October 7, 2021

Joseph Ewoodzie

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes JOSEPH EWOODZIE—associate professor of sociology at Davidson College and author of Break Beats in the Bronx: Rediscovering Hip-Hop’s Early Years—for a discussion of his latest book, Getting Something to Eat in Jackson: Race, Class, and Food in the American South. He will be joined in conversation by B. BRIAN FOSTER, co-editor of Sociology of Race and Ethnicity and author of I Don't Like the Blues: Race, Place, and the Backbeat of Black Life.


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.

About Author(s)

Joseph C. Ewoodzie Jr. is associate professor of sociology at Davidson College. He is the author of Break Beats in the Bronx: Rediscovering Hip-Hop’s Early Years. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

B. Brian Foster is a writer and sociologist from Mississippi. He earned his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and currently works as Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia. His book I Don't Like the Blues: Race, Place, and the Backbeat of Black Life tells the story of blues development and Black community life in the Mississippi Delta town of Clarksdale. Brian currently serves as co-editor of Sociology of Race and Ethnicity. He has also directed an award-winning short film and written for local, regional, and national outlets, including CNNEsquireWashington Post, and Veranda.