this photo on March 15, 2014, just before I gave a talk at UC Berkeley for their Activists at the Table conference. This was on the stall wall of a bathroom. Perfect timing. I won’t analyze too much. Instead , I will leave it up to you to read and comment.

Angela Davis on a revolutionary perspective

Dr. A. Breeze Harper:

Angela Davis on veganism, nonhuman animal cruelty, and commodities in a capitalist culture

Originally posted on KVARM:

I wonder why Hochschartner didn’t link the transcript from the 27th Empowering Women of Color Conference in his article which is basically a series of quotes from Angela Davis. Oddly he linked the wrong blog when quoting Dr.Davis again from a blogpost with video A. Breeze Harper uploaded. Hochschartner is a rubbish writer and uses ‘blind’ as a slur, but what to do, the existing talk and Q&A are getting more attention just because he writes for money, or something. Is there a bias that perhaps gets put on hold from reading a non-vegan publication or one that has a version that costs money? Here are the quotes (not a rehash of his article) from “On Revolution: A Conversation Between Grace Lee Boggs and Angela Davis”, part of the 27th Empowering Women of Color Conference, ‘A Holistic Approach: Justice, Access and Healing’.

“I usually don’t mention that I’m…

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How I Got to the Podium: Ivy League Vegan Conference, Breastfeeding in Public, and Being Professional

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.

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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?

Unpacking

Oppositional Bodies of Knowledge: Race, Gender, and Embodiment in Veganism

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.

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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.

Sometimes I feel I’m being punished for daring to have children

Sun (4), Eva Luna (2), and Kira Satya (12 weeks).

Sun (4), Eva Luna (2), and Kira Satya (12 weeks), in the stroller yesterday while we took a snack break, walking to the playground.

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?

‘Speciesism: The Movie’ | Review + Further Recommendations

Dr. A. Breeze Harper:

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.
Mark Twain

Speciesism: The Movie

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. 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.

Speciesism: The Movie

Devries, who was not…

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Dear Dr. Angela Davis….

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.

Kira Satya Harper-Zahn (2 months old), Breeze Harper, and Dr. Angela Davis. Jan 25, 2014. Grand Lake Farmer's Market, Oakland, CA.

Kira Satya Harper-Zahn (2 months old), Breeze Harper, and Dr. Angela Davis. Jan 25, 2014. Grand Lake Farmer’s Market, Oakland, CA.

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.

Best,

Dr. Amie “Breeze” Harper

Going beyond “What’s your excuse [for not being skinny like me]?”

Even though this is posted Jan 26, 2014, I wrote this about a month ago.

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I have 3 kids  under the age of 5, what”s your excuse?

I have 3 kids, so whats your excuse…?

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.

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December 20, 2013. 7 weeks postpartum.

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December 20, 2013. 7 weeks postpartum.

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!

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Fall 2013, pregnant with #3.

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Fall 2013, pregnant with baby 3.

In Mexico, Jan. 2012 with Eva Luna. 5.5 months post partum.

In Mexico, Jan. 2012 with Eva Luna, baby #2. 5.5 months post partum.

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.

Artist Sarah Juanita Dorsey on Black Lesbian Experience, Class, and Race in Cover Art Inspiration for Scars

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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.

More about Scars

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 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

Chia seeds: How do I maximize their nutritional power?

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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?

Product Review: Earth Balance Vegan Aged White Cheddar Puffs

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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.

Pros:

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.

Cons:

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?

10 Things You May Not Know About Sistah Vegan

Ten Things You May Not Know About Me (Not that you asked…)

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1) Beyonce has a new album. Everyone is using social media to say how brilliant it is…also asking if she is or isn’t a ‘feminist’. [Updated Dec 17, 2013 16:55 PM PDT]. I kind of don’t care because I expect to be disappointed. For some, Beyonce  represents neoliberalism/corporate capitalism feminism that doesn’t challenge structural inequality the way black feminists such as bell hooks , Audre Lorde, and Patricia Hill Collins have defined a canon of [black] feminism……But girl know she can sing and dance and I totally LOVE the video “Single Ladies” because I think the dancing and choreography are brilliant. :-)

2) I’ve never watched a MLB baseball, NBA basketball, or NFL football game (on tv or in a stadium) in my life.  Nor do I have any desire to do so.

3) Am impartial about ‘the holidays’ and have never participated in Black Friday. I honestly don’t get the point of Black Friday. I am not comfortable receiving gifts, let alone gifts for any holidays that, for the most part, have been commercialized and exist to make CEOs richer in the USA…But I bust out the Nat King Cole xmas album every holiday season listen to it a gazillion times.

4) Have never watched Scandal or Breaking Bad. I guess it would help if I had a tv and cable I guess.

5) I wrote my first porn themed story when I was 11, yet didn’t lose my virginity until I was 25.

6) I have never had a cup of coffee nor do I wish to drink a cup of coffee. The smell of coffee has made me feel sick, since I was a child.

7) I can’t dance (despite being Black). LOL.

8) I am an agnostic and was raised in an agnostic household.

9) I use a bidet and poop with the door open (hey, how else can I monitor my newborn, 2 year old, and 4 year old?).

10) Am an introvert and am incredibly uncomfortable in social situations, but have ‘learned’ to be a better social animal.

Eating Your Own Placenta vs. Eating Another Animal’s Kidneys: How Culture Teaches Us What is Normal and What is “Gross”

Here is a quick video about some reflections during my post partum period. I’m 4.5 weeks post partum. I had an interesting experience with one of my relatives over what should be done with my placenta.

On Public Speaking about Black Lesbian Social Fiction, Alternative Black Masculinities and Vegan Hip Hop Culture

Book Project I

Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White NewEngland (Sense Publishers, 2014)

Scars is a novel about whiteness, racism, and breaking past the boundaries of normative 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 would 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.

Book Project II

“Living Bling, Going Green”: Redefining Black ‘Manhood’ Through Hip Hop and Veganism 

(I already have a an academic press taking this book. Once I receive the contract this or next week, sign it, and then mail it back, I will officially let you know their name.)

Introduction (draft)

            Meat eating in American society has been equated with being a true man for centuries; vegetarianism and veganism have been equated with femininity (Adams 1990; Potts 2010). However over the past five years, there has been a strong emergence of males promoting veganism and vegetarianism in the USA as a ‘better’ way of being masculine or a man. Though not part of the mainstream media depictions of veganism and vegetarianism, the Black vegan Hip Hop movement reflects such alternative masculinities. How does the Black vegan Hip Hop movement offer different ways of consuming, as well as being a ‘real’ man, from race-conscious, decolonial, and health activist points of view? How do prominent Black male Hip Hop vegans use Hip Hop to teach how food and health have been negatively shaped by corporate capitalism and a meat-centered industrialized food system?; both which are seen as detrimental to, and non-sustainable for, people of color?

This book will be about how veganism is being reshaped and reformulated through ‘race-conscious’ Black American men of the Hip Hop generation.  What makes this book project unique is that mainstream vegetarian/vegan philosophies are usually represented through a white and middle class ‘post-racial’ and animal-rights oriented framework (Harper 2013); missing from this mainstream framework is the significance of how racism, whiteness, and colonialism deeply impact everyone’s relationship to, and construction of, veganism. Alternatively, Black vegan Hip Hop activists collectively engage in consumption from a ‘race-conscious’ and human-health perspective first, educating and mobilizing people of color about health disparities caused by corporate capitalism and legacies of colonialism (i.e. environmental and institutional racisms).

Methods I will be employing are narrative research (i.e. personally narrated histories of the subjects) and discursive analysis of popular Hip Hop vegan media (i.e. books, music videos, and songs). Methodologies used will most likely be drawn from the canons of critical race and decolonial studies. These canons suggest that racism and colonialism have, and continue to organize, power, resources, as well as shape the collective consciousness of the global North, including how one consumes.

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