The Sistah Vegan Project

Archive for the tag “racism”

Diversity Rhetoric as Healing or Hurting? Decolonial Politics, Self-Care, and Structural Change in a Postracial Era

I gave a talk at Occidental College  Sept 30 2013, 430-6pm. It was called Diversity Rhetoric as Healing or Hurting? Decolonial Politics, Self-Care, and Structural Change in a ‘Post-Racial’ Era. I video recorded it and it’s been uploaded to this blog in 3 segments (see below).

Part I

Part II

Part III

 

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Breeze Harper to Give Keynote at Toronto Vegetarian Festival, September 8 2013.

I am giving a keynote talk at 330pm in Toronto on Sept 8 , 2013 at 330 pm for the 29th Annual Vegetarian Food Festival in Toronto.

I will be using vegan recipes as a possible method to help ‘heal’ from racial trauma. Apparently, it’s the first talk of it’s kind for this festival. It’s called “Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches: Why Vegan Healing is Crucial for Racial [Trauma] Healing.”  This won’t be vegan proselytizing, but rather, a way to use critical race, critical animal, and critical food studies as ways to talk about how systemic racism and white supremacy affects health and wellness. 
http://festival.veg.ca/portfolio/keynote-lectures-sunday/

On Trayvon Martin and Using Nutritional Healing for Our Racism Induced Illnesses and Pain

The San Francisco Greens Workshop that Dianna is referring to can be seen here

Dianna’s letter is all to real for many of us. In addition to having received her letter, for many of non-white minorities in the USA, the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial left us deeply troubled, traumatized, and angry. It was a direct reminder that racist narratives about Black people– particularly young Black males– seem to greatly influence many non-Black people’s understanding of whose lives are of value, and whose lives are not. It’s so deeply part of the USA’s moral fabric, I am convinced that most people hold these beliefs about Black people to be true, whether it is conscious or unconscious. As a mother to a 4 year old boy of African descent and during this past week, I have had to curb my own fears and anxieties about what the future in the USA holds for him, my daughter, and other young children in this country who do not “pass as white.”

Racism-induced stress, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, digestive problems, etc., are all too real for many of us, including myself. This past week, I had to be diligent about taking care of my emotional distress about the meaning of the George Zimmerman verdict. I reached for foods and herbs that can help the body and mind not become depleted during times of stress. For example, when I want to reach for a pint of vegan ice cream before going to bed, I tell myself, “If you’re already having insomnia problems trying to deal with the verdict and thinking about Sun (my son’s name), how is a food packed with SUGAR going to help you sleep or calm down?” I must lovingly remind myself to make my lemon balm tea and skullcap tea. They are nurturing and will help me continue with my anti-racism and decolonial work. After all, it’s hard to do much of anything when you cannot sleep.

In light of Dianna’s letter to me, and the trauma and stress that the Zimmerman verdict has caused for tens of thousands of people, I have decided to post again that I am offering a comprehensive webinar that more deeply addresses nutritional recipes (and other anti racism/decolonizing ‘health’ regiments) that can be part of self-care and empowerment for people whose health have been greatly affected by racism-induced trauma(s). I will offer suggestion for:

    • Alleviating anxiety and stress induced insomnia with 4 simple herbal teas and remedies

    • Using this one aromatic popular tea to reduce hypertension

    • Making this special dairy-free whole foods ice cream in place of less nutritionally healthy ‘junk’ comfort ice cream treats during stressful times.

    Date:

    August 18, 2013

    Time
    10:00 am PST/1:00pm EST (USA Time Zones)

    Cost:
    $29.99

    Duration:
    90 minutes (approximately)

    Registration: You can Register by clicking here.

    Technology requirements: a computer with a fast internet connection and a free Anymeeting.com (my webinars are hosted through Anymeeting.com so if you don’t want to call a regular phone number to access it ,you can join the webinar with a password via a free Anymeeting.com account). You should have speakers or headphone to hear. I will be using video and audio so participants will be able to hear me present while viewing Powerpoint slides. The webinar will be recorded and available to access for free for you who have registered, to refer to as long as you desire. Lecture will be 60 minutes long followed by a 30 minute Q and A.

    About the Instructor: Dr. A. Breeze Harper is 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

    Can Black People Be Racist Towards White People?

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    Well, to try to answer this question, let’s visit the fundamental definition of USA racism, which, for some reason, is greatly mis-understood by a majority of white people in the USA who have expressed that they were a recipient of racism from a Black or Brown person. They use the word ‘racism’ when actually they are describing a situation in which the Black or Brown person was expressing something, or doing something, that is different than the fundamental concept of USA racism. (Updated June 1 2013, 22:44 PST)

    What USA Racism Is

    Being ‘racist’ means that your behavior or attitude towards people will favor an outcome that privileges white racialized people; that privileges a white supremacist value system in the USA. USA racism means that USA society has built, and continues to organize, hierarchies of power around a white supremacist value system. Such a system means white racialized people end up collectively benefiting from this structural/systemic/institutional arrangement of power, privilege, and resources. This is how the canon of critical race studies and critical whiteness studies fundamentally define ‘racism’ or being ‘racist’ (Crenshaw 1995; Allen 2001; Flagg 2005; Lipsitz 2006; Sullivan and Tuana 2007; Chapman 2010; Martinot 2010; Razack et. al 2010)

    If a Black person were ‘racist’ towards a white person or white people, their actions would help to create more favorable outcomes for white people than non-white people. For example, to be ‘racist’ towards a white person who is is being interviewed for a job by a Black person, this would mean that the Black person would desire to hire this White candidate because they are white;  because they fundamentally believe in the white supremacist notion that White people are superior to non-white candidates. This would be the true definition of USA racism.

    What USA Racism Isn’t

    I have had white people tell me that they are angry that they cannot participate in a healing event for people of color that acknowledges the pain and trauma that racism have caused to people of color. The other summer, I participated in a healing retreat for women of African descent. I received quite a few rants from white Buddhists who said the event was ‘racist’ and I was too, for participating in it. Because the event focused on the healing needs of women of African descent who seek to resist the pains of racism-sexism ( due to white supremacist structuring of society) this event and my participation in it was not racist. If the event were racist, then it would have functioned in a way that would have allowed white people to participate and the two teachers would have taught everyone that a white supremacist value system is superior and that black women should know their ‘submissive’ place in it and not talk about their racism-induced suffering.

    I have also been told that it is ‘racist’ to engage in research about how racialization and race affects people’s thoughts, actions, behaviors, etc. Sorry, but this is not racist. It is racist to deny that race is an organizing principle in the USA and claim that we live in a ‘post-racial’ society. Wanting to ignore or deny the reality of how resources, power, etc, are shaped by white supremacist value system (backed by a canon of social-science based research that supports this) is racist; racist because this ignorance, dismissal, and/or denial does not dismantle a white racist value system, but simply upholds it.

    Don’t get me wrong. It drives me nuts that I have had Black people come up to me an tell me they are angry, disgusted, annoyed, etc that my husband is white. This is not racism, but it is annoying as hell and something I also do not condone. Yes, it is prejudice and another form of hate, however, it is not racism (and like I mentioned before, I am speaking within the context of USA). And no,  I do not support this prejudice or hate against white people from black people, as I don’t believe that the hate or prejudice against any group or people will every create a harmonious and loving world.  I try to understand these strong hateful feelings within the context of a very messed up history of white colonialism, racism, racialized-capitalism, and imperialism that has produced what can be understood as “the hate that hate produced” amongst some Black people in the USA.

    So, what are your thoughts about all of this?

    (UPDATED January 12, 2014)

    I was hoping that this piece would spark critical dialogues amongst people who would not be bullies, verbally violent, dismissive of everyone’s suffering. I was hoping that trolls would also not come on board. However, it seems that most of the people commenting here have either not read the goal of the Sistah Vegan Project, do not understand the goal, or have read it but don’t care to respect it. Furthermore, it appears that most have no fundamental understanding of what critical race/critical whiteness studies are. These two disciplines/canons are not ‘academic jargon’ or ‘masked racism against white people.’ These canons are not about judging people ‘because of the color of their skin.’ These canons represent a reality that does apply to our real world. My use of these canons to understand USA-Based racism/racialization/race relations, comes from decades of research from scholars and activists who have analyzed the lives of people in the USA (and beyond, but I’m focusing on the USA). Using social science methods/methodologies, as well as critical legal studies, the canons of critical race studies/critical whiteness studies employ testimonies, narrative research, surveys, ethnography, and discursive analysis to name a few, in order to create explanations and literacies around how white European colonialism/racism/imperialism have affected USA society from the micro to the macro scale; from individuals, to structures, systems, and institutions.

    I also want to remind people of this: just because someone comments on a blog and claims to be a certain identity, doesn’t mean it is true. For example, anyone can come on here claiming to be a Black woman who doesn’t believe that racism exists when in reality, they could be a bored 12 year old boy using their spare time to troll.

    FROM NOW ON, I WILL NOT APPROVE ANY COMMENTS THAT COME THROUGH IF THEY ARE CRUEL, NASTY, BULLYING, TROLLING, ETC. I RARELY CENSOR, BUT I WILL FOR THIS BLOG ARTICLE’S COMMENTS. 

    If you enjoy these types of dialogues and want to keep on supporting the Sistah Vegan Project, feel free to donate what you can by clicking below on gofundme. You can find out all about our goal to turn the Sistah Vegan Project into an official 501 c 3 non-profit organization!

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    Works Cited

    Allen, Ricky Lee. 2001. The Globalization of White Supremacy: Toward a Critical Discourse on the Racialization of the World. Educational Theory 51 (4):467-485.

    Chapman, Thandeka K. 2010. Critical Race Theory. In Handbook of research in the social foundations of education, edited by S. Tozer, B. P. Gallegos, A. Henry, M. B. Greiner and P. G. Price. New York: Routledge.

    Crenshaw, Kimberlé. 1995. Critical race theory : the key writings that formed the movement. New York: New Press : Distributed by W.W. Norton & Co.

    Flagg, Barbara J. 2005. Whiteness as Metaprivilege. Washington University Journal of Law and Policy 18 (1):1-11.

    Lipsitz, George. 2006. The possessive investment in whiteness : how white people profit from identity politics. Rev. and expanded ed. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

    Martinot, Steve. 2010. The machinery of whiteness : studies in the structure of racialization. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

    Razack, Sherene, Malinda Smith, and Sunera Thobani. 2010. States of Race: Critical Race Feminism for the 21st Century, Between the Lines. Toronto, Ontario: Between the Lines.

    Sullivan, Shannon, and Nancy Tuana. 2007. Race and epistemologies of ignorance, SUNY series, philosophy and race. Albany: State University of New York Press.

    “How do you like Germany so far? I mean, you’re Black”: On [Anti-]Racism and Food Erotica

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    Breeze Harper, 2012 New Years Eve at a club in München. Failed afro attempt. Ended looking like a ‘poodle.’ The Afro just wouldn’t stay up. LOL.

    On December 30, 2012, I went to one of the few cafes open on Sunday in Germany. The manager tried to speak to me in German, but I failed big time and answered in Spanish. I do this weird thing that when I’m spoken to in German,  I respond in Spanish 50% of the time. Weird, no? Talk to me in Spanish and I will respond in English 50% of the time. Anyway, I digress…

    …The manager ended up speaking to me in Spanish and English. After a few minutes of chatting about where I learned Spanish and what I am doing in Germany, he bluntly said, “How do you like Germany so far? I mean, [because] you’re Black.” I replied that I get stared at all the time, but I’m still enjoying myself. He folded his arms and shook his head, “Germany is full of Nazis once you leave the metropolitan [München] area. They are racists.” He shook his head, “I don’t really like it [here in Germany]. I don’t have a problem with anybody, black, white, whatever, but they do.” I have to admit that this is the first time I have encountered someone living in München, during my trip, who  offered to share this particular interpretation of Germany with me. I couldn’t agree with him about Germany being ‘full of Nazis’, as I have only spent most of my time in the metropolitan area. I was wondering how he was even defining the word ‘Nazi’, or was that his way of explaining that he encountered a significant number of white Germans who are ‘xenophobic’?

    I told him that I get stared at in the USA all the time, once I leave most cities and enter mostly white areas, so my Germany experience is not a surprise for me. I was unable to read his ethnicity, but he  did not ‘pass’ as white– or, rather, how I have come to define ‘whiteness’, which is in the USA socio-historical context. He had an olive complexion and black hair.

    The other day, someone commented on my post about my Tollwood experience, wishing that my in-laws move somewhere in which I would feel ‘at home’ versus a ‘racialized other.’ I appreciated their concern about me not feeling as comfortable or ‘at home’ as I should be in predominantly white spaces, but in my opinion, my in-laws shouldn’t have to move anywhere for me (or anyone else who doesn’t look like the ‘tribe’ of a particular region) to feel ‘at home.’ I would like to see that my in laws ‘stay’ and that Germany’s white collective consciousness continue to ‘move’ more forward, towards a creation of an unconditional love for all people who exist in these [socially constructed] borders of the German nation. Let’s remember: Germany has come a long way since the era of nationalized and institutionalized white supremacist Nazism. The mere fact that I can travel to here, get around the city, and be alive at the end of the day is an indication of a ‘move’ of national consciousness. But I am still really thinking about the cafe manager’s brief conversation with me and his strong use– maybe even inflammatory (?)– of the phrase, “Germany is full of Nazis….” Actually, in tandem with this, I think this about my own homeland: “USA is full of white supremacists who have no problem publicly displaying their enragement about the POTUS being non-white.” Fresh in my mind is the Facebook page that depicts Obama being lynched, with the caption “Rope”, instead of “Hope”with the sentence, “Hang the bastard.”

    But, I am hopeful. The other day, while waiting for the S Bahn (subway train) at Rosenheimer platz , I saw an advertisement on one of the many widescreen monitors they have on the subway walls. Portrayed was a ‘brown’ man accidently bumping into someone at a biergarten. He trips and accidently touches the shoulder of a white woman sitting down. The white man across from her becomes very angry and violent that this ‘brown’ man touched her. He grabs the brown man and is about to beat him up. The image freezes and then pans out to show that all of Germany is watching and will NOT tolerate such racialized and violent responses/behaviors to this ‘brown’ man’s sincere mistake. I didn’t know this was going on until the captions were translated for me. Has anyone else seen these ads? I have been trying to search for them on the Internet all morning.

    Food Erotica!!!!!

    On New Year’s Eve, I visited a shopping center dedicated to edible yumminess. My end goal was the new vegan shoppe called Boonian. Not all the photos below are from Boonian. The first ones are from Boonian. I spoke with the founder and he is from South Dakota, USA. I ended up eating a seitan sandwich and broccoli salad for lunch.

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    Sandwich: Seitan yumminess from Boonian.

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    And array of vegan wines offered by Boonian….

    And wishing these were vegan……

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    On SF Zen Center, Addressing Whiteness in Buddhism, and Moving Forward

     

    This is the second part of the ongoing dialogue started from my August 2012 blogged observations. This blog was about my participation in San Francisco Zen Center’s 50th anniversary celebration. Below is a video of me sharing information about a book (see picture below) to help interested parties move forward in engaging with the implications of normative whiteness within predominantly white Buddhist sanghas. I recommended this book to Abbott Stucky of the San Francisco Zen Center at the end of August 2012 and they have ordered it for the sangha. Thanks SF Zen Center for meeting with me and hearing my take on mindful engagement about the implications of whiteness in predominantly white communities/institutions.


    Race and Religion in American Buddhism: White Supremacy and Immigrant Adaptation (Aar Academy Ser)
    by Joseph Cheah

    Connections: Racism, Speciesism, and Whiteness as The Norm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    UPDATE: As of June 2, 2011:

    Donated: $900

    Needed for completion of goal: $9,000

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

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

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

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

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

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