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Sat, Apr 15


Sankofa Video, Books, & Café

Black in Place: The Spatial Aesthetics of Race in Post-Chocolate City

Join us for a live conversation between Brandi T. Summers and Derek Musgrove on the political use of the Black aesthetic in "Chocolate City"!

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Black in Place: The Spatial Aesthetics of Race in Post-Chocolate City
Black in Place: The Spatial Aesthetics of Race in Post-Chocolate City

Time & Location

Apr 15, 2023, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Sankofa Video, Books, & Café, 2714 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA


About The Event

About the book:

While Washington, D.C., is still often referred to as "Chocolate City," it has undergone significant demographic, political, and economic change in the last decade. In D.C., no place represents this shift better than the H Street corridor. In this book, Brandi Thompson Summers documents D.C.'s shift to a "post-chocolate" cosmopolitan metropolis by charting H Street's economic and racial developments. In doing so, she offers a theoretical framework for understanding how blackness is aestheticized and deployed to organize landscapes and raise capital. Summers focuses on the continuing significance of blackness in a place like the nation's capital, how blackness contributes to our understanding of contemporary urbanization, and how it laid an important foundation for how Black people have been thought to exist in cities. Summers also analyzes how blackness--as a representation of diversity--is marketed to sell a progressive, "cool," and authentic experience of being in and moving through an urban center.  Using a mix of participant observation, visual and media analysis, interviews, and archival research, Summers shows how blackness has become a prized and lucrative aesthetic that often excludes D.C.'s Black residents.

About the author:

Brandi T. Summers, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Black in Place: The Spatial Aesthetics of Race in a Post-Chocolate City (UNC Press, 2019). Her research examines the relationship between and function of race, space, urban infrastructure, and architecture. Her current research includes a book project that examines representations and experiences of space, place, and landscape in her hometown, Oakland, CA; and “The Archive of Urban Futures,” a multi-platform archival project, funded by the Mellon Foundation, that focuses on questions of history, value, the right to place, memory, and erasure in Black Oakland. Dr. Summers has published several articles that appear in both scholarly and popular publications, including New York Times, The Boston Globe, Urban Geography, and Places Journal.

About the host:

George Derek Musgrove, Associate Professor (Ph.D. New York University)

Professor Musgrove teaches courses in Post-WWII United States History with an emphasis on African American politics. He is the author of Rumor, Repression, and Racial Politics: How the Harassment of Black Elected Officials Shaped Post-Civil Rights America (U. of Georgia, 2012), and co-author, with Chris Myers Asch, of Chocolate City, A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital (UNC, 2017). In 2021, he released, a web-based map of Black Power activism in the nation’s capital between 1961 and 1998. His work has appeared in the Washington PostNational Public Radio, the New York Times and The Root. He is currently working on “We must take to the streets again”: The Black Power Resurgence in Conservative America, 1980-97, which explores the burst of black activism that rose in opposition to the urban crisis and the conservative retrenchmentHe earned his Ph.D. from New York University in 2005 and  lives with his wife and two sons in Washington, D.C.


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