Kinda speciesist…

I’ve had trouble updating this blog for a while since I realize I no longer want to discuss just plant-based diets up in here. I’ve come to admit that Afrikan liberation at large – organizing for it, articulating it, propagandizing for it – is of more consequence to me than only advocating that we black folks eat plants.

See, the thing is, as oppressed people, in so many places where we are, we don’t have access to affordable and sound whole foods and produce in the first place. It’s not affordable or accessible to those of us who pull in little income despite busting our asses the hardest, and furthermore live in “food deserts.” Our pro-corporate food systems subsidize cheap empty calories (corn-based processed food-like substances) at the expense of whole fruits and veggies, which are overpriced. So it is not easy to advocate, as one’s sole agenda, a vast black vegan renaissance, when most Afrikans will have a hard time funding it or justifying it at the expense of other concerns in the life of someone of limited means and oversized responsibilities.

I promote a more plant-based lifestyle for Afrikans as a means towards optimal health, the health-consequences of meat- and fast-food- and junk-food-heavy diets being more expensive to the individual health of Afrikan peoples and to the shared ecosystem than would occur if more humans ate more plants primarily and increasingly spared this world of animal husbandry.

But I don’t viscerally care so much what individual Afrikans are eating off the bat, don’t want to question one’s private choices, not outside of the context of recognizing that our inability to even access healthy plant-based lifestyles is due in large part to imperialism, capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, neocolonialism, etc. themselves, the first causes of overall black suffering in the contemporary world.

To my current thinking, encouraging healthier lifestyle choices in the Afrikan community must always occur with the naked fact of segregation, exploitation, geographic and economic limitations and imposed ignorance about such choices, and so on, laid bare on the table, so we don’t fall into the trap of just talking about “let’s go vegan and it will all be fine, brothas and sistas!”

I’m not so interested in talking about saving the animals in this context either. In stating this I suppose I’m toying with blatant speciesism, which I’m not supposed to do as an ardent vegan. Make no mistake about it, I’m an ethical vegan, personally. I’m not interested in oppressing non-humans. But I have a whole lot more visceral solidarity with Jamaicans, Haitians or Nigerians than with cows and turkeys and pigs. And I’m not a back to nature man, I’m not one to stand still and be non-violent in the midst of being bitten by mad mosquitos or while suffering super-massive ant-infestations in my apartment (as occurred when I lived in Accra, Ghana). I’m not even a pet owner and never will be. I’m primarily interested in talking about and resolving human suffering by any means, and in particular the suffering of Afrikans.

Comparing slave ships to the animal slaughtering industry may have it’s place, somewhere for some minds. But I’m currently more interested in discussing eating healthy for the self-interested agenda of building a healthier and stronger black race, period. Getting folks more liberated from all these chronic diseases, and using my own experience as validation and evidence, is what suits me more these days. I think discussion of the Afrikan Holocaust, the Ma’afa, is not even deep enough in the Afrikan community worldwide, not in everyday parlance. We need to think deeply about the legacy of that holocaust, and talk loudly about it because it continues in new ways today, before casually introducing notions of animal holocaust into discussion, at least in the sorts of circles I run in. We Afrikans are still being treated, and are treating each other, like animals. Thus I don’t think some non-veg Afrikans are ready to immediately express profound sympathy for non-humans.

I am critical of Afrikan cultures that hold a prestige on meat. But that won’t stop me from working with said Afrikans toward common liberatory goals in the broader areas we can and must collaborate on. I still hint at putting more fruits and veggies in the body than dead flesh, since that’s my practice, I’m always asked about it by Afrikans, and most people intuitively know it’s healthier to eat more fruits and vegetables. But it’s not a make or break issue for me interpersonally.

So I just had to share that and update the blog. My pro-human speciesism is exposed. The direction of this blog, while still hip to discussions around plant-based diets and radical ecological justice struggles, will only entertain such struggles in full acknowledgment of the fact that capitalism/imperialism/patriarchy/white supremacy are the problems, to be resolved not by one-issue campaigns built on concepts hard to relate to intimately for all but the most privileged and aloof, but by humanistic revolutionary struggle to more fully meet human needs and enable human freedom for oppressed, dispossessed peoples, led by indigenous peoples, peoples of the third world, Afrikans. As sound, well-informed minds vying for healthier communities introduce their efforts into the revolutionary mix and see results, then in the course of a blatantly human struggle – this black struggle, land justice, sustainability and the needless waste of life and resources in current regimes of consumption can be overturned as well.

But for me it has to be about black liberation in total. Humans. To be fully human.


2 responses to “Kinda speciesist…

  1. I am happy to see you blogging again. I am at the beginning roads of my vegan journey at 23, moving toward a raw vegan crossing, after years of procrastination, and I have always enjoyed reading your blog to get inspiration.

    While I do care about the well-being of my fellow people of African descent, unlike you, I do not share the same sort of solidarity. I attribute that to being a gay Black male and dealing with the negative and disgusting response/actions many of my own people have cast toward me and those like me because of their outdated and paternalistic beliefs, beliefs of their captors and not of their precolonial ancestors. I am definitely ethically vegan, but I do respect your slant. Don’t get me wrong, I love my people. I love our BLACKNESS and all it encompasses, but if it came down to pulling a defenseless lamb or a homophobic “brother” off a cliff, I would go with the lamb. Get me?

    Anyhow, I agree with much of what you write on your blog and wish there were more of those like you who are not ignorant and refuse to be lied to, those who research and revel in knowledge.

    Thank you for your blog, and I will continue to check back.

    • I hear you, bro. I’ve known another revolutionary gay brother (non-vegan) who had a somewhat similar perspective on black solidarity due in part to indefensible and widespread black homophobia. I respect that. As a hetero cat, “privileged” to great extent by this heteronormative culture (even moreso in our community though we have no less non-hetero folk than any other group), it’s not a position I can directly relate to, but I recognize the serious pain of the bullshit brothers go through just for their sexual orientation or even for not being the “macho” person even some females imagine “proper” black men are supposed to be (one of my sista coworkers is openly speculating about my own sexuality just because I’m still single and childless in my mid-to-late twenties and I eat a lot of fruits on the job every day, especially bananas).

      I would like to imagine that within the black community and in exercising black solidarity and Pan-Africanism we can and should boldly confront homophobia, patriarchy and other forms of intolerance and ignorance. As a hardcore atheist I confront strong prevailing tendencies in our community that almost reject that someone fully “black” could even be an atheist. Nonetheless I still prefer to fight for that recognition, inclusion and critical thinking within our community than without. It’s not easy but I prefer to deal with Africans first and foremost and I prefer the hard challenge of building unity, tolerance and progressive thinking at home first, before dealing with other groups. But that’s just me.

      Thanks for the contribution, bro, keep reading, keep thinking critically and stay healthy and strong!

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