The Future is Vegan…(And Still A White Supremacist Racial Caste-Capitalist System)
Can I write a science fiction book based on the future? Like, can I write a book that shows a world that is entirely vegan and simultaneously still systemically oppresses human beings along the lines of race, class, and gender?
I think this book needs to be written. I can’t count how many times [mostly] white vegans make the claim that all other oppressions will end once the world is vegan.
I envision a futuristic world in which all animal consumption has been made illegal and there are still news headlines of disproportionate number of Black and brown folk in prison industrial complex, brown migrant laborers being exploited and abused to pick kale, strawberries, and tomatoes, and the majority of the world’s population still being food insecure (more due to political and economic strategies to keep them hungry and easily controllable).
I can easily envision non-human animals becoming ‘persons’ with equal rights and given the same status as [ white land owning men] while certain human beings are ‘animalized’ and placed in the role of sub-human who exist to make sure the vegan human ruling class remain happy ‘ethical’ vegans (but those words like ‘sub-human’ and ‘animalized’ can’t be used by ‘true’ vegans because it would be speciesist, so other racially coded words would need to be used…kind of like dog whistle racial politics).
This would be such a dope book idea to counter the white vegan utopian fantasy that makes the claim that going vegan would magically make the world a peaceful place and that a few vegan sprinkles would abolish white supremacist racial caste system that is the USA. Such a system, in this futuristic novel, would enslave millions of non-white human beings to grow, harvest, and make the ‘pure’ foods that will help a ‘better’ class of human beings be ‘ethical’ and ‘moral’ in the USA (and maybe beyond?). This future would Incarcerate the poor and/or more black and brown people as free labor to create a world of easily accessible vegan commodities that are controlled by vegan corporations and politicians.
I think this could be a dope book. Or, at least a novella. I think the whole “going vegan” = “peace” needs to be unpacked because it’s not an easy binary to narrate. It’s complex and it’s used as a spiritual bypass by many [white] people who really think veganism is the only thing they need to practice to make the future “peaceful”.
I already wrote an entire dissertation that reflects this, so how do I use speculative fiction, critical animal studies, and the black radical tradition to tell that story? I think it would be a phenomenal social-fiction project to explore critical animal studies, critical whiteness studies, ethical consumption studies, and food studies.
P.S.: I know veganism isn’t only about eating vegan food, however, veganism is primarily enacted through vegan food consumption so that is why I focus on vegan food commodities in this post.
Dr. Harper is the founder of the Sistah Vegan Project which has put on several ground-breaking conferences with emphasis on intersection of racialized consciousness, anti-racism, and ethical consumption (i.e., veganism, animal rights, Fair Trade). Last year she organized the highly successful conference The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter which can be downloaded.
Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town. Her current 2016 lecture circuit focuses on excerpts from her latest book in progress, Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches: A Critical Race Feminist’s Journey Through ‘Post-Racial’ Ethical Foodscape which will be released in 2017, along with the second Sistah Vegan project anthology The Praxis of Justice in an Era of Black Lives Matter. In tandem with these book projects, she is well-known for her talks and workshops about “Uprooting White Fragility in the Ethical Foodscape” and “Intersectional Anti-Racism Activism.”
In the spring of 2016, Dr. Harper was nominated as the Vice Presidential nominee for the Humane Party— the only vegan political party in the USA with focus on human and non-human animals.