12 Women Who Helped Shape Me: A Black Feminist Pays Homage on International Women’s Day 2018

Here are some of the influential women that I would like to thank that helped me in various ways with having the confidence, resources, activist heart, etc that I needed to get me where I am today as Sistah Vegan, Dr. A. Breeze Harper, and Black Feminist Mama raising 4 babes while tackling a white supremacist racial caste system through scholarly inquiry, speaking, and book writing…

1. Patricia Harper (the woman who gave birth to me). She literally told my twin and I that if she ever heard us bullying or making fun of anyone due to race, class, sexual orientation, gender, religion she would “kick our a*s”. She also fought tooth and nail within a predominantly white rural school system in New England to make sure her Black children were not held back due to racist beliefs about Black folk.

2. bell hooks. I didn’t know what black feminism officially was until I read Black Looks: Race and Representation at Dartmouth College in the mid 1990s. It changed my life. Finally, I had language for the sh*t I had been dealing with since I could remember. I look forward to meeting you finally in real space/time in April 2018 at Berea College.

3. Frances Ufkes, PhD. The professor at Dartmouth College who believed in me and literally got me into this whole discipline of geography and food as well as critically thinking about commodities, space, and place. It was an interesting adventure for both of us as women in a predominantly white male dominated discipline of Geography. I took her “The Geography of Food and Hunger” class and I had no idea. I had no idea that that ethnographic trip for my research paper, back in 1994,  to the town’s grocery store to analyze the ‘meaning’ of food objects would come back to me through my interest of the racial meaning applied to vegan food objects as a graduate student seeking PhD programs.

4. Katherine McKittrick, PhD. She wrote Demonic Grounds— the first groundbreaking black feminist approach to geographies of struggle focused on Black women. After reading her work in 2006, I was inspired to apply to PhD programs to interrogate the geographies of struggle and the vegan praxes it would produce amongst Black women vegans.