The Vegan Praxis of 'Black Lives Matter'
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FROM

Breezer Harper, The Sistah Vegan Project
April 2015

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.

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.

black lives matter
Designed by Alise Eastgate (www.eastrandstudios.com)

The Vegan Praxis of 'Black Lives Matter'
Interactive web conference
April 24-25, 2015

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. 


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