Research

I'm a writer with training in sociology. In both cases, my work focuses on black places and black people. I study and write about the ways that black places have formed and changed (and been made to change) over the years, as well as the things that black people have made, done, and imagined to survive and thrive in the midst. My work has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the American Sociological Association (among others), and appears in several of places:

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My book, I Don't Like the Blues: Race, Place, and the Backbeat of Black Life (University of North Carolina Press), will be out December 14, 2020. It tells a

story of Clarksdale, Mississippi, a town known mostly for two things: savage inequality and the blues. My book tells of both. It chronicles the efforts of local officials to translate the town's blues history into an economic development system meant to provide mobility opportunities for the people who call Clarksdale home—mostly black folks—and it tells of how the people who call Clarksdale home have come to view the town's blues development system. The answer is in the book's title: they don't like it.

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Beyond the book, I contributed the essay,"Rewriting Wright: A Note on Perspective and Method in Writing to the collection The New Black Sociologists: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, edited by Marcus Hunter. In the chapter, I draw from Richard Wright's "Blueprint for Negro Literature" three prescriptions for social scientists who study and write about black life (in the South). (1) Engage with the communities you study, as opposed to merely studying them; (2) treat with seriousness what might appear as the mundanities of everyday (black) life; and (3) treat the aesthetic of your writing as seriously as you do the content. 

I have also written for several public outlets. Some of my favorites include:

  1. for Bitter Southerner, a long-form profile of Grammy award winning hill country blues singer-songwriter Cedric Burnside;

  2. for CNN, an account of the student-led movement to remove the Mississippi state flag, which until recently featured the Confederate battle emblem, from the campus of the University of Mississippi 

  3. for Washington Post, an opinion piece on recent calls to remove Confederate statues from public spaces across the country.

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