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Joseph C. Ewoodzie

Dec 1, 2021

Getting Something to Eat in Jackson

Race, Class, and Food in the American South

Princeton University Press 2021

Getting Something to Eat in Jackson (Princeton Press, 2021) 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. Dr. 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.

Michael O. Johnston, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Penn University. His most recent research, “The Queen and Her Royal Court: A Content Analysis of Doing Gender at a Tulip Queen Pageant,” was published in Gender Issues Journal. He researches culture, social identity, placemaking, and media representations of social life at festivals and celebrations. He is currently working on a book titled Tug Cities: Community Media Representations of Place and Identity at a Tug of War Festival. This book is about the media representations of place and identity at an annual interstate tug of war festival where cities in two states across the Mississippi River from each other come together one week during the summer as rivals to duke it out on the rope. You can learn more about Dr. Johnston on his website, Google Scholar, on Twitter @ProfessorJohnst, or by email atjohnstonmo@wmpenn.edu.

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Michael Johnston

Michael O. Johnston, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Penn University.

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