Listening, Deconstructing and Reconstructing: Celebrating black vegans and centering their stories

Too often we see the mainstream framing of black veganism or indigenous veganism as an assimilation into white veganism. Veganism is painted as a white person thing, when it isn’t and never has been. That is why creating spaces for the narratives of black vegans to grow and flourish is extremely important. I hope with this interview, our listeners reflect on their role in dismantling racism in animal rights by centering and celebrating POC who are in the movement.

One celebratory digital media space where this is taking place is Black Vegans Rock. Created by the creative Aph Ko who is an activist engaging in several independent digital media projects. Aph also launched a new blog site called Aphro-ism with her sister Syl where they provide critical analysis from a black feminist vegan perspective. After she wrote the first list that spotlighted 100 Black Vegans who were doing incredible work to dismantle the stereotype that veganism was a “white person’s” thing, Black Vegans Rock was created as a digital space that seeks to spotlight everyday Black vegans who are looking to get their work, art, music, restaurant, book or other projects in front of other vegans.

We talk to Aph about why she decided to create such a celebratory project and why centering black vegans is an important process in dismantling white supremacist discourses pervading the animal rights
movement. By sharing one story at a time, we see the complex lives of people around the world who are creating new frameworks for thinking about veganism.

With capitalism co-opting ideas so quickly (the idea of intersectionality for example) and depoliticizing our movements, finding different frameworks for looking at anti-oppression work is crucial. Can we find ways to genuinely dismantle the racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism and speciesism? Understanding the erasure of black and and brown bodies in veganism is one way to do that work.

Aph also is constantly creating and building for tomorrow. She is known for making fictional comedy web-series that tackle social justice issues.Tales from the Kraka Tower satirizes diversity in academia [and features a vegan black character], and Black Feminist Blogger highlights the massive amount of invisible labor in blogging.

Check out Black Vegans Rock

or download an mp3 of the show.

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