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 on this page.
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 intersectionality. We will be documenting our journey (and asking for your support!) in the coming months. Stay tuned for updates!
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!)
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. I returned to South Africa 6 years later to research hair politics for my dissertation. 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.
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!
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.
Curls around the world
Interested in what it is like to wear natural hair abroad? I wrote an auto-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.