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Aphro-ism: Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism, and Black Veganism from Two Sisters

4.67  ·  Rating details ·  316 ratings  ·  46 reviews
In this lively, accessible, and provocative collection, Aph and Syl Ko provide new theoretical frameworks on race, advocacy for nonhuman animals, and feminism. Using popular culture as a point of reference for their critiques, the Ko sisters engage in groundbreaking analysis of the compartmentalized nature of contemporary social movements, present new ways of understanding ...more
Kindle Edition, 202 pages
Published May 16th 2017
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Martin Rowe
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm the publisher of this book, and I thought I'd offer a few thoughts on its publication. One of the joys of reading is surely to be invited into a world you might otherwise have little knowledge of or not necessarily be privy to. In 2010, I published SISTAH VEGAN, which was a collection of articles, poems, and essays by a number of black-identified female vegans. The diversity of voices, media, and issues raised was truly eye-opening for me. It allowed me to be present in a conversation where, ...more
E.D.E. Bell
I really enjoyed this book. “Enjoy” may be an unexpected word choice for a series of essays meant to challenge thought on issues of humanity connected to animality in the context of race, but I’m one of those people who loves for my ideas to be thoughtfully challenged. If this isn’t normally a book you’d read, I encourage you to consider it anyway. (More about that below.)

Often, people advocating against their own oppression are confronted with the assertion that the issues they raise are exagge
A. Breeze Harper
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant. Afro-futuristic approach to veganism, animal studies, feminism, and pop culture. They deliver. This is beyond even the concept of "intersectionality". My favorite is the concept of animality that they bring in and how it is contingent upon white supremacy, racism, and speciesism. Like wow, amazing.
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oh my, where do I start? How do I express my deep gratitude for given a chance to read this very important book? It is mind blowing, it is amazing, it is a must read. So many new ideas, so much to think about, so much to learn. I'll probably start reading it again because I want to understand better and be challenged again. Everything you have ever thought about antiracism, feminism and veganism gets a new angle. Nothing is the same. But suddenly the future is so much brighter. It just might be ...more
I have been reading the writings of Aph and Syl Ko since the beginnings of APHRO-ISM and Black Vegans Rock as blog sites. Back then it was already very exciting to see people coming out with ideas that were not only tackling topics at the root of huge fighting and divisions between vegan, animal lib, and social justice communities, but doing so in fresh new ways. Aph and Syl both have brilliant minds and ways of combining their powers together through conversation then reproducing them beautiful ...more
Lance Eaton
Pulling together posts they have published over the years on Black Vegans Rock, Sisters, Aph and Syl Ko offer up a compelling argument for veganism people of color and other marginalized groups. The crux of their argument is that the willingness for humans to arbitrarily decide who gets human treatment and who gets animal treatment (who is a free being and who is an enslave mass for labor, slaughter, and consumption) means that marginalized groups will always be vulnerable to being "dehumanized" ...more
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Part of activism is finding yourself in a new space of confusion, allowing yourself to step into new conceptual terrain. When you abandon commonly held oppressive beliefs, you might not exactly know what to do afterward, and that's where more activists need to be...

There is seemingly nothing worse for an activist than being introduced to a new perspective or theory that challenges the way you've been doing things. Rather than acting as though that perspective doesn't exist, we should immerse o
Heather Rockwood
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
WOW. This book and the critical theory these two sisters provide is enlightening and cuts deep. They explain in accessible ways that help you to expand your mind to the new possibilities of true liberation (a liberation that is necessarily intertwined for all the oppressed from the beginning). I whole-heartedly recommend this book and eagerly anticipate more of these women's ever-changing and critical insight.
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
6 out of 5 stars. This should be required reading.
Rachel Olzer
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism, favorites
Just WOW!!
Rhiannon Curtis
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Exceptional. My book of the year without question.
Raffi Marhaba
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Aphro-ism is an essential tool for activists in *any* social justice fight. It deconstructs Eurocentric views (aka white supremacy + colonialism) in relationship to its founding roots in animality.
“The human-animal divide is the ideological bedrock underlying the framework of white supremacy. The negative notion of “animal is the anchor of this system.” Their notion of “the animal” - construed under their white supremacist framework as “subhuman,” “nonhuman,” or “inhuman”- is the conceptual veh
Bridget McGovern
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There are very few books that I would describe as life-changing. Aph and Syl Ko have such a phenomenal ability to convey their ideas and messages in such a clear, succinct, and digestible manner. No matter how foreign or new the concept is, it is easily understandable. While they may be considered "provocative" and "controversial" in the mainstream, new ideas are paramount to our own growth, as individuals and as a society. But not only do they bring new ideas to the table, but their logic is al ...more
Emmanuel Márquez
Thought provoking, simply amazing.
Mark Robison
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating examination of how racism and animal rights are intertwined even while most people who work in both philosophical areas intentionally try to keep the two ideas separate. Each chapter explores feminism, race, and animal rights from a different angle, and the overall book brings everything together in a path forward that I wasn't expecting. Animal rights books for years have basically been rehashing different aspects of Peter Singer's arguments in "Animal Liberation," but this one is ...more
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Groundbreaking way to think about animal rights/liberation that is applicable, if not fundamental to other social justice causes. Puts forth better theoretical framework for approaching animal rights framework than the prevailing one based in Peter Singer's Animal Liberation. I enjoyed the essay-driven format.
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Life changing book

This book took me longer than I thought it would to read, but that's only because I had to take breaks to digest every essay. As a black vegan I've struggled with feeling like I can advocate for both animals and the anti-racism struggle, but this book has shown me that not only can I advocate for both but intrinsically I already was. I recommend this book to so many of my Activist and vegan friends, and I can't wait until it takes its rightful place in the canon of vegan litera
Alyson Fortowsky
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An instant classic of animal rights literature. Nothing in this genre has changed me this much since the first time I read Animal Liberation. Follows in the tradition of Frantz Fanon and other postcolonial theorists. Each essay is incredibly thoughtful and as a collection this book is varied, but to (probably over)simplify, Aph and Syl Ko both posit that the framework that defines animality is the same one that upholds white supremacy. For that reason, they argue trying to dismantle the hierarch ...more
Jan Peregrine
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing

A while back I found the book Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams. It was a great read for this longtime vegan and occasional animal activist, but now I've read 2020's Aphro-ism: Essays on Pop Culture,, Feminism, and Black Veganism From Two Sisters with a thoughtful, excited afterword from the aforementioned Adams. The Ko sisters have extended the relevance of Adams' book in many, wonderful ways and both books are highly recommended.

I'm a white vegan like Adams while the young sisters are
C.S. Malerich
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Five stars because everyone should read and consider it.

For some years, sisters Aph and Syl Ko have been blogging under the title Aphro-ism about black veganism (and other related topics); Aph also started the Black Vegans Rock! website. I knew of them, but hadn't sat down with their thinking before this book. Here they collect and revise some of the key posts from the blog.

One of the running themes is the human-animal binary, a conceptual framework that they trace to the colonial, Enlightenment
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
This book succeeds in conceptualizing and conveying new ideas about animal advocacy, social justice, of which the sibling authors adequately show how interconnected they are.

The way they attempt to re-think the link between the 'human' and the 'animal', and how those two are structured not only along speciecist but also racial lines. They argue that exploitation and injustice is often justified not only by racial hierarchies or species-hierarchies, but that the two are interrelated, in such a wa
Sep 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
A breath of fresh air in the often intellectually impoverished discourse around veganism and activism in general. One passage which has stuck with me and sent me down another rabbit hole of books and essays: 'This intertwined supremacism is precisely why I believe Afrofuturism, and not intersectionality, is the framework minoritized people need in order to generate real change. Intersectionality is a wonderful and useful tool to help oppressed folks navigate *current* systems of oppression that ...more
Silvio Curtis
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Collection of essays originally published online. Mostly in dialogue with other African Americans, both vegan and not. Not an academic book but often informed by academic experience. One of the more thought-provoking ideas, which shows up in several of Syl Ko's chapters, is that speciesism, racism, sexism etc. are in a sense all the same oppression, because "human" is defined in people's minds in terms of white male etc. humans only. The book is focuses on the forms oppression takes now, or in t ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5stars, 2018read
Absolutely life matter your culture or background this book will definitely change the way you see the world as a whole but especially if you are a person of colour. I have realised how I was defining most things in my life based on my mind being 100% colonised and having growing up in a post colonialism era in Africa that of course helped in no way. I am warning you though: there is no turning back. If you are a woman of colour this is a MUST READ to add to your list as a matter o ...more
Learned a lot from this book. Bringing together the oppression of animals and the oppression of people of color in a discursive space can be really thorny; the authors have done an incredible amount of theoretical work in this space and discuss how both (and other) oppressions come from Eurocentric hierarchies positing a human/animal binary. They write about how so much activism and theory happens within the structures of and as a reaction to white supremacy, and they posit an Afrofuturist epist ...more
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: stay-woke
This book transformed my philosophy behind my veganism. The same system exploits humans and non human animals, not an "interconnected" one. Aph and Syl Ko's work is some of the most important work being done for epistemology that will lead to a more just future. No matter who you are, read this book! It will change you and prepare you better for the world around you.
Anne DeLessio-Parson
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
a must-read for understanding the revolutionary potential of veganism, as Aph Ko and Syl Ko present a framework and Black vegan philosophy with the power to transform how we think about what it means to eat vegan, and how that connects to currents of social justice and racial equity.
Extremely thought-provocative and unapologetically disruptive of our current social system in the west. Definitely US-centered but I think(?) that was the point so not necessarily a flaw. A must-read for any people interested in animal rights and/or social justice.
Michelle Schaefer
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant philosophers (and sisters) Aph and Syl Ko's collection of letters and essays on being black, female, and vegan. Your IQ will jump 5 points after just a few chapters, I swear. Their collective intellect is both intimidating and hypnotizing.
Tiz Irie
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
A dope collection of essays that challenges easy assumptions and exposes blind spots within both black and animal liberation movements.

"Dismantling racism will... require us to reconsider how we view and treat all life."
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