Dying to Eat? Black Food Geographies of Slow Violence and Resilience
How are Black food geographies, both geographies of emotional slow violence and resilience? Dominant directions in health-related food research emphasize how Black food choices cause (slow) death from diabetes, hypertension, and other medical conditions. Emphasis on individual behaviors can overlook how a felt sense of the food landscape matters (Hayes-Conroy and Hayes Conroy 2016). Through the frame of slow violence and racial trauma, I consider racial surveillance in the context of Black food geographies. Biomedical studies note the attritional effects of racial trauma on overall wellbeing, while other research and media continue to document racial profiling in food spaces. For this exploratory piece, I bear witness to testimonies of racial surveillance and food geographies using GIF-making, healing arts, and autoethnography. Testimonies drawn from interviews, media, and my personal experiences underscore how surveillance and its effects are very much visible and felt for African-American and Afro-Latinx testifiers as they navigate “food while Black.” Beyond countering the “invisibility” of slow violence (Nixon 2011), I explore affective and arts-based approaches to (re)presenting and feeling through Black food geographies. Building on Black geographies, I engage with Black life (not only death) by considering testifiers’ strategies for personal and collective resilience (White 2018).
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