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Description and Agenda
The Sistah Vegan Project’s Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter conference will bring together scholars, writers, activists and community organizers to examine the intersections of the #blacklivesmatter movement and veganism.
Designed for black vegans, vegans of color and their white allies, this interactive, online event, offers an opportunity for collaborative discussion, building networks of engagement and knowledge sharing. The conference will also work to bring forward suggestions and inspiration to build momentum for collective change.
In this time, when large numbers of people are taking to the streets under the #blacklivesmatter banner, this year’s conference’s workshops and talks ask:
- How do veganism and #blacklivesmatter intersect?
- What does a vegan praxis of “black lives matter” look like?
- What does veganism that ignores “black lives matter” look like, and what are the unintended consequences?
- Why do race and whiteness matter, and how do they operate within veganism and beyond?
- What does allyship look like within the #blacklivesmatter movement amongst non-black vegans and black non-vegans/
#Blacklivesmatter is happening because of an America in which “post-racial” rhetoric dominates the mainstream and has been accepted as truth by many white Americans.
This narrowness of perspective/thought/rhetoric extends to vegan (largely white spaces) in which embracing anti-oppression is limited to non-human animal rights and specieism and does not acknowledge other forms of oppression (systemic racism, xenophobia, etc.).
In this context, black lives really do not matter and instead work to combat racism and other forms of human oppression is seen as an unnecessary distraction from the “real work” for non-human animal liberation.
Many of us, as black vegans and as non-white and white allies, find that our politics cannot be single issue. As much as veganism provides an anti-oppression framework it must do so holistically.
We cannot ignore the connections between child slavery on cocoa plantations and the enslavement of non-human animals on factory farms. “Cruelty-free” cannot simply mean that no non-human animals were harmed during production but that the workers who produce our goods are also well treated and well compensated.
We challenge the racial and class privileges that allow mainstream vegan rhetoric to speak of lower income people of color who don’t adopt plant-based diets as lazy without seeing and understanding their realities of lack of access to good, affordable food. We question the ease with which many white vegans shrug off the Thug Kitchen controversy ; their inability to see this minstrel show as reinforcing pernicious stereotypes about black people that make it easier to accept violence against them.
We note that from the beginning #blacklivesmatter activists have insisted that queer people, feminists, people from the spectrum of classes, those who are differently abled, etc. not only be part of the movement but that their perspectives help define its strategies and goals instead of accepting “traditional” hierarchies that would put straight, cis-gender, able-bodied, middle class men in the lead.
We call and fight for a vegan, collective praxis that uses a true anti-oppression lens and embodies anti-racism, Black liberation and the dismantling of white supremacist systems and institutions in a supposed post-racial era along with the systems that abuse and oppress non-human animals.
CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS WILL ALSO BE RECORDED FOR REGISTRANTS TO ACCESS IF THEY CANNOT ATTEND IN REAL TIME
April 24, 2015 (PDT TIME ZONE)
10:20 am.”Dispelling the Myth of ‘Cruelty-Free’ Commodities Within the Context of Black Lives Matter and a Racist Food System: A Dialogue Between Lauren Ornelas (Director, Food Empowerment Project) and Dr. A. Breeze Harper
11:00 am. “Cooking Up Black Lives Matter: A Critical Race Dialogue with vegan Chef Bryant Terry” | Panelists: Chef Bryant Terry and Dr. A. Breeze Harper
11:30 am. “Locating Intersections and the Decolonization of Veganism through Black Womanist Theology” | Candace Laughinghouse, PhD Candidate (Regent University)
12:00 pm. Break
12:30 pm. “‘The Pig is a Filthy Animal’: Challenging Speciesist ‘Race-Conscious’ Black Liberation Rhetoric (Before, After, and Beyond Ferguson) | A. Breeze Harper (moderator) and Kevin Tillman (Founder, Vegan Hip Hop Movement).
1:00 pm. “From Critiquing Thug Kitchen to Revealing Vermont’s Speciesist White Agricultural Narrative: pattrice jones tells us about her Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter as a White Ally” | Speakers: A. Breeze Harper (moderator) and pattrice jones (co-founder, VINE Sanctuary)
1:45 pm. “Dear White People, Black Lives Matter: An Introductory Workshop For White Vegans on Being an Ally”| Speakers: Dr. Paul Gorski (George Mason University) and Dallas Rising
2:30 pm. “ALL Black Lives Matter: Exposing and Dismantling Transphobia and Heteronormativity in Mainstream Black ‘Conscious’ Plant-Based Dietary Movement” | Speakers: Toi Scott (Afrogenderqueer.com) and Victoria Crump.
3:20-4:00 pm. Funding Pro-Vegan Anti-Racist Projects: Challenges and Strategies in a ‘Post-Racial’ Era” | Panelists: Alissa Hauser (Executive Director, The Pollination Project) and Dr. A. Breeze Harper
4-5:00 pm. The conference should end at 5pm, however, nothing is scheduled after 4:00pm because as with most ‘planned’ events, sometimes things don’t work out and talks get delayed, there are technology issues, or Q & A runs over.
April 25, 2015
10:00 am “From ‘Post-Racial’ White Vegans on Veganporn.com, to Sistah Vegan anthology, to the Black Lives Matter Movement: Dr. A. Breeze Harper Ruminates On Nearly 10 years of critical race feminist activism and scholarship at the Sistah Vegan Project”. Speaker: Dr. A. Breeze Harper (The Sistah Vegan Project).
10:30 am “Black Lives [Don’t] Matter: Michael Vick and the Demonization of Blackness Among White Vegans and Animal Rights Activists”| Speaker: Harlan Eugene Weaver, PhD (Davidson College)
11:30 am. “Pro-Vegan Self-Care for Racial Justice Activists: Building a Long-Term Community of Support”| Speaker: Jessica Rowshandel, LMSW
12:00 pm. Break
12:20 pm. Announcement of the Anti-Racist Changemakers of 2015 Award Winners and Raffle Prizes. Registrants have a chance to win a prize from one of our Pro-Vegan Anti-Racism Allies, such as T.O.F.U. Magazine, Dr. Bronner’s Soap, and Organic Angie (Raw Vegan Organic).
1:30 pm. “[TITLE TO BE DETERMINED]” | Speaker: Christopher Sebastian McJetters (Vegan Publishers)
2:30 pm. “Abolitionist Veganism and Anti-Oppression Within the Context of Black Lives Matter” | Speaker: Sarah K. Woodcock (Founder, The Abolitionist Vegan Society)
3:00 pm. “Not Business as Usual: The Praxis of Black Lives Matter in Vegan Entrepreneurship | Speaker: Hnin W. Hnin (ROC United and Eatable.com)
3:50-4:45 pm. KEYNOTE ADDRESS. “The Origins of the Criminalization of Blackness in the Context of a ‘Race Neutral’ Analysis and how it Helped Shape Policing Policies” | Speaker: Liz Ross (Founder, Coalition of Vegan Activists of Color)