Public Sociology

Too often, academic work begins and ends in the Ivory Tower. As a Black feminist scholar, I strongly believe in contributing to broadly accessible conversations about career advancement, wellness, and politics. I enjoy collaborating with other academics, writers, content creators, and organizations to better integrate my research and theorizing with everyday life. Check out some of my recent public sociology projects and features on this page.
Illustrated by Ashley Seil Smith for CLC Collective  

Illustrated by Ashley Seil Smith for CLC Collective



In 2017, Carolyn Choi, LaToya Council and I formed CLC Collective, LLC--an organization dedicated to feminist public sociology. As women of color sociologists, we believe in using our collective expertise in race, immigration, and gender studies to create change in our communities.  I serve as The Collective's Chief Creative Officer, leading content and design. Together we are working on a book for all ages about intersectionalityWe will be documenting our journey (and asking for your support!) in the coming months. Stay tuned for updates!

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Allure Magazine- What hair care means to women around the world

 Allure Magazine's March 2018 issue is all about hair. I'm quoted in an article by Lauren Savini about global hair care practices, noting the relationship between natural hair movement and the Black consciousness movement in Brazil. You can pick up the issue on a newsstand near you, or read the article online by clicking the button below. 

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As an intern at the University of Southern California's Career Center, I am coordinating this year's "Beyond the PhD" conference, to be held on March 27, 2018. This event brings together an interdisciplinary community of over 300 researchers to discuss careers for doctoral and postdoctoral fellows within and beyond academia. I've recruited a wide array of sociologists and gender studies scholars who are applying their training in creative and entrepreneurial ways. You can review the bio's for speakers below. See you at the Academic Careers for Social Sciences and Humanities panel. (P.S. I'm moderating!)

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on advocating for your work

It can be difficult to convince people of the worth of your work, especially when your passions do not relate to dominant portrayals of the world. Based on my own experiences as a PhD student and with grant writing, I offer advice on how to make gatekeepers take notice. This piece was originally written for Jopwell, and was republished by TeenVogue Online. For an example of how to use this in your classroom, visit TheySayISay's blog.

Photo courtesy of CRWN Mag of Audrey Chabalala

Photo courtesy of CRWN Mag of Audrey Chabalala

bossiekop is beautiful

My natural hair journey began in South Africa while I was studying abroad as an undergrad at the University of Cape Town in 2010. When I returned to South Africa 6 years later to research hair politics for my dissertation, I discovered that cultural ideas about race, beauty, and power were rapidly transforming.  I wrote about that full circle experience for CRWN Magazine's "Love Issue."  Order the issue in print by clicking the link below. You'll find my piece on page 133. 


DON't touch my hair

Journalist Thando Dlomo and I chatted about politics of natural hair in South Africa and the United States for her radio show. Dlomo's "Don't Touch My Hair" newscast episode weaves biography and history to illustrate how the personal is political. Take a listen below. (P.S. Yes, that's me and my mom in the photo, circa 1993!)

10 books by academics that will change the way you think about hair

Academics are writing deep analyses about the race, class, and gender symbolism of hair styling in society. I mined my dissertation bibliography to compile this annotated list of scholarly books on hair.

what your hair says about you, according to scholars of the body

Sociologists, anthropologists, and historians focusing on the body research a gamut of practices, like plastic surgery, violence, reproduction, sports, beauty, and fashion. Each of these topics has much to tell us about people's relationships to one another. Examining hairstyling can be especially revealing of social dynamics because hair is so malleable-- it can be cut, colored, dreadlocked, braided, covered and more. In this article, I briefly survey the main foci and arguments of the scholarly literature on hair.

the media and the beauty myth- an update

Exclusionary beauty myths are maintained by corporations that rely on women as consumers. In this article, I outline Naomi Wolf's classic beauty myth argument and explain how beauty myths affect Black women living in today's digital world. 

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real women share their kinky-curly hair stories

Every woman has a hair story. The online beauty and lifestyle magazine Byrdie featured mine, and I'm among great company!

history of headwraps: then there and now

As the natural hair movement gains momentum, many women choose headwraps as a fashionable protective style option. The accessory has rich cultural legacies across the African Diaspora-- we just might be fashion history in the making!


Curls around the world 

Interested in what it is like to wear natural hair abroad? I wrote an ethnographic essay based on my fieldwork in South Africa for, the largest online resource for women with curly hair.

Crwn Magazine

CRWN Magazine is a print publication dedicated to archiving today's natural hair culture. Check out two of my articles in CRWN's inaugural issue: "My Natural, My Politics, My way" and "Black Beauty and the Economics of Liberation." Look out for a third article in their upcoming Love Issue about natural hair on the African continent.

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The Conversation aims to make academic research available to mainstream audiences. Learn about trends in natural hair organizing among women across the African diaspora in this article, based primarily on my field work in Cape Town, South Africa. This piece has been republished by numerous websites and news outlets around the world.


Are you thinking about applying to a doctoral program? Have you always wondered what sociologists actually do? Check out my episode of Kandid Kaiya, where I discuss my journey to the PhD with YouTuber Nakaiya Turk.  


What does the popularization of natural hair say about the standard of beauty today? What have curls and kinks meant for black women politically in the past? If you live in Los Angeles, come join me at CurlTalks on November 30th.