The Sistah Vegan Project

I am now Dr. Amie “Breeze” Harper…and you all helped to make it possible

Today it became official: I am Dr. Amie “Breeze” Harper. Thank you to everyone who helped to make this possible.

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The photo above is of me holding my baby daughter this morning with the document stating I have been awarded my PhD.

Dissertation Title: Vegan Consciousness and the Commodity Chain: On the Neoliberal, Afrocentric, and Decolonial Politics of ‘Cruelty-Free.’

Dissertation Abstract

In this dissertation, I analyze how neoliberal whiteness, race consciousness, decolonization, and anti-racism operate within three different vegan food guides: PETA’s Vegan Shopping Guide, Queen Afua’s Sacred Woman, and Food Empowerment Project’s Ethical Food Choices. PETA, Queen Afua, and Food Empowerment Project are all located within the landscape of vegan politics to produce “ethical” spaces across multiple scales (i.e. consciousness, the body and the home). However, these three sites represent different engagements with food commodities for achieving ethical consumption. Such differences are not so much about food, as much as they are about the social, political, and economic relationships underlying the food commodity chain. This manuscript will reveal that these ‘differing’ vegan guides, actually effect and are affected by whiteness; both in its historical (i.e. colonial whiteness and Jim Crow segregation) and contemporary forms (i.e. neoliberal whiteness). These connections will be revealed and articulated through the primary framework of critical race materialism and the lens of critical food studies.

Chapter two is titled “’Never Be Silent’: On Trayvon Martin, PETA and the Packaging of Neoliberal Whiteness”. Vegan tomato products and So Delicious® are advocated as “cruelty-free” in PETA’s online Vegan Shopping Guide. I will engage critical race materialist and decolonial analysis of the meanings PETA has applied to these two commodities. Such analysis will reveal how PETA’s marketing of vegan products, as “cruelty-free,” conceals human exploitation that makes these foods possible. I also show how PETA’s ‘anti-racist’ use of Trayvon Martin’s 2012 murder for their new campaign, signify how both post-humanism and post-racialism work to conceal the violence of neoliberalism and racism.

Chapter three is titled, “Feed a Wom[b]man, Feed the Black Nation: Afrocentric Vegan Politics and Queen Afua’s Kitchen.” Queen Afua is one of the most popular and widely read health activists amongst Black women in the USA. In this chapter, I analyze the food that Sacred Woman recommends or abhors to ‘purify’, ‘decolonize,’ and ‘liberate’ Black Americans from legacies of colonialism and racism. First, through an Afrocentric framework, I show how Afua’s vegan philosophy resists anti-black conceptualizations of Black women as “unfeminine” and “breeders.” After this analysis, I use Black feminist theorizing to explore how the meanings Afua places on particular vegan commodities simultaneously reproduces heterosexist, ableist, and black middle-class ‘reformist’ conceptualizations of a ‘healthy’ Black nation.

Lastly chapter four is named “Food Empowerment Project and the Underside of Veganized Modernity.” Food Empowerment Project (FEP) is a pro-vegan food justice organization in South Bay California. They place great emphasis on farmworker rights and alleviating environmental racism. I show that their Ethical Food Choices guide exposes how neoliberalism, corporate-capitalist profits, and hyper-consumerism dictate “ethical” vegan marketing schemes and labels such as “sustainable,” “ethically sourced,” and “Fair Trade.” They achieve this by re-signifying the neoliberal meaning of ‘sustainable’ palm oil products and cocoa, to reflect the cruel and unethical conditions they create. Analysis of FEP’s boycott of popular ‘eco-conscious’ and ‘sustainable’ labeled vegan brands Earth Balance® and CLIF Bar® will be undertaken.

Ultimately, this dissertation articulates how something as `mundane’ as vegan food guides can be used to create new critical literacies around ethical consumption and racial dynamics, as well as reveal how neoliberal whiteness operates within the food commodity chain.

 

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31 thoughts on “I am now Dr. Amie “Breeze” Harper…and you all helped to make it possible

  1. coreywrenn on said:

    Congrats Breeze, you give me hope that there is light at the end of the never ending tunnel of graduate school. Do you have plans on turning this into a book?

  2. Decius on said:

    Nice job. Coming from a physics/engineering background, I’m struggling a lot with the jargon, particularly those terms which have a plain English meaning. Is there a central location for the definitions of various words and phrases?

    • Dear Decius, what words and phrases are you referring to?

      • deciusbrutus on said:

        Specifically, that I have noticed so far, ‘Whiteness’, ‘Neoliberal’, ‘Neoliberal Whiteness’, and other terms in the pattern ‘x whiteness’. ‘Neoliberal whiteness’ is at one point defined to be the same thing as ‘vegan food commodities advocated by PETA as ‘cruelty-free’'; and at another point defined to be the same thing as ‘contemporary whiteness’.

        Meanwhile, ‘whiteness’ is called out specifically to strictly mean “conscious or unconscious promotion and advancement of the beliefs, practices, values and ideals of Euro American White culture, especially when those cultural values are represented as normal”.

        I’m sure that I will encounter more once I can get past chapter 1; I’m intentionally refusing to understand anything in such a manner as I disagree with it, because it is far more likely that I will misunderstand.

        On a somewhat note, I can predict that my ILL system is either going to hate me once I try to refer to those sources, or simply not have most of them at all.

      • Decius and Breeze. I began reading the dissertation last night, and find it refreshingly free of academic jargon. What must be understood, especially by educated people, is that every discipline and trade finds need to develop its own “secret” world, especially in communication. To call the tendency, and results “jargon” has become a pejorative. Yes, indeed, much such manipulation is unnecessary. I learned to laugh at the -let’s say– “privacy issue.” An IT professor criticized my use of “nano” in reference to a social condition. (Nano is from the Greek nanos, meaning dwarf.) Let us enlarge and share language, not retreat into isolation chambers, assuming ours is sacred, when it all evolves and derives from a desire to communicate forgetting our little lexicons are just that, parts of…Please ? Being one who cannot follow the printed directions in any technology area, I question “jargon.” here. The disciplines want to be exclusive. All should be inclusive.

        Breeze, I’m enjoying as I read. But, I am an Interdisciplinary scholar with background in the social sciences. I love that your work is accredited to “Geography.” It is truly interdisciplinary, at least science-social science, and more to be discovered. Thank you.

  3. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! I stopped by your blog the other day because you haven’t posted in a while and I was wondering about you. I am so happy for you. It was because of you and Queen Afua that I became a vegan. I learned so much from you and your blog. I am even taking classes now to become a Holistic Nutrition Practitioner. Thank you so much for doing what you do.

  4. kanita bari on said:

    Dear Breeze,             CONGRATULATIONS on completing your Doctorate.             i am  so happy for you.         thank you for  sharing your insightful writings,i  have enjoyed reading about your experiences and getting an understanding of the connection between racism sexism and speciesm.           i enjoy veganism, i  am of east indian origin grew up in wales .uk and now located in sandiego california.                                                                        best wishes from your friend                                                                            kanita         

  5. Rochelle on said:

    right on, dr. harper! you and daughter look beautiful and full!

  6. Reblogged this on Vegans of Color and commented:

    Hello everyone. I just wanted to share with you that today I received my doctorate. I’m officially Dr. Amie “Breeze ” Harper. You can click on the link below to read more and download my dissertation for free on my latest blog post: http://wp.me/pzDsy-D2 . My dissertation is titled: “Vegan Consciousness and the Commodity Chain: On the Neoliberal, Afrocentric, and Decolonial Politics of ‘Cruelty-Free'” .

  7. Congratulations! And hooray for you! And…thank you for all you do for the oppressed everywhere.

  8. Congrats sistah! This is a major accomplishment and you should be extremely proud. Can’t wait to read your dissertation Dr. Amie “Breeze” Harper. I know even greater things will come from this.

  9. toyveg on said:

    Dear Dr. Breeze Harper,

    I am so very happy for you and glad that this long journey from when we were still struggling with vegetarianism has taken you thus far. I am so very proud of you my dear old friend- even though life as taken us into different divergent places, I always carry a part of you with me and I so proud of you.

    xoxo,
    Toyin A

  10. Congratulations Dr. Harper!!!

  11. Maria on said:

    Congratulations!

  12. Tina on said:

    Congratulations Dr. Harper! I have been reading your blog for over a year and I think you are an amazing person.

  13. Congratulations Dr. Harper!!! Your blog and accomplishments are so inspiring! I, too, am pursuing a doctorate in public health and I want to center it around veganism an Latino/a health! It is possible– you have done it!

  14. Michelle Williams on said:

    Congratulations!!! That is so awesome!!

  15. Sandra M on said:

    Congratulations, Breeze. What a wonderful achievement. I hope you do write that book-and that it get lots of publicity to spread your insights far and wide.

  16. Paula on said:

    Congratulations!!! How wonderful! I knew we would see such a post soon and it’s a real pleasure to see you finalize your project!! Thanks for all your work! Celebrate and keep us posted.

  17. Faren on said:

    Congratulations, Breeze! We’ve all been rooting for you. Well deserved.

  18. Reese on said:

    Congratulations!! So excited about you helping women of color become conscious about Veganism , their health and embracing a better way of life! Thank You! Go Team Vegan!

  19. L.A. Clarke on said:

    Congrats! :)

  20. Congratulations, Breeze! Such an amazing accomplishment! I can’t wait to see what post-grad life brings for you. I also can’t wait for your work to begin manifesting further. You are such a beautiful spirit

  21. Congratulations!! I just got finished reading your book, Sistah Vegan, and now I look forward to reading your dissertation. I wish you well in your future endeavors. You are doing great work!!

  22. Congrats Breeze! What’s next? Do you have any advice or tips for those who are dreaming of a Ph.d?

  23. THE ALCHEMIST on said:

    A newly minted Ph.D. Congratulations!

  24. You did finish?! Congratulations, Dr. Harper!

  25. Hadiya sewer on said:

    Congratulations, Dr. Harper! Your work is inspiring!

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