Joseph Ewoodzie, Jr.


Getting Something to Eat in Jackson 

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 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 this 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 poinance in this fascinating, mouth-watering, study.  

Joseph Ewoodzie Jr.

Joseph C. Ewoodzie uses qualitative research to examine how marginalized populations in urban locales make sense of inequalities in their everyday lives. He employs ethnographic methods to investigate how these populations interpret their social selves and the boundaries that both constrain and enable them. He has used both music and food as a lens to understand the cultural dynamics of African American life in urban settings. His book Getting Something to Eat in Jackson: Race, Class, and Food in the American South provides a vivid portrait of African American life in the urban South that uses food to explore the complex interactions of race and class.

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