Public Sociology Features
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.
THE FIRST CHILDREN’s BOOK ABOUT INTERSECTIONALITY
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. Dottir Press is publishing our first children's book about intersectionality, IntersectionAllies:We Make Room For All, illustrated by the talented Ashley Seil Smith and with forewords by Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw and Dr. Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro. The CLC Collective will be documenting our journey in the coming months. Stay tuned for updates, and follow us on Instagram @intersectionallies.
USC graduate student spotlight
The three fellowships I received from The Graduate School at USC allowed me dedicate three full years to dissertation fieldwork. I interviewed Africana women in the Netherlands, Spain, France, Brazil, and South Africa about their reflections on beauty and social movements. This allowed me to trace how products, practices, and politics travel across what scholar Paul Gilroy calls the Black Atlantic. In this video, I share what I’ve learned along the way, and the implications of my research for sociological theory, activism, and wellness. Check it out!
The Ms. q&A: erin bried believes in girls (and feminist media)
As a new children’s book author, I was excited to speak with Erin Bried, who is expanding the feminist media landscape—in demographic and in format. After working for almost 18 years as a writer and editor for women’s magazines including Glamour, Women’s Health and Fitness and Self, Bried decided to it was time to start her own publication: Kazoo Magazine, which caters to girls ages five to 10. I spoke with Bried for Ms. about the radical potential of feminist media for children, her inspiration for starting Kazoo and how she puts feminist theory into practice on its pages.
“lemons out of lemonade” My review of omese’eke tinsley’s New book beyoncé in formation
It has always been unclear just how much of Beyoncé’s work is inspired by her real life and how much is expertly curated storytelling. What’s undeniable, however, is Beyoncé’s (or her team’s?) ability to create narratives and metaphors that hit home for black trans and cis women who came to slay but are still trying to break free from generational suffering caused by slavery, imperialism, and misogynoir. In our group chats, living rooms, and hair salons, black femmes used Lemonade as a starting place for collectively unpacking our trauma and articulating new black feminist politics. But there is perhaps no one more qualified to decode Lemonade’s symbolism than Omise’eke Tinsley, who has taught a course entitled “Beyoncé Feminism, Rihanna Womanism” at University of Texas-Austin for years. In her new book, Beyoncé in Formation: Remixing Black Feminism, Tinsley invites us all into her classroom. Read my review for the Women’s Review of Books here!
QUOTED IN “born this way” by ayana byrd x Essence magazine
When Ayana Byrd emailed me about my dissertation research for an article she was writing for Essence, I just about died. Not only did I learn about style from pouring over my mom’s copies of Essence magazine, but Ayana’s book Hair Story (with Lori Tharps) was THE central resource and inspiration for my dissertation. In the October 2018 issue of Essence, Ayana quotes me in her analysis of the global natural hair movement. Check out the article “Born This Way: From Amsterdam to Rio and Johannesburg to Brooklyn, a New Natural Hair Revolution is Afoot Wherever there are Kinks, Coils and Curls” by picking up your copy at a store near you!
PART I of Laid to the gods documentary on black hair
I’m a featured expert in Chekechea Pryor’s newly released documentary about black hair “Laid to the Gods.” Here, I talk about the ways in which racialized beauty standards have been institutionalized through employment and educational presentation policies and upheld by federal laws. I also discuss how black women have used beauty and their bodies to critique the status quo, and make room for themselves in movements, markets, and media representations since the antebellum period. Watch the documentary on this site or on Vimeo, and let me know what you think!
"A Look at how #Linkedinterns Make an impact"
I spent the summer of 2018 as a User Experience Research Intern at LinkedIn. I worked on the Careers Team, interviewing blue collar and service workers to help my colleagues create products with empathy. I collaborated with engineers, project managers, product marketing managers, editorial, market research, and designers—all in the effort to make sure EVERY member of the workforce has access to opportunity. I relished the opportunity to use my background in qualitative research and social equity to impact millions of members around the world. I couldn’t imagine a more supportive group of mentors, or a more transformative experience. Check out the video to learn what my fellow interns and I were up to!
Quartz at work- "tech companies are structured like wealthy socialist states"
Income inequality and homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area is on the rise, as existing communities are displaced by large tech corporations. The difference between life in tech and life outside of tech was particularly startling to me as someone who is not only new to the region, but also new to corporate life. In this piece, I turn a sociological eye to my experience as an intern in Silicon Valley, suggesting ways that tech giants might reimagine their relationships to the communities in which they operate.
ms. magazine- "it takes a village"
Collective mothering is a valuable part of the social fabric of many communities around the world. When Carolyn Choi, LaToya Council and I decided to write a research-based feminist children’s book about intersectionality, we knew it was important to celebrate diverse family forms. As intersectional feminists, we must celebrate and recognize collective mothering as a positive choice to ensure the wellbeing and safety of all children. Happy Mother's Day to all the blood mothers, “other mothers,” and grandmothers out there!!
CRWN Instagram Takeover
Ever wanted to know what a day in the life of a PhD candidate in Los Angeles is like? On April 3rd, I'll be taking over CRWN Magazine's Instagram. Meet the women who inspire me, join in as I attend academic talks at the University of Southern California, and get personal with my beauty and hair regimen. After the 3rd-- feel free to keep up with me on my personal Instagram account.
Quoted in “What hair care means to women around the world” Lauren Savini x ALlure Magazine
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.
As an intern at the University of Southern California's Career Center, I coordinated the 7th Annual "Beyond the PhD" conference, held on March 27, 2018. This event brought together an interdisciplinary community of 300 researchers to discuss careers for doctoral and postdoctoral fellows within and beyond academia. I recruited a wide array of sociologists and gender studies scholars who are applying their training in creative and entrepreneurial ways.
One attendee responded that he appreciated "The real, down-to-earth, broadly applicable, practice advice given by panelists." When asked what was most helpful she learned at the event, another attendee replied: "The many and diverse career paths in industry, how did they do it, and hearing about work/life challenges along the way, especially for women and people of color."
Review the bios for Beyond the PhD speakers below!
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.
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.
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 NaturallyCurly.com, the largest online resource for women with curly hair.
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.
the CONVERSATION Africa
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.