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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Letter from Publisher : Confessions of a Post-Racial POC

I expected the draft of the brochure to be approved. Instead, the managing director, in a seeming gesture of frustration, tossed the draft onto the table with a definitive “plop.”

“The thing is, Paul, there are no pictures of people of color (POC),” she said. Never mind that she had not requested one.

This episode from a few years ago was just another in my career as a marketing consultant where those who engaged me seemed to assume that I, as a person of color, would instinctively be inclusive in my choice of pictures.

Truth is, for long as I can remember, I desperately wanted to live in a post-racial world. Having been the subject of ongoing bigotry as a child, all I knew was that I was fundamentally no different from those who bullied me: In the words of Rodney King, “Can we all just get along?”

Fast forward a few decades and one would find me a bemused father of two beautiful biracial children, both of whom are far more sensitive to racism than I had been. That was until 2015 when a presidential pretender descended from on high into the darkness of his tower spewing hate and dragging us into the void.


The idea for this month’s special section on black veganism arrived a few months ago after my son Noah—yes, the same one who wrote the lead article—mentioned that he believed that, on a per capita basis, more blacks owned vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Atlanta than whites. He had just moved into the West End and, having been a vegetarian from a very young age, he was quick to notice all the wonderful dining alternatives that surrounded him.

His comment stuck in my mind, but a question remained: Aren’t the benefits of veganism the same, regardless of race? What is the difference between being white and vegan and being black and vegan?

I didn’t have an answer to that question before I greenlighted the topic for this issue. Instead, two factors came together to prompt me to pull the trigger. First, my sense that there were meaningful differences between the two races in their motivations to turn to veganism, and my trust in Noah’s ability to figure that out and write an outstanding piece—despite the fact that none of his previous articles came close to the challenges of this assignment.

Second, I’ve had a great affinity with others who’d been victim to racism. As all my tormenters were white, I found myself befriending black students, despite the lack of them in my elementary and high school. From the very first week of college, my best friend was black, as is my current best male friend.

Despite all of this, for decades, I continued to delude myself into a post-racial fantasy world. That is, until 2015, when it became impossible to ignore, when more and more unarmed black men were being murdered with impunity, when the number of “_____ while black” memes exploded.

Our managing editor, Diane Eaton, reminds me that it’s not the role of our publication to drift into politics, and in these pages, this is as political as I will get. My message today is simple: To generate peaceful minds, to move forward and progress, we must accept things as they are, to meet situations and people where they’re at.

The reality is that we are nowhere close to a post-racial world, and that for some time to come, those of us who are privileged—if we wish to create a more just and equitable world—need to figure out ways to share our assets and to actively promote the voices of those who have not been heard, those who have been consciously silenced.

So I will say, now, that Natural Awakenings, Atlanta’s premiere publication for natural healing and personal evolution reaching more than 50,000 readers each month, is committed to more inclusiveness. I have no idea what this will look like, but we will reach out to many people and invite them to help shape, define and infuse these pages and our digital presence with a broader range of voices.

May our current social and political realities push us all to find greater equity, peace and love for all, without exception.
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