Research Seminar: Naa Oyo Kwate

Research Seminar: Naa Oyo Kwate

“The Blacker the Bum Wine”


Virtual Event
February 14 2024
Time 12 PM
Registration for this event is via Eventbrite.

“The Blacker the Bum Wine” is a chapter from a manuscript in progress with the tentative title, Terror’s Terroir: The Corner Liquor Store in Black Urban Life. Terror’s Terroir investigates the prevalence and impact of corner liquor stores in Black urban life from approximately 1950 to the present. This chapter (the only one devoted exclusively to merchandise rather than the stores themselves) examines one class of alcoholic beverages sold at these stores—fortified wines. I discuss four brands that have historically, and in some cases, are still sold at these outlets, constituting a highly racialized market. So-called wines such as Wild Irish Rose and MD 20/20, are inexpensive and low in quality, but very strong--about 20% alcohol by volume, or 40 proof. These drinks are meant for quick inebriation. Formally termed fortified wines, but called “bum wines” colloquially, the notions of vagrancy and dereliction that underlie these beverages underscore the structural contempt of corner liquor store operations more broadly.

Naa Oyo A. Kwate is an interdisciplinary social scientist with wide ranging interests in racial inequality and African American health, and Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. A psychologist by training, her research has centered primarily on the ways in which urban built environments reflect and create racial inequalities in the United States, and how racism directly and indirectly affects African American health. She is the author of the short work, Burgers in Blackface: Anti-Black Restaurants Then and Now, editor of The Street: A Photographic Field Guide to American Inequality, and most recently, author of White Burgers, Black Cash: Fast Food from Black Exclusion to Exploitation.

Dr. Lisa Jacobson, of the University of California-Santa Barbara will provide an introductory comment.