By: Aph Ko, Founder of Black Vegans Rock
Can you believe Black Vegans Rock has been around for a year?! 2016 was absolutely incredible for Black Vegans Rock. When I originally launched the site on January 4, 2016, I had no idea that so many people were going to share their vegan narratives and thoughts with me. In 2016, we featured over 188 black vegans on our website, and we had well over 100,000 page views! We have over 15,000 followers on our Facebook page, over 3,000 on Twitter, and over 1400 on Instagram.
This past year, Black Vegans Rock won the 2016 VegNews Magazine Bloggy award, which was quite an incredible accomplishment considering we've only been around for a small amount of time. BVR has been featured on Media Diversified, Huffington Post Black Voices, Blavity, Black Girl Nerds, and VegNews.
Incredible moments also happened in the black vegan community.
- Tracye McQuirter, MPH, launched the FREE African American Vegan Starter Guide
- Liz Ross of Coalition of Vegan Activists of Color (COVAC) organized an amazing conference featuring speakers of color who spoke about veganism and animal rights,
- Clifton Roberts ran as President for the Humane Party with Dr. Breeze Harper serving as his Vice President.
- Haile Thomas was featured on Fortune
- Seba Johnson's skis were included in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
- Brenda Sanders and Naijha Wright-Brown organized another incredible Vegan SoulFest in Baltimore, MD.
- A Pro-Intersectional Vegan Conference held in London featured incredible vegans of color including Christopher Sebastian McJetters, Brenda Sanders, Raffaella Ciavatta, Sarah Woodcock, and Dr. Breeze Harper.
- Bryant Terry cooked a vegan dinner for Erykah Badu to celebrate her third time hosting the Soul Train awards.
- Dr. Angela Davis released a book titled Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement
- Dr. Breeze Harper was interviewed on an NPR podcast titled "The Secret Ingredient" where she spoke about neoliberal whiteness in the ethical foodscape.
- Jenné Claiborne of Sweet Potato Soul was featured on the TODAY show
For me, I felt like my understanding of veganism grew after reading some of the features on Black Vegans Rock. We have quite an impressive, brilliant community.
This year, I had the privilege of interviewing:
- Clifton Roberts
- Torre Washington
- Methuzulah Gem
- Amahl Abdul-Khaliq
- Grey (the artist who created that incredible Thanksvegan rap song and video)
In particular, I was exposed to some incredible activists like:
- Brenda Sanders
- Amanda Hinds
- Olympia Auset
- Unique Vance and Aaron Luxur
- Zaynab Shahar
- Jamall Troupe
- Funso Foluso-Henry
- Nzinga Young
- Bria Bea
- Reg Flowers
For 2017, I am looking forward to
- "The Invisible Vegan" documentary by Jasmine Leyva
- Another incredible Vegan SoulFest from Brenda Sanders and Naijha Wright-Brown
- My book Aphro-ism: Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism, and Black Veganism from Two Sisters
- Breeze Harper's books. One is titled Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches, and the other is The Praxis of Justice in an Era of Black Lives Matter.
- More incredible art work from Eastrand Studios
Most importantly, I am looking forward to reading more narratives and vegan journeys from black folks who are vegan. Thank you for reading our content, supporting our work, and helping us create an incredible digital community.
Special thanks to Demetrius Bagley, Christopher Sebastian McJetters, Pax Ahimsa Gethen (especially for managing the Instagram page and the Index page), Stephanie Redcross, Tracye McQuirter, Dr. Milton Mills, and Dr. Breeze Harper for always being there to help and offer advice. Special thanks to Valerie McGowan who moderates the Facebook page! Also, I want to give a special shout out to Dawn Moncrief of A Well-Fed World who has been incredibly supportive of BVR.
I hope Black Vegans Rock has made you feel like you are a part of a large community of incredibly passionate, brilliant, insightful people who are trying their best to navigate systems of domination and resist through their food choices and attitudes towards non-human animals. As Zatiti Ema writes, "Going vegan is about being Malcolm, Martin and Harriet Tubman in the store, activists in the kitchen and at the table."
Also, one of the most important things I've learned from Black Vegans Rock is that we all have different entry points into veganism, and we need to cultivate and celebrate those different entry points. Whether you became interested in veganism for animal rights, or for your health, know that we celebrate your decision. One quote that always stood out to me was from Kwame Williams who wrote:
"I feel like anyone who lives a vegan lifestyle for an extended time will change their views on the animals we consume because the nature of the relationship has changed even if that's not how or why it started. At the end of the day, you will no longer look at animals as something to solely serve you for food."
I'm excited to keep reading black vegan narratives, and I hope that you continue to support this space, because representation matters. Thanks to everyone for sharing your personal stories and your perspectives.
In 2017, we hope to feature even more black vegans. If you want to be a part of this online community, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll include your narrative on the website.
Thank you for everything folks and Happy New Year!