Jasmine C Leyva; Kenny Leyva – The Invisible Vegan
For many years, people of color have not been properly represented in mainstream conversations about health, the environment, and animal rights. Without proper representation, people in my community will be less likely to pay attention to these spaces because these important messages are not being marketed to them. A large part of my work is catering a message of veganism to black communities in a way that speaks to their culture and priorities so they want to get involved.
It is hard to be proud of who you are when the media constantly represents your race as “less than”. I remember growing up in the 90s where most our narratives revolved around slavery and criminality and in the food space something similar happened. We were always associated with soul food and fried chicken. When I moved to Los Angeles, which widened my vantage point, I was exposed to several black people who cared about healthy food choices, having a spiritual relationship with animals on the planet and who prioritized taking care of the environment so our grandchildren will have a livable planet in the future. These examples weren’t promoted when I was growing up. I don’t want the next generation of kids like me to have a reduced view of our cultural contributions. We are more than slavery and fried chicken. I want them to have empowering images of themselves in important spaces, like this space.
When I first tallied up how much this film would cost, I could have cried. I had never received grants for my work so the thought of an organization giving me thousands of dollars seemed like a lottery fairy tale, not something that would happen to me. When I received the grant, it helped me fund this film, but more importantly, it helped to build my confidence. It reminded me there are so many people in the world with similar goals and I have support.
It was never my intention to produce a vegan documentary, drop my mic and move on to the next media project. I would like to do more in this space, but I have to be in a decent financial position to make that happen. I still have bills looming from the Invisible Vegan and by continuing to help me pay for this project, this organization is mentally and financially freeing me up to start tackling new projects.
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