Black Food Geographies

Ashante Reese’s book, Black Food Geographies, focuses on Deanwood, Washington D.C. to look at the foodways of black Americans. Important themes throughout the book are agency, self-sufficiency, and community, which show up in every chapter. In the first chapter, she talks about self-sufficiency by introducing what kind of food access Deanwood had while the area was segregated. There were more shops available to the community, allowing for all of its members to have a choice in what they were eating. After segregation ended, Members of the community who were better off financially were able to move to suburban areas for better education, resources, and housing, leaving those who could not afford the opportunity or loved their community behind. Grocery stores followed suit and left for suburban areas. Leaving those in Deanwood less choice. Chapter two talks about this more in detail. Reeses gathers information through informal interviews and shows that many members of the community notice and resent the lack of options in Deanwood. I think an important aspect of this chapter was that giving members a community the basics while offering nothing more isn’t an option. The closest grocery store in the area is a Safeway which residents define over and over again as filthy, low-quality and lacking options. Those who have the means to travel do, and those who don’t feel the effects of food injustice the most. In the third chapter, she talks about how people look to the past, sometimes unfairly comparing the worst of now with the best of then. In chapter four, she talks about the community market, a corner-ish store with historical significance, that was brought up by many members in the previous chapter, and calls out how many of those who talked about its significance didn’t shop there. The owner Mr. Jones, exemplified entrepreneurship, moral selling, and caring for the members in the community but wasn’t really supported. In the last chapter, she talks about community gardening as a site for fostering learning, community, and health, while talking about gentrification and displacement for its residence.

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