The Sistah Vegan Project

Archive for the tag “veganism”

Watching Slaughterhouse vs. Strawberry Harvest Videos: How Plant Harvesting is Often Romanticized as Cruelty-Free

I was on one of my FB sites dedicated to anti-speciesism. Someone posted this photo below.

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Source: Facebook

I do understand why they posted this.  But…

…I felt compelled to mention that strawberry harvesting, though not nearly as visually ‘gruesome’ and as directly ‘cruel’ as slaughtering non-human animals, does not mean that the harvesting of strawberries is cruelty-free (as applied to those of us who buy strawberries vs. those of us who have the ‘privilege’ of growing our own to pick). Thousands of human laborers, mostly brown people from what is considered Latin America, harvest strawberries (and many other vegetables and fruits) in cruel conditions. Being sprayed with pesticides, not having access to clean water and toilets, working for poverty level wages, etc are what a significant number of what these folk must go through. I don’t mean to throw a wrench in this image and text’s meanings, but I really think this is something I often see being elided within talks about how one’s conscious is more ‘clean’ by eating vegan diets of fruits and veggies in North America. Once again, I am not saying or equating the slaughter of non-human animals as the SAME as exploited and abused human farm laborers; both practices are disgusting and cause a lot of pain and suffering. However, I just want to point out that the former (non human animal slaughter) is always made visible amongst the vegan mainstream in the USA, while the latter (harvesting strawberries or other plants for human consumption under horrible and insufferable conditions) is painted as something one need not think deeply about [since non-human animals weren't directly harmed].

Here is a book that can help us think more about not getting swept up in what looks like an ‘easy’ binary to make. The cover has a laborer picking strawberries. Click on the title to learn more:

The Food Empowerment Project, a pro-vegan organization, also advocates more awareness around the human cruelty endured by farm laborers.   Lauren Ornelas, ED of the Food Empowerment Project,  discusses these issues in this video below:

Enjoy this article? See what Dr. Harper is doing for her next book project and how you help fund it. Click below.

gofundme

[VIDEO] “What’s Sustainable?” Vegan and Vegetarian Black Men of Hip Hop Tell It Like it Is

 

Title: “What’s Sustainable?” Vegan&Vegetarian Black Men of Hip Hop Tell It Like it Is

Description: My talk I gave at Pacific Lutheran University on May 8, 2014 in Washington. I look at DJ Cavem, Bryant Terry, and Ashel Eldridge. Please note that my battery ran out about 10 minutes before the talk ended. This is the beginning stages of a book I am working out. It is very ‘introductory’ and I know I still have a lot more work to do. Below are the pivotal questions I am trying to answer.

  • How are black men of the hip hop generation responding to living in a nation in which structural racism, negro-phobia, speciesism, and white supremacist based moral system have been the norm since colonialism?
  • How does the Black vegan Hip Hop movement offer different ways of consuming, as well as being a ‘real’ man, from race-conscious, decolonial, eco-sustainable, and anti-specieist 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?

“Real G’s Got Hoes”: Veganism, Black Masculinity, and Ethical Consumption(The Remix)

Here is the video to my latest talk I gave at Oberlin College a few days ago, “G’s Up Hoes Down”: Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption: The Remix. Just note that am one of the rare Black folk who didn’t grow up listening to a lot of hip hop or being engaged with hip hop culture to a significant degree in the USA. I was raised in an all white and rural working class New England town Lebanon, Connecticut. I listened to classical music from European and American USA traditions (my twin was much ‘cooler’ and he listened to hip hop and rap). Hence,  there is a lot I need to learn more about Hip Hop as I continued this much needed research. You also should know that this is the beginning stages of my book research and talks on this. What does that mean? Much will change, including my analysis and how I ‘understand’ what is going on with these men’s fabulous work as I work towards finishing this project by 2016. Enjoy.

[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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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.

‘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)?

Revisioning Food Sovereignty: “Trayvon Martin, PETA, and the Packaging of Neoliberal Whiteness” [Scripps College, Sept 25 2013]

On September 25, 2013 I gave a lecture at Scripps College in Ontario, California: “Trayvon Martin, PETA&The Packaging of Neoliberal Whiteness”. Below is the video recording for those who could not attend. It’s part of their Humanities Institute Fall 2013 symposium on Food.

Part I

Part II

I want to thanks Scripps College for inviting me to speak. I had an amazing time and they were very mindful of my needs and making sure I got what I needed (i.e. transportation from the airport and food, food, food, as at this point being 34 weeks pregnant, I’m an ravenous! LOL) .

If you would like to invite me to come speak at your organization, institution, or similar, please contact me at sistahvegan(at) gmail(dot) com. Also, if you enjoyed the content of what I spoke about during this Scripps College talk, feel free to check out the Sistah Vegan Web Conference that took place on September 14, 2013. The entire 8 hours was recorded. You can click here to see what speaker line-up and the talks that were given.

ScrippsFlyer Breeze Harper

Here is the poster of the advertised talk above and also a blog piece you can read that I wrote. Toward the end of the blog posting, I share my mother’s ‘fears’ of me talking about whiteness and jeopardizing my safety; this occurred after I shared the news that I was going to give my talk at Scripps and told her the title and content of it.

On a raw vegan diet, Serena Williams won the US Open for 2013

Another example of how one can get enough of everything on a vegan raw diet and win the US Open :-)

Serena Williams practices a raw foods vegan diet and she won the U.S. Open this month.

It would have been really amazing to have had her be a keynote speaker for the Sistah Vegan Web Conference and speak about being a top athlete on a vegan diet. I mostly only see pieces about male athletes on vegan diets, but I rarely get to hear about women– black women!– who are top athletes eating vegan.

Wow, with her strong bones and healthy muscle tone, How DOES she get protein and calcium!!!? (You know, the same tired old questions directed towards folk who don’t eat animals or animal products). :-)

Critical Food & Health Studies Web Conference: “Embodied and Critical Perspectives on Veganism by Black Women and Allies”

Please help spread the word about this Sistah Vegan Project hosted web conference. And you can click here to get the one page pdf flyer to post it somewhere! Thanks.

Critical Food & Health Studies Web Conference:

“Embodied and Critical Perspectives on Veganism by Black Women and Allies”

 

Date: September 14, 2013

Time: 10:00am-6:00pm PST (USA)

Location: Online Web Conference Through Anymeeting.com

SPEAKER LINE-UP AND SCHEDULE

 

10:00 AM: “Introduction: How Veganism is a Critical Entry Point to Discuss Social, Animal, and Environmental Justice Issues for Black Women and Allies.” Dr. A. Breeze Harper, University of California-Davis.

10:15 AM: “How Whiteness and Patriarchy Hurt Animals.” Anastasia Yarbrough, Inner Activism Services.

10:50 AM: “PETA and the Trope of ‘Activism’: Naturalizing Postfeminism and Postrace Attitudes through Sexualized Bodied Protests.” Aphrodite Kocięda, University of South Florida

11:25 AM: “An Embodied Perspective on Redefining Healthy in a Cultural Context and Examining the Role of Sizeism in the Black Vegan Woman Paradigm.” Nicola Norman.

12:25 PM: “Cosmetic Marginalization: Status, Access and Vegan Beauty Lessons from our Foremothers.” Pilar Harris, Pilar in Motion.

1:00 PM: Open Discussion: “‘Why I Relinquished the Gospel Bird and Became a Vegan’: Girls and Women of African Descent Share Their Reasons for Choosing Veganism.”

1:50 PM: “Midwifery, Medicine and Baby Food Politics: Underground Feminisms and Indigenous Plant-based Foodways and Nutrition.” Claudia Serrato, University of Washington.

2:30 PM: “Constructing a Resource Beyond Parenting as a Black Vegan: Discussing Geography and Theology and Their Contradictions Within.” Candace M. Laughinghouse, Regent University.

3:05 PM: Panel Discussion: “Yoga for the Stress Free Soul Sista And Radical Self-Care Teaching: Exploring Privilege in Yoga & Veganism for Girls of Color” w/ Sari Leigh & Kayla Bitten

4:20 PM: Open Discussion: Reflections on the Sistah Vegan Anthology.

5:00 PM: “Is Black Decolonization Possible in a Moral Economy of Neoliberal Whiteness? How USA Black Vegan Liberation Rhetoric Often Perpetuates Tenets of Colonial Whiteness.” Dr. A. Breeze Harper, University of California Davis.

 

Conference Information, Registration Details, and Complete Speaker Abstracts: http://www.sistahveganconference.com

 

Contact Organizer Information:

Dr. A. Breeze Harper

breezeharper@gmail.com

510-564-7870

What could make these babies so happy?

What could make my 2 and this 4 year olds so happy!?

Ice cream. Vegan ice cream from Curbside Creamery in Oakland, California. They had a little stand up in Temescal this summer. I became excited to see that they offered non-soy based vegan ice cream. It is based on nuts and it was fantastic! They open up this fall in Oakland. Check it out here: Curbside Creamery

In other news, Sistah Vegan is gearing up for our first annual critical race feminist oriented web conference, “Embodied and Critical Perspectives on Veganism by Black Women and Allies”. It is September 14, 2013. Go here for more details and registration information. 

Abortion as the “Kinder Choice”: Able-Bodied Rhetoric, Veganism, and Reproductive Ethics

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I am stating my social and ability position right now: I am an ‘able-bodied’ USA born woman and have been ‘able-bodied’ my entire life. I know I benefit from structural ableism, and as a child and younger adult, I was unaware of just how much being constructed as an ‘able-bodied’ human being ‘earned’ me privileges of being seen as ‘productive’

In addition, I have had slim-body privilege my entire adult life. I bring this up because ‘being fat’ or ‘obese’ has really shifted in the USA over the past decade: it is now common for a significant number of medical and alternative health communities to suggest that ‘being fat’ equals ‘disabled body’ which are then constructed  as being ‘inferior’ and ‘impure.’ 

I actually want to start a spin-off dialogue about what it means for able-bodied vegans to construct being “kinder” with “harmlessness” (principles of Ahimsa based veganism) and then making the argument that a life of “living with a disability” would be “cruel”; hence, if one can “prevent” this “happening” to a fetus (in utero), they should seriously consider abortion.

“But that said, I do think that sometimes there are times when abortion may be a kinder choice. Sometimes there might be medical reasons for an abortion. Maybe the unborn child gets diagnosed with a really severe disability which will mean a very unhappy and/or short life for the child. ” -emily

Thank you for those of you who joined the discussion “Vegans: Are you ‘pro-life’, ‘pro-choice’, or have an alternative perspective on abortion?” that I posted on June 25, 2013.  The quote above was one of over 40 comments posted on the June 25 blog topic. It made me think of several things:

  • Who determines what a ‘really severe’ disability is?
  • Is a life of happiness only possible if a fetus is determined to meet some benchmark of ‘healthy’?
  • Most importantly, are you a person who was born as being diagnosed with a disability or disabilities, and how has this lived experienced, as well as living in a society of structural ableism (at least here in the USA) informed your own sense of Ahimsa, kindness, living a life of happiness etc, as well as the argument by able-bodied people about promoting abortion for “disabled” fetuses?

Even though Emily’s statement is focusing on ‘severe disability’, I do not know much about Emily. After all, emily could be a person living with disability too, but I’m wondering if this person speaks from the positionality of not being ‘diagnosed’ as ‘severely disabled’.  Furthermore, and even though it is not completely the same premise that reflects Emily’s comments, I have found the rhetoric of ableism quite pervasive in the mainstream vegan movement in the USA. There is an overal fear of how certain eating habits will or will not create a ‘pure’ or ‘impure’ human being. Such ‘purity’ rhetoric not only focuses on ‘disability’, but also traits such as ‘being tall’ and  ‘being slender’ as being an ‘abled body’. For example, I can’t tell you how many times I come across these assumptions about what makes a ‘superior’ or ‘healthy child, particularly through dietary habits amongst those who practice veganism, vegetarianism, and raw foods:

  • Eating a plant-based diet has been shown to increase IQ, so be sure to go vegan or vegetarian while pregnant! (What you’re really saying—> Because only ‘smart’ children, whose intellect is based on a socially constructed test, are most productive and contribute the most to society)
  • Eating a plant-based diet rich in protein and greens has been proven to make sure your child will be tall and slender (What you’re really saying—? Because short and/or children who are ‘fat’ are not going to be happy and are not superior to tall slender children).

(Updated on July 6, 8:35 am PST) So, here’s the thing: I am not asking people to necessarily start a dialogue about whether or not the person carrying an embryo or fetus SHOULD OR SHOULD not abort. This post is more about how particular regions, cultures, eras, etc., in the USA PRODUCE rhetoric around who is ‘normal’, ‘healthy’, and ‘able-bodied. Hence how does this normalized rhetoric influence our perceptions and ethical belief systems when making choices about their pregnancy and birthing? How does this influence how we perceive and relate to themselves (whether they have been ‘diagnosed’ as an abled bodied or a disabled bodied person)? This dialogue, doesn’t have to be focused on the pro-choice and pro-life debate, but rather, it can also engage in serious and mindful dialogue around the reality that here in the USA at least, there is a strong rhetoric of ‘fear’ and ‘panic’ when potential human beings (embryo and fetuses), as well as living ‘post-birth’ human beings, do not fit into socially accepted norms of ‘able-bodied’.

So, let’s talk about this, and I’m going to ask, if you are comfortable, to state you social and ability locations like I did. If you are unfamiliar with the goals of Sistah Vegan, we seriously engage in how our social, geographical, etc locations affect our experiences, consciousness, and how we view our reality.

In addition, if you’re interested in hearing more about applications of disability studies and vegan studies, I invite you to join the first annual Sistah Vegan conference, which takes place as an interactive web conference on September 14, 2013. Click here to learn more about it: Sistah Vegan Conference, September 14 2013. 
If you enjoy the work of the Sistah Vegan Project, please help us become an official non-profit organization. Please contribute what you can by clicking on the GOFUNDME Link below. 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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Want strong healthy hair and glowing skin? Black hair and skin care the natural way!

Black women and girls: My name is Dr. A. Breeze Harper. You can achieve glowing skin and strong healthy hair with a few simple steps. I want to share this wisdom with you. Will you join me?

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Dr. A. Breeze Harper without make-up, May 2013.

Dr. Harper, November 2012 with daughter, Eva Luna.

Dr. Harper, November 2012 with daughter, Eva Luna.

  • Learn how to combat breakage and strengthen your hair, no matter how long or short.

  • Discover how postpartum hair loss can be remedied without medical treatment or expensive alternatives

  • Learn how this one simple and cheap natural oil can grow your hair, add hydration, and is also excellent for your skin

  • Learn how easy it is to ‘go natural’, with the right shampoo, oils, herbs, and conditioner

My name is  Dr. A. Breeze Harper of the Sistah Vegan Project. I have been complimented often about how much my hair grows and how much my skin glows. I do not go to hair salons or spas, and nor have I worn make-up for about 15 years.  I will teach you what foods and herbs you can take, as well as put on your hair and scalp, that will help your hair grow, become stronger, and healthier.  I will also focus a portion of this webinar to growing you hair back, after giving birth. Postpartum hair loss is all too common amongst women. I know women who had children 2 or 3 years ago and continue to have hair loss and thinning problems. With a few tips from me, they were able to grow their hair back.

Date: June 30, 2013

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

Cost: $30.00

Spaces Left: 27 out of 30.

Duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes (approximately)

Technology requirements: a computer with a fast internet connection and a free WebEx account (my webinars are hosted through WebEx, so if you don’t want to call a regular phone number to access it and then pay per minute, you can join the webinar with a password via a free WebEx account). You should have speakers or headphone to hear. I will be using video and audio so participants will be able to see and hear me present. The webinar will be recorded and available to access for free for you who have registered, to refer to as long as you desire. There will be Q&A at the end.

How to pay: please sent payment to my PayPal account. My email associated with that account is breezeharper (at) gmail (dot) com. In the memo field please type in “hairjune2013”

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.

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.

“Living in post apartheid South Africa inflicts such great wounds on a person of color, especially one coming from a country where the settlers have all but left”

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Dr. A. Breeze Harper

(This post was originally titled: “Not everyone has the ‘privilege’ or desire to practice veganism through the lens of ‘post-racial’ whiteness”. However, I decided to change and update it.)

Sistah Vegan Project is the alternative space for those of us Black women and allies who have grown tired of PETA-type post-racial vegan politics that so dominate not just the USA, but many white-settler nations.

A few days a ago, I received a letter from S—- (i am protecting her identity and she gave me permission to publish her letter), a Black Kenyan woman living in South Africa. I read her email and it made me cry for many reasons. I wanted to share it with you because her experience and her open-heart truth-song are the reasons why I must keep the Sistah Vegan Project going, and turn it into a fully functional non-profit organization. Black women, not just those of use who practice veganism, really need to be surrounded by people who don’t force us to ‘accept’ a post-racial utopia myth the neoliberalism has so ‘brilliantly’ done to the consciousness of so many of us living in white-settler nations.

Dear Dr Breeze Harper,

My name is S— from Kenya, but I am currently living in Cape Town South Africa. I recently embarked on a juice fast primarily for weight-loss but a month in, after watching copious youtube videos, I began to see my journey as one that was broader than just the idea of losing weight for aesthetic reasons. I started thinking about my health and how I just wanted better for myself. I have been overweight for almost seven years now and the birth of my son four years ago exacerbated my condition.  I found a blackhealthvillage video on youtube about Queen Afua and through this medium i discovered you. I am writing just to say thank you so much, you have no idea how much what you have to say has moved me and changed my life.

I started flirting with the idea of going vegan, which especially in a very white post colonial Cape Town, is such a white “hippie”, yoga life concept and is not really considered normal for a person of color. I struggled with the looks of disbelief I got from a lot of people when i spoke about my journey into the raw vegan life style. One of the things that struck out to me the most, was how my boss particularly (who has recently gone vegetarian), only wanted to discuss veganism/vegetarianism in terms of cruelty to animals. I always had a sense that we were communicating past each other. I do hate the extent to which the animal products and meat industry is destroying our planet and also the extremity of the cruelty to which many animals are subjected just so humans can eat abundantly. I find obscene the amount of waste (food) generated by the meat and fish industry.   The conversation around these issues however,always seemed shallow and very basic to me, it just seemed to lack conviction. 

I have been watching your videos and I feel like I am home. Looking at veganism as a way to decolonize my body has provided the conviction I need to proceed on with my journey.

Living in post apartheid South Africa inflicts such great wounds on a person of color, especially one coming from a country where the settlers have all but left. I first really noticed the color of my skin when i moved here 13 years ago. I stopped being “S— the girl in my English class” and became “that black chic, man, the one who sits two rows down in English”. I noticed the segregation, people naturally just hang around with their own kind. I was at a progressive university, where the History department (I majored in History for my BA) was renowned for its work in studying neocolonialism and post apartheid whiteness, but i was still having to defend my lived experiences of racial attacks to white middle class suburban students. These were spoiled and entitled people: They would not acknowledge sprawling townships that existed not too far beyond their high electric fences, where people of color still lived in tin shacks and used buckets as toilets…it was altogether inconceivable that they would ever acknowledge that i experienced racism on a daily basis. I had heard stories where orientation week for black South African student included guidelines to using toilets that flushed; I could not fathom anything more demeaning.

As result of years of this battery I just started letting  a lot slide, i ignored racial comment, acting as though i was unaffected. I worked hard and gave off an air of disdain to all the white folk that dared challenge my prowess and abilities based on my skin color. I had the advantage of being well traveled (as my parents had worked for the UN) and being very “well spoken” in an accent that was acceptable to my white counterparts. I was therefore accepted, i somehow was excluded from the stereo types attributed to black people. My son is a biracial child and thus fact that i married into a white family made me more appealing to the white neo- liberal society. Nothing is more patronizing than being the token and acceptable black person, i am the girl that allows white people to say “I am not racist, I have black friend”. 

I cannot decide what is worse, the patronizing or the out right hateful racism i get form the Afrikaaners (the coiners of the term Kafir). There have also been moments where i feel isolated form the black community because of my choice in mate and my child is hurt (although not intentionally) when discussions about bi-racial children arise – these usually evoke such fierce sentiments from white and black alike.

What I really want to say is that your work has awoken something in me and I feel empowered and politicized again. I know that it is okay to talk about how hurtful racism is, and to let people know that the denial of its existence is such  an insult to a person who lives it everyday. I have pandered to the feelings of white “friends, colleagues and neighbors'” by not discussing my feelings around racism for fear of being deemed militant or too heavy, whilst the very same people have not considered my feelings when they discuss people of color, our cultures and our politics from a place of non compassion and understanding. 

I have been empowered by you to find a safe space to release my anguish, to find like minded sisters and brothers who will help me heal A place where it is safe to discuss my views. My family lives in Kenya and the US so i am surrounded by a white family where my opinions are quietly discouraged. I recall once being asked to step off my soap box as it was dinner time and thus very inappropriate to discuss politics. At the time i was talking about the plight of the immigrant Zimbabweans crossing the South African boarder everyday, looking for a better life; i failed to understand why this was deemed inappropriate politic whereas deeming the new black regime wasn’t.

In a nutshell I am truly grateful for your work and thank you for opening my eyes to so much.

Kindest regards
S—-

“I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.”
 ― Maya Angelou

This letter helped to ground me and recenter me. If you have been following my blog for the past few months, you have read or heard how I struggle with what is the “worth” in doing this work; particularly in this harsh job economy in which a person with my particular ‘skillset’ (that critiques ‘the system’) cannot secure full time employment… But thank you S— for reminding me why I must somehow make the Sistah Vegan Project my livelihood.

I have been doing this work for years, and as much as I enjoy it, I can no longer do it for free. 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. 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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How do racial experiences affect vegan dietary and animal compassion activism?

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How do racial experiences affect vegan dietary and animal compassion activism?

This is just one of the many questions I hope the Sistah Vegan Project can answer, through rigorous social-science based methods and research. However, we are far from completing this goal, but this is how you can help us…

My name is Dr. Amie Breeze Harper and I am the founder of the Sistah Vegan Project. (http://www.sistahvegan.com ) My birthday was yesterday, and my wish for this year is to transform the Sistah Vegan Project into a passion that sustains me spiritually as well as financially. I am going to take a bold, exciting, and awesome step and turn the Sistah Vegan Project into into an official non-profit organization; it would be my full-time work. What would we do? Here are a few goals:

  • Investigate and report how USA plant-based dietary philosophies and animal compassion are impacted by racial/ethnic experience.
  • Provide webinars and workshops that teach about plant-based dietary philosophies with special emphasis on cultural, racial, ethnic identity in the USA. For example, a workshop about becoming vegan that acknowledges the realities of how racial health disparities and environmental racism significantly impact food access and knowledge of low-income communities of color.
  • Publishing scientifically based online materials about plant-based nutrition and health for varying demographics, but in particular, pregnant and lactating girls and women.
  • Create yearly Sistah Vegan Healing Conference/Retreat for females of color and allies. This event would enable us to share knowledge and build our leadership skills around plant-based dietary philosophies, but rooted in anti-racism, decolonial activism, and animal compassion that reflect the collective needs of females of color.
  • Publish 2 seminal media projects that investigate alternative black masculinities within the sphere of vegan food politics:
    • Brotha Vegan! Black Male Vegans Speak On Food, Identity, Health, and Society. This would be an anthology collection similar to Sistah Vegan.
    • “Living Bling, Going Green”: Alternative Black Masculinities, Hip Hop Eco-Consciousness, and Decolonial Vegan Nutrition. This would be a social-science based book which will investigate how plant-based philosophies are being reshaped and reformulated by Black men of the hip hop generation. How do they engage pedagogies of hip-hop, educating and mobilizing people of color about health disparities, as well as environmental and institutional racism, and animal cruelty?
  • Create Android and Apple smartphone apps and media that help you make more informed decisions about food, health, social justice, and eco-sustainability.

I ask you for your help to make this non-profit possible. The primary resources I need are monetary and would be used for the following:

A Social Media Intern. I would be seeking the help of a part-time social media intern who knows how to use the latest social media apps. Duties would include promoting the book Sistah Vegan and notifying people about my new speaking events and blog posts. Ideally, I would want to pay this intern, but would need to do it through donations. This would be a tele-commuting position.

An Android and IOS 5 App Programming Intern. I would need funding for a smartphone app programming intern who can create apps and digital media for our organization.

Public Speaking and Events Coordinator Intern. The bulk of my income comes from speaking engagements in which I receive an honorarium. However, thus far, Sistah Vegan Project is a one woman show. I have two pre-school age children and inadequate child-care help and have only been able to secure several speaking gigs each year. I simply do not have enough time to take care of my babies and actively search and network the numerous possibilities out there for public speaking. What I need is an intern who can promote my work to universities, businesses, and non-profits, in a concise and creative way, so these organizations can hire me to talk about 2-3x month. Ideally, I would want to pay this intern, but would need to do it through donations. This would be a tele-commuting position.

Resources and Funding for Travel to Conferences and Workshops. Over the past few years, I have been unable to attend numerous conferences because of registration and travel fees associated with them; in addition, I would have had to leave my babies at home and pay for childcare (which is so expensive, I just opt to stay home). For example, I am hoping to be accepted to the Interrogating Critical Studies of Whiteness Conference at Trier University in Germany, which takes place this summer. However, the plane ticket alone during ‘high’ season for traveling is $1600. Conferences are spaces in which I can share the social justice research of the Sistah Vegan Project as well as learn about new ideas and methods to strengthen the work that I do. I see financial donations or plane miles to help with such expenses.
Visiting Scholar Fees. Because I was not offered any type of academic position this year, I no longer have access to resources of a university: office space, scholarly community collaboration, auditing classes, online library services, etc. I will be applying to be a ‘visiting scholar’ at several local universities in my area. What this means is that I will have the resources I need to do my Sistah Vegan Project work. However, I would have to pay the university about $500 in ‘fees’ to be a ‘visiting scholar’.
501 C 3 Non-Profit Status. For 2013, I want to turn Sistah Vegan Project into an official non-profit. Fees accompanied with this transition are about $350.
Board Members. Once we are an official non-profit, I will be inviting candidates to send me a CV and short cover letter about why they would like to be part of the board. I will be seeking about 4 or 5 board members. At this point, board members will be volunteer.
Technology Costs. From WordPress Pro, to Vimeo Plus, to Comcast Cable Internet subscription, to Cisco WebEx, the Sistah Vegan Project relies on internet technologies as our primary method of educational outreach. However, these technology services are pricey and we seek donations that can help cover these costs.
Peer Reviewed Journal. Lastly, I envision us releasing a Critical Race and Vegan Studies journal twice a year.My goal for this year is to raise $80,000. Originally I had stated $60,000, but I have updated our needs to include a smartphone app programmer. This fundraising goal would provide enough money so I can work on the Sistah Vegan Project at a salary that is equivalent to want I need to pay for day-care, my rent, utilities, student loans, food, etc, as well as offer modest compensation to part-time temporary interns. I have been doing this work for years, and as much as I enjoy it, I can no longer do it for free. 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. 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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Part 2: Dissecting the Implications of “Racist Cunt”: Reflections from Post-PhD ‘Post-Racial’ Land.

From Let to Right: Mariama Gray,  Giovanna Montenegro, and A. Breeze Harper at the 1st Annual Women of Color Research Conference at UC Davis.

From Left to Right: Marima Gray, Giovanna Montenegro, and A. Breeze Harper at the 1st Annual Women of Color Research Conference at UC Davis.

On May 11, 2013, at 12:15 pm, I gave a short talk at University of California-Davis for the Annual Women of Color Conference, which was from 9am-5pm. The video is below. I also included the transcript. I didn’t read exactly from it, but you will get the basic idea.  This blog post and video are the continuation of my April 2013 blog reflection ‘Racist Cunt’ and Cyberbullying: Ruminations on the Troll Life.

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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Thank you to those of you who helped to cover my travel costs! I’m truly appreciative!

Title: On [cyber]bullying and racist [micro] aggressions: turning your experiences of discursive violence into opportunities for research and activism

Abstract: I will be discussing the research and activism I did as a PhD student, which investigated whiteness and neoliberalism within vegan spaces. I will draw special attention to how I had to navigate the tremendous amount of direct hate as well as covert racist micro-aggressions that I experienced largely from white identified people. Most importantly, I will speak of how I turned these situations into research and activist opportunities. I will try to answer what I think it means to do this type of work as a critical race feminist and Black woman in a ‘post-racial’ USA.

Full Transcript
In March 2013, I finally completed my dissertation and all my PhD requirements. Finally, I was PhD certified as a social scientist to investigate the phenomenon of structural racism and normative whiteness within ethical food movements such as veganism and vegetarianism in the USA.

I know that doctoral studies, and especially the dissertation portion of a doctoral program, can be very difficult for so many graduate students of color. However, I wanted to share with you my personal experiences of specifically doing the work of critical race feminism and critical whiteness studies in spaces that are quite hostile towards those of us- particularly women of color- who debunk the myth that we in a post-racial USA. I also wanted to share with you how repetitive experiences with what I’d call racist micro-aggressions, can be often times inspiring as well a physically, emotionally, and mentally debilitating. The most important question that I have had, since beginning my graduate work until now is: What does it mean for me, as a Black woman, to not play the expected “mammy” role, but to actually investigate the meaning behind this hostility and turn it into a scholarship?

Back in 2007, when I matriculated into Davis’s Geography Graduate Group program, I was dead set on researching 4 or 5 key black female vegans in the USA. I had posted on cyberspace, on as many blogs and other social media apps as possible, that I was releasing my Sistah Vegan Anthology and that I was searching for influential Black women vegans for my doctoral studies. However, I kept on running into what I would consider, hostile responses from white self-identified vegans who seemed rather angry that I was interested in how race and gender influenced not just Black women, but any vergan person’s consciousness in the USA. I tried not to be distracted by these responses, however, I have to admit that it nagged at my consciousness for a very long time. In the fall of 2007, I was invited to give a talk at Pitt, to discuss the concept of using veganism to decolonize the diet. I presented a case study about adjudicated black and brown youths who were introduced to a vegan diet [at an alternative rehabilitation program in Florida]. I solely concentrated on a bell hooks critical race feminist inspired analysis of this case study to my audience. Not once did I mention anything about animal rights, which is the mainstream reason why vegans in the USA feel strongly that people should become vegan. Within a week of giving that talk, an audience member emailed me. She was under the impression that I was quite “rude” to only talk about how at risk youths were utilizing a ‘decolonizing’ vegan diet to fight against white supremacist structures that make it so ‘easy’ for black and brown boys to enter the Prison Industrial Complex. She had let me know that it was “misleading” to give a talk about veganim and never talk about the TRUE purpose of veganism: which is really only about saving the lives of non-human animals. At the end of her email she also let me know that I needed to dress more professionally to be take seriously.

I forwarded her email to the person who had invited me to give the paid talk. Coincidentally, he actually knew who she was; she was a student of his and he had let me know that unfortunately, she reflected the ‘post-racial’ white entitled attitude that so many from her white Pittsburgh suburban neighborhood represented. Even though this happened 6 years ago, it highlights many of the similar emails, posts, and real world interactions I have had with white vegans who have heard about my Sistah Vegan Anthology, have viewed my recorded lectures, or attended my keynote addresses.

In 2010, I passed my qualifying exams and presented to my committee, that I still would be looking at the history of Black female vegans in the USA. They approved my proposal. However, about a month later, I found myself going through my collected emails and posts of ‘post-racial’ racist microagressions from white people, mostly vegan or vegetarian. Something was definitely there, but I didn’t know what I should do about it. I couldn’t lie to myself and say that it didn’t “hurt” to be constantly blasted with such vitriol, despite me always being ‘professional’, backing up my analysis with the strong canon of critical race, black feminism, and critical whiteness literature, and being ‘mindful’ towards mostly white audience participants. So, I was at a serious crossroads. I knew my dilemma was not an isolated event within the alternative food and food justice movement. I had privately shared my hurt and pain with a plethora of other food activists of color who were trying to understand how to deal with such hostility towards them, when they would try to explain to white foodies how white supremacy, as a structure, is embedded in the food system.

About a month after having my proposal passed, I told my advisor that I just couldn’t become as excited about researching solely Black female vegans, and that if possible, I would like to understand the hate, anger, and denial from the collectivity of white, mostly vegan people that had contacted me. I felt like a needed to create a type of critical race literacy model for a post-racial era of whites in the USA who sincerely though they were ‘good’ people for eating ‘ethically’, ‘vegan’, and or ‘vegetarian’, but were simply unable to grasp how race, whiteness, and globalized capitalism organized the food system, organized their consciousness around ethical consumption, and influenced them to be unaware of racial power dynamics.
Yes, I finished my dissertation, but I won’t lie to you: it was very very difficult. I spent days wondering if I had chosen the right path. Despite trying to create this much needed critical race literacy model for the hip and rising vegan movement, my soul and mental health seemed to suffer greatly. I began to have trouble with balancing the comments, emails, and even real world audience’s covertly angry questions about the scholarly-activist work I had chosen to do. I also began to wonder if it was worth it. The anxiety attacks I would get every time I would be asked to lecture at a university was difficult. I’d often show up and see how often, most of the audience was white, and then I would think to myself, How would they respond to what I had to say and was I putting my safety in jeopardy?

In November of 2011, I was asked to give a talk about veganism and critical studies of race at UC Berkeley. I decided to talk about how Queen Afua’s veganiusm is an Afrocentric response to colonial whiteness and response to the legacies of slavery that have manifested as black health disparities and inequities in food and health access. I was never allowed to complete my lecture, as I was constantly interrupted by white audience members who were irritated that Afua asked black women to practice veganism for decolonizing their food practices and did not mention anything about animal rights. Despite me trying to explain that the kitchen is not oppressive for all women, and that historically, second wave white middle-class feminists have a collectively different relationship to the kitchen space than black women, I was also  interrupted by white women who were irritated that Afua’s sense of Black female empowerment meant Black women should reclaim the kitchen space as the central site of resistance and Black nation building. Yes, one can agree with me; it’s okay. But the lack of respect and sense of entitlement to not even let me finish my talk and not wait to bring these these issues up during q and a was quite telling. I was the ‘formal’, ‘articulate’, and professional ‘accommodating’ negro, while they were allowed to be the opposite…. and without repercussions. If this was indicative of my ‘professional future’, then I wasn’t sure if I should just get the hell out now.
But no, I didn’t. After calming down my enraged and broken heart, my dissertation chapter on Afua continued, and I was inspired to provide more evidence the next few months, why Afrocentric veganism came about. But I also beat myself up privately for having bitten my tongue and being ‘nice’ to the audience members who had disrespected me. Did they not know or care? Was I being an ‘emotional mammy’ by trying to be nice and to not hurt their feelings? What exactly was my role as a black feminist scholar and activist? When do you just stop being ‘nice’ because it is at the expense of your own health?

Feeding a Black Nation: Decolonial Vegan Politics and Queen Afua’s Kitchen

Part I

Part II

Above are the two videos from my most recent talk that I gave on November 1, 2012 at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts. The topic I was to address was “Intersectionality of Oppressions: A Look at How Race and Gender Shape the Vegan Experience in the USA.” The title of the talk that I gave to examine this topic was called “Feeding a Black Nation: Decolonial Vegan Politics and Queen Afua’s Kitchen.” It was hosted by the Boston University Vegetarian Society and Center for Gender, Sexuality, and Activism.

I had a really great time. I also let everyone know that this talk is from a dissertation chapter that is still in its draft stages, “So bare with me as I try to work out a lot of the theoretical stuff I talk about at the very beginning.” I’m also functioning off of 2.5 hours of sleep and flew across country and basically went directly to the talk. Whew, crazy day getting there but it was well worth it. I think the Q&A session was the best because the questions were very critical and engaging.

The next day, I had brunch with a bunch of friends and my twin brother, Talmadge, who I had not seen in person in over 2 years. We video Skype several times a week, but this was a gazillion times better. We ate at Central Sq. in Cambridge at a place called Veggie Galaxy, owned by the same people who run Veggie Planet. It’s vegan and vegetarian diner style.

Talmadge Harper and Breeze Harper at Veggie Galaxy. Cambridge, MA. November 2, 2012.

Lastly, I mentioned a few titles at the end of the video. Here they are with a few more that may be of use. I think Barthes is really excellent as a semiologist because he can help folk understand how food ‘signifies’ and communicates an entire society’s “attitude” about life in general.

Afua, Queen. Sacred Woman: A Guide to Healing the Feminine Body, Mind, and Spirit. New York: Ballantine Publishing Group, 2000.

Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. New York,: Hill and Wang, 1972.

Barthes, Roland. Elements of Semiology. 1st American ed. New York: Hill and Wang, 1968.

Grosfoguel, Ramón, and Ana Margarita Cervantes-Rodríguez. The Modern/Colonial/Capitalist World-System in the Twentieth Century : Global Processes, Antisystemic Movements, and the Geopolitics of Knowledge, Contributions in Economics and Economic History, No. 227. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002.

Lewis, Tania, and Emily Potter. Ethical Consumption: A Critical Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2010.

Sandlin, Jennifer A., and Peter McLaren. Critical Pedagogies of Consumption: Living and Learning in the Shadow of The “Shopocalypse”. Edited by Joel Spring, Sociocultural, Political, and Historical Studies in Education. New York: Routledge, 2010.

Sullivan, Shannon, and Nancy Tuana. Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance, Suny Series, Philosophy and Race. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2007.

Warren, John T. Performing Purity : Whiteness, Pedagogy, and the Reconstitution of Power. New York: Peter Lang, 2003

Zuberi, Tukufu, and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva. White Logic, White Methods : Racism and Methodology. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008.

Vegan diets can be risky for babies and kids? Sistah Vegan Responds to Nina Planck’s NYTimes Article

I updated this from last night because I wanted to write about B12 and provide several more book sources.

The other week, Nina Planck published an article about the risks of raising vegan children and I thought I’d answer some of the statements she made. You can find the article here that I’m referring to: Is Veganism Good for Everyone?

I wanted to just offer some of my own information, in response to Planck’s concerns of raising children on a vegan diet or being a vegan while pregnant.

First, Nina Planck wrote that vegans are deficient in many things which “include fully-formed vitamins A and D, vitamin B12, and the long-chain fatty acids found in fish.”

Breeze Harper’s response: Okay, there is a D3 source that is vegan. Vitashine. Yes, a vegan source of D3 and of course, if you live where there is a lot of sunshine, try sunbathing everyday, at least 50-75% of your body being exposed to the sun. Secondly, Fish get DHA from ALGAE, and that is one way how vegans get their DHA. Chia seeds outshine Wild Alaskan Salmon in terms of Omega 3 6 9. Vegans aren’t deficient in these things because of veganism being a deficient diet. It’s usually because people just don’t know they need to eat certain foods to get what they need. And let’s be honest here, there are plenty of omnivores who don’t know what they should be eating, while they are pregnant or not; whether they have children or not.

Planck wrote: “The quantity, quality and bio-availability of other nutrients, such as calcium and protein, are superior when consumed from animal rather than plant sources.”

Breeze: No this is not true either, in terms of Calcium. There is an amazing algae based source of calcium that is vegan and has an incredibly high absorption rate called Algaecal. You can go here and here to look at the articles being written about the “safety” of Algaecal. I took it during my entire vegan pregnancy and drank kale smoothies and ate a lot of chia seeds and nettles (both high in Calcium). You should not rely on calcium supplements alone, but rather get most of your calcium from food base sources. However, I do know that many people don’t always have access to, or time, to eat ‘right’ every day. This is why I do recommend the Algaecal. I did this calcium supplement and high calcium food regiment while pregnant and breastfed my 1st child (who was 2 at the time) until I was 33 weeks pregnant with my 2nd. Not only did I not have a calcium deficiency, I had so much calcium that my 2nd baby was born with teeth. My midwife and doula are witnesses, and they let me know that when babies are born with teeth this indicates she had enough calcium. Protein? I got this from raw hemp, Organic Hawaiian spirulina, chia seeds, chlorella, avocado, seeds, nuts, legumes, to name a few. I easily ate 70g of protein per day while pregnant. Had a home birth . No complications. My placenta was well nourished. The midwifery team was blown away by how healthy it looked.

Planck: “For babies and children, whose nutritional needs are extraordinary, the risks are definite and scary. The breast milk of vegetarian and vegan mothers is dramatically lower in a critical brain fat, DHA, than the milk of an omnivorous mother and contains less usable vitamin B6. Carnitine, a vital amino acid found in meat and breast milk, is nicknamed “vitamin Bb” because babies need so much of it. Vegans, vegetarians and people with poor thyroid function are often deficient in carnitine and its precursors. “

Breeze Harper: Strange conclusion to draw. First, if you’re worried about getting B6, you can just take a vegan multi-vitamin during pregnancy and/or give your infant and toddler vegan supplements and vitamins. Want to not do vitamins? You can also get B6 from legumes, seeds, and nuts. Raw Pistachios and raw garlic are high in B6 (see: http://food.vegtalk.org/vitamins/raw-/b6.html). I made pistachio nut ice cream, lightly sweetened with dates. I threw pistachios, water, and dates in a blender and then put them in popsicle molds. Toddlers love ice cream or popsicle anything. Try it. For more information about B6 deficiency concerns, try going here: Jeff Novick on B6.

Also, in terms of vegan nursing, there are plenty omnivorous people I have read about or met who had nutritionally deficient breastmilk as well and had to stop nursing and start using formula for their infants. However, my 8 month old Eva Luna is breastfed from my vegan diet and she has no nutritional ‘deficiencies.’ She was born at 9.5lb, is in the 99th percentile for her age and appears to be healthy. Omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans can feed their children in a way that is balanced or not. It is not about veganism, vegetarianism, or being an omnivore as much as it is just making sure your kid gets what they need. (And I know these factors are not just about vegan nutrition education, but factors such as environmental racism, socio-economic class struggle, your ability to get to healthier food- you could be prohibited, due to mobility issues because you lack transportation for example, or it’s actually not safe to walke around where you live during certain times of the day to find healthier foods. )

Planck: “The most risky period for vegan children is weaning. Growing babies who are leaving the breast need complete protein, omega-3 fats, iron, calcium and zinc. Compared with meat, fish, eggs and dairy, plants are inferior sources of every one.”

Breeze : There are many vegan sources of calcium and iron that are highly absorbable. I used Nettles based Floradix iron for anemia prevention during my pregnancy. I took it in combination with World Organic chlorophyll and vitamin C source to mix (orange juice or a kiwi smoothie for example). Want a toddler to eat EFAs like Omega 3 6 9? Blend chia seeds with water, liquid form of algae DHA, and a banana and dates in the blender and put it in a popsicle mold. Refreshing and not just high in critical long chain fatty acids, you will be giving them and excellent source of calcium and Omega 3 6 9. Chia seeds are also high in iron and protein. A little goes a long way. Just be sure to soak chia seeds in water before eating, for at least 15 minutes or you’ll make yourself really sick. Still worried about a toddler not getting enough vegan based protein and Omega 3 6 9? Blend banana, hempseeds, and water together and put them in popsicle molds. If you made pops that have 1/4 c of raw hulled hempseeds per pop, that is 11g of protein, lots of fiber, EFAs, and other trace minerals.

‎Planck: “The breast milk of vegan mothers is dramatically lower in a critical brain fat, DHA, than the milk of an omnivorous mother.”

Breeze: Eat algae based DHA and chia seeds and your breast milk won’t be deficient in critical DHA. I take 600 mg of DHA algae each day. If you combine that with Chia seeds and flax seeds, it’s awesome. There is also the brand Ovega which is vegan source of EPA and DHA vegan.

B12 deficiency worries? Here is what Vegan Society has to say

In over 60 years of vegan experimentation only B12 fortified foods and B12 supplements have proven themselves as reliable sources of B12, capable of supporting optimal health. It is very important that all vegans ensure they have an adequate intake of B12, from fortified foods or supplements. This will benefit our health and help to attract others to veganism through our example. (source: http://www.vegansociety.com/lifestyle/nutrition/b12.aspx)

Seriously, just buy B12 supplements and take it or give it to your children; case closed.

There are a plethora of vegan nutritional specialists who have published the ways in which you can get everything you need as a vegan. If you are pregnant and want to do a vegan pregnancy, believe me as someone who did a vegan pregnancy and had an amazing homebirth: it’s possible. Reed Mangels has a new vegan pregnancy books out The Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book. Mangels is brilliant and lays it all out for you. It’s $11 well spent. And for a great informative and humorous approach get the Vegan Pregnancy Survival guide. Wanna raise your children vegan and help them be as healthy as possible? Read Disease proof your child by Dr. Joel Furhman.

A vegan diet is possible. You can thrive. Your children can thrive. Just inform yourself, find the support you need, and read read read.

Basically, if you are deficient in overall nutritional information for your diet, then your diet will be deficient. Veganism, planned properly, is not deficient.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or certified health practitioner. Always consult your practitioner before trying anything I suggest on Sistah Vegan blog and videos

Vegans on the Margin: TOFU Magazine Interview with Breeze Harper on Race, Whiteness, and Colonialism in Veganism

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T.O.F.U. ISSUE SIX (CLICK ON IMAGE FOR MAGAZINE DOWNLOAD LINK)

FYI: THE MAGAZINE ASKED FOR DONATIONS (WHATEVER YOU CAN AFFORD) IF YOU WANT TO DOWNLOAD IT, BUT IT LOOKS LIKE YOU CAN STILL ACCESS IT, EVEN IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO DONATE.

The editors of the magazine describe this issues as the following:

In an effort to become more inclusive of the whole vegan community, the magazine is focusing on the diversity within the movement. Hence, Issue six covers the intersection of veganism with forms of oppression such as racism and homophobia, as well as other relatively controversial topics surrounding a plant-based lifestyle.

Highlights include interviews with Breeze Harper and Jasmin Singer, articles from Dan Hanley and Leigh-Chantelle Koch, and recipes from Miss Savvy, Lindsay S. Nixon, Miriam Sorrell, and more.

100+ pages, full colour.

Clifford the Dog Misses His Family and She Doesn’t Care

I give a critical animal perspective to “Clifford”, the book series for children, and talk about one book I read at the library in which it was ‘normalized’ to take a baby from its family to entertain a human being and for that human being to not care that the baby misses its family and cannot see them or be with them.

Receiving anger, responding ‘politely': How to handle aggression when exploring whiteness and race as a scholar activist

This is just an open heart stream of consciousness I share with how I am trying to figure out how to deal with the anger and passive aggressiveness I receive, as a black female who engages in intellectual inquiries about race, whiteness, and colonialism. It’s not so much about the online comments and emails I receive as much as I’m interested in how to handle these situations when I’m in a physical location, like after I have given a lecture, or if I’m in a class and a peer or professor displays overtly angry, or passive-aggressive responses to my critical inquiries.

 

UC San Diego Talk: “On Being and Not Being the Wretched of the Earth” on November 30 2011

This is the talk I gave at UC San Diego on November 30, 2011. Talking about veganism, whiteness, etc. This is a chapter in progress from my dissertation in critical food geographies and critical geographies of race, which is tentatively titled, “Situating Racialization, Racisms, and Anti-Racisms: Critical Race Feminist and Socio-spatial Epistemological Analysis of Vegan Philosophy in the USA.”

This is similar to the talk I gave at Vassar College in 2011 October. However, my memory card only had 50 minutes on it and the camera didn’t record the entire Q&A for this San Diego talk.

“White Talk”, Discursive Violence, and Dysconscious Racism: From Vegan Consciousness to Vegan Commodity

Update: So far you have contributed $6900 to my “PhD finish” fund. Thank you so much! I have $3100 to go. We’re getting close! (My funding was not renewed and I couldn’t register for the past fall quarter. If you enjoy my work, you can contribute via Paypal, using the email address breezeharper (at) gmail (dot) com.)

Also, this is where you contributions are going to. Below is the talk I gave at Vassar College last week (October 27, 2011). It is from chapter three of my dissertation. It’s only 1/2 of what I had written. Had I chosen to use the entire chapter, that would have been a 2 hour talk.

Part I

Part II

Studying racialization in vegan cultural studies

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I am still raising funds for my continuation of my education and to finish my PhD for a graduation of summer 2012. If you would like to help the remaining $4000 that I need, you can send a paypal donation to the email breezeharper (at) gmail (dot) com.

Books:

Martinot, Steve. The Machinery of Whiteness : Studies in the Structure of Racialization. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2010.

Sullivan, Shannon, and Nancy Tuana. Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance, Suny Series, Philosophy and Race. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2007.

Yancy, George. What White Looks Like : African-American Philosophers on the Whiteness Question. New York: Routledge, 2004.


Black Vegan Mammy-ism: Sacrificing My Emotional Health for the Vegan Status Quo

In this video I talk about how I struggle with not being a “mammy” when it comes to accommodating the emotional needs of particular white vegans who do not extend mindfulness to me when they talk to me about ‘their’ post-racial view of veganism. THERE ARE TWO VERSIONS OF THIS VIDEO AVAILABLE. HIGH DEFINITION FOR FAST INTERNET SPEED AND STANDARD FOR SLOWER INTERNET SPEEDS.

HIGH DEFINITION:

STANDARD DEFINITION:

Here is a useful article to read to understand more about what I mean by “mammyism” . I don’t agree with a lot in this article, but it does give a basic premise of mammyism:

Abdullah, Afi Samelia. “Mammy-Ism: A Diagnosis of Psychological Misorientation for Women of African Descent.” JOURNAL OF BLACK PSYCHOLOGY 24, no. 2 (1998): 196-210.

Vegan pregnancy, More White Male Parternalism, PhD Funding Update

Vegan pregnancy: As of today, I am week 39 of my pregnancy. I have been doing quite well. Midwife thinks the baby is going to be bigger than Sun (and Sun was hard to push out at 9 lbs!!).  I am basically all belly and didn’t gain much more weight anywhere else, so it’s easier for my midwife to feel what’s going on in my womb. I just wanted to note that this ‘bigger’ baby was grown the last 9 months with me practicing veganism the holistic way. I know people talk about how you need a lot of protein to grow a baby (75 -100g for one baby; more per day for multiples). That is partly true, but I’ve also researched that growing a ‘big’ baby as been linked to a lot of DHA and spirulina in the diet. I have both. I have been taking the Ovega DHA +EPA and the Deva DHA every day; about 600-800mg a day. I of course do 30 grams of hemp protein each day too. However, I just wanted to share with you that it is possible to have a well planned healthy plant-based pregnancy, despite the fears and concerns you may hear from omnivores who do not research about this at all (just listen to the news and hear that once a year story that some couple ‘killed their baby on a vegan diet.’).

PhD Funding: As some of you may now, I didn’t get my dissertation fellowship renewed for the 2011-12 academic year. UC Davis is where I’m trying to finish my PhD work in critical vegan and critical race feminist studies. The dissertation project involves me trying to explain how lack of critical race literacy skills around normative whiteness and racism in the USA, creates barriers and impediments for the vegan status quo. I am hoping this document will shed light on the questions so many white middle class vegans have about why they only see themselves as ‘interested’ in veganism and/or animal liberation. It is a project that has never been done before, but I believe it is vital if coalition building and compassionate understanding is to happen. As of July 12, 2011, you have helped me reach nearly half of my goal. I am seeking $10,000 by Fall registration (mid September 2011). Thus far, people have donated: $4500. Still Needed to reached goal: $5500. I accept paypal donations (click on the right side of the blog that talks about donating) or you can mail me a check if you are uncomfortable with paypal.

White Male Paternalism Continued: I posted my new keynote address that I gave at U Illinois at their ecofeminist conference this past spring 2011. It is about how I am using critical race feminism to understand how whiteness functions in the mainstream vegan popular media (looking at top selling books). I posted the information about this video in various places, including a pro-vegan group on Facebook (I will keep it secret). Interestingly, a white male vegan responded by dismissing the focus of the talk (the focus being looking at normative whiteness) and then ‘educated’ me about what I should have said. He even said, “Were I your body I would have done this” (i.e., were I black female vegan, I would have done this).  He posted his response to the keynote (which I can’t even say he viewed) to the entire forum and I was so flabbergasted by this that I simply could not respond. This is the equivalent to me getting information from a person using a wheelchair who wants to talk about ableism in the vegan movement and me telling her (me, someone who had never needed to use a wheelchair and never lived with a disability) that she is doing it wrong and that I know better than she what she should be talking about. This man seems to not understand that how he communicates to me is hurtful and offensive and he seems to sincerely think he is ‘helping me.’ I am still trying to figure out how to communicate this to him in a compassionate way. Sometimes I thinking I’m  “too nice” when it comes to people’s feelings, even though they don’t extend the same to me. It’s probably internalized mammyism that a lot of black women perform in white dominated society (sigh). Anyway, below is my video of the keynote address:

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