Vegans of Color

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

Mystic Vegan Tap-Dance Boogie August 26, 2010

Some funky-fresh dope pro-vegan pro-Earth Afro-positive bars and imagery for y’all. Lyrics over here. Music by Djelimady Tounkara.

“Vandana Shiva is the general…”

 

Rising Temperatures Mean Falling Plant Productivity Overall (via NASA TV) August 20, 2010

This means we need more veganism. We need more blacks on bikes. We need to set examples of sustainability, wise land stewardship practices based on both traditional and scientific knowledge, and more cooperation with our planet instead of the prevailing attitude of dominion. Lest we forget, and I cited NASA here being a space nerd and science lover, but this is our only planet.

More veganism? Because if crop productivity is going to continue to drop with climate change – especially in Africa – then one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters (responsible for 20-50% of greenhouse gasses by various enumerations and estimates), the meat industry, must be dismantled and collapsed by our consumer and advocacy power. Not only that, but we must really begin to beat into our collective skull that it makes no sense to have animals chew the land bare and then eat them, when we will feed ourselves so much better and more efficiently if we cultivate and chew of the land ourselves directly.

More blacks on bikes? Why not? Need to usurp and practice transportation modalities and other lifestyle choices that are of lowest impact, are healthiest, are closest to human scale, and are future proof for a hot planet. Talking about colored people composting. Talking about growing gardens instead of lawns. Talking about collective urban farming. Talking about more folks on the street conversant on the idea of a carbon footprint for every consumer choice they make. Talking about rain-water harvesting in the hood (it’s getting drier too). Talking about no-impact brown and black women and men.

Talking about planting trees as a revolutionary act.

This is serious and time-sensitive. Given that whole species are going extinct over this right now, we have it easy, and we have an opportunity. Thanks, NASA.

 

Veganism and the Class War August 18, 2010

What follows is a thought exercise.

My own definition of a vegan is a human who eats fruits and vegetables [as well as whatever nuts, seeds or legumes he or she may desire], and never eats or uses animal products. For starts. For my purposes and for the purposes of this post, this vegan is not so heavily involved in extremely elaborate recipes, in highly-processed ingredients and additives, in soy and grains, etc. That can come later. I’m simplifying and scaling down for the purpose of understanding what this post wants to address, which is the skeletal basics (though in full disclosure I’m pretty much a fruitarian). A vegan, firstly, is someone anywhere in the world where fruits and vegetables are affordable and accessible who eats those items, eats produce. That sort of vegan, who isn’t strictly dependent on special products, mock meats, packaged goods, and so on, who could be just at home eating the fruits and veggies available in Kinshasa or Kisangani as are available in Karachi or Kansas City, might be said, for the purposes of this thought experiment, to be a universal vegan, or even a vehicular vegan, and I will use either term interchangebly going forward.

As for the class war, I define it as the conflict between workers and bosses, between capitalists and proletariats, between landlords and tenants, between elites and all us riff-raff, even between humans and animals, over access and claims of ownership over land, infrastructure, the means of production, the structure of our economy, the production of culture, and so on. It is the imperative of oppressors to oppress, to exploit, to profit, maintain ignorance, maintain illiteracy and food scarcity, maintain the divisions amongst working people, maintain ideological, religious, and political zeitgeists of constant histeria, and yet eat well and live comfortably all the while. It is the imperative of workers, of women, of ethnic or sexual minorities, of those rendered landless, to maintain unity in struggle, to vie for and claim power, land and freedom, to achieve self-determination and societies of fairness and justice, to collectivize resources, to build and practice pro-human cultures, and to, at a spiritual maximum as it were, prefer death to slavery. The class war is very real and it is everywhere and, whether or not we acknowledge it, we are all class warriors of some stripe, all over the world. If we find ourselves hating our banks and landlords and tiring of our bosses, that much makes us class warriors, just as a Naxalite Adivasi struggling against planned and perpetrated genocides and land thefts and who actually engages in armed struggle is a class warrior. The bosses that like exploiting and polluting and dominating – whether at Goldman Sachs or British Petroleum or Tyson Chicken or General Motors or Lockheed Martin or Uncle Sam himself – they’re all class warriors for their side.

So how can we mix veganism – as practiced by the universal vegan – with the class war? We start with the manner in which prestige is applied to certain objects to make them desirable, even when they aren’t healthy or necessary. Possession or consumption of these articles of prestige is then used to define who is of what class, or at least who aspires to more elevated social rankings. Yes, commodity fetishism includes propagating the meat prestige – look at the most extreme sorts of hamburgers the fast-food industry invents, or at the Heart Attack Grill.

So, all over the third world, even where meat is scarce or pastoralism is irrevocably destroying land, meat is a prestige. Automobile usage is another. The wealthiest eat the most meat and drive the most, and are often the most gorged and overweight, hence the typical gut of rich and powerful elites in Africa and elsewhere in the third world. (And thanks to the zombifying power of marketing and mass media, a million other useless, wasteful and dangerous products are rendered prestigious, and we must use our own voices and propaganda to fight this, but that is another topic.)

But if a society hedges closer to veganism, that means more calories will generally be available to its individual constituents, since growing plants is far more sustainable and efficient than growing animals which eat plants. So that society would naturally enable an environment of greater equity and less classism. On the other hand, if a society hankers hard after meat, that means fewer people will eat of the greater resultant scarcity in overall available calories. The meat-centric society will inevitably breed the conditions for less equality and for harsher stratification, just because of how much meat production usurps of limited environmental resources.

That’s macro-level. What about individual vehicular vegan class warriors?

Conscious vegan workers remove themselves partly from an equation of exploitation by striking animals from a hierarchy of exploitation and brutality from their own lives. They help keep the class war between humans and from involving non-humans, who have enough of their own struggles and class wars in the wild without having to worry about human consumption.

Conscientious vegan workers keep from supporting aspects of the elite apparatus and cash machine by non-participation in the meat-industrial complex and, should veganism keep them healthy, the medical-industrial complex. The industries of violence and slavery are among the largest which support class and caste structures worldwide. Not endorsing the meat prestige and engaging in veganism means one is using one’s own labor and consumer powers to directly disempower the most odious aspects of the system.

It could be observed that much of veganism, as it is known particularly in North America, is associated with upper classes and privileged populations, but veganism at the grassroots is actually potentially most revolutionary. In the US, poor communities of color are often bereft of access to fresh healthy foods, and disproportionately find themselves afflicted with the diseases of Western diets and lifestyles. This is part of class war, as I see it, keeping the most chronically impoverished from being able to be healthy, long-lived and highly functioning, and from excelling as human beings. The elites don’t really care to ameliorate this problem.

Thus it is up to grassroots universal vegan workers of color, aware that existence in a human society configured such as ours means lifelong class war, to promote healthy lifestyles, to strive and struggle to increase access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables in our communities, and to speak loudly and widely on the benefits of non-meat consumption and the fallacies of the meat prestige and meat addiction.

Thoughtful vegans should make natural class warriors. Their veganism empowers them to escape relationships of oppression and violence with both humans and non-humans, while granting them the vitality and awareness to struggle for just power and representation for as long as necessary. The vehicular vegan revolutionary can be a revolutionary of stamina and substance, of vision and actualization, actually practicing diplomacy (with non-humans) and militancy (against industries and economies of subjugation).

And that is how, and why, veganism can relate to the class war, and why vegans, especially working-class vegans of color, should consider themselves class warriors. But it’s just one small open-source theory that still needs help (or refutation) from y’all.

Veganism can indeed be revolutionary, and we must make it so if we are serious about social change, food sovereignty, Earth and non-human justice, and human freedom and equity.

 

Gross Options in Germantown pt. 1 August 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 11:34 pm
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So I haven’t posted in a long time. My reasoning being that I actually needed to focus on my studies during my senior year. But now I’m done with school for at least a year, and I’ve just settled into my new home in Philly where for the next year I’ll be working at a youth crisis center.

So now I live in Germantown, which is the hood for the most part (the thing about Philly is that economic classes really go block by block), and let me tell you: being vegan is hard here. I knew it would be. We all know how bad those corner stores are, but I’m going to make it my goal to truly explore the gross options that are around me.

(more…)

 

New Ecosustainable Vegan Hip Hop Album: DJ CaveM August 11, 2010

Filed under: vegan — Dr. A. Breeze Harper @ 12:05 am

Like ecosustainable vegan hip hop? Check out the amazing new album by young Denver brotha, DJ CaveM. My favorite song is Wheatgrass. He is amazing people! Wish there were more young brotha hip hop artist role models like him: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/cavemmoetavation. Click on the image to buy.

Album Notes

Who is DJ Cavem Moetavation?

Ietef Vita is DJ Cavem Moetavation. He is an internationally known Hip-Hop Artist, Environmental Advocate, Youth Advocate and political genius. He is currently employed as an Eco-cultivator at Denver’s Blue and Yellow Logic, a company devoted to transforming empty lots in urban communities into thriving and vibrant gardens. He is from the hood, loves the hood and wants to uplift the hood through educating and “moetavating” his community. DJ Cavem uses music and words as his tool to not only rock a crowd, but to more importantly bring justice to the environment of the hood.

Blue & Yellow Logic, The GrowHaus & Environmental Sustainability

The goal of Blue & Yellow Logic is to teach urban communities how to support themselves and the environment with this sustainability project. No back yard plots here. The gardens cover city blocks and provide enough food to feed several families throughout the year. Here Cavem supervises a soil delivery to agarden managed by the Eastside Grower’s collective. The project is gaining local and national attention. Recently, Blue & Yellow Logic has made arrangements to develop gardens at the office of Colorado Senator Michael Johnston and The Swansea-Elyria Aquaponic Green House, Growhaus Project in order to provide free organic food to the community.

Youth Outreach

This thoughtful young artist is no airy-fairy performer. Along with gardening comes teaching positive health practices. He engages youth in such forums as the Brown Sugah Fest panels promoting positive and holistic health and Peace Jam; a community music event targeting youth and engaging them in music, health and community activism practices. He encourages both young and old to take care of the environment, develop creativity, and practice behaviors which lead to peace. Contact us if you are interested in DJ Cavem doing a presentation at your school.

DJ Cavem’s Music
DJ Cavem is an international performer having performed in Africa, Europe and throughout the United States. His work has been recognized by such greats as Hazel Miller, Gil Scott Heron and Erykah Badu.

DJ Cavem is a prolific composer and writer. He has five albums available. The fifth album Deep Rokc is available on itunes and amazon now! DJ Cavem’s sixth Album, The Teacher’s Lounge, release date of July 30, 2010, features music inspired by Cavem’s love of HipHop culture, his advocacy for youth, environment and community and his deep rooted value of knowledge. Get ready for this hard hitting, socially conscious release.

DJ Cavem is available for commisions for writers, film makers and other artists. Contact us if you desire music for your art or filim project.

Booking Information
Live Performances, DJ & MC work:
DJ Cavem is available for solo performances as well as live performances with his band, Moetavation. Cavem can MC your special event and draw a crowd just because of his presence. See our booking page for more detailed information on how to book Cavem.

School Lectures and Assemblies:
DJ Cavem enjoys working with youth and sharing how to engage today’s world from a perspective of self-empowerment. He provides interactive classroom presentations as well as performances for your school’s assemblies, instructing youth in environmental, social, community and self awareness.

Non-profit & Corporate presentations:
DJ Cavem also facilitates lectures and panels for non-profit and corporate events. He has lectured at the Denver, Colorado, San Francisco, CA, and Chicago, IL Green Festivals. He provides workshops for youth and adults on urban sustainability at Denver’s GrowHaus Greenhouse project.

 

Abuse Isn’t Vegan August 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 9:16 am
Tags: , ,

What’s it worth to you to have good vegan recipes? Would it bother you to pay money to a publishing company run by an abuser? (more info here; linkdump here.) This cookbook has gotten a lot of positive reviews, but I won’t buy it because I can’t stomach giving money to Microcosm.

Probably a lot of people reading this blog, who may have this cookbook or be thinking about ordering it, won’t know the story behind its publisher. Given that people have been speaking up about this recently, I thought it would be good to add my voice to theirs. I am thankful for the bravery of people speaking out. Because there’s backlash. There’s always backlash. I know the arguments that will be used to dismiss any concerns about Microcosm here; I have been hearing them for years, in the largely non-public discussions about the issue of abuse in zine/activist/punk rock/whatever communities in general & Joe Biel in particular. And every excuse given to defend Joe Biel & denigrate those critiquing him I’ve seen used before to defend other abusers.

People say, have said, will say: who cares, they sell good zines! We can’t boycott everybody! Every company has something bad about them! The good done by these zines outweighs any bad done by Joe Biel! He said he’s sorry! Are we really sure Alex is telling the truth? It’s one person’s word against another! (& why, why should we believe women who say they have been abused?) She’s just jealous! It’s just blown-up zinester drama! Blah blah blah ad nauseum.

I’m going to moderate comments to this post pretty closely: if you are thinking of throwing out any of those trite dismissive arguments, your comments are subject to deletion.

Sure, some of Ploeg’s recipes sound delicious. But do I need to have them at the cost of supporting a company whose head purports to support anarchist & feminist ideals, yet enacts precisely the opposite?

No. That cost is too high. As Alex says:

So, the question is do I think people should support Joe Biel and Microcosm? If you think survivors of abuse should be believed, supported and respected and you believe abusers should be held accountable to their community and those they have hurt then I think you know my answer.

 

Poverty Contests August 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Precision Afrikan @ 1:07 pm
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This essay concerns food security, economic counting systems and third world solidarity more than veganism per se.

An article published in today’s New York Times reports on efforts in India to enshrine access to food as a constitutionally protected right, a law its proponents expect could enable the food-insecure to make their own market choices to purchase food with food coupons or cash, instead of waiting for monthly 77 pound bags of grain, sugar and kerosene under the current regime. The article also goes on to highlight statistics about how India’s poverty is more widespread and intense than Africa’s, despite the “Tiger” rebranding and annual economic growth rate. A report compiled in India Current Affairs in July also highlights these poverty rankings, comparing the one Indian state of Madhya Pradesh in the country’s center with the entire Democratic Republic of Congo, both of similar population (though the Congo’s size is more comparable to India in its entirety), and finding the same levels of deprivation, even with DRC’s wars (though Madhya Pradesh is not without Naxalites and other struggles for land and resources between communities and multi-national mining and other interests, not unlike DRC).

On the one hand, the expectation around the world seems to be of Africa as the world’s eternal poverty yardstick. This in spite of similar levels of conventionally measured economic growth in a number of Sub-Saharan countries that approach such activity as seen in India in recent years. By comparing favorably to Africa, a government should have license to claim progress in the war on poverty – that’s the ridiculous, racist assumption, an assumption of development stasis.

On the other more important hand, these rankings and contests, especially as presented in the links mentioned above, are patently absurd in themselves, ignoring the basic fact that most of the annual GDP growth measures the rise in income of mostly exclusive urban, male, elite high-end sectors which determine and direct mining, cash-crop, real estate (land displacement), and [cheapest] labor configurations which exclude vast rural populations, whether in India, Congo, or Colombia. Human beings are impoverishing other human beings – not continental geographies. And the story is similar in most geographies including those concerned in this essay – Adivasis in rural Chhattisgarh struggle to hold on to their land in the face of “Memoranda of Understanding” signed by illegitimate politicians to mining interests to violently displace the people from their land, similarly to how Niger Delta militants attack oil infrastructure and kidnap oil workers in response to land displacement and ecosystem destruction by a half century of oil exploitation by foreign corporations in happy concert with local state governments and the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Once you understand neo-colonialism and neoliberal market economics, these patterns can be easily understood as to how they determine poverty and struggle around the third world. Malnutrition and poverty propagate fastest and most consistently wherever governments fail to prioritize enabling peripheral population groups to exact their own capacity to cultivate, live and eat of the land. Changes in the environment, and dietary demands which may place undue stress on the ecosystem and reduce its carrying capacity, may further impede nutrition and food security, as predominates in Sahelian countries that currently suffer serious drought. But policy-makers in much of the third world more often than not do not care, since they do not share the same fate as those far beyond the capitals, the urban and privileged spaces where they bury their heads, forgetting what rural populations go through, forgetting they exist.

I think that in itself, that food security should become a constitutional and human right anywhere is excellent. But a shifting in societal priorities would be a more lasting solution, towards actually considering the plights of women, of agriculturalists, and enabling their self-determination while the wealth of the nation focuses first on human and ecological needs rather than profit for exploitative corporations and salaries for ministers and bureaucracies.

Why focus on these poverty contests, with Africa at level zero? These statistics only measure those who, already in positions of control over powerful economic interests, are getting richer as they exploit more underpaid, vulnerable workers, and the land those workers may have been displaced or evicted from. These statistics don’t measure women’s reproductive work, don’t measure broader levels of quality of life that get inflated by those at the very top, even while the masses at the bottom suffer more dispossession and malnutrition year after year.

Human solidarity is to be encouraged instead. The same problems in Nigeria or Congo are found in India, Bangladesh, Indonesia or Peru, the same exact identical types of fierce corruption, the same exact types of high-official sellouts, the same exact identical types of Western aspirationalism and mimicry, the same exact types of ideological and religious extremisms and hysterias which cripple the masses from thinking critically and boldly enough to challenge the regimes that cause their suffering, the same exact multinationals praying on their resources, human and natural, to be exploited to the lowest common denominator. The same exact types of ignorance forced upon the masses with the absence of schools and the tolerance of illiteracy, despite official claims to the contrary. The exact same types of oppression of labor activists and human-rights campaigners and journalists. The exact same types of classisms and casteisms that compel generations to accept their designated desperation. The same exact types of false democracies in which the people do not have choice or voice in the structural economic questions of society, only at best over the latest personality who says the prettiest things or just looks pretty, but in power does little to nothing of the good he or she promised.

Thus I reject poverty contests. Instead, I move towards human collaboration and solidarity in the third world in pursuit of revolution! Towards the African revolution, the South Asian revolution, the Latin American revolution, the world revolution! Towards human-based economics! Towards the end of rapacious capitalism, the end of the rush to privatize water, seeds and land! Towards human and community-level self-governance and self-determination! Towards the humanization of labor such that people are not reduced to pack mules to produce Wal-Mart products at competitively lower and lower wages in ever more dangerous workplaces!

Towards human development work which is interested in human development, not numbers nudging and statistics masturbating.

 

Sistah Vegan Needs Revolutionary Black Female Vegan Activists August 4, 2010

Filed under: vegan — Dr. A. Breeze Harper @ 12:19 am

In this video, I speak of my call for help for my dissertation work. For my work,  I would like to incorporate and analyze black female vegans who merge a black feminist/womanist/critical race/ vegan consciousness into their social justice activism. If you think you fit the criteria, please send me an email at breezeharper (at) gmail (dot) com . I am looking for critical reflections from black female vegans activists who offer open minded critiques of racism, ableism, homophobia, fatphobia, transphobia, classism, normative whiteness and speak of how opposition against these ‘isms’ are incorporated into their vegan consciousness and activism.

 

 
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