Joseph Ewoodzie Jr. spent more than a year following a group of socioeconomically diverse African Americans — from upper-middle-class patrons of the city’s fine-dining restaurants to men experiencing homelessness who must organize their days around the schedules of soup kitchens. He went food shopping, cooked, and ate with a young mother living in poverty and a grandmother working two jobs. He worked in a Black-owned BBQ restaurant, and he met a man who decided to become a vegan for health reasons but must drive across town to get tofu and quinoa. He learned about how soul food is changing and why it is no longer a staple survival food. Now he presents his findings to show how food choices influence, and are influenced by, the racial and class identities of Black Jacksonians.
Demonstrating how “foodways” — food availability, choice, and consumption — vary greatly between classes of African Americans in Jackson, Mississippi, and how this reflects and shapes their very different experiences of a shared racial identity, Ewoodzie offers new insights into the lives of Black Southerners and helps challenge the persistent homogenization of blackness in American life. The phrase ‘You are what you eat’ gains new poignance in this fascinating, mouth-watering, study.
- Princeton Food Project, a Humanities Council Magic Project
- Department of Sociology
- Effron Center for the Study of America