Oregon Adventures: Talking about scars and whiteness, racial micro-aggressions from a Sarah Palin supporter, and ‘the clap’ doll.

I had a fantastic time during my book talk tour in Oregon this past week (May 6-10 2015). I read from and analyzed my new novel Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England . I read the food object in my novel and explained how they can tell us about current racial power dynamics in the USA. Highlights to share include ending my University of Oregon-Eugene talk at the podium while nursing my 1 year old, Kira Satya, on my right boob while answering questions. Kira Satya came with me on my 5 day trip throughout Oregon. The adventure included 2 talks, 1 workshop I led, and 1 panel discussion. If you’ve been following my work for awhile, you know that I think it’s ridiculous that I have to ‘hide’ nursing my baby– or even argue that I can take her with me since I nurse on demand (like every other mammal on the planet). I am glad that PSU and UO Eugene supported me. And duh, I’m a food justice activist and scholar. Being able to nurse on demand (if one can) is a food justice issue; a social justice issue; a reproductive rights issue; a public health issue. If you watch the end of the video, you can see Kira’s arm wiggling above the podium as I nurse her and answer questions. After I placed her down, she even made a big loud poop in her diaper and the audience heard since she was next to the mic. Plenty of folk laughed (while I’m sure plenty were disgusted, but hey, better than being constipated!) LOL. Below is the UO Eugene talk.

On Saturday at the Eugene Public Library, I was on a panel with Novella Carpenter, Diane Abu-Jaber, and Donna Henderson for the 4th annual Women’s Writers Symposium and the theme for this year was food and women’s stories of resilience. During the panel, us authors answered questions thrown at us by the moderator and we were also asked to read passages from our work. I selected excerpts from an interview I gave about the Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter. Also, I centered anti-racism and critical race feminism whenever I’d answer most of the questions or give a comment, making it clear that I don’t think ‘post-racial’ response makes any sense and to remember that for many (especially since it’s largely white Eugene OR where the mainstream may not think about race), ‘whiteness’ is NOT the norm for everyone and can be very violent (discursively, overtly, and systemically). The audience was 90+% white. Each panelist was supposed to read something, so I read my interview from my most recent The Feminist Wire interview about the Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter. The first person who rushed up to me after us panelists were done was a white person whose answer to my critical race vegan oriented scholarship was that Sarah Palin is the only person that they will listen to. They said something like, “Sarah Palin goes out and shoots animals and eats them and would be the best president for the USA. I believe anything she says over anyone else.” It was an obvious reactive racial-microaggressive response to how I had explained to the audience that my writing and critical food studies inquiries interrogate neoliberal whiteness, speciesism, as ways to dismantle systemic racism and support Black Lives Matter. I didn’t feel like taking the bait and simply responded, “Well, thank you for sharing your opinion.” They promptly turned around and walked away. However, plenty of white folk did some up and thanked me for providing introductory knowledge to this timely issue of systemic racism and how to be allies to Black Lives Matter movement. After participating on that panel, I learned that 6 extra people who attended that panel discussion signed up for my workshop in the afternoon. Several told me that they had originally signed up for another one but then wanted to challenge themselves as white people to take the plunge and learn about whiteness and Black Lives Matter. So, I gave my a workshop called “Narrating Racial [In]Justice Through Critical Food Writing” that afternoon. It went quite well I think since it was my first time doing it.

Before Kira and I arrived in Eugene, I had given a talk in Portland at Portland State University. Kira and I ate our way through vegan cafes and restaurants of the area and ended in Eugene, after we took the bus there, at Cornbread Cafe. Here are some lovely picts after the written portion below. The first photo is a doll given to my baby on the plane from SFO to PDX. Kira wasn’t feeling well and vomited, so the woman next to us gave her a doll from a conference she had gone to. It was an OB/GYN conference and she got ‘the clap’ in the form of a doll. I learned that ‘the clap’ was short for the French ‘clapier’ where people contracted the ‘the clap’. So, she gave the doll to Kira.

I gave my talk on May 8 2015 in Portland at the Walk of Heroines event. Kira and I had been sick for the past 36 hours with non-stop stomach issues which resulted in the baby vomiting a billion times and giving me the same disease. I couldn’t hold anything down and was wondering how I’d have the strength to give a talk– especially since the baby just wanted to nurse non-stop (which is hard to do when mama can’t hold anything down and the body eats itself to make breastmilk). Kira finally passed out and took a long nap in the afternoon (about 4 hours) and woke up as if she had never had the stomach virus. I somehow made it through the talk (see below) despite me feeling very weak throughout the talk. I think the energy probably came from the audience’s energy and enthusiasm to have me there :-)

On Friday in Portland, we tasted many vegan treats including a vegan bratwurst made from chickpeas (yummy!) as well, a strawberry sorbet popsicle, vegan gluten free cupcake, and a green smoothie. Kira seemed happy. On our way back to the airport from Eugene, I was on a shuttle service. A white guy going to the airport also asked what I did, once he found out I was going to SFO and that I lived in Berkeley. I said critical food studies looking at race and whiteness . 9/10 times, this is the response I’ll get  “Oh, so you must know Michael Pollan’s work. He teaches in Berkeley. Have you ever take any of his classes?” And yes, I got this response from this guy as well….

Ok, I’m just going to say it: I’m so amazed by the gazillion white people I meet whenever they find out what my field of studies and then they talk about Michael Pollan. Why is Michael Pollan the [white] face of food studies all the time!? Even after I’ll tell people that I am looking at how race and whiteness shape ethical food consumption culture, I’ll get, “Oh, so you must like Michael Pollan’s work?” My internal monologue is screaming inside, “When did Michael Pollan ever critically engage with systemic racism or even question his own neoliberal whiteness and male privilege? Oh yea, that was in his latest bestselling book that came out in the fall of—NEVER!!!!” (Breeze falls off her soap box). Ok y’all, enjoy the photos below.

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To access the conference recordings to the Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter click on the image below

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From Critiquing Thug Kitchen to Revealing Vermont’s Speciesist White Agricultural Narrative: pattrice jones tells us about her Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter as a White Ally

UPDATED LIST OF TALKS for the Sistah Vegan Online Conference.

We just added this talk with the wonderful pattrice jones: From Critiquing Thug Kitchen to Revealing Vermont’s Speciesist White Agricultural Narrative: pattrice jones tells us about her Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter as a White Ally”. 

A few months ago, I wrote about pattrice’s brilliant new book Oxen at the Intersection, which I highly recommend to many people– especially those who want to understand the narrative that white Vermont created for itself in terms of locavorism, a ‘natural’ dairying state, and its collusion to white supremacist ways of thinking about non-human animals and ‘being green.‘ pattrice jones also wrote a critical essay about Thug Kitchen a few months ago.

See below the other talks and discussions we have in store for you as well.

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DATE: April 24-25, 2015 Sistah Vegan Online Conference

“The Vegan Praxis of ‘Black Lives Matter': Challenging Neoliberal Whiteness While Building Anti-Racist Solidarity Among Vegans of Color and Allies (Before, After, and Beyond Ferguson )”

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Click Here for Full Description of Conference

Workshops, Discussions, and Talks (Tentative and Growing)

  • “Funding Pro-Vegan Anti-Racist Projects: Challenges and Strategies in a ‘Post-Racial’ Era” | Panelists: Alissa Hauser and Dr. A. Breeze Harper”
  • “Locating Intersections and the Decolonization of Veganism through Black Womanist Theology” | Candace Laughinghouse, PhD Candidate (Regent University)
  • “From Critiquing Thug Kitchen to Revealing Vermont’s Speciesist White Agricultural Narrative: pattrice jones tells us about her Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter as a White Ally” | Speakers: A. Breeze Harper (interviewer) and pattrice jones of VINE Sanctuary
  • “‘The Pig is a Filthy Animal': Challenging Speciesist ‘Race-Conscious’ Black Liberation Rhetoric (Before, After, and Beyond Ferguson) | Speaker: TBD
  • “Dear White People, Black Lives Matter: An Introductory Workshop For White Vegans on Being an Ally”| Speaker: TBD
  • The Origins of the Criminalization of Blackness in the Context of a ‘Race Neutral’ Analysis and how it Helped Shape Policing Policies” | Speaker: Liz Ross
  • “ALL Black Lives Matter: Dismantling Transphobia and Heteronormativity in Mainstream Black ‘Conscious’ Plant-Based Dietary Movement” | Speakers: TBD
  • “Black Lives [Don’t] Matter: Michael Vick and the Demonization of Blackness Among White Vegans and Animal Rights Activists”| Speaker: Harlan Eugene Weaver, PhD
  • “Animal Liberationists for No More Prisons and No More Police”| Speaker: Dr. Anthony J Nocella II
  • “Dispelling the Myth of ‘Cruelty-Free’ Commodities Within the Context of Black Lives Matter and a Racist Food System: A Dialogue Between Lauren Ornelas of the Food Empowerment Project and A. Breeze Harper”
  • “Pro-Vegan Self-Care for Racial Justice Activists: Building a Long-Term Community of Support”| Speaker: Jessica Rowshandel, LMSW
  • “Memory and Betrayal: An Inquiry into Race, Empire, and Relationship During an Era of Black Lives Matter” |Speaker: Martin Rowe
  • “Ten ways to combat racism effectively in the vegan community and mobilize activists to be advocates of intersectional issues.” | Speaker: Christian Sebastian McJetters
  • “Abolitionist Veganism and Anti-Oppression Within the Context of Black Lives Matter” | Speaker: Sarah K. Woodcock

For Speaker Bios CLICK HERE

Nominate the 2015 Anti-Racist Vegan Change-Maker ($1000)

WANT TO SPONSOR THIS CONFERENCE? CLICK HERE

OR, CONSIDER MAKING A DONATION TO MAKE THE CONFERENCE AND OTHER SISTAH VEGAN PROJECTS A SUCCESS BY CLICKING BELOW:

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Pigs as Cops, Cops as Pigs: What Does a Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter Look Like Beyond Speciesist Depictions of Pigs?

About an hour ago, I was looking through the work of Emory Douglas (see image below and click on it to go to the link to the book).

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I started reading through his book again today because his work, though over 40 years old, is applicable today. His images show Black people resisting the white supremacist militarized police state. The images are powerful, breathtaking, and heartbreaking. As I sifted through the pages of this genius work, I couldn’t believe that this mess was still happening today; but also felt inspired that this work is a continuum that we see in the Black Lives Matter Movement, founded by Alicia Garza.

Eerily, at the same time I was looking through Emory’s book and thinking about how to implement it into my own work, I was on Facebook looking through Vegans of Color group posts. Someone had posted a current image depicting the Black Lives Matter movement in which there is a carton of young Black person fighting against the militarized police state. The police officers depicted in the cartoon are drawn as pigs. The person who posted the image said, “word to her and the energy/people/movement she represents! but to the system she/we oppose–let’s not disparage actual pigs in the process, yeah? (smile)”. Perfect timing that he would write this while I was looking through the Emory Douglas book because I had been thinking the same thing since I received the book as a wonderful gift for my birthday, about 5 years ago, signed by him by way of my friend Frank. He even referred to me as “Sistah Vegan” in the inscription. I briefly talked to him at one of Frank’s birthday parties. (I admit it: I was too shy to talk more to him, just like I was too shy to talk more to Angela Davis and give her a copy of my book. Yup, I’m still shaking my head over that one…and then I learn she’s vegan and probably would have appreciated Sistah Vegan. LOL. Oh well, live an learn.)

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First of all, I cannot reiterate enough that Emory Douglas’s book is genius, amazing, and inspiring. The work he has done as a Black Liberationist and Black Panther is truly remarkable and has deeply influenced the direction of my own work. In addition, Emory Douglas eats a vegan diet. However, what is striking to me as someone who is a critical race , black feminist, and critical vegan scholar, I noticed throughout his work that Douglas depicts cops as ‘bacon’ and ‘pigs’.

I know that everyone changes throughout life and what we ate or believed in at 30 may differ drastically at 40, then 50, etc. So, I’ve been wondering about Emory Douglas’ vegan dietary practice and if this practice has changed his thoughts on he having used pigs as a way to demonize and depict the police state of the USA in the 1960s and 1970s. I wonder what he’d say about it; if he still agrees with his use of pig images to protest racialized state violence against Black people. (See a few of many images depicting cops as pigs, in the book below).

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I’ve also been thinking a lot how the consumption of pigs, among ‘conscious’ Black people who no longer eat animals, has long been associated as being a ‘filthy’ and ‘low’ animal; that many ‘conscious’ Black people working hard to decolonize and liberate Black people have chosen to not eat pigs because they believe they are ‘dirty animals’…. as opposed to the belief that eating pigs is cruel because of the suffering that pigs go through as a commodity in the mainstream food system of the USA. There seems to be a speciesist vegan dietary element to this logic; quite a contradiction in many ways. But, I want to dig deeper and I don’t want to dismiss the brilliant work of Black liberationist who think this way about pigs and human consumption.

I hope to continue to think through Emory’s work and figure out a way to talk about the significance of his work through a vegan praxis of Black Lives Matters… Emory, if you are reading this, please let me know if you’d be interested in talking about this for the Sistah Vegan Conference, which is online in April: The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter.

Hey folk out here, if what I have written above has got your wheels turning, then I hope you will join us, support us, donate to us, and/or sponsor the upcoming Sistah Vegan hosted online conference, The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter. During the conference, I hope we can talk more about the meaning of Emory Douglas’ work (maybe even by way of Emory himself), the use of pig imagery in resisting racist police state, consuming a vegan diet, and the difficult contradictions we all often find ourselves in; after all, many of us as Black Lives Matter activists of color– vegan and non-vegan–  are still practicing the decolonization of our minds around internalized racism as well as speciesist notions of ‘the place of the animal'; it is a continuum and I want to build on Douglas’ work, not dismiss or start honing in only on the images of ‘cops and pigs, pigs as cops.’ His work– and many of the Black Panthers who have written about Black Liberation (many who were not vegetarian or vegan) have deeply influenced the direction of my work in a positive manner. I’m about ‘building’ on this, acknowledging possible weaknesses or methods that may not apply now, and moving forward while not forgetting about the past!

Like what we do? Find our more about the Sistah Vegan Project and donate towards our new groundbreaking critical race vegan book project on black male vegans and hip hop, as well as the April 24-25 2015 online conference. Click the image below. We just hit our $9,000 our of $25,000 goal this week. Help us reach $10,000 by the end of February 2015!

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[Event]: Breeze Harper Will Be the Keynote Speaker at Social Justice Summit, Cal State-Fullerton, February 21, 2015

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Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Event: Social Justice Summit: Breaking Down Barriers

Date and Time: Feb. 21, 2015. 9:15 a.m.

Keynote Talk Description: A. Breeze Harper will be giving a critical race feminist vegan oriented keynote talk from 9:15-10:15am, on Saturday Feb. 21, 2015.

For more information: http://www.fullerton.edu/volunteer/summit/

How to Get Dr. A. Breeze Harper to Speak at Your Institution or Organization

If you would like to invite Dr. A. Breeze Harper to speak at your institution or organization, please contact her by clicking here.

Dr. Harper’s most recent talk “ON FERGUSON, THUG KITCHEN &TRAYVON MARTIN: INTERSECTIONS OF [POST] RACE-CONSCIOUSNESS, FOOD JUSTICE AND HIP-HOP VEGANISM” took place at Middlebury College, Fall 2014. It can be viewed here. 

If you like A. Breeze Harper’s work, click here to find out how you can support her latest book project (in which her Middlebury lecture is based on) and Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter conference.

Blueberry Avocado Sorbet Recipe and Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter: We Can Do Both!

Closed Captions for Hearing Impaired. I hope it works Out. I’m still trying to figure CC out.

Recipe:

2 Pints of Blueberries
5 pitted dates
1 large Hass Avocado
1/2 c of water
1 tsp of organic Spriulina

Blend on high for 1.5 minutes in Vitamix or comparable blender. Put into ice cream machine like a Cuisinart Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt maker. You can always had more dates to make it sweeter.

See what else the Sistah Vegan Project is up to. Yea, we do recipes, we blog, but we also are the only pro-vegan project that does things like put together critical race feminist oriented vegan conferences! Check out our Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter: Challenging Neoliberal Whiteness While Building Anti-Racist Solidarity Among Vegans of Color and Allies. coming April 24-25, 2015, online!

And we are the only project working on a critical race and decolonial analytical book about veganism, ethical consumption, hip hop veganism, and alternative black masculinities. Find out more here.

As much as I love mainstream vegan recipe blogs, I’d love to see more critical and outspoken posts that question systemic oppression beyond non-human animal cruelty. It is possible to throw down a mad cool recipe about local ingredients to make sorbet and then talk about how systemic racism makes so many of us sick…and then offer some recipes for ‘racial tension headaches’ to start the conversation about what it’s like trying to eat vegan food in a USA in which the food system– well, ‘the system’ overall– maintains and perpetuates racism and justifies/normalizes anti-black  violence as well as speciesist violence.

On a side note, several of you have asked about my hair. It’s big, fluffy, and voluminous. A lot of folk who have had more than one baby, have told me that their hair is thin or has and continues to fall out. I had the same problem until I figured out this secret.

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Sistah Vegan Kids: Vegan Buckwheat, Almond, Spelt Waffles for Dinner

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We had waffles for dinner tonight. Very healthy! The kids loved this nutrient packed power house. We use olive oil for ‘butter’ and always have. They love it!

1 cup Spelt flour
1\2 c almond flour
1\2 c buckwheat flour
2.25 c of soy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking power
5 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 table spoon chia seeds (soak in soy milk for ten minutes first so it can gel up and become egg replacer). I prefer these over flax. Flax tastes bad to me when it is cooked.

Throw in blender on high for two minutes.

I use Duraceramic non Teflon Belgian waffle maker and Vita mix blender. I use a fair trade more sustainable coconut oil. I notice if I don’t add sugar and use coconut oil, the waffles never stick.

Bon Appetit!

What is Your [Vegan] Praxis of Black Lives Matter? Fighting Domestic Violence and Dismantling the Racist Misogynistic Legal System

(UPDATED DEC 31 2014, 950 AM PDT) CORRECTION: MARISSA’S 2 OLDER CHILDREN, TWINS, ARE FROM HER FIRST MARRIAGE AND OUR NOT RICO GRAY’S BIOLOGICAL CHILDREN

The group performs their social-justice teach in routine to educate folk about Marissa Alexander.

Below, Nell Myhand brilliantly gives the context of systemic racism, misogyny, and exploitative capitalist economy in understanding why and how Marissa’s situation happened the way it did.

Below, LaJuana gives an amazing performance of Rico Gray’s testimony. Gray is Marissa’s abusive husband.

Next we have a performance of Marissa’s Testimony:

Below, Xan Joi and others explain Marissa’s case, their caravan trip to do social justice teach-ins across the nation.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

If you want to be part of the caravan and live in the Easy Bay CA area, contact Xan Joi at joiyssey@gmail.com .

If you can fund this East Bay Caravan, then go here. Please be aware that this is funding for the CARAVAN to support these womyn’s trip. To support Marissa Alexander’s legal fees and other financial needs, go here to the Free Marissa Now national campaign.

To Learn more about the Sistah Vegan Project’s focus on “Vegan Praxis of ‘Black Lives Matter'”, you can find our more about our upcoming conference.

Dear PETA, Black Lives Matter…So, Where are You in All this Mess?

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Dear PETA,

I ran across this old post from 5 years ago (see at the end of this post). Why couldn’t you make your point without needing to do this? Seriously, it’s 5 years later and I wonder if you’ll ever know that Black Lives Matter and that we’re not just here to promote your white neoliberal racist sense of animal liberation. When I first saw this posted on Craig’s List (see at the bottom) I just wanted to vomit and cry… I thought about how, historically, Black women’s bodies have been exploited, abused, and demeaned in order to maintain white supremacist USA system…and yes, this process still continues. So, this ad below was just heartbreaking to me because it really shows that PETA uses ‘diversity’ in the most white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchal sense; that you are not an ally but an accomplice.

In the past several months, as I have directed my black feminist vegan work to meet the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement, I wonder if you ever apologized for doing this ad below. I also wonder what your role in Black Lives Matter movement is. Despite your obsession with being ‘post-human” and “we’re all animals”, race matters. Black people, collectively, do not think of ourselves as post-human because thus far, we have not even been afforded the right to be treated as sentient and loving human beings yet. And I don’t say this in as a promotion of speciesism. I say this with the full canon of critical race and Black feminist scholarship backing me up. I know that since European colonialism until now (…and probably tomorrow, and the week after, and the year after) Black people will continue to be treated as animals due to systemic racism and neoliberal whiteness— until post-racial, post-humanist, “I don’t see color” power-holders like yourself, practice the tenets of Black Lives Matter (along with many other anti-racist movements); incorporate it into your vegan actions. And when I write ‘treated as animals’, I’m speaking within the socio-historical context of post-1492, when European colonizers decided that non-human animals are disposable, exploitable, and non-sentient…and then they categorized Black Africans as such types of animals. 

As the Black Lives Matter movement becomes stronger and stronger across the U.S. nation, and  as I support this movement through my own actions as Black feminist vegan, where are you in all this mess? What have you done to show us that Black Lives Matter? Where are you in finally doing an organizational wide re-vamp to teach your staff and volunteers that a vegan praxis of Black Lives Matters is not only possible, but necessary? That it is far from distracting from your ‘single-issue’ goal of non-human animal liberation? You ask omnivores to stop being silent about the systemic abuses and suffering of non-human animals. I’m asking you to stop being silent and compliant when it comes to systemic abuse and exploitation of Black people. It is possible to focus on animal liberation and be anti-racist without losing your power to affect change. But, I think you know that by now and I wonder if it is easier to give up your speciesist power than it is to give up the collective neoliberal white privilege power most of your leadership HAS and simply cannot revoke. 

Like the ad below, will you continue to use our Black and Brown bodies that have white supremacist myths trailing behind them (“they are exploitable”, “they are hypersexual”, etc.) to further your very own and exclusive vegan social ‘just us’ goals; goals that don’t dismantle systemic racism and neoliberal whiteness, but reaffirm and maintain them?

I invite you to attend the Sistah Vegan 2015 Conference “The Vegan Praxis of ‘Black Lives Matter'”. It is online. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by attending. And pick up some books that will help you the learn about Black Lives Matter Movement; how it is a continuum of Black liberation. You will find that list at the bottom of this other Sistah Vegan post.

(Breeze sits here, anticipating the sound of crickets and another 5 years of social ‘just us’ like the ad below)

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