Miley Cyrus I Don’t Adore You
On Miley Cyrus, masturbation, racism, sexism, feminism, privilege and pop.
Quail Bell Magazine
New article on the Richmond Railroad Museum
Memoir tour of my childhood in Hanover County, on Quail Bell Magazine
This was originally something I published as a zine. I just wanted to get the information out there more since I’ve almost run out of copies!
on the Cheap
Many folks I have talked to about veganism share a similar complaint/concern. They are worried about it being affordable.
And let’s be real- there are many ways that veganism is presented in a classist way.
I have a bunch of vegan cookbooks that call for ingredients that are just totally obscure. I’ve been vegan for 10 years and I’ve never used them. These sorts of cookbooks/recipes can make veganism seem really intimidating and inaccessible to folks.
Another reason veganism can seem classist is definitely the unchecked privilege often found amongst vegans. There are plenty of militant asshole white-dude vegans, for example, who give other people a hard time for not being vegan in shitty ways. These types of folks (though clearly not limited to just white dudes) give the rest of vegans a bad name.
There are some things about a vegan diet that can make it less accessible for low-income people. But there is also a ton of kind of urban legend/misconception type stuff around veganism. This isn’t going to be a total coverage of all info relating to these topics. This zine is for folks interested in eating vegan, and want to/ need to be able to do it on a low-income. I am totally into having these conversations with people though if you want! My contact info is at the end of the zine, let me know what concerns you!
First though, I do want to take a little bit to briefly touch on some of the (many) things that can make eating vegan difficult for folks.
“A food desert is a district with little or no access to foods needed to maintain a healthy diet but often served by plenty of fast food restaurants.” wikipedia entry on food deserts. Check out more about the significant and intersectional issue here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_desert
Living in a food desert basically means in this context that it is a lot more difficult for people to access vegan food. There are all kinds of transportation and expenses related to accessing a real grocery store if you live in a food desert, and believe me, the corner store does not provide all of the things a vegan needs to survive.
If you are vegan, and have the ability, (or even if you aren’t vegan), you can take action to try to get more fresh produce and food into food deserts. Simply creating access where there wasn’t access before is both an act of vegan activism and social justice. You can organize a Food Not Bombs meal, or just produce distributions in neighborhoods where people lack access to healthy food. Talk to people to see where the need is, and what the community wants.
Time is Money:
Even when vegan food is affordable and accessible, there is the further complicating factor of whether or not someone can afford the time it can take to cook much of their own food. The convenience of fast food, prepared foods etc. which are mostly available in non-vegan forms is something that folks working multiple jobs, busy with families and kids, taking care of elders, going to school while working, etc. can understandably want to take advantage of. Folks who are low-income, or any of the things listed above, or other things not listed, often are already pretty stressed out, busy, and might not feel like they have the time or energy to make home-cooked meals all of the time. And home-cooked food is certainly one of the healthier, cheaper ways to eat a vegan diet.
There are plenty of other challenges, and I might go into them more in a later version of this zine. But I am a procrastinator, and I want to have resources to offer folks tomorrow- so I’m going to start into the ideas for how to deal with the challenges and difficulties of being vegan on a low income! (more…)
I’m super excited to announce my new position as Associate Editor of Quail Bell Magazine!
I will link some of what I write for the magazine to this website, but definitely check out Quail Bell on the regular for new posts and awesome stories!
I just reviewed Craig Lewis’ new book on Profane Existence – Check it out!
Big news for Richmond, making the Frommer’s 2014 list of 14 places to visit. I can’t muster up the enthusiasm about this that seems to be the mainstream response. 2014 is the 150th anniversary of many battles in the Civil War, and this history is one of the main reasons Richmond made the list. Additionally restaurants and breweries and the rapids of the James are our selling points. I’m not buying.
And the part that everyone keeps repeating – ” While you weren’t looking Richmond got cool” – really makes me mad.
I’m sorry, but some old colonizing asshole “finding” Richmond in 1737 doesn’t make it cool, and neither does some out of town hipsters “finding” and gentrifying Richmond in 2013.
Shockoe Bottom, the controversial potential site of a bad public investment in a baseball stadium, is named from the Powhatan village which once was on this ground, Shocquohocan. And that area is full of historic sites of the slave trade which once dominated Richmond. We have history, no argument there. We have so much history we haven’t processed it all yet.
My argument lies in the fact that Richmond’s history is completely intertwined in our present. Our history isn’t an object gathering dust in a museum for tourists to check out. Our history is a constant battle. It isn’t quaint, or past, or collectible. It’s struggle.
People who colonize ruin the things that make a place ‘cool’. Richmond has a twisted grim history and a future that is really up in the air right now. Don’t yall remember our poverty rate? How about incarcerated folks? How way too much money goes to the police? How money is spent on sports, not schools?
I mean honestly Richmond isn’t cool – its complex. If you blaze ahead with fancy lofts and art galleries while ignoring the people who live here already you will ultimately ruin everything that once drew you here. And aside from ruining the character of this place, you will cause harm to people who live here.
There is some potential for tourism or development to help alleviate suffering in Richmond. But within the context of capitalism and the institutional racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia etc. that permeates our culture I don’t see how. Bringing more people or money to Richmond won’t just trickle down automatically. Any attempt at drawing in tourists ought to be working closely with community organizations to make sure that impact is a positive one for the parts of our communities which need it the most.
I think that the people of Richmond are proud of our City. But there is something not right about attempts to be proud about gastropubs and new breweries and high end retail, which aren’t things that represent most Richmonders.
Stop telling people Richmond is cool. Why? Cool is attained with privilege. And a lot of folks who live in Richmond don’t have that kind of privilege. Bringing in fast development and fancy yuppie venues won’t help Richmonders.
Its not cool to be poor, hungry, homeless, without mental health care, without healthcare, stopped and frisked by the police based on racial profiling, without work, without living wages, without good public transportation and without engaging schools. These aren’t just generic issues, they are issues Richmond faces moreso than many other places.
Richmond has a higher poverty rate than surrounding areas. 25.3% is the official poverty rate in Richmond according to the Mayor’s 2013 Anti Poverty Commission Report. So 25.3% of our citizens living in poverty, which isn’t cool. We are twice as poor as the national average, and two and half times more poor than the state wide average.
One of my strongly held personal beliefs is that my life is only as good as the lives of the people around me. It is in my best interest for my neighbors to do well. Unfortunately I think some Richmonders feel this way, but think the best way to accomplish a good life is to push out the people who aren’t doing well and replace them with people with more money.
The Fast Food Workers Strike and VCU Living Wage Campaign are just two of the many campaigns in the works to make Richmond a better place. There are community organizations on the ground, doing grassroots work to alleviate poverty and suffering, and doing battle with the oppressive institutions. They need the spotlight, they need our support because they are doing work with and as the people who live here.
Don’t come here unless you are coming to help and stand in solidarity with the struggles around these issues.
The bottomline is – I don’t want to live in a place that’s cool. I have a lot of values, and cool isn’t one of them. I’d rather live in a place I could be proud of.
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