Getting Something to Eat in Jackson: Race, Class, and Food in the American South

A vivid portrait of African American life in today’s urban South that uses food to explore the complex interactions of race and class


Published (US):
Oct 5, 2021
Published (UK):
Dec 21, 2021
6.13 x 9.25 in.
32 b/w illus. 1 map.
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Getting Something to Eat in Jackson uses food—what people eat and how—to explore the interaction of race and class in the lives of African Americans in the contemporary urban South. Joseph Ewoodzie Jr. examines 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 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. Ewoodzie goes food shopping, cooks, and eats with a young mother living in poverty and a grandmother working two jobs. He works in a Black-owned BBQ restaurant, and he meets a man who decides to become a vegan for health reasons but who must drive across town to get tofu and quinoa. Ewoodzie also learns about how soul food is changing and why it is no longer a staple survival food. Throughout, he shows how food choices influence, and are influenced by, the racial and class identities of Black Jacksonians.

By tracing these contemporary African American foodways, Getting Something to Eat in Jackson offers new insights into the lives of Black Southerners and helps challenge the persistent homogenization of blackness in American life.

Joseph Ewoodzie Jr.: “The neighborhood is no longer what it used to be”

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Awards and Recognition

  • An Essence Best New Winter Read
  • Nominee for the James Beard Foundation Book Award in Writing
  • Winner of the C. Wright Mills Award, The Society for the Study of Social Problems