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

4.63  ·  Rating details ·  521 ratings  ·  72 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
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. ...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
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
"Animal" is a category that we shove certain bodies into when we want to justify violence against them, which is why animal liberation should concern all who are minoritized, because at any moment you can become an “animal” and be considered disposable.

Though I've read much on the topics of Black liberation and social justice, feminism, and animal rights at this point, this book completely reframed a lot of what I thought I knew about those topics. Aphro-ism introduced an entirely new-to-me phi
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
Adam Follett
Sep 19, 2022 rated it really liked it
Giving this anything below 5 stars seems unjust, and this lies solely on me. The Ko sisters are simply on a much higher intellectual plane than I, and as such I really struggled with some of the concepts discussed in the book. Having said that, it was still such a great read, and mind-blowing how everything you think you know about anti-racism and veganism is almost certainly through a Eurocentric lens. It's easy to become defensive when you hear ideas outside of the mainstream but the Ko sister ...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. ...more
Jan 24, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Just wow! I finished this book and had to sit and think about all of the concepts in it. Everything is explained thoroughly well, and I love their concept of animality. This is one of my favorite books on veganism!
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!!
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Exceptional. My book of the year without question.
Mar 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Accessible and timely, Aphro-ism challenged my conceptions of veganism and introduced me to new ways of decolonized, anti-racist thought. So much of what we think about animals has been determined by capitalist neoliberal society. We are told eating animal flesh is OK. It’s encouraged. Our commitments to eating non-human animals ensures businesses such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Five Guys, etc.stay afloat. The Ko sisters make the case that the opposite of white supremacy isn’t the subordination ...more
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
V Massaglia
Jan 02, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: social-justice, vegan
I'm not quite sure when I started this book but it was a while ago and took me a while to get through it for a reason -- I basically read it twice while reading it carefully while underlining, highlighting, and noting something in every paragraph. The Ko sister's work challenged me deeply and aided me--encouraged me to reflect (which they promote as a form of activism) as well as inspired me to action. All of the essays were insightful and challenging.

I really appreciated Aph Ko's "Why Confusio
Emmanuel Márquez
Thought provoking, simply amazing.
Most well-intentioned activists who use memes featuring a lynched black person and a lynched nonhuman animal are missing the point: What makes the physical violation of these bodies possible is their citizenship of the space of the Other or the “subhuman.” They were all smuggled onto a hierarchy to bostle the superiority of the white ruling class.

Saying “Black people experience racism and, therefore, are treated like animals” is redundant because racism is already entangled with speciesism. W
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
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
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. ...more
Brady Koetting
Jun 07, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This is one of those books that allows you to see the world in an entirely new dimension. Everyone should read this to better understand how racism and speciesism not only intersect, but are two outcomes of the same white supremacy. There were a lot of insights but the core of the book is how racism is not only anti-black but anti-animal. The idea that humans and animals have been framed by white men to be on different ends of a spectrum with white men being considered what it means to be h ...more
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
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
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
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
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Aph Ko is an American writer, vegan activist, and digital media producer. She is the author of Racism as Zoological Witchcraft: A Guide to Getting Out, co-author of Aphro-ism: Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism, and Black Veganism from Two Sisters, and creator of the website Black Vegans Rock.

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17 likes · 3 comments
“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.” 5 likes
“Animal' is a category that we shove certain bodies into when we want to justify violence against them, which is why animal liberation should concern all who are minoritized. As long as animals are oppressed, as long as 'animal' means something degrading, we will never be set free.” 4 likes
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