Books and Intersectional Feminism: ‘Aphro-ism’ and ‘Sistah Vegan’

International Women’s Day came and left. Women’s History Month remains.
My paternal grandmother would have turned eighty-five-years old today. She was one of the first women to encourage me to follow my dreams, to pursue creative avenues that I had yearned setting up for myself. Although I have yet reached cusp of those familiar desires, they are close and attainable, not some distant fictional realm. For now, I continue writing on this six-year-old blog discussing food and art– the things that matter.
Thus, I haven’t branched into personal reading. First of all, there are two imperative books that should be alongside everyone’s library among usual suspects of Oh She GlowsTerry Bryant, and other vegan staple reads. Vegans should peruse other challenging roads this topic can steer, especially when these curved, seemingly uncomfortable roads pertain to matters of feminism, black identity, animal compassion, and pop culture.

I appreciate the work of Aph and Syl Ko immensely. They are smart, outspoken, and brave.
Their amazing jointly authored Aphro-ism came out last year. It is a container of thoughtful, intelligently crafted essays that pertain to life’s many intersections. From the way we eat, how we exist and grow in respective environments, the explosive racism that undeniably reveals itself in different components of veganism’s “public face,” and seeds implanted in the entertainment industry often told in voices that are not our own, are these detrimental conversation points that Aph and Syl dissect. With concise language and profound insight in their personal writings, they offer eye opening tools that work the wheels behind our ways of thinking about layers of our daily interactions, our accessibilities. Most importantly, the sisters ask, “how does a black woman vegan see herself in the stratosphere that slowly, very slowly offers granules of inclusivity?”

Sistah Vegan’s Dr. A. Breeze Harper’s curated Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society, a classic among black women vegan literary circles, is an incredible body of various voices that entail each woman’s path to discovering veganism whether through love, family, interest, health, etc. Each story is unique, a spoon full of plant based delicious goodness meant to provide the ravenous soul of sweet medicinal healing satisfaction that simply cannot come from murdered animal flesh. This compilation of wise words, moving poetry, guttural heartache, harrowing manifestos, and sincere compassion soothes my frustration on roughest days, those days that are filled with bacon “jokes,” “what about protein,” Bible stuff, and other annoying meat eater interferences. Before finding this book’s existence, I felt alone, isolated in the world. I rarely saw myself in the vegan brochures or on peta or on the very products purchased at Whole Foods. I also didn’t see black vegans on television or black vegans voted as Most Beautiful Celebrity. Yet when I found, acquired, and began reading Sistah Vegan, I was reading from companions located in various parts of the globe, entailing their own isolations and turmoil, finding solace and comfort in their words and recipes.
So yes, vegans need to read black women vegan’s prose and writings on our struggles and triumphs of this travel we’ve all decided to embark upon together. Read the Ko sisters and Dr. Breeze’s tremendous efforts. With beautiful, valiant dignity and precious grace, they offer strength and courage necessary to carry forth our message of attaining freedom for all nature’s sentient beings.

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