Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

Sistah Vegan Podcast as “90% Racism; 10% Veganism” October 17, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. A. Breeze Harper @ 5:51 pm

Hi folk,

I found this comment to my Sistah Vegan podcast show quite interesting but not surprising. I’m still trying to understand why my podcasts are “racist”.

“90% racism, 10% veganism

This is one bitter, whiney and non-constructive podcast. If you wanna focus on what “colonialism” has done to the black “diaspora” and never let go, you’ll LOVE this. If you wanna learn about veganism, or get inspired or get ideas about how to help animals, build a better world, or improve your health or environment, you’re wasting your time here.”

If folk have listened to my podcast and actually benefited from it, I’d appreciate positive comments on iTunes. If you go into iTunes store and search for Sistah Vegan Project, my show comes up.

I’m quite impressed but not surprised that if I “dare” talk about these topics within veganism, certain people become hostile then label me as “racist”. In my 2nd to last podcast, I merely reflect on how racism and speciesism in my town happened simultaneously while I was growing up and ask how they are connected to each other; I also ask how reflecting on racism and whiteness can better help AR and Vegan people see these possible links to speciesism. Somehow my podcast ends up being “racist”. And I have made it clear, time and time again, that the Sistah Vegan project looks at how race/racialization/racism, speciesism, and “whiteness as the norm”, intersect with vegan experiences, praxis and philosophies mainly in the lifes of women of color vegans.

I know this is just the comment of 1 person (there are only 2 comments all together), but found it interesting.
Best,
Breezie

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14 Responses to “Sistah Vegan Podcast as “90% Racism; 10% Veganism””

  1. mel Says:

    1) I’m glad to learn you have a podcast! I’ll have to check it out.

    2) I don’t have access to iTunes on this computer, so I’m not sure if what you quoted was all of the comment, but did they mean to imply that you discuss racism 90% of the time? Not that you, yourself, are actually racist.

  2. breezeharper Says:

    That is the whole quote.

    I never thought about it the way you are asking. I just assumed from the tone that they were implying that I am “racist”. May be they were complaining that the show only talks about racism 90% of the time?

    My show is accessible on my site as well if you go to sistahveganproject.com then click on SV Podcast you can listen to it that way as well.

  3. Adam Says:

    It’s really sad knowing that we have such ignoramuses among us vegans. As I’ve learned more about race and privilege over the last couple years and discussed these issues with my white–and fairly intelligent–peers, I’ve always been frustrated with how defensive and dismissive some/most are. I think these folks acknowledge racism is a major problem, but refuse to accept it because they hate to consider themselves “oppressors.”

    When people make comments like the one about your podcast, I can’t help but think about Turner’s _Reckoning with the Beast_, in which it is argued that the humane movement had it’s origin in middle-class anxiety and guilt for the abject living conditions of the working class. The white middle-class, he believes, sublimated their angst into aiding “animal” in place of fellow humans while at the same time policing those humans for their “inhumanity”.

    It’s a shame that so many vegans are limited to the analogies of slavery and pornography in their understanding of intersectionality. Incredibly, many assume that civil equality has already been won–“mission accomplished.” Yet, those who are less ignorant don’t seem to realize their own hypocrisy that people of color should join their movement when they are dismissive of racism. What a world…

  4. supernovadiva Says:

    well! honestly i’m happy you’re out there doing this. it brings up the issues i’ve wondered about and had me think about others.
    the comment itself was racist by denying the validity of colonialism and diaspora. also calling you whiney, bitter and unable to let it go for bringing up these issues. bringing up issues that pertains to pocs ‘is not bringing a better world, improving our health or enviroment.’
    sorry that was my kneejerk.

  5. “May be they were complaining that the show only talks about racism 90% of the time? ”
    That’s my interpretation of the comment.

    That said, I think people who are critical of vegans and veganism within the movement DO receive backlash and are sometimes ostracized. I think that’s partially because some people see veganism as the end, not as a journey, not as a starting point.

  6. Tracy Says:

    I agree with Mel. I think the person meant your subject matter is 90% about racism. However, it’s your Podcast, so you can talk about whatever you want AND the subtitle of your blog says it all.

    By the way, I went to your Podcast page at your Sistah Vegan Project site, but the most recent Podcast was from August.

  7. From the quote that was posted, I don’t think the commenter was simply saying the podcast wasn’t focusing on veganism enought. They called Breeze “whiny,” placed the word colonialism in quotes (therefore suggesting it didn’t/doesn’t exist or wasn’t that big a deal), and trivialized ANY discussion of race as it pertains to veganism. That was a nasty, dismissive comment.

    I’d leave a comment for you, Breeze, but I don’t have iTunes and can’t download it at work.

  8. Minku Says:

    The comment was blatantly racist, regardless of whether one interprets it as claiming that you are racist (you are not racist), or just that the content is about racism. The fact that they would complain that you talk about racism, the fact that they put the words “colonialism” and “diaspora” in quotations as if they’re emphasizing something ridiculous, I’ve seen shit like this before – it’s done in a reactionary way to marginalize important and necessary discussion. The vegan/AR movement is suffering from a serious lack of critical thinking about intersectionality of oppression, and it’s dominated by white-normative people (of whatever race) with mainly white-normative perspectives, namely the perspective that it’s taboo to bring up white supremacy and white normativity. If we call them on their shit, we’re the problem. F* that.

  9. Jesica Says:

    I agree completely with Minku. I didn’t interpret the comment any other way than racist, which is why I submitted a comment to boost the rating, and hopefully get others to take a listen to the episodes. Here’s what I wrote:

    “Although I am a fan of a couple of other vegan podcasts, this one has a special place in my heart. It speaks directly to the Alice Walker quote: “The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.” It’s refreshing to hear veganism and animal rights in terms of it’s link to nearly every form of suffering in the world – including racism, classism and sexism. This podcast is reflective of intensive, valuable work that needs wider dissemination.”

    As my mom says, “One monkey don’t stop no show” so keep at it!

  10. Sofia Says:

    I think the fact that the commenter called you whiny exposes that she’s irritated by your content, which is intersectionality… The comment was racist itself. Ignorant at the least, and obviously not wanting to do any thing about it. I wonder if the commenter has ever stopped to think about what you are saying, really tried to apply what you are talking about to their own knowledge. I guess to them, it doesn’t make sense- I’m willing to bet they NEVER wanna talk about racism, not just when it has to do with veganism.

  11. Abram Says:

    I also interpreted the comment as 90% of your content being about racism. I also agree that this person, if not racist, is certainly in deep denial and xenophobic. And putting colonialism in quotation marks, marking it off as dubious in some way, is also revealing. Not only was colonialism widespread and vicious, it still exists. We are not in a post-colonial society by any means, though colonialism is so intertwined with economic and cultural globalisation (read imperialism) that it is less obvious to people who are unable/unwilling to take a step back from the noise of modern consumer culture to think about the processes at work and the implications.

    I know such comments are enraging and discouraging, but please keep going. The reason I like Vegans of Color and Sistah Vegan so much, though I am neither a person of colour/visible minority (I prefer this term as it emphasizes the power dynamic inherent in racism rather than colour) nor a woman, is exactly because they are not single issue. Being single issue, I feel, is not only limiting, but positively dangerous–a single issue focus often leads us to take matters out of context and allows us to become deluded and lulled into a false complacency.

    Keep up the good work, Breeze!

  12. Catherine Says:

    I only found out about your blog and podcast today but I was very impressed. I don’t understand why this commenter called your podcast racist when you were only stating facts.

    But I did not want to lecture but to encourage you to continue with what you are doing! I think it’s fantastic and I will make sure to frequent your blog and subscribe to your podcast.

    Be well!

  13. Charles K. Says:

    For one to be a racist one must control the economy.

  14. Since I posted this, I’ve realized that A LOT of people don’t even know what “racism” is, and few have books up actual books that give them a history and social science based understanding of how racism operates, from colonialism to the present.


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