New Books Network

Ashanté M. Reese

Black Food Geographies

Race, Self-Reliance, and Food Access in Washington, D.C.

University of North Carolina Press 2019

New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in AnthropologyNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in FoodNew Books in GeographyNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network September 23, 2019 Reighan Gillam

Black Food Geographies: Race, Self-Reliance, and Food Access in Washington, D.C. (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), by Ashanté M. Reese, examines the ways...

Black Food Geographies: Race, Self-Reliance, and Food Access in Washington, D.C. (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), by Ashanté M. Reese, examines the ways in which residents of the Deanwood neighborhood navigate the surrounding area to acquire food. Reese examines the historical processes that gave rise to the decrease of supermarkets, general stores, and other locations to purchase food thus constraining options. Residents articulated a commitment to self-reliance in meeting their culinary needs through their strategies for accessing food markets, nostalgia for and memories of the past, practice of connection and community, and belief in personal responsibility. Reese emphasizes the role of structural racism and inequality in generating the conditions of decreased food options while holding in tension residents’ insistence upon relying on their own actions to forge futures of abundance and community. Reese examines a corner store and a community garden as local sites for residents to work towards and articulate responses to their current situation. The term food desert tends to emphasize lack and emptiness, occlude agency, and sideline the historical processes that conditioned such limited food options. Black Food Geographies offers a powerful critique of the food desert by emphasizing the agency of African American people, the forces of racism and inequality, and by showing that these spaces are rich with the lives, hopes, and outlooks of the people who live there.

Ashanté M. Reese is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.


Reighan Gillam is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Southern California. Her research focuses on race, blackness, and visual representation in Brazil. She is on Twitter @ReighanGillam.