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Lions Roar : September 2018
Harper reports that when Black women adopt a vegan diet, it’s often to combat health issues caused or exacerbated by systemic racism, which bleeds into the education system, food systems, and health care institutions. This, Harper asserts, “neg- atively impacts Black communities in terms of their access to having the food they need—and just everything they need—to thrive and have healthy bodies.” Veganism, therefore, can be a tool to decolonize the body. In 2007, Harper founded Critical Diversity Solutions (CDS) to offer organizations training and consulting for diversity, equity, and inclusion. CDS’s specialization is supporting the diversity initiatives of organizations dedicated to animal advocacy, ethical consumption, and sustainability. The Pollination Project, The Uni- versity of Oregon, Food First, Animal Charity Evaluators, Animal Grantmakers, and PetSmart Charities have all been clients. CDS’s work takes many forms, but often it involves helping animal rights groups understand what might be problematic about their assumptions, the way they interact with commun- ities of color, and the language and images they use in their pamphlets, ads, and other materials. “Most white people have been taught to speak to nonwhite populations in an imperialistic, missionary way, and they may not even be aware of it,” says Harper. “A lot of folks who are white identifying tell me, ‘I tried to use this pamphlet, and these non-white folks told me that it was offensive, and I don’t understand how.’ So, I’ll look at their pamphlet and analyze it. I’ll say, ‘When you use this type of language it sounds like you’re assuming this population doesn’t know any better—that they’re the white man’s burden and you’re going in as the savior. “Instead of telling the population what they should and should not be doing to become more moral, you should be listening to what the community’s needs are, understanding their realities, and understanding that they have agency. You just can’t go in and say, ‘I learned that Black people don’t know how to eat right. I’m going to come in and tell you the best way to cook kale.’ Don’t come in as the all-knowing person, even though you have the best intentions.” In her trainings, Harper often shows a problematic image that Ve g Ne w s created. It depicts Mount Rushmore, but with the presidents’ faces replaced by the faces of the four people who, Breeze Harper with her husband Oliver Zahn and their children (from left to right) Sun, Kiki, Eva Luna, and Miro at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, where they do family practice. PHOTOBYDR.OLIVERZAHN LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2018 69