Women of Color and Vegan Cooking: Viva Vegan Giveaway!

Terry Hope Romero

Have you ever heard the phrase “veganism, that’s one of those white things right?” or something similar that clearly marks vegan diets as “not us”? Often these comments are based on two principles:

  1. perceived and real elitism amongst vegans – an issue discussed here and elsewhere encompassing issues of race, class, location, etc.
  2. perceived inability to adapt ethnic food that centers meat and the complex meaning of meat with regards to social status

I’ve already discussed the former in depth on the blog with the simple conclusion that, like in all things, thinking and acting intersectionally, decolonized, and globally keeps you from enacting oppression intentionally or otherwise. It also makes it possible for you to hear and learn from those moments when you might still mess up because you are no longer invested in an image of yourself as a “goo person” over actually trying to be one even when it feels difficult. So for now, I am interested in how the cookbook industry has dealt with the second issue.

In recent years, there have been a few vegan cookbooks that tackle the latter with varying results. Many of the “down home”, ie African American Southern style cooking, have failed to capture some of the critical aspects of quintessential meals. Others have remade them in ways that are delicious but still quite different. Most black vegans I know, started with a blend of these cookbooks and their own adaptations. Every culture’s diet has meatless items, so another aspect of shifting to a veg diet has been about reclaiming those meals as equally important. Two really critical entry points into the discussion of black veganism are: McQuirter’s By Any Greens Necessary, an especially good for people new to vegan concepts or considering veganism cookbook that addresses black women and health, and Harper‘s Sistah Vegan (not a cookbook), a collection of essays by and for young black women about the meaning of and being vegan.

While African American and Anglophone Caribbean cooking have enjoyed the attention of vegetarian and vegan chefs, the same success has not really been reflected in vegan Latin@ cooking. In the bookstores in my area, there are no vegan cookbooks for Latin@ food. You can walk the wide array of Mexican, Puerto Rican, “Central American”, etc. sections of the big bookstore here and find a handful of vegetarian cookbooks but no vegan ones. My colleagues in other cities have had similar experiences.

Lucky for all of us, Terry Hope Romero, co-author of best-selling vegan cookbooks Veganomicon, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, has a new cookbook called Viva Vegan out specifically about Latin@ food. The book is split into two parts: (1) introductory info and (2) recipes. The 200+ pages of recipes include favorites from Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean and offer suggestions for substitutions if you have trouble finding ingredients in your area. Recipes also have pictures and easy cooking instructions which I find always helps when trying something new or re-inventing something. Of the 20+ reviews on amazon, only 1 rated it below 4 stars for taste.

While I have not tried any of the recipes myself, Melissa over at Feminist Texican not only praised the book but tried some of the recipes herself. Go over there to see pictures of some of her results. Melissa is also giving away a copy of Viva Vegan courtesy of De Capo Press. All you have to do is write your favorite vegan recipe in the comment section of her book blog by September 3rd to enter. If you are not vegan and you think this cookbook might help you see the light or you are a new vegan and don’t have many recipes, it does not matter. The contest is open to everyone. You can enter here.

If you’ve tried the recipes or blogged about them, let us know! And if you are interested in exploring more questions about veganism from a people of color perspective check out Vegans of Color Blog or the last link in the related articles section of this post.

Book Giveaway: Latin@ Lit Month

Hatchet Books is giving bloggers like yours truly the opportunity to give back to our readers through a book giveaway in honor of Latin@ Lit Month.

The Rules:

Tell me which three books from the list below you would like to have and why. Winner will be chosen at random. Deadline is May 31.

The Books:

Try to Remember By Iris Gomez

Hot (broke) Messes By Nancy Trejos

Waking Up in the Land of Glitter By Kathy Cano-Murillo

Little Nuggets of Wisdom By Chuy Bravo, Tom Brunelle

Lone Star Legend By Gwendolyn Zepeda

Into the Beautiful North By Luis Alberto Urrea

Amigoland By Oscar Casares

Restrictions

Sorry but the contest is open to U.S. and Canada only and books cannot be shipped to a Post Office Box.

More info

I will be reviewing some of the books on the list here on the blog as the month continues. You can also find out more about each book by clicking the links to Hatchet Books website.

Happy reading and good luck!

You Can Help People of Color Alt Media Survive in Two Easy Steps

Step One: Donate to BrownFemiPower one of the most consistent voices of female empowerment from a working class woc perspective (what I’d call feminist if she’d let me) on the internet.

Every person who donates will receive a gift!

For those who donate between:

$5-25: You will get a personalized thank you note from yours truly!

$26-50: You will get the personalized thank you note and a newly published zine!

$51-100: You will get the personalized thank you note, and two newly published zines!

Over $100: You will get the personalized thank you note, two newly published zines, and a surprise gift (I will tell you once you order–I only have certain quantities of each, so I don’t want to list them online!).

The bad news: Because this computer breaking down has taken me by surprise, I am only in the planning stages for the zines. So it will be up to two months before those of you who order zines will get them. So that you know what stage I am at making the zines, I will be documenting the process I go through to make them here on the blog. This has the added bonus of hopefully helping other people–so many people I know have expressed interest in making zines, but have also expressed not having any damn clue how to.

So, that’s what is where things stand right now. I hope that you are excited–I sure am. I’m a bit apprehensive as I know it will be a lot of work–but I also am really excited for the motivation to get these new zines out! I love zine making, and I’m really excited to get back to the drawing board again–see how things flow out of the mind this time.

Please donate and/or spread the word–and THANK YOU so much for your continuous support!

Step Two: Bid on Nezua‘s Sheriff Joe painting which gives you both the chance to raise awareness about the blatant racism in Arizona and keep an amazing activist blogger and multimedia radical working/eating.

HARD TIMES HAVE FALLEN UPON US ALL! I know this for sure simply watching the donations I once received from readers—unsolicited aside from the buttons on the page—dry up over the past year or two. It’s tough out there, and it’s not just blog donations but even work online with graphics that has tapered off a lot. In fact, I was bumped offline for two weeks for not being able to pay all the bills this month. And to be honest, this is the first time since I’ve lived in this apartment that I don’t have all the rent this close to the first of next month. Ouch. That’s four days away.

I’m not trying to paint a doom n gloom scenario. … So I’m going to do something here I’ve not done in a while and humble myself to make the direct request to my philanthropist friends, or the ones who have a few to throw down to support their friendly neighborhood nezua: if you have a few, throw ‘em in the bucket!

Alternately, I have put one of my paintings up at eBay, and I invite you to bid, or spread the link around if you want. It’s an 18 x 24″ Lotería card of the infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Times are tough for everyone, but with both activists asking for as little as $5 a person, we should all be able to come up with a little something to help them out. The coffee and pastry I bought today cost more than their minimum donation request. And if a distaste for “blegging” (a multi-directional derogatory term that conflates the use of online media and the desire to be paid for one’s writing, film, or activism work with the “undeserving poor”) is getting in your way,  just remember all the times you have talked about, worked on, or simply lamented in the front of a classroom, staff mtg, dinner party, etc. about the absence of radical, engaged, people of color at your events, jobs, or in the media and know that this is the tiniest of steps toward making the connection between words and action. For my POC readers, all I can say is, community means sharing the wealth even when you don’t have any; the wheel will turn and someone will have your back too.

What if You Believed You Could Change the World?

Chavez mural/John Estrada

Cesar Chavez did and with help from friend and colleague Dolores Huerta he started a movement for migrant workers’ rights and Latin@ pride. Though the struggle continues, Chavez’s ideas and commitment to social justice are so frightening to the status quo that members of the Arizona Legislature fought to have him removed from the curriculum, Texas initiated changes in national history books to remove his story, and the Mayor of Portland Oregon actually sided with racists to prevent the naming of a street after him (which I am told was finally settled after the Mayor then stepped on the API community by arbitrarily deciding to put it in China Town where no streets are named after API Americans either and then another heated vote occurred). For those of us who live in places where Chavez Street is a given and his history has always been part of our own, it is easy to forget the truly revolutionary legacy of the man who dared to believe he could change the world. And if the neo-cons have their way, whole generations will lose yet another example of committed, engaged, social justice in the U.S.

What could you do, if you washed the apathy off, stopped believing the news when it tells you no one in the U.S. stands up for anything anymore, and/or stopped participating in mindless or violent rallies (people who abused horses this weekend in the name of ending brutality against humans, I am talking to you) and started to believe that you had the power to change the world?

Link Luv Sunday

A lot went on in our world while I was sick and/or overworked (yes including all the late diss chapters I had to read during Spring Break, cue violins) so I thought some link love was in order to cover some of the issues I have not here at the blog and to honor some of the voices holding it down across the internet. Since it is still Women’s History Month and yours truly has failed so miserably in doing her own feminist spotlight posts, I have linked to several folks who did use their blogs to honor and highlight specific women throughout the month.

  • Swandiver – Michelle Alexander: The New Jim Crow highlights a talk by Alexander about her new book and the civil rights inequities that remain in the U.S. through the loopholes provided in the prison-industrial-complex
  • National Center for Transgender Equality – breaks down what the new Health Care Reform Bill means for trans communities trying to meet their health care needs
  • Guerilla Mama – “The Buddha, The Dharma, and the Sangha” – a painfully poetic discussion about the intersections of race, class, gender, nation, love, and family through the eyes of a black immigrant who survives an attempted rape (trigger warning)
  • Alexis – Happy Birthday Toni Cade Bambara – another informative and celebratory contribution from Alexis and her Black Feminist Mind Project
  • Vivir Latino – “19 years without justice” – 19 year old hate crime against a Dominican youth still not solved, yet his mother keeps the pressure on
  • Vegan About Town – Nacho Cheese Dip and Nacho Cheese Nachos because I was sick most of the week and unable to eat much, I got really enthralled by blogs about food (what the comic industry has referred to as food porn blogs b/c they make you drool) and I was particularly excited by how yummy Steph made this recipe sound since I am a picky eater & don’t eat anything with too much melted vegan cheese because of the melt quality (I like almond based cheeses for eating & soy based for melting but the latter only in small amounts)
  • Asian American Lit Fans – much like Feminist Review, this livejournal site offers accessible reviews of new and old fiction by API Americans and should just be a must read in general for anyone who loves books
  • Nezua – “Invisible: Thoughts on Immigration Rally in DC” – not only does Nezua look at the complexities of the reform in succinct text but he also has a powerful slideshow of photos from the event at the bottom of the post.
  • Viva La Feministe – “The Fly Girls are Finally Golden” – learn about the civilian women who helped win world war II but got little back for their service
  • The Green Belt Movement – “GBM Celebrates International Women’s Day” – truthfully I am just sending you to this blog to give you an example of what decolonized grassroots feminist environmentalism looks like.
  • Claire @ Hyphen Magazines – “Women’s History Month Profiles” – spotlights on Asian American feminists and women activists
  • Mark Anthony Neal  – “Women’s History Month Classic: Say My Name” – I happened to love this film and I teach it pretty regularly as a counterpoint to “the video ho” image of hip hop (of course I also like to trot out Tawny Kitaen for that purpose as well) so it was nice to see someone review this classic as part of women’s history month.
  • Annaham “Invisible Illness and Disability Bingo” – this post is old, but I just got sent there by vegans of color blog, and I have to tell you that as a person with “hidden” disabilities, not only have I experienced everything on that list but, like Damali Ayo’s rent-a-negro cards, I wish I had a stack of these to pass out to co-workers and family members whenever they made light of what it is like to be differently-abled

Happy Reading!

Stop Erosion of Latino/American History in HS & MS TextBooks

The majority of textbooks used in N. American high schools and middle schools are made and/or purchased in Texas. As reported earlier on the blog, Texas based lobbyists have used this fact to erode information on reproductive rights and LGBT history in the past (In the Life did a brief but thorough documentary segment on this in 2005 as well). As also reported earlier, they are now working to remove reference to several community justice workers with a particular emphasis on removing Latin@ history. The Texas Board of Education will be voting on the proposal to remove community leaders like Cesar Chavez from the standard history textbooks on Wednesday of this week, January 13, 2009.

The United Farm Workers’ Union is asking for your help in preventing this from happening, here are the links to their urgent action (any of the links in their message will take you to a prepared form letter-email to be sent to the school board all you have to do is sign with your name and email or write your own letter in the space provided) :

We urgently need your help to stop the Texas state Board of Education from erasing Cesar Chavez and all Hispanic historical figures from public school text books. Since Texas is such a major textbook purchaser, such a move could have a nationwide impact.

photoThis Wednesday, Jan. 13, the state board will take a preliminary vote to adopt new standards for social studies texts. These new standards would eliminate all Hispanics since the conquest of Mexico in the early 16th Century.Cesar Chavez, arguably the most important Hispanic civil rights leader of the 20th Century, is among the historical figures to be eliminated. One of Lowe’s so called “experts” said that Chavez “lacks the stature…and contributions” and should not be “held up to our children as someone worthy of emulation.” Alsoeliminated are a number of key Texas history makers such as Irma Rangel, the first Hispanic woman elected to the state Legislature.

Board members and their appointees have complained about an “over representation of minorities” in the current social studies standards. This is ironic as Hispanics will soon comprise the majority of all Texas public school students.

Please take a few moments right now to send board Chair Lowe an e-mail. Tell the TX State Board of Education not to allow a handful of ideological extremists to revise history by eliminating people of color. Please act now.

Go to:  http://action.ufw.org/page/speakout/cectxjan10

Another Example of Why Diversity in Education Matters

On December 9, 1969 Crystal City high school students walked out of their schools in protest over discrimination against Chican@s in the schools. They were led by two female students, Severita Lara and Diana Serena, and one male student, Mario Trevino. While their walkout was lesser known than those we often commemorate, these students complaints were similar to other Chican@ students protesting educational inequality around the country:

  • the unfair banning of Spanish in schools, including during breaks and in the lunchroom which led to an erasure of culture and stigmatization
  • equal access to counseling on advanced education and scholarships
  • equal access to career guidance
  • representation in the curriculum

They also wanted equal access to school leadership positions from which they had been historically excluded, like Student Body President, Homecoming Court, Sports Captain, etc.

In this clip, one of the leaders of the walkout, Severita Lara discusses what it meant to go to school without mentors, representation, or guidance:

The Crystal City walkout not only reminds us of the historical struggle for educational equality for Chican@s but also resonates with current events. The representative for Texas during the walkouts was George Bush senior. He met with Diana Serna about the walkout and all though he wrote her a pleasant toned note about her activism, he also warned her against participating in “anarchy.” His letter, copied below, subtly refuted the walkouts as a form of social justice activism and was only tempered later when the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights became involved a year later.

gb(for full page photocopy of letter see here; co Cara Mia Theater, 2001)

30 years later, President Obama has nominated the first Latin@ to the Supreme Court. Puertoriqueña Sotomayor is one of many Latin@s who benefited from the educational reforms brought about by the walkouts as they expanded opportunities and educational information for all Latin@s not just Chican@s.

Even as we look to her example however, we cannot ignore the attempt to reverse these historic gains in places like Arizona who would do away with MeCHa and ethnic studies first at the middle and high school level and then in higher education. The legacy of the Bush junior administration has been an accepted reversal in the way identity studies and equity programs are viewed. He has taught an entire generation that equal rights are special rights and that diversity curriculum is anti-American and/or anti-white. These sentiments continue to be repeated in attacks on the educational system, faculty of color, identity studies programs, and even Supreme Court nominees who graduated at the top of their classes.

In a comment on this blog, Historiann asked who would take up the mantle for this generation now that we are losing so many of are exceptional ethnic history and ethnic studies scholars. I put the question to my regular 1,000 lurkers today, and to any of you who just stopped by today. Who has inspired you? Do you strive to inspire? Would you be willing to walkout?

A play about the Crystal City walkout entitled Crystal City 1969, was put together by the Cara Mia Theater in Dallas Texas. Severita Lara will be speaking there about her experience this weekend. For more info contact them here.