Black Food Geographies

In the book Black Food Geographies by Ashante M. Reese, the author uses peoples stories and experiences as well as historical records to discuss the history of Deanwood, a community in Washington D.C. She starts off her book by stating that the black neighborhoods and cities had less access to grocery retail and fresh, healthy, and affordable food compared to predominantly white neighborhoods. She also discusses how it has been shown that the term “food desert” is not an accurate term due to the imagery that is associated with it. Alternate language should be used that points tot he systematic processes that will intersect with anti-blackness. A term that people have found to be better is “supermarket redlining.” She talks a lot about self-reliance and its importance. She states that black communities investment in self-reliance as political and cultural framework for communal uplift has been central to intellectual thought and activist strategizing. Food justice is fundamentally about racial justice.

She goes on to talk about how black residents established institutions that were key to community sustainability. Reese also states how communities formed reflected black peoples commitments to surviving despite white supremacy. In Deanwood, many people owned land and homes which provided the space for farming and gardening which were integral to the growth and development of the community. Trading and bartering formed as an integral part of the economy. Many of the early stores between the years 1900 and 1930 were food stroes which supplemented individuals food production. She discusses how the deindustrialization and deinvestment in city centers contributed to the development of “black ghettoes” which were characterized by blight, poverty, unemployment, drugs, and crime increase.

The author goes unto to discuss systematic failures that play a part in the community. She talks about how wealthier, white wards have more grocery stores than African American wards as well as having more plans for future stores. The unequal spatial geography of grocery stores reflect the systematic failures. She also notes from her interviewees stories that children are big motivators in defining and pursuing healthy foods. With her interviews, she notes how memories of and stories about the past with residents present experiences with unequal food access and their ideas about the future to create nostalgic imaginations. She notes how unequal food landscapes create landscapes where corporations are welcomed though they eventually affect small businesses. She presents the idea that racism as a structure in which people get caught up recognizing the challenges that black people may face. In the U.S., they engage inequalities in a varied and complicated way, resulting in internalizing responsibility for systematic failures.

1 Comment

  1. Good summation of the first two chapters but your post becomes weaker near the end. Make sure that your post is equitable.

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