Black History, Veganized
By Omowale Adewale
Yesterday, I completed a 10-mile run in hopes of elevating my training to another level prior to my March 15th mixed martial arts fight. The shredded oats, granola (I like oats), raisins, hemp seeds and goji berries in almond milk helped me prepare for this sudden long haul. One cup has over 30 grams of complete protein, 100+ grams of carbohydrates, and sufficient amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, niacin, vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B12 can be obtained from rice milk, yeast extract and organic soy products. 1
For two weeks, I relied on weight training and no running. Muscles act as shocks which absorbs the concrete ground impact thus weakening your muscles. I’ve sworn off running into the double-digit numbers solely based on my poor legs, feet and battle-ridden knees. Years of sports has eroded much of the cartilage in my knees. The hard pavement provides no soft impact for worn knees. Nonetheless, long distance runners will always prefer the outdoors to treadmills. But, at age 35, my right shin is a bit bruised and my left foot alone has a couple sprains. So, why start my run after 12:30am? Triumph. Accomplish a crazy dare to myself. But especially, to provide my bruised soul some solace. My heart aches.
Two days ago, a giant in the movement for people’s justice, Chokwe Lumumba died. Some may not be familiar with that name. It doesn’t have the resounding effect as Jay-Z or Barack Obama. Without casting blame on the ignorant, if we’re fair, there’s a profound contradiction with that ignorance. You know of celebrities and leaders of symbolism, but not of men who’ve spent their lives fighting for justice. The Honorable Lumumba had worked on numerous fronts of justice; as both a civil servant as the Mayor of Jackson, MS and as a lifelong revolutionary. He was the founder of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and a former member of the Republic for New Afrika. As an attorney his clients included Assata Shakur and the ancestors Geronimo Pratt and Tupac Shakur. 2
I knew of his work, but I had only met the Honorable Chokwe Lumumba one time only days before his Mayoral run-off. His daughter Rukia Lumumba, a dear friend and comrade introduced me to him at a support event in New York. While, it was a pretty relaxed event, I had to be the most casually dressed person there. I was in the midst of training. Rukia said a few words about my work, yet, I felt disheveled and off. Luckily, for me, candidates such as Lumumba are more interested in tangibles over appearances and symbols. Later, my mentor and elected revolutionary Charles Barron walks in and the three of us begin discussing politics. As I reflect back to our discussion time with the two foremost elected revolutionary men in office, a huge void has become heartbreakingly apparent to me. It will take maybe a thousand souls and several hundred years of combined experience to adequately complement the legacy, integrity and work that the Honorable Lumumba left behind. As I send all my hopes and positive energies into the atmosphere wishing that the whirlwind of hurt subsides sooner than later for the Lumumba family, I realize that not only did the black community, but the world community concerned for social, political and economic justice suffered a setback.
At about the seventh or eighth mile I was ready to stop. My legs were breaking down. I jog with weights on both ankles and dumbbells in my hands. It signifies the weight my opponent prepares to place upon me during competition. I thought about how small this sacrifice was to just one of Harriet Tubman’s journey’s toward the North and then the weight on the backs of those rotting away in the “free world” for their political beliefs, our black political prisoners. I completed that run with my body broken down and prepared for more work, higher work. I want to support 5-10 black activists become vegans as part of the campaign to help 100 people go vegan in 2014. #GoVeg2014
After posting my article “Weight Training for Vegans” several nutritionists responded about how much extra protein one would need to accomplish going vegan. The fact that they would place their professions on the line with such inaccuracies was unfathomable. There isn’t a protein deficiency plaguing the black community, or in any part of America. Heart disease is the reigning number one killer in the black community. Last time I checked, cholesterol, a micronutrient generated by your body’s liver is heavily stacked in the three main ingredients on a roll of bacon, egg and cheese is the main contributor to LDL (low-density lipoPROTEIN), which is known to causes stroke and cardiac arrest through clogging. 3
It’s not difficult being vegan. It’s difficult being a radical vegan. Explaining to some in plain language about the health of living creatures and the health of humans becomes testy and more about taste buds and tradition. Traditionally, in America black people were brought to this country as slaves to work for white America. That tradition has made some reliant on black slaves, as there are 2 million people tied to prisons. Tradition is not a good argument for eating meat. I should point out that using the argument of animals being enslaved in some comparison to blacks having been enslaved is not a bright one. If it were so equitable and plain, all radical vegans would recognize and wrestle with their white privilege.
What is real justice? Justice, aside from objectively righting a wrong is supporting that which is not always in your personal, sole, limited, subjective and self-interest. That is whites challenging white privilege and white power globally in the face of their own racial status and bank accounts. It looks like men standing up to men for women whenever necessary in the face of our jewels and born patriarchy. That looks like human-beings becoming vegan in spite of our stomachs or what’s fashionable.
Some of you may gripe about these issues. Know that I genuinely care and I am accessible to you. But also know that justice is not limited to your personal story, your job title or your feelings. Until justice can be achieved there can be none. I invite you to break bread with me and discuss politics and veganism this Saturday March 1st at the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival. From 1-2pm, I will be at table #6 as a guest of Gardein. And from 3-6pm, I will be at table #28 (note this new table) as a guest of Amrita Health Foods.
Visit nycvegfoodfest.com for more information.