The Sistah Vegan Project

Update: G’s Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix)

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I have updated my new book goals and TITLE. Originally titled “Living Bling, Going Green”: Redefining Black Masculinities Through Hip Hop and Veganism, I changed it to this….

Title: “G’s Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix).

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Cee Knowledge (left), Breeze Harper, DJ Cavem (right)

 

Book Description: Vegan mainstream rhetoric often falls into a post-racial mindset; that is, the assumption that since the Civil Rights Acts, racism and legacies of colonialism are no longer significant impediments to achieving equality in the USA. Furthermore, rarely does the vegan mainstream reflect on how structural racism shapes one’s logic, goals, and communication strategies around ethical consumption.

In this book, I will explore how key Black male vegans are employing hip-hop methods to create race-conscious and decolonial approaches to vegan activism. Such icons will include vegan chef Bryant Terry, Kevin Tillman of the Vegan Hip Hop Movement, hip hop and eco conscious musician DJ Cavem, and Stic.Man of Dead Prez.

These men are examples of alternative black masculinities, cooking up complex and complicated models of ethical consumption, environmental justice, and nutritional activism that you won’t find in the popular PETA campaigns or the bestselling books Skinny Bitch and Skinny Bastard.

What also makes this book unique is that I will use social science based methodologies such as black feminism, decoloial theory, and critical pedagogies of consumption to analyze the work of these men. Simultaneously, the writing style will be fun, easily accessible, inspirational and critical; one need not have a graduate degree in critical theory to understand it.

Goal: Ultimately, the goal of the book is to show how intersectionality of race-conscious, decolonial thought, and hip hop activism do not DISTRACT from the tenets of veganism, but in fact strengthen it. This is Sistah Vegan Anthology’s sibling and long overdue. If you enjoyed Sistah Vegan, you will enjoy this new book project, which I gave an amazing introductory lecture about at Oberlin College this past spring 2014.

Delivery date to press: Fall 2016.

Funds will be used to pay for travel to areas such as Denver, CO to interview DJ Cavem, copy editing, proof reading, cover design, a new computer (mine died), and promoting the book.

I already have a press for the book. Once I sign the contract, I will let my fans know who it is with.

If you also want to know more about my writing and success in this field, you can go to http://www.abreezeharper.com .
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ThankTank Creative is to Blame!

Dr. A. Breeze Harper:

A wonderful idea. Awesome.

Originally posted on Meaty Vegan:

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I haven’t blogged in quite a while. When I first started MeatyVegan.com, I was blogging every day. Every. Single. Day. Then it went to once a week. I could manage once a week. Then I started my own vegan consulting firm, and now the meaty is on the back burner.

ThankTank Creative, a consulting, design, and marketing firm for socially-just, environmentally-conscious, and vegan businesses was launched on June 4 and its been a whirlwind ever since. Starting any company is a risk but starting a company like ThankTank, so focused on working exclusively with like-minded businesses, is an even greater risk. In this instance, it is a risk that has paid off.

The first call we received was from a woman in Sacramento and she started the conversation by saying, “thank you for being ethical vegans.” From that moment on, each of the businesses looking to expand, create, define…

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Foraging in my neighborhood: is it a privilege?

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I like to forage while I walk from home to get the kids from nursery school. I push them back up the hill in our double stroller and it takes 80-90 minutes. On the way, we eat herbs and fruit that grow every where. Plums, Meyer lemons, figs, blackberries, rosemary, and lemon verbena to name a few.

Yesterday I passed by a beautiful bush with clear purple berries. See photo above. Do you know what it is?

Is foraging a privilege or not? I feel like it is for me, for the most part. I live in North Berkeley. Most people who have a house here can afford a little land and have it landscaped professionally. For the renters of apartments and homes, the landlords do the same to the land. They have edible plants planted, but it seems more aesthetic than to eat for these residents. Why do I think this? The fruit usually ends up falling to the ground and rotting. So, this waste bothers me, so I try collect as much as I can, while walking down the sidewalk. If it’s on an apartment building complex, I do the same. I make sure that I’m picking from plants in which it is obvious no one cares to use or harvest it. If residents don’t want passerbys forage, they post signs stating that and I respect those wishes. At the same time, I try to be careful of how I forage and where. I know many may not want to hear this, but as a visibly Black person, I try to make sure when it is appropriate to forage. My area doesn’t have many Black folk and I worry that I may be read as ‘stealing’ or ‘trespassing’ when I forage, vs. when, say, white looking people do. I am acutely aware that whenever someone is arrested in the area for home break ins, I see the cops arresting a Black person 90% of the time. Again, I wonder what this does to the perception of the non Black residents who live there. Just some food for thought…

I also think about whether or not there is a connection to rises or declines in urban foraging to gentrification happening in the SF Bay area. Anyone have a take on that?

Also, do you forage? If so, why or why not? Like how I write? Wanna support more? Check out my 3rd book project about Black male vegan heroes: gofundme

 

 

Green Spirulina Avocado Monster

I have three preschoolers and they love Spirulina. Kira Satya is seven months old and loves my homemade popsicles. This morning she had avocado, fig, and Pacifica Hawaiian Spirulina popsicle I made yesterday using Zoku silicon Popsicle molds. I highly recommend Zoku mini pops mold for preschoolers. All other molds are too big and they never finish the pops.

In my Vitamix blender I added 1 medium Hass avocado, five figs, 1 tsp of Jarrow baby probiotics, and 1 tbsp of Spirulina in the blender. I then blended everything on level 10 for about thirty seconds. I filled the molds and froze.

Eva Luna (2.5 yrs) and Kira Satya loved it.

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Luna refers to herself as the Spirulina monster. Scary, no? LOL.

Sun is five now and I grew him on Pacifica Hawaiian Spirulina. He is in the photo below with me, mama. He started on Spirulina in utero!

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Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind: Concrete Ways to Support Families in Social Justice Movements and Communities

I went to the Live Oak Festival in Berkeley today. The only stand that I was really interested in was PM Press, located in Oakland, CA. I knew I was on to something when I saw pro-vegan and anti-racism books on the same table. The man tabling was named Steven Stothard (I will admit it that it is not often that I meet white guys with a BA in Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality studies).

So, folk are always asking me what I am reading to work towards liberation. Well, here are some titles from PM’s table that I will be starting this month. I am really excited about all of them, but am most excited about Don’t Leave You Friends Behind. Here is description of Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind:

A collection of suggestions, tips, and narratives on ways everyone can support parents, children, and caregivers involved in social movements, this book focuses on social justice, mutual aid, and collective liberation. One of the few books dealing with community support for issues facing children and families, this reflection on inclusivity in social awareness offers real-life ways to reach out to the families involved in campaigns such as the Occupy Movement. Contributors include the Bay Area Childcare Collective, the London Pro-Feminist Men’s Group, and Mamas of Color Rising.

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On my new novel, funding change, hip hop vegan book, and my birthday campaign

 

Ok, I am going to be more direct. I have had a problem with having enough confidence to ask for help. Here’s the deal: I have 5000+ followers combined, in terms of FB, Twitter, and my WordPress blog. I need SV project to be funded. I have done so much for folk and I am simply asking for $5-$10 per fan (if you can afford it) to help me do this work FULL TIME. If I could get 5000+ folk to do this, I could continue to grow this work and help humans and non-human animals even more effectively. Thus far, I received less than $200 in donations, since asking this for my birthday campaign raising wishes on May 30, 2014. I do appreciate what has already been donated, but I need more for this project to survive and thrive!

Last year I raised $4000 of the $80,000 I need (that is what gofundme shows right now: the combined total, not just the $200 from last week). So, let me know if you can invest in me and the SV Project. I write books, but I don’t get advances and I get about $600 a year in royalties from Sistah Vegan. I had a Research Fellow appointment at UC Davis, from 2013-2014, but it was unpaid(some people have asked why I need a salary for Sistah Vegan when I have a ‘job’ at UC Davis). This is my birthday wish for this year. Consider doing automatic monthly donations of about $5-$15 per month: Go Fund Me : http://www.gofundme.com/33mv2k

If you can’t afford to donate money, please consider donating in other ways: marketing, editing, etc. For example, several women donated their editing and proofreading skills to make Scars possible. I was so overjoyed by such kindness. Others have offered to use social media to market last years Sistah Vegan confernce events.

More about my new novel: Scars: Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England. 

DJ Cavem’s  work and Produce Section album can be accessed here.

An intro to the new hip hop, black men, vegan book project: “Real Gs Got Hoes:” Veganism, Black Masculinity, and Ethical Consumption.

Also, below is the full painting that Sarah Juanita Dorsey painted for Scars. Come on y’all,  admit it: she is dope, brilliant, and awesome. The cover photo is a depiction of Savannah Penelope Sales, the main character.

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The Fork in the Road: Ruminations on My Birthday

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Updated: May 30, 2014 10:25 AM PST

Today, May 30, is my birthday. What a wonderful year it has been! I gave birth to my third child, Kira Satya, on November 5, 2013. Another successful vegan pregnancy, she came into the world at nearly nine pounds. My birthday wish for this year is simple: Can you help me continue doing my work by funding the project or pointing me to people you think would benefit from hearing me give lectures or act as a consultant? Thank you to everyone who helped me reach 4.5% of my goal over the last 12 months.  Thank you to those who donated in other ways, such as editing my new book as well as creating a brilliant cover for (wahoo to Sarah Dorsey who shares the same birthday) the new manuscript, guiding me through difficult times, or watching my children while I was writing a new talk.

Recap of my year

During summer 2013, and under the mentorship of stellar food systems scholar, Dr Ryan Galt, I started my new Sistah Vegan project research: gathering the perspectives of Black vegan men who use hip hop pedagogies for their food, health, and animal rights activism. (Thank you Dr. Ryan Galt for offering me the opportunity to do this work at UC Davis!)  In 2014, I presented my new research at Dickinson College, Oberlin College, and Pacific Lutheran University. I am appreciative that all three institutions provided childcare for my newborn so I could bring her with me to nurse on demand. I am also very grateful for the plethora of people who have inspired me to continue with the Sistah Vegan project, despite me wanting to give up; particularly because I felt so hopeless and questioned my purpose in Academia. Such hopelessness came after I received nothing but rejection letters from all academic positions I had applied to.

The hardest time for me came during the fall of 2013, when I received an email from someone who I had asked to write me letters of recommendations in the past. This person was one of my main professor mentors and someone I really trusted. They had emailed that they would no longer write me letters of recommendations because they had always found me to be “unprofessional” and not “intellectually rigorous” when it came to my pursuit of an Academic career. I had received that email the morning I was in labor with Kira Satya. There was really no way of telling if the letters that person wrote was the main reason I wasn’t even afforded a phone interview anywhere. Interestingly, the letter created a fork in the road for me: I could give up and give in to anger and self-pity…or, I could see the letter as an opportunity to test my commitment to the Sistah Vegan Project and try to find other ways to keep it alive…which would probably mean having to say goodbye to Academe.

After weeks of emotional and mental anguish that I allowed that letter to cause me, I decided that my 25 year goal of becoming a professor wasn’t the only way to keep my critical race, critical food, and critical vegan studies research, writing, and activism alive.  I had to remind myself that I had successfully put together the first Sistah Vegan Conference in fall 2013 and received a lot of emails from people who said the event really shifted their consciousness; the event was not affiliated with any university at all.  In addition, even though one of my main mentors had decided that they didn’t want to support me, I also had to remind myself of the many mentors who have supported me and found my way of engaging in research and activism, beneficial. I nearly let that email from this one mentor make me forget about all the other mentors who have supported me, including Carol J Adams, Psyche Williams Forson, Bryant Terry, DJ Cavem, Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, Kwanda and James Ford, Riche Richardson,  David Leonard, Martin Rowe , Lauren Ornelas, Katherine McKitrrick and Carolyn Finney to name a few.

So, what was the lesson learned? Not everyone will experience my way of doing things as professional or intellectually rigorous. And sometimes even those that we thought were our mentors and that we trusted may also no longer want to support our vision or our way of doing things. And you know what? That is okay.   Over the past eight months, I have tried to transition into making the Sistah Vegan Project my full time work while keeping these things in mind.

This morning, I also received word that my new novel, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New Englandis now ready for production through Sense Publishers. They are an awesome academic press. It was timely to receive the message from senior editor Patricia Leavy, a professor and a vanguard in the field of social fiction. Patricia Leavy read Scars within a week of receiving it last year. After years of me trying to find a place for my book, it was Patricia enthusiastically who offered me a contract. My work fit Sense Publisher’s new social fiction series which seeks social fiction, in the form of novels, to address societal problems. The key to the series is the use of real qualitative social science research that is translated into novel form.

Overall, I just wanted to let you know that when I receive emails of support from you all, it reminds me why it is important to do what I believe in and to not let obstacles deter me. Every single email I receive from my fans, really fuels me and re-centers me! Much love to all of you for your generosity and belief in my work.

Below is the organic and Vegan cake my husband and kids made for me. Yum!
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Sick of Children’s Music That Promotes Speciesism? Me Too.

As a picky mom when it comes to my children’s musical entertainment, it is hard to find vegan-friendly and non-human animal friendly music! I am glad we have Michal “Peanut” Karmi to help change that.

Michal is amazing and she visited us here in Berkeley, CA a few days ago. We met Michal a few years ago while she was in graduate school at UC Berkeley. A very committed animal rights oriented vegan, she also has the unique talent of connecting amazingly with little kids through song. My children, 2.5 and 5, are obsessed with her first album. She has a new album she is working on and I highly recommend it. It will help kids think in non-human animal friendly ways. And let’s face it: most children’s music albums in the USA are quite speciesist.  Please support her newest album through this kickstarter campaign. Also, enjoy the photos of her singing to our family. She is a wonderful spirit!

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The Best Damn Vegan Oriented Children’s Singer: Meet Michal Peanut Karmi

Michal is amazing and she visited us here in Berkeley, CA a few days ago. We met Michal a few years ago while she was in graduate school at UC Berkeley. A very committed animal rights oriented vegan, she also has the unique talent of connecting amazingly with little kids through song. My children, 2.5 and 5, are obsessed with her first album. She has a new album she is working on and I highly recommend it. It will help kids think in pro-vegan and anti-speciesist ways. And let’s face it: most children’s music albums in the USA are quite speciesist.  Please support her newest album through this kickstarter campaign. Also, enjoy the photos of her singing to our family. She is a wonderful spirit!

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[Dollar] Green Capitalism?: Starbucks, Oprah, and Educational Access in a Cup of Organic Chai

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I just left Seattle the morning of May 9 2014. While at the SEATAC airport, I spotted this advertisement. This is what I thought when I first saw the photo:

Once again, buying objects as a way towards social Justice, within a capitalist moral economy, seems contradictory. As if all you need to do is ‘buy’ your way into a cleaner conscious, through the site of Starbucks; an entity that sources ingredients from largely global South regions through methods that are mostly not fair trade.

So, Starbucks, tell me this: how does one extrapolate resources from certain regions of the world in an unethical manner, and then put up campaigns above that ensure patrons that whenever they buy this Oprah approved product, it goes towards creating better educational access for vulnerable populations? Am I missing something here?

Only 10 percent of the coffee Starbucks sells is Fair Trade Certified. As the largest buyer of coffee beans in the world, it seems like they should probably be trying a lot harder. After all, I am pretty sure that the people working under unequal conditions to harvest coffee beans for Starbucks most likely do not have educational opportunities that allow their communities to thrive, as well as not be so dependent on “green” capitalism.

Just my two cents.

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