The Sistah Vegan Project

Pineapple Mint Sorbetto: What is Your Favorite Vegan Ice Cream or Sorbet Place in East Bay/SF Bay California?

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This morning we went to Almare Gelato in downtown Berkeley, CA on Shattuck Ave. They have freshly made gelato and sorbetto every day using natural ingredients. Today Luna (above in the photo, 2.5 years old), Kira (5 months), and Sun (5 years) had Pineapple Mint sorbetto and it was fantastic. They also had kiwi as well as strawberry sorbetto, but our favorite was the pineapple mint combination. There were even fresh mint leaves in the sorbetto, not the fake crap.

Almare Gelato’s sorbetto flavors are very rich and creamy. I have never experienced such creamy soft sorbetto in the USA. We had this type of sorbetto when we were in Italy (of course), so I’m pleasantly surprised that we have

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                                (Sun and Luna)

access to similar experiences here in the East Bay area of California.

Do you live in the SF Bay/East Bay area? If so, what are your favorite vegan frozen dessert places?

Happy Kale Kids: How My Preschoolers Enjoy Their Greens

Luna and Sun devour kale in every form. Today they devoured a bag of Alive and Radiant Foods Quite Cheezy kale flavored snacks. Raw, organic, and yummy snacks at the playground. They were on sale for $3.50 as opposed to $6. I usually like making my own kale chips because of such high cost, but today I treated them. I recommend trying this on finicky little eaters.

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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.

[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!

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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.

Sistah Vegan Pregnancy Nutritional Method: Gifting a healthier and more holistic pregnancy and postpartum experience

Sistah Vegan would like to offer a wonderful gift idea for the 2013 holiday season: Please consider giving the gift of a healthier and more holistic pregnancy and postpartum period through the Sistah Vegan Pregnancy Nutritional Method.

If you are like most folk who have listened to mainstream media in the USA, you have heard of the sensationalized stories once or twice a year, of a mother who ‘killed’ her child ‘because’ she was vegan. If you have had interest in getting pregnant and/or having a vegan pregnancy, you may have been ‘attacked’ by supposedly loving family members and ‘concerned’ midwives or practitioners that such a diet is ‘dangerous’ and ‘irresponsible.’

These are all lies, as myself and a plethora of women and their children are living proof that a properly planned vegan pregnancy and lactation period will help you and your baby thrive. Don’t listen to the hype. Below are photos of my 2.5 year old daughter, Eva Luna. She was ‘built’ by a whole foods vegan diet. In addition, you are looking at a glowing and healthy baby in which over 85% of her ‘food’ source came from my vegan-produced breast milk, the first 13 months of her life. She was 9.5lb at birth and full term. 6 hour labor.

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You may be scared. You may be confused. Or maybe you do have the confidence to practice a vegan pregnancy, but do not know where to begin. The Sistah Vegan project is offering an on demand pre-recored webinar with powerpoint slides with the following:

* Guaranteed plant based remedy/prevention for prenatal anemia
* Learn this simple herbal remedy to prevent hemorrhoids
* Learn what simple seed can increase hydration, energy, and calcium
* Learn the top four plant based proteins essential for pregnancy
* Constipation is NOT ‘normal’, despite the myth. Learn how to poop 2-3x a day while pregnant.

You will be able to play the recordings and download notes and slides whenever you want to. In this webinar you will learn what you need to get started on your path to an amazing and fulfilling plant-based dietary pregnancy and post-partum lactation period. If you are at the end of your pregnancy but want to learn how a whole foods plant-based Sistah Vegan diet can help you produce optimal milk supply for an infant, then this webinar is also for you. In addition, post-partum hair loss is significant amongst women; many tell me that years after giving birth, they struggle with hair loss and thinning. I will teach you how a few herbs and foods can regrow and strengthen your hair.

Date: You can Download it anytime.

Cost: $25.99

How to pay and download: Click REGISTER to register, pay, and download.

Duration: 2 hours.

Technology requirements: a computer with a fast internet connection and a free Anymeeting.com (my webinars are hosted through Any meeting.com)

About the Instructor: Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a research fellow in the Dept of Human Ecology at UC Davis. She is also the director and founder of the Sistah Vegan Project, a organization dedicated to critical race feminist perspectives on veganism, as seen through the collective experiences of Black North American females. Dr. Harper started the project in 2005. She holds degrees from Dartmouth College, Harvard University, and University of California-Davis. Her innovative ability to integrate the use of educational technologies to analyze Black female vegans food and health philosophies earned her the Dean’s Award from Harvard University in 2007 for her Master Thesis work: this is an honor only bestowed upon one candidate per program.

Dr. Harper’s knowledge about diversity within the field of food and wellness has marked her as a highly sought after paid consultant and speaker for many American universities. She has given many keynote addresses including at Boston University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Oregon, and Southwestern University. She teaches students, faculty, and staff how and why people have unique relationships to food and wellness and how these relationships are impacted by race, socio-economic class, gender, sexuality, and ability. She has published extensively, including Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010). She graduated summa cum-laude from University of California-Davis with a PhD in critical geographies of race and food.

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. When Sistah Vegan becomes a well supported non-profit, I hope to offer a diversity of educational material (webinars, workshops, books, articles) that guide people through ways to raise pre-school aged children on a fun and healthy plant-based diet.  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.

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Disclaimer: I am not a certified practitioner or medical doctor. Please consult with your practitioner before trying any of the foods or herbs that I recommend

Breeze Harper is a Bitch…

Breeze Harper is a Bitch Magazine interviewee, that is! Hey the title made you click :-)

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If you like Bitch Magazine, I just wanted to let you know that I am in the latest Food issue for this month. I have a VERY long interview in the magazine. I talk about Sistah Vegan Project, decolonial food politics, critical whiteness issues, animal compassion and more.

It was a lovely interview with Vera Chang. Her set of questions were one of the best, well-thought out, and critical inquiries into the Sistah Vegan Project that I have ever experienced during an interview. You can go here to check out the latest issue. People can download the digital copy or the paper copy. Also, Bitch Magazine is sold in a lot of stores throughout the USA.

One good girl is worth a thousand bitches(?): Kanye West Confuses the Sh*t Out of Me

For the first time in my life, I have been exposed to a Kanye West music video. The other day, my husband asked me if I had seen the new West video, Bound 2.  I told him that I had never consciously listened to West, but from the few quotes I have heard repeated from him, via popular media, I have no interest in supporting his ‘art.’

My husband told me that I just had to watch Bound 2 with him. So, we watched it together and we laughed through the entire thing.

Seriously, can someone please explain to me how it’s possible to sing something like “One good girl is worth a thousand bitches” and then also speak publicly about how Jimmy Kimmel is being racist towards you as a Black man? Did I miss something? And I’m asking these questions not to dismiss West’s experiences with racism, but more or so not sure how one can constantly be sensitive to anti-Black male racism yet be completely insensitive to their own misogyny and sexism; their objectification of women. In a tweet to respond to Jimmy Kimmel’s parody of West, West wrote something to the effect of how much more “pussy” he (West) gets than Kimmel. Excuse me? What, are we in junior high again with the immature uncritical insults? Yes, it’s obvious that West’s feelings were hurt, but to respond in that way (i.e. talking about how he gets more ‘pussy’) is not productive.

In the lyrics to Bound, West sings while holding his fiancee, “One good girl is worth a thousand bitches.”  As a PhD with focus in critical race feminism, I am unapologetically biased against the meaning and power behind these types of lyrics.

And I am just really confused as well as disappointed. Why? I have met plenty of Black cisgender straight identified men who are sensitive to racism, understand how it works structurally… yet they are insensitive/unaware of how they perpetuate sexism and misogyny. (Or, perhaps they know but just don’t care because they hate not having racial privilege but enjoy the  ‘natural’ position of male privilege? )

And I want to make connections across the board. I have met a lot of straight Black men in the holistic health (vegan/raw) movement who are really aware and critical of structural racism and legacies of white supremacy that affect Black physical and emotional health… but then a significant number of them believe in the ‘naturalness’ of heterosexism, sexism, patriarchy, and being homophobic and transphobic… And yes, there are plenty of white males in the animal rights and vegan movement who totally get how messed up speciesism is, but they engage in racist ways of doing animal rights and social justice, only to become upset and defensive when one points out to them that they are being simultaneously anti-speciesist but racist… and yes, many have also engaged in sexist and sexual harassment behavior. Am I missing something here?

Thank goodness for Seth Rogen and James Franco for creating this parody:

[Updated Nov 27, 2013] I wanted to clarify that I don’t find it funny because two men are kissing or lovers. I found the video funny because Rogen and Franco are doing the exact same movements as Kim and Kanye. I also found it clever to have two men together because of the heteronormative/heterosexist culture that pervades mainstream/Top 40 Hip Hop in the USA. For Kanye, it would seem that being a ‘true’ man is calling certain women bitches and talking about all the ‘pussy’ he can get. It’s all so predictable on how he lets us know ‘how to be a real black man’ through being misogynist and hypersexualized striaght Black man. I’d imagine Kanye would never have two men together in his videos to represent love and masculinity. But, this is simply how I was reading the Bound 2 parody and why I thought the video was hilarious.

The Adventures of Sistah Vegan’s Postpartum Belly and Public Displays of Stretch Marks

As promised, I am continuing my post-partum blog series. I have a very no holds barred approach to talking about my body, pregnancy, nursing, etc. Below is a video of what many of our bodies look like, especially after having a few biological children. I am really quite sick of so many of us ladies being told that we should be ashamed of our post-partum bellies/bodies, that we should hide our stretch marks, or even be pressured to do plastic surgery to make others happy so they don’t have to be ‘disgusted’ by the natural transformations that pregnant bodies go through in the USA.

Enjoy the video below!

And if you want to know more about my Sistah Vegan superfoods pregnancy and nursing nutritional regiment, go here. 

Nameless Baby Harper-Zahn, 1.5 weeks old.

Nameless Baby Harper-Zahn, 1.5 weeks old.

The Adventures of Breeze’s Yoni: On My Labor of Love and Birthing at Home

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This is me, November 4, 2013, the day I went into labor. This is the belly. That is, the belly that 9 out of 10 strangers confidently told me, “You’re having a boy? You are shaped like you are having a boy!” I couldn’t really argue, as I was shaped exactly the same way with my son (pointy and low). With my daughter (2nd child), I carried her “wide”. So, it would make sense that that belly above was carrying another boy. Oh, and I craved tomatoes during the entire pregnancy, a sure sign that I’m having a boy.

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Sun (4 years old) and Eva Luna (2 years old) giving the baby a kiss of love on November 3, 2013 at San Francisco Zen Center at Green Gulch.

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Me in the birthing pool at our home. I look relaxed, but that’s because I’m in between those sucky crappy contractions.

Active labor started at around November 5, 2013 1217am. Perfect timing, as my mother in law had arrived 4 hours before, from Germany.

My husband was the perfect birthing partner. At the very end, when I really thought I didn’t have the strength to push anymore, he was sitting behind me, holding me, as I sat on the birthing stool…and he was shoving the finest organic vegan fair trade chocolate into my mouth to give me energy. And he made me 2 or 3 Garden of Life Raw protein drinks with banana and Yerba Mate. My mother in law also had brought some yummy vegan organic gummy bears from Munich, Germany, and those gave me energy too.

This labor was easier than my 1st, but harder than my 2nd. It was 7 hours long, but the contractions were quite unbearable because the baby was turned the ‘wrong way’. She kept on pressing up against my tail bone area and the pain was intense, but then my husband would push his hands against my back whenever I was having the contractions and that made it feel a lot better. Seriously, it’s during those intense moments of discomfort that I ask myself, “Um, why am I putting myself through this again!?” And yea, I’ll be honest, several times I  told my husband, “I don’t think I can do this. I don’t have the energy. Just take me to the hospital and have them do the rest.”

But, my wonderful husband/birthing partner and my birthing team , Sacred Birth Place from Oakland, CA, were amazing. No surprise, as they helped deliver our first two kids at our home as well. My husband and the birthing team of two midwives and a doula encouraged me and let me know that I can do it and will have the energy to bring my baby into the world. And sorry if this is too much information, but what I love about home birthing is that you can eat eat eat. In the hospital, you are not allowed to eat; you get ‘energy’ from an IV. Hell no, not for me. With home birthing you have to be comfortable with being naked around everyone (not problem with me, as if it were legal, I’d be in the nude all the time). But you also have to understand that when you push push push push, it’s like you’re taking the biggest dump in the world… and in fact, you are pooping while you are pushing. The birthing team takes care of that, cleans you up, and I love that comfort that they have. I think the reason that the most hospitals don’t let you eat while in labor is because they fear that if you must have a C section, you should not have food in your tummy…and, I guess they just think that pooping while pushing is “gross” (?).

By 630am I was fully dilated.  I pushed the baby’s head out at around 712am, while on the birthing stool. I thought my ass was done. The crowning was done, the head was out, and I was exhausted… but then my midwife commanded me to quickly get on the bed on all fours and push the baby out (as the other position was not as efficient). I almost said, “Screw you!” I was so tired and now I had to crawl on the bed on all fours and push some more!?

But, with the help of my husband, doula, and other midwife, I got up on the bed and with one big final push, the baby came out. 8lb 6oz, 21 inches long. 718am.

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Me and Baby 2 days postpartum. I no longer look busted or like I have been completely depleted after trying to push a watermelon that was in a posterior position, out of my yoni….

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Baby and Eva Luna debating about whose poop smells worse…

Oh, and by the way, everyone was wrong about the shape of my belly coinciding with the genitalia of the baby: Baby number 3 came out with a yoni “down there.”

Nope, we haven’t named her yet. She goes by “Baby”. But, I do like sound of Spirulina Kale Harper- Zahn. I basically built her on those super foods :-) Here is the full vegan pregnancy and lactation nutritional regimen that I recommend. It’s the Sistah Vegan pregnancy nutrition method and you should experience great results. Yes, consult your practitioner before trying anything I recommend. I just wanted to note that I did not have any of these that so many women and girls experience during pregnancy in the USA:

  • pre-eclampsia
  • gestational diabetes
  • anemia
  • tremendous weight gain
  • edema
  • hypertension
  • pre-osteoporosis
  • varicose veins
  • constipation
  • hemorrhoids

And I owe it to the Sistah Vegan nutritional method for pregnancy!

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On ‘traumatizing’ your children by telling them the truth about speciesism and other systems of oppression.

When Ruby Roth’s vegan oriented book,  Vegan Is Love: Having Heart and Taking Action was published for children, I remember reading how an expert psychiatrist (or maybe it was a child development specialist) made the claim that her book is damaging to children. Many other folk thought it was harmful to children (see here as well).  I was taken aback, disappointed, but certainly not surprised, as of course this “expert’s” view echoes a society in which systemic violence across species (humans and non-human animal species) is normalized and rationalized. I think it is traumatizing to lie to children and even punish them for not subscribing to the violences that they KNOW is wrong. There are countless stories of young children finding out about the food they eat (i.e., “You mean my burger is a cow! Like a real cow!?), confronting their families about it, and instead of it opening up ways to think differently about the world– more compassionately about their world, they are verbally or even physically punished for pointing out ‘the obvious’ contradictions they see. You can listen more below by clicking on the video I did for this blog piece:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1y_g0RDvxg

Enjoy!

Stretch marks, bikini pregnancy, and public displays of belly affection

 

 

This is my third pregnancy. I like to show what my growing womb looks like. I have met a lot of women who say that they were ashamed to show their bellies because of stretch marks, discoloration, and weight gain. I know body issues are complex thing, and pregnancy and post-partum body changes come with a whole host of issues that many of us in the USA struggle with.

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Dr. A. Breeze Harper, Third Trimester, Bolinas CA Fall 2013 with her two year daughter, Eva Luna.

I have chosen not to hide my belly and wear a bikini whenever we make our weekend trips to our California beaches. I get a lot of comments from people who have never seen a real live pregnant belly in the nude. Some folks have even enjoyed the pleasure of watching the baby moving vigorously under the skin. I get appreciations from women and girls mostly, who thank me for showing them what it looks like. I also get comments like, “Wow, I don’t think I would ever be confident enough to do that.” It’s too bad that I get comments like this, as it really reflects a society that can be very rigid and cruel in teaching girls and women that they should be ashamed of displaying their bodies in public, if they don’t meet an acceptable standard of size and shape. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had and struggled with these issues like most females throughout my life, and admit that I did have shame and embarrassment about my body during the post-partum period after giving birth to my first child. But, since then, I have become gentle, loving, and kind to myself; I am still decolonizing my mind around public displays of body, skin, bellies, etc., but I have come a long way. And I feel like when people see what some pregnant bellies and bodies can look like, while in public, I can start talking about it without shame, but with love and and acceptance. I used to be so ashamed of my permanent stretch marks, as they have increased more with each pregnancy. But now I simply don’t care what people may or may not think.

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I gained 41 pounds during this pregnancy.  I have several weeks left, so I assumed I’ll probably gain about 4 or 5 more pounds from my plant/mineral based diet packed with hemp seeds, spirulina, kale, olive oil, tempeh, okra, maca, nettles, algae based calcium, and vegan dha to name a few. My babies have been ‘big’. Sun was 8.5lb and Luna 9.5lb. Will this one be 10+? My friend did all vegan pregnancies. Her third and last baby was home birthed at 10lb 13 oz. Wow!

We are having a third home birth. I assume it will be easy. I am a pro at this! November 10 is my due date. Folk often ask what I eat during my pregnancies. Here is more information about that here: pregnancy nutrition.

Anyway, I just wanted to share.

‘Authentic Blackness’ as Christian, Speciesist, and Heteronormative: Brief Thoughts on Being a Non-Christian Black Woman

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Dr. Amie Breeze Harper, 2013

Unlike most Black folk I know, I was not raised in a household that subscribed to any particular religious beliefs. My parents were basically agnostic, but my parents were always open to my twin and I exploring religious philosophies. Many members of my extended family are or were Jehovah’s Witnesses or Baptists. One of my aunts gave my brother and I the gift of Watchtower subscription, a magazine dedicated to Jehovah’s Witness faith, when we were children. I found the stories and lessons both entertaining and confusing. However, for me, it just didn’t feel like the right path.

I remember I was at a family event one year. I was in my early 20s. My father was talking to one of my male family members who is a Jehovah’s Witness. Somehow, they started talking about animals. “Paul” (I’m just calling my male family member that to protect his identity) told my dad his interpretation of the Bible when it came to non-human animals: “God says we have dominion over them, so that means we can eat them.” My dad just shook his head and laughed to himself that one could interpret ‘dominion’ as ‘domination’ so they didn’t have to acknowledge and/or admit that non-human animals feel and suffer. That they can lie to themselves that animal are not sentient and can used for any human desire. Suffice to say, “Paul” simply didn’t care, because that is what his Bible said, case closed.

I also have the feeling that when I tell most Black folk that I am not Christian, that my Blackness and loyalties are questioned. The other week, I received a private email from a ‘fan’ who seemed very disappointed that I did not even talk about the importance of Christianity and healing in Black communities during the Sistah Vegan conference…and she also suggested that my new social fiction novel Scars marginalized ‘regular’ Black Christian straight girls like her (since the main character is a Black lesbian). You can go here http://sistahvegan.com/2013/10/21/the-black-queer-experience-is-not-our-experience-breeze-harpers-new-social-fiction-novel/ to read the post about her reaction to Scars .

Even though I do know that blackness is not a monolith, Black folk in the USA are stereotyped to be all Christian and heteronormative. This fan’s email got me thinking about how much not being raised as Christian– or with any form of organized religion– has deeply impacted my interactions with those [Black] people who can’t fathom a type of authentic Blackness WITIHOUT it being connected to Christianity, speciesism, and heteronormativity. My practice of Zen Buddhism often confuses Black folk.

Do you have a religious faith or not? How has having a religious faith (or not) impacted your sense of animal compassion and/or vegan philosophy? Did you grow up in a household in which religion was used to justify/rationalize the eating of animals (as well as perhaps other oppressions, such as racism, white supremacy, homophobia, transphobia, patriarchy, or ableism)?

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