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It is October once again and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. No, it’s not yet Hallowe’en nor has my landlord fixed the heating as winter fast approaches.
It is Black History Month UK, and whilst I still personally believe it to be a deeply problematic concept, wrought with unresolved complications, I do believe that it has some benefits.
Even as councils and constituencies the length and breadth of England attempt to callously dilute this 30 year old remembrance celebration, I feel the positive surge of so many of my brothers and sisters eager to tell OUR stories from our OWN perspective.
And so, it is to that end, that I too have a story to share; one that couldn’t be more relevant in the current climate – especially where veganism is concerned.
The African and African Diasporic communities
I have recently taken a position at The Africa Centre and feel it important, true to our mission, to facilitate opportunities that better serve members of the African and African Diasporic communities.
I have found that the overwhelming barrier to entry for the majority of black people (that I have talked to) about veganism is largely to do with how it has been presented to us.
And so it is both my job and civic duty to take an active role in promoting narratives that are familiar to Africans, Caribbeans and other members of the Diaspora who now consider Britain to be home.
Also to remind a global audience that, long before Donald Watson and Ellie Shrigley coined the term ‘vegan’ for their little cabal, my uncles Horace and Percival were already leading ‘Ital’ lives in Jamaica, devoid of not only animal products but also processed products in their entirety.
I am very honored and excited to present a new series of events that will be hosted at the Africa Centre aptly titled, The Plant Based African: An Introduction to Veganism from a Melanated Perspective. It will be an opportunity to have an open discussion in a safe and familiar-feeling space without a sales environment.
I have partnered with Plant Based News for this initiative because I believe that a platform as far-reaching as theirs needs to be championing stories from, and for, a more diverse audience.
Whilst Leonardo Di Caprio and Miley Cyrus are indeed very high profile animal activists (in their own ways) it is not the kind of content that speaks to working mothers from Croydon.
I have canvassed virtually everyone who crosses the threshold of the Africa Centre and the appetite (pun intended) for a better understanding of how a plant-based lifestyle can benefit your immediate circumstances has been close to insatiable.
What this tells me, conclusively, is that featuring the experiences of real people and including their stories as part of the mainstream content, will make for a better outcome for everyone.
I am eager to bring storytellers and content creators into the fold and use this event series as a beacon for betterment. I want to embrace a holistic and pastoral approach to plant-based living that doesn’t take shortcuts or rely on capitalism to further its agenda.
There are stories from Liverpool to London and beyond that, whilst I may be singularly aware of, do not benefit a community at large whilst they remain largely unreported or unshared.
Ultimately, the wider vegan movement can not have the longevity and integrity that it seeks whilst it doesn’t include everyone from within its ranks.
And so this is my very own Black History Month story. We who have shared the black experience can now share our stories and take our rightful place in the mainstream narrative rather than as exotic afterthoughts in the collective white imagination.
I look forward to nurturing this seed and believe that with due diligence, appropriate care and the incubated growth environment that we are culminating, our family tree will grow in such a way that it will be, first, self-sustainable and then able to support other symbiotic ecosystems.
Welcome to the Plant-Based African!