Black Food Geographies

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

By Ashanté M. Reese

Foreword by Dara Cooper

184 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 12 halftones, 3 maps, 3 tables

  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-5151-4
    Published: March 2019
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-5149-1
    Published: April 2019
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-5150-7
    Published: April 2019

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In this book, Ashanté M. Reese makes clear the structural forces that determine food access in urban areas, highlighting Black residents’ navigation of and resistance to unequal food distribution systems. Linking these local food issues to the national problem of systemic racism, Reese examines the history of the majority-Black Deanwood neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, Reese not only documents racism and residential segregation in the nation’s capital but also tracks the ways transnational food corporations have shaped food availability. By connecting community members’ stories to the larger issues of racism and gentrification, Reese shows there are hundreds of Deanwoods across the country.

Reese’s geographies of self-reliance offer an alternative to models that depict Black residents as lacking agency, demonstrating how an ethnographically grounded study can locate and amplify nuances in how Black life unfolds within the context of unequal food access.

About the Author

Ashanté M. Reese is assistant professor of anthropology at Spelman College.
For more information about Ashanté M. Reese, visit the Author Page.


Black Food Geographies offers a deep examination of the history and present of Deanwood in Washington, D.C., drawing important connections between the food system of this particular urban locale and what is happening in other important sites of food justice work around the country. A compelling read.”—Teresa Mares, University of Vermont

“Ashanté Reese’s work is richly empirical, historically grounded, and speaks to the contemporary national debate about the industrialized food system, access to healthy foods, and connections between food justice, racial uplift, and social change. A much-needed and important work.”—Kimberly Nettles-Barcelón, University of California, Davis