breeze-harper

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(taken from Breeze Harpers youtube channel)

Breeze Harper’s talk “On Trayvon Martin, PETA, and Being a Black Critical Race Researcher in White Spaces” given on June 4th, 2013

The full title of this talk is actually “‘Never Be Silent’ and the Packaging of Neoliberal Whiteness: On Trayvon Martin, PETA, and Being a Black Critical Race Researcher in White Spaces”. I just could’t fit the entire title in the Wordpress title setup box.

I gave this talk on June 4, 2013 at University of California, Davis for the GGG Speaker Series. I critique the 'cruelty-free’ products that PETA promotes in their Vegan Shopping Guide which is accessible online. I use critical race materialism and decolonial world-systems analysis to question how any commodity sold to us vegans as 'cruelty-free’, can truly be ethical if it relies on human exploitation. For example, I speak about racialized-sexualized exploitation of indigenous Mexican females to harvest 'cheap’ tomatoes for the Global North. I also question how PETA can support a plethora of cocoa products that are 'free’ from animal-products, yet the cocoa from companies such as Nestle and Hershey source their cocoa using African Child slavery.

I examine PETA’s superficial use of Trayvon Martin’s murder as a way to 'boost’ their animal liberation campaign, and argue that PETA falsely constructs Trayvon Martin’s tragedy as 'true racism’ they are against. The problem is that PEAT never engages a dialogue about the structural racism and coloniality that make the 'cruelty-free’ vegan commodities they advocate, possible. It is contradictory to their 'intersectional’ animal liberation campaign that asks people to “Never Be Silent” about injustices in the world.

At the end of this talk, I explain why I am 'nervous’ and 'out of breath": because it is emotionally difficult for me, many times, to show up in a predominantly white space, as a black critical race feminist in a supposed 'post-racial’ era, and talk about 'whiteness’ and 'white supremacy’ to a predominantly white audience.

I have to admit that the most notable memory from this experience was the first question I received during the Q&A. This question was from a white male who said he was completely unfamiliar with the Trayvon Martin incident. He asked that I provide him information about it. I do not expect everyone to know everything that is going on in the USA, but there is something to be said about the question about Trayvon Martin being asked. As a 'survival’ rule, I personally need to be cognizant of racial profiling of us brown and black folk, here in the USA, so I stay up to date on these tragedies. 

If you enjoyed this video and would like to continue to support the work of the Sistah Vegan Project, you can donate to my new endeavor, which is to turn the Sistah Vegan Project into a 501 c 3. 

http://www.gofundme.com/33mv2k

Ms. Magazine: How does your feminist identity influence the way you think about food/food politics?

Dr. Amie “Breeze” Harper: I am always looking through the lenses of black feminism, critical race feminism and decolonial feminist world-systems analysis when I try to understand food in every aspect. I simply cannot look at food as an “everyday mundane object.” I understand the meanings applied to food as something that represents an entire culture’s ideologies around everything. For example, food can tell me a society’s expectations about sexuality, gender roles, racial hierarchies of power and ability.

Ms. Magazine: Why should people consider food a feminist issue?

Dr. Harper: Oh, that’s a great one. First, I think feminism is really broad, so I’m coming from the perspectives of black feminism and decolonial feminist world-systems analysis. So, that is how I define “my” feminisms, for now at least. I think one cannot understand structural oppression within the food system without understanding how structural sexism shapes one’s relationship within the food system, from seed to plate. For example, what does it mean that tomatoes coming out of Mexico since NAFTA have come to North Americans “cheaply” due to the exploitation of indigenous Mexican women and the myth that indigenous women are “more tolerant” of harsh chemicals and sun exposure than light-skinned mestizas who are usually found working in the tomato packing plants? Check out Deborah Barndt’s work on that.

—  Avital Norman Nathman, “The Femisphere: Foodies and Food Politics,” Ms. Magazine 3/12/13
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Veganism is not a “white” thing but “Indigenous” and “Original People’s” Thing: Hood Health breaks it down.

I read from “Hood Health” Handbook, Vol 1.

Book can be found here: amazon.com/gp/product/1935721321/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=sistvegawebs-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=1935721321

Harper’s goal is not for everyone to eat massaged kale salad, squash-lentil soup, and dairy-free cookies. It is to understand veganism as a way to address institutionalized racism, environmental racism, speciesism, ecological devastation, health disparities, overconsumption, and other manifestations of social injustice. Harper emboldens us to reexamine the relationships and ethics of the most ordinary—and seemingly innocent—things we eat, and to look beyond the binaries of ‘good’ and 'bad’ choices within our complex commodity food system.
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Breeze Harper: “I remember there were times when I didn’t understand that certain things—like dandelions, nettles, and burdock—are not actually weeds. What are the politics of naming something a weed, and how do these social constructions benefit biopharmaceuticals? What does it mean for me to decolonize my mind and realize these are really cheap, accessible holistic herbs that I can use in place of toxic and damaging things that women or young girls are taught to consume when they have menstrual cramps? That I can do chamomile over Advil? Just thinking about these things is what it means to decolonize.

From that point, looking at my own specific geographical, social, financial location, how do I start to make myself healthy in a way that doesn’t support neoliberalism and neocolonialism? Which, of course, is not 100 percent [achievable] because by default, just being here, I do benefit from those systems. I think it’s about mindfulness and awareness: being aware of the extent I should take care of my own needs, but also not exploiting others, the environment, and nonhuman animals. I’m trying to find that balance." 

Full interview here.


Breeze Harper is such an inspiration on so many levels. 

Whether you are vegan or not, if you are interested in any of the aforementioned issues and haven’t heard of Harper’s work, please check out the Sistah Vegan Project

The animals of the world exist for their own reasons.  They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men.
—  Alice Walker, Sistah Vegan
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Black Folk Don’t Go Green?

Feat. Nubia Sutton, Breeze Harper, and others. Get into it!

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This panel will explore the process of making and unmaking “whiteness” as a latent part of the animal rights movement. It will touch on the shortcomings of animal rights in incorporating critical race politics, geopolitics, and the dynamics of privilege and oppression into its ideological background. In doing so, it will highlight a path to a future, more inclusive, and more successful movement.

T.O.F.U. Magazine: there is an alternative

Veganism and Forms of Oppression
This most recent issue covers the intersection of veganism with forms of oppression, such as racism, homophobia, and emotional abuse. Highlights include interviews with Jasmin Singer (Our Hen House) and Breeze Harper (Sistah Vegan), and articles from Naomi  Martinez (Hermana Resist) and Dan Hanley (The Gay Vegans).

The new issue can be downloaded for free, or with a donation, at http://tofu.limitedpressing.com/products/15130.

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UC Berkeley Talk Part II: Queen Afua and Race-Gender Conscious Veganism

Breeze Harper (Sistah Vegan) explains “the Afrocentric approach to veganism that is race-gender conscious, decolonial, and revolutionary black feminist. I did this because I wanted to explain that there are more than just Eurocentric philosophical ‘ethics’ behind why some people choose veganism. By Eurocentrism, I mean the philosophical canon of ‘ethics and animals’ that dominate the mainstream academic literature in the USA. While Eurocentric philosophy focuses on the ‘ethics’ of non-human animal consumption and non-human animal exploitation, Afrocentric veganism (through Queen Afua) focuses on how veganism becomes a decolonial tool against the unethical abduction and enslavement of Africans and the institutional of chattel slavery; an unethical institution that took away their original plant-centered dietary philosophy and “forcing” them to eat a carnicentric diet. This is what a vegan methodology of the racially oppressed can look like!”

Sistah Vegan Conference Recordings Now Available!!!

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The Sistah Vegan Web Conference took place on September 14, 2013. It was titled “Embodied and Critical Perspectives on Veganism by Black Women and Allies.” It was a terrific 8 hours as we listened to talks and held discussions about Black women, veganism, and sizeism; whiteness and patriarchy as problematic in the USA animal liberation movement; how the ‘white savior complex’ complicates and causes stress for Black women [vegans] within certain USA yoga spaces; the politics of industrialized and processed baby food in indigenous communities and reclaiming nutritional knowledge through indigenous veganism; and much more!

The recordings of the 8 hour conference are now available to purchase here. You must complete the registration form in order to access the recordings. This means you MUST also create a password to access the recording. 

If you already registered for the live conference, you actually already have access to the recordings by going here and typing in you email address and then typing in the password you selected for the conference. 

For those of you just finding out about it, the speaker line-up and talk titles are below. ——————- 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

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Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter


Presented by Dr. A. Breeze Harper


Resistance Ecology Conference 2015.
Portland, Oregon.

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Breeze Harper (a.k.a. Sistah Vegan) gives a very contemplative discourse on how and why whiteness and white privilege is antithetical to Buddhism. 

Growing up in the little American town of Lebanon, it was difficult for me to argue with peers and teachers about the importance of addressing racism and whiteness. Simultaneously, I felt isolated and frustrated by speciesism that was also accepted as the norm, and which surrounded me daily. Neither peers nor teachers understood why I refused to participate in dissection, and why I did not “appreciate” deer hunting (a huge “sport” in my town). After I told my fifth-grade teacher that I didn’t want to drop a live worm into alcohol to kill it, and then dissect it, he told me repeatedly that worms do not have central nervous systems; hence, they “do not feel pain.” Only through repeated stories, in my household, which exposed how our people were treated, did I become fully aware that pro-slavery whites deeply believed that Africans could not feel pain; that we were believed to be “just animals” who had no feelings, spirits, souls; we were just machines available to serve the purposes of white America. Perhaps my fifth-grade teacher did not know this.
There are many facets to critical animal studies and animal rights activism. It is important to note that, as an activist, I simply cannot ignore the very clear connections among racism, racialization, and whiteness on the one hand, and people’s treatment and attitudes toward nonhuman animals (regardless of whether they are vegan, supporters of “humane” meat and dairy, omnivorous, or “big game” hunters) on the other. For me, navigating a country in which speciesism, racism, and whiteness are an accepted reality, and to stay silent about these acts of indifference and overt cruelty, would precipitate miserable lives for all beings and would continue to create communication gaps and animosity among racial and ethnic communities with differing perspectives on the treatment of certain humans and nonhuman animals.
So, here I am, asking these questions. If you’re sincerely interested in ending racism, you must recognize racism’s roots in our relationships with, and constructions of, “the place of the animal.” And if you’re sincerely interested in ending nonhuman animal exploitation, you must educate yourself on the connections between the social constructions of whiteness, racialization, and racisms (as well as sexism, nationalisms, etc.) and animal abuse.
—  a breeze harper, “connections: Speciesism, Racism, and Whiteness as Norm” Published in Sister Species page 76
Vegan diets can be risky for babies and kids? A response to Nina Planck's NYTimes Article

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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: 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 me 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. 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). I did this 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: 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 (she is the baby in the picture above).  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 ¼ 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 Societyhas 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 and 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.

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This video features both Breeze Harper and Angela Davis. SCORE! These ladies are so inspiring, their intelligence and eloquence is off the radar. Angela Davis recently spoke at a Social Justice Conference at UC Davis, which Harper attended and asked “about extending compassion beyond humans as part of social justice and making the Occupy movement successful.”

The intersections between race, class, sexuality, and gender are so important in relation to veganism, yet we don’t talk about it enough! If you haven’t yet read Breeze Harper’s work, get on that! She is just brilliant. I love her work, which deals with veganism and critical race theory. Did you see her speak at UC Berkeley in November? I did and I bought her book soon after. Don’t cry if you missed it, you can watch the video here.

Register for the Sistah Vegan Conference: "Embodied and Critical Perspectives on Veganism by Black Women"

(Tentative Presentation and Discussion Line-Up)

Please note that anyone can register as an audience member to learn about the critical and embodied perspectives of women of color vegans. One need not identify as a woman of color

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1st Annual Sistah Vegan Conference

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

September 14, 2013

Location: Web Conference Using Anymeeting.com. This means the location is on the Internet, accessible by computer or telephone. 

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

Registration Fee: $35.00 (US Dollar)

Click here to register

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Presentation: White Supremacy and Patriarchy Hurt Animals

Anastasia Yarbrough

Inner Activism Services

Length: 30 minutes (20 minute presentation; 10 minute Q&A)

Abstract: In the animal rights movement, racism and sexism are treated primarily as separate forces comparable to but not wholly relevant to animal protection, with the exception of leftist pockets inspired by ecofeminist animal liberation thought, the Animal Liberation Front and other direct action groups, and the emerging Critical Animal Studies.  As recent as the 2013 Animal Rights Conference, the “mainstream” animal rights movement tends to treat anti-racist, anti-sexist movements as struggles of the past that inform the new frontier social justice movement that is animal rights.  However, the goal of this talk is not to argue how and why this tokenizing is a problem.  Instead, my focus is to spark a dialogue on how white supremacy and patriarchy directly impact the animals we’re striving to help and protect, thus giving further relevance in the animal rights movement to become more conscious of how racism and sexism operate in society.  As a black woman who is also a long-time activist for animal liberation and justice, I have the unique position to see these intersections and notice that human violence towards animals is rarely ever lacking color or gender, nor is it always simple to tease apart from systemic issues like racism and sexism. Therefore, I hope that this talk can serve as a useful and engaging spark that is relevant not just to animal rights activists but also to social justice activists who are just beginning to consider animals.

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Presentation Title: PETA and the Trope of “Activism”: Naturalizing Postfeminism and Postrace Attitudes through Sexualized Bodied Protests

Aphrodite Kocięda

University of South Florida

Length: 30 minutes (20 minute presentation; 10 minute Q&A)

Abstract: For this presentation, I will explore PETA’s marketing campaigns that use the trope of “activism”, couched in vegan and anti-animal cruelty rhetoric, to naturalize postfeminist ideas and postrace attitudes about women’s bodies. In this postfeminist space, attaining a white sexy body becomes activist work. For PETA, the ethical aims of the vegan diet (is purported to) coincide with attaining a particular type of femininity that excludes women of color. Women of color are only strategically used in their campaigns as authentic signifiers of “diversity”  where the white framework remains undisturbed. PETA uses “activist” rhetoric in their ads to bolster and naturalize the postfeminist and postrace ideas inherent in their logic.

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Presentation Title: Cosmetic Marginalization: Status, Access and Vegan Beauty Lessons from our Foremothers

Pilar Harris

Pilar in Motion (pilarinmotion.com)

Length: 30 minutes (20 minute presentation; 10 minute Q&A)

Abstract: The terms ‘Vegan’ and ‘Cruelty Free’ are labels that help lend integrity to commercially produced cosmetics. Yet these labels may also be usedfor marketing purposes, particularly in campaigns not created with black identified women as the intended target consumer. Although the internet has largely transformed access to cosmetic products labeled ‘Vegan’, there exists a degree of status and exclusivity in terms of the price point and distribution of these products, so that many black identified women remain marginalized. These products include body care, makeup and feminine hygiene items, the things we use daily and that are closer to our bodies than the clothing we wear. One option in taking a stance against cosmetic marginalization is to extract from our histories (personal, cultural and otherwise) the beauty lessons that were intended to nourish, protect and cleanse our bodies long before they could be known as ‘Vegan’.

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

Length: 60 minutes

 During this hour long moderated and open discussion, Black girls and women will share their reasons for choosing veganism. If you would like to participate, email sistahvegan (at) gmail (dot) com to secure your space to speak. Space is limited to about 8 storytellers. You will have about 5-7 minutes to share your journey.

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Presentation Title: Constructing a Resource Beyond Parenting as a Black Vegan: Discussing Geography and Theology and Their Contradictions Within

Candace M. Laughinghouse

Regent University, PhD Candidate (Theology of Animals)

Length: 30 minutes (20 minute presentation; 10 minute Q&A)

Abstract: Surprisingly, I receive more support from non-blacks when it comes to parenting as a black vegan. Within the black community, I am guaranteed heavy doses of skepticism and defensive responses if I choose to reveal that my children have never ingested a hot dog, hamburger, bacon, and chicken!  But beyond parenting as a black vegan are the challenges that relate to geography, theology, and even my own appearance. The Sistah vegan movement (as I like to call it) is inspiring as I pursue a doctoral degree in theology of animals and the effects on black theology. As a parent, my job is to protect my children and teach them the road to fulfillment in life involves education, using their talents, and compassion for all sentient beings.  I want to present the above topics as many black parents have a theological foundation that can be seen as contradictory to being vegan.

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Panel Discussion: Yoga for the Stress Free Soul Sista

And Radical Self-Care Teaching: Exploring Privilege in Yoga & Veganism for Girls of Color

with Sari Leigh

Anacostia Yogi www.anacostiayogi.com

and

Kayla Bitten

Length: 50 minutes (40 minute discussion; 10 minutes Q&A)

  Abstract: Sari Leigh will give black women,  practical yoga tools to help resolve stressful home situations, past racial traumas, heartbreaks and reconnecting to spirit. Participants will learn the 15 second Mind Cleanse, A Soulful Flow yoga sequence and the revolutionary power of Mantra.  Kayla Bitten will address how, on a daily basis, we people of color continue to reap the oppressive consequences of a society who refuses to see us as part of the movement to a society of innovative development and solidarity. Working with young girls and women, Kayla has witnessed first hand the effects of a society whose racist and misogynistic views has stifled them; stifled them in a way that has them questioning their worth, pushing them to participate in harmful ways of nourishment both physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and their all around position as a young girls of color living in America. Advocating ways to engage in radical self love and care is an important practice that Kayla teaches these promising young girls. She achieves this through eating habits and yoga, but she also continues to realize the lack of representation in an area where engaging in such self care is considered ‘for white people only’ (or westernized to an unnoticeable position), blatantly financially unattainable, not having the access, or being taught by those who do not have an ‘all inclusive’ work ethic. Kayla will discuss how we can began to help young girls learn and unlearn ways to decolonize and resist through acts of self care such as accessibility to spaces where we can learn about vegan/vegetarianism/ healthy eating (and ultimately how to create our own spaces where these resources can be attainable) and yoga.

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Open Discussion: Reflections on the Sistah Vegan Anthology

Moderator: Dr. A. Breeze Harper (tenative)

Length: 60 minutes

In 2010, Lantern Books published Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society. It was the first book of its kind to centralize the Black female vegan experience in the USA. Regardless of racial or ethnic identity, all are invited to openly dialogue about how Sistah Vegan anthology, as well as the Sistah Vegan Blog, affected their lives. How did you end up with the book? What chapters stood out for you? Did you give the book to a friend or family? Do you teach with the book? What would you like to see in the second volume? Email sistahvegan (at) gmail (dot) com if you would like to participate. Space is limited, so please reserve your spot.

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End of Conference Keynote Address:

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

Research Fellow

Department of Human Ecology, Community and Regional Development

University of California Davis

Length: 60 minutes (45 minute presentation; 15 minute Q&A)

Abstract:   For this concluding keynote, I analyze the food that a popular Black vegan guru promotes in order to ‘purify’, ‘decolonize,’ and ‘liberate’ Black Americans from legacies of colonialism and racism. First, through an Afrocentric framework, I show how this Afrocentric philosopher resists anti-black conceptualizations of Black women as “unfeminine” and “breeders.” Such a stance is empowering and a declaration of anti-racism against the mainstream USA narrative that Black women and girls are disposable and worthless. After this analysis, I use Black feminist theorizing to explore how the meanings this famous health activist places on particular vegan commodities, unconsciously reproduces heterosexist, ableist, and black middle-class ‘reformist’ conceptualizations of a ‘healthy’ Black nation. Lastly, I explore how USA Black vegan consumer activism may often be at the expense of oppressing other vulnerable communities (i.e. how certain Black liberation empowering super-foods come to us because of economic policies embedded in neoliberal whiteness).  If we engage in vegan consumerism without regard for how our vegan commodities get to us (i.e. sweatshops, child slavery, displacement of indigenous communities) what does this truly mean in terms of liberation, as well at the limits of decolonization within a USA capitalist moral economy?

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vimeo

“Animals belong in cages”: Normalizing domination in Children’s toys, books and cartoons

In this video I speak briefly about how mainstream children’s toys, shows and books normalize the dominating and exploitative relationship that most humans in the West have with non-human animals. I think about what this means for my 2 year old who I want to teach how to critically think about, and question normalizing narratives and images of not just the ‘proper submissive’ place of non human animals as being in cages, zoos, farms, etc., but also question the normalizing narratives of hierarchies, power, and privilege and how this relates to racial, gender, nature, and class oppression.

[link]

why the ‘vegan praxis of black lives matter’ is essentially ‘all lives matter’

I’ve been meaning to write something about this for a while now; about how the police and men are often referred to as pigs by others, and how a number of ‘self proclaimed anti speciesists’ find this offensive - to pigs.

I’ve written a few short FB posts on how I find the conference (The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter) held and founded by Dr. A Breeze Harper, to be incredibly unnecessary, offensive, and racist.

I’ll begin by telling a snippet of my ‘vegan journey’. I’ve been abstaining from meat and meat products for eight years, but I only started noticing the intersections of veganism with things like racism and sexism about three years ago. And when I found the Sistah Vegan project online, I was so excited to see a Black woman speaking out about two things that I was so passionate about - veganism and racism. And I just absorbed everything that I watched and read from the Sistah Vegan blog - even the things that didn’t quite make sense to me. I remember the first time I watched a video by Dr. Harper comparing what happened to Black women slaves and cows in the dairy industry and I didn’t question it. I saw that both groups were being tortured so why shouldn’t they be compared? And I’m not knocking all of Dr.Harper’s work. Much of her work has opened my eyes a bit more to things like food deserts etc - and most of what I have learned form her has been in her referencing initiatives like the Food Empowerment Project. And when she’s NOT talking about ‘speciesism’ and veganism intersecting with racism her work is valuable and make sense. But when I return to posts that I had once read and thought to make so much sense before, they really don’t make any sense anymore. I find them vague and problematic - offering little if any references of suggestions of how to ‘dismantle’ the system that is responsible for keeping the exploitation of humans and animals alive (hint: it’s not speciesism). In one of Harper’s most recent posts in which she said her work had been compared to using similar tactics that White supremacist vegan Gary Yourofsky has used in his work (thanks for the shout out SV), she references a video, which I will link below, which pretty much touches on all the things I had been saying in the SV FB thread, before I was asked to leave. It is possible for people to change their opinions based on new information (or when they get called out) and it appears that is what Harper was doing in this blog post - and that’s cool, maybe she has realized her comparison of Black women and cows is racist, maybe not. I’m not waiting around for people who are set in their anti speciesist ways to wake up and realize how futile it is.

People seem to think that I enjoy ‘attacking’ prominent ‘vegan’ leaders by calling them out on their racism, sexism, ableism, etc. I’ve made videos discussing White supremacy within the animal rights movement and how these prominent leaders are racists and their channels are capitalist channels, making money off of the suffering and pain of marginalized peoples (by comparing human slavery to what happens in factory farming, etc). And people have called me a whole host of names including ‘crazy’ for speaking out on these things. I’m not attacking these people. I just know when something is not right. This isn’t an individualistic issue - I just know what bullshit smells like. I never thought that a video I made talking about Gary Yourofsky being a racist would get almost 10,000 views. I’m not in this for the views or for the $25.00 that I’ve gotten from clicking the monetize button after getting over 20,000 views on my channel as a whole. I’m here to speak my truth, the truth of how racism operates in society, specifically within the animal rights movement and how that is directly affecting my people.

So what is the ‘Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter’? Why is it unnecessary? Why is it offensive? Why is it racist and essentially promoting the All Lives Matter movement instead of the Black Lives Matter movement?

Firstly, one has to understand why it is impossible to be anti racist and anti speciesist at the same time. Harper claims to approach ‘veganism’ with ‘ahimsa’ or peace. Harper is someone who claimed to be anti racist AND anti speciesist in a comment to me in a lengthy FB thread in the Sistah Vegan FB group. I was later ‘asked to leave’ this group because I insulted someone by saying that their dog was not a person, and adamantly disagreed that one could be anti racist while promoting anti speciesism. Harper’s approach of ahimsa aka being extremely vague by making comparisons of victims of oppressive systems instead of suggesting ways to dismantle the root of all these issues (capitalism) through a ‘vegan’ lifestyle is what prompted me to recognize that this whole conference was perpetuating racism. And it’s not surprising that someone like Harper and so many others, approach life or ‘veganism’ with ‘ahimsa’ or peace - it’s so simple. I’ve said before that peace is definitely not something that I strive for, in veganism, or outside in the ‘real world’. Peace without equity, without unity, is void. Peace for all intensive purposes is the same as equality - if everyone is treated the same we will have peace, sure, but we won’t have justice. I don’t know about everyone else, in the anti racist circle at least, but I want justice - not equality. You can have peace in a graveyard, but there will be no life. You can travel to a deserted island with a select few people and try to start your own vegan society and have peace there - but what about the rest of the world? What about the bigger picture?

What I’ve been saying from the very beginning (beginning meaning when I first came to YouTube) is that comparing the people and animals affected by these oppressive systems gets us nowhere. It is the systems that need to be compared and discussed. Capitalism exploits animals as well as human beings. And even though it exploits both groups, it does so differently. Racism is not applicable to animals unless human beings of colour are involved and they are being equated to them. Sexism is not applicable to animals unless women are involved and they are being sexualized and animalized for their bodies. Animals are not men, they are not women. Animals are not people.

Anti racism is pretty self explanatory - you are against racism, against racist systems, structures, and practices. Anti speciesism is the promotion of the equality of the species - for humans and animals to be treated as equals. Anti speciesism believes that something as ridiculous as ‘human privilege’ exists. Yes, you heard that correctly - human privilege.

No one can help being born a human being. Being human is not the same as being born White, for example (not saying that White people are not human, relax). Being human is not a social construct that provides you with any special kinds of rights or privileges as a result of simply being born one. The result of having particular status or privileges in society are based in social constructs (race, class, gender). The system of Whiteness and White supremacy was made to keep White people in power. Money is a social construct - and the more of it you have, the more access to different opportunities you will have.  Another example is the construct of male privilege was created to to keep males on top. White people benefit from living in our White supremacist society - not our human society.

Humans are capitalists - animals are not. Humans are powerful because they dominate and exploit other humans and animals. This domination occurs through practicing things like racism, or in the case of animals, painting animals in society as being solely on Earth to be food or workers. This ‘human privilege’ is because of a system like capitalism, not because of being a human being. And that’s why saying that speciesism is the root of all oppression is so ridiculous. We can’t STOP being human beings. And people of colour, specifically Black people have never even been seen as human beings in society! How are we meant to shed something that we have never had to begin with?

If so called ‘ahimsa’ filled, peaceful vegans, want to speak out and end things like racism, the focus needs to be in dismantling capitalism not speciesism, not ‘stripping’ ourselves of our ‘human privilege’. Again, as I’ve spoken on in a video I made in the past, this whole ‘human privilege’ view and stance toward things like animal welfare,  is such a ‘White’, individualistic way of looking at things. These ‘White’ ideologies of individualism that say that humans are in some position of power. with human privilege, is not because they are human, it’s because they are White, men, middle to upper class, able bodied, cisgender people! Staying focused on things like ‘human privilege’ is pretty much just saying that capitalism isn’t a thing and it doesn’t contribute to oppression in any way.

What all of these prominent ‘vegan’ leaders have in common is believing that striving for a world ‘thriving’ on anti speciesism, will end all other forms of oppression - racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. Striving for equality of the species (anti speciesism) is racist because it is putting people of colour on the same level as animals, something that has been happening for centuries and something that anti racists (myself being one of them) are trying to fight against. I don’t want to be treated the same way as animal. I see people that  look like me being shot and killed in the streets like animals. I have read about Black men and women being given syphilis in the name of science but people are still out here fighting for animals to stop being tested on to actually try to find cures for various diseases.

The Black Lives Matter movement exists to speak out on the violence being carried out on Black bodies by the police. To introduce the argument that it is offensive to call cops pigs because pigs are in fact intelligent animals, is to trivialize the struggles of Black people who are demanding to be treated as human beings in society. To introduce that it’s offensive to call cops pigs while the families of Trayvon Martin and Sandra Bland are still in mourning is to completely ignore that CAPITALISM not SPECIESISM is what is keeping is keep something like police brutality alive.

I’m interested to hear how someone like Dr. Harper or any other anti speciesist who finds the word ‘pig’ offensive when referencing the police or men, feels about the word nigger being used to refer to all animals right now. Animals are the niggers of the world, according to several racist, militant vegans who are also striving for an anti speciesist world.

Nigger is a word, to me, which is the most disgusting, degrading word. It was made to describe Black people because we were seen (and still are seen) as worthless in society, incapable of any positive emotions, undeserving of respect or compassion, the same as animals, worth less than animals. How do these people feel about this? Nigger is a word that was used to describe the being that was and is the most worthless being in our society, objectified and degraded to the point of no longer being seen as worthy of love or attention. Are animals not objectified and degraded? Are they not the niggers of the world? How does someone like Dr. A. Breeze Harper feel about a cow being called a nigger? Is this offensive to the cow or to the Black man and woman?

Compare the systems - not the victims.

http://sistahvegan.com/2015/08/20/video-the-problem-with-appropriating-speciesism-black-oppression-representations/