Eating While Black

Food Shaming and Race in America

By Psyche A. Williams-Forson

Eating While Black

Approx. 272 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 12 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6845-1
    Published: August 2022

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Psyche A. Williams-Forson is one of our leading thinkers about food in America. In Eating While Black, she offers her knowledge and experience to illuminate how anti-Black racism operates in the practice and culture of eating. She shows how mass media, nutrition science, economics, and public policy drive entrenched opinions among both Black and non-Black Americans about what is healthful and right to eat. Distorted views of how and what Black people eat are pervasive, bolstering the belief that they must be corrected and regulated. What is at stake is nothing less than whether Americans can learn to embrace nonracist understandings and practices in relation to food.

Sustainable culture—what keeps a community alive and thriving—is essential to Black peoples’ fight for access and equity, and food is central to this fight. Starkly exposing the rampant shaming and policing around how Black people eat, Williams-Forson contemplates food’s role in cultural transmission, belonging, homemaking, and survival. Black people’s relationships to food have historically been connected to extreme forms of control and scarcity—as well as to stunning creativity and ingenuity. In advancing dialogue about eating and race, this book urges us to think and talk about food in new ways in order to improve American society on both personal and structural levels.

About the Author

Psyche A. Williams-Forson, the author of Building Houses out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, and Power, is professor of American studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.

For more information about Psyche A. Williams-Forson, visit the Author Page.


“Unearthing places of real power, agency, and resilience, Psyche A. Williams-Forson spares no one in her demand that we understand the complex history of Black foodways. Eating While Black has a message for us all: when we fail to address the reality that this food system, by design, has been and is a failure, we prevent ourselves from doing what needs to be done for the health and well-being of us all.”—Monica M. White, author of Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement

“Provocative and incisively argued, sometimes humorous and always deeply engaging, Eating While Black is Psyche Williams-Forson’s meditation on how and why narratives of misrepresentation about Black culinary lives find purchase and pervasively circulate in the media, society, and American households of all types. As she reveals, confusions (willful and otherwise) about how Black people eat have produced a profoundly distorted image of Black people—a reality that permeates so much of what it is to be Black in this country.”—Naa Oyo A. Kwate, author of Burgers in Blackface: Anti-Black Restaurants Then and Now