Vegans of Color

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

POCs feeling “discomfort” at Predominantly White AR and Veg Events? November 22, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. A. Breeze Harper @ 1:36 pm

Good morning,

I am writing parts of my preliminary dissertation work on “colorblindness” and the denial of white racialized consciousness in the vegan and animal rights movement. I am at a point where I’m looking for narratives of POCS experiences of “discomfort” at AR or vegan events of any kind, due to the climates in which they are “the only one” (or one of the only ones). I’m looking for some narratives (a paragraph or two would suffice, but longer would be cool to) of how you feel in these situations and why. I would like to know if I can use these examples in my dissertation work. These experiences can also be experiences of being “the only POC” on online forums of AR or Veganism in which “whiteness as the norm” is replaced with “colorblindness”, as your experiences don’t have to be confined to physical spaces of AR and Vegan engagement. I’m also interested in POC vegans/AR folk experiencing covert and overt racist, “Eurocentric”, or “white privileged” centric statements and how that has made them feel during AR or Vegan oriented events. I am wondering if people would be willing to share such emotionally frustrating and hurtful moments online. If you are a white ally on here but have experienced friends of color expressing their discomfort, hurt, etc to you in these events, I’d like to hear it as well.

My work is driven by Sarah Ahmed, Frantz Fanon, Joy Degruy Leary, George Yancy… POC philosophers and who are concerned with who emotionally hurtful and incapacitating the ongoing stresses of living “non-white bodied” in a “white world” can be the the minds and physical health of POC.

I can share right now that I constantly feel uncomfortable– not just in predominantly white bodied AR and vegan spaces- but in just about ALL predominantly white bodied spaces. But, I feel even more frustrated in instance when I’m participating in an experience that SHOULD be linked to radical ways of thinking about social justice. What hurts the most is that when I try to express it, I am made to feel like it’s “all in my head”. My experiences of emotional pain, shortness of breath because of anxiety in these situations, rising blood pressure are MY PROBLEM. It is “individual” and not a symptom of structural and institutional inequalities.

The purpose of my paper is overall to try to explain the need for racial healing on all levels– including in organizations and events that are supposedly involved in “liberal progressive” social justice activities. The paper is to approach racialized trauma (for both “colonizer” and “colonized”) with compassion and attempts to make the “invisibility” of “whiteness” — and the ongoing emotional stresses that come with this for many POCs– VISIBLE in a way that is not necessarily “white guilt producing” but “white awareness and reconciliation and healing” producing.

Breezie

 

Palin, turkeys, and lack of connection to overall suffering of sentient beings November 21, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. A. Breeze Harper @ 12:10 pm

I do wonder what is going on in this woman’s head? Or, maybe I do not want to know?

I am just wondering how far her lack of compassion and connection to “immediate” suffering go? Would she be this comfortable, interviewing in front of a plantation of enslaved African children working to harvest “her” cocoa on the Ivory coast? Would she say things like, “This is really exciting!”  What about if it were 1750 antebellum USA, and she were in front of a cotton plantation, a few feet away from African slaves being branded or whipped? Would she be “excited” to participate in this “fun” event, happy to see where “her” cotton is coming from, then say how she’s thankful for her own family’s health and happiness? Would she completely not realize that the sentient beings right next to her, being callously slaughtered, tortured, exploited, desire “health and happiness”?

I’m not trying to be extreme or ridiculous here, but I seriously see some disturbing connections here to oblivion or lack of care to how sentient beings SUFFER for the “luxuries” of certain human beings who feel sincerely “privileged” and “entitled” to the materials, products, etc that come out of this “naturalized” exploitation and suffering. She seems “dangerously” comfortable with this and I can’t imagine how this consciousness (or lack there of ) would have played out if she had become VP of the USA.

Breeze

 

The Face(s) of Veganism in Bristol November 15, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 6:14 pm
Tags: , ,

I’ve been absent from the blog for a few weeks due to relocating from New York City to Bristol, England (sorry to have missed out on some good discussion from folks!). There seem to be a lot of vegans here — or at least in my neighborhood — but I haven’t yet met any vegans of color.

I did spot one veg*n of color, or at least someone pretending to be one: Animal welfare group Viva is holding a Christmas Veggie Roadshow in Bristol soon, & I noticed immediately on picking up one of their flyers that the person shown was a woman of color (scroll down on their banner page to see the image). I thought that was kind of neat — though what’s with the Carmen Miranda thing?

My new neighborhood, Easton, sports a radical community center that does a weekly vegan brunch. I’ve only gone once so far, but hope to go more regularly, because I think it’s an awesome thing. But (you knew there was a but, right?) I couldn’t help but notice that everyone I saw at the brunch seemed to be white. In a neighborhood that, to my eye at least, seems to be predominantly of color.

Also nearby is Cafe Maitreya, an award-winning veg*n restaurant. It is indeed very tasty — my partner and I went last year when we were visiting — but rather expensive. I could be wrong, but given the economic statistics I’ve seen for our neighborhood, I am assuming that it’s mostly not locals keeping the restaurant afloat.

There’s obviously a lot of context I don’t have, given how new I am to the area, but I was struck by how in these two instances veg*nism seemed to be a marker, in some ways, of outsider status. This all connects to more thinking I need to do about my own place in the neighborhood, with regards to gentrification & other similar issues. And again, these are all just quick impressions that I’ve gotten over the few weeks that I’ve been here. I look forward to learning more… and also hopefully meeting other vegans of color, of course!

 

 
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