I am a historian and former newspaper journalist and editor who writes about race, black culture(s), racial violence, and reproductive rights. I also write periodically about food and entertainment. I specialize in African-American history in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and I focus on the history of black women and girls particularly. My first book is a history of black girls, the law, and early segregation from about 1880 to 1920, and I’m also at work on a book about African-Americans and abortion from slavery to 1973, the year of Roe v. Wade. In my past journalistic careers, I was a copy editor, web editor, arts and entertainment writer, and an assistant features editor. I am a scholar and activist who co-founded the only abortion fund (a nonprofit that gives small grants to women who can’t afford their abortions). Though I’m an academic, I pride myself on making history accessible — what I call “history sans footnotes.” I am also a proud black Southerner and write frequently about what Southern identity means in our contemporary moment. But make no mistake: The fact that I hold a PhD (from Duke University) doesn’t mean that I only write about weighty topics. I am an unabashed TV junkie who believes that pop culture is just as important as highbrow “Culture” with the capital “A.” I’m just as likely to want to write about the comeback of the TV show “Justified” as I am about the continuing fallout from Ferguson.
- A commentary on blue-state privilege why it's not helpful to tell folks from Indiana (or any other red state) to just move (RH Reality Check)
- Percy Sutton's forgotten history: How a black New York legend fought for abortion rights (RH Reality Check)
- A think piece on the Chapel Hill triple murder (The American Prospect)
- What the police shooting death of a 12-year-old Cleveland boy has to do with the 1955 killing of Emmett Till (The American Prospect)
- An open letter to (now U.S. Sen.) Thom Tillis about his narrow definition of a "traditional" North Carolinian (The American Prospect)
- How one of reality TV's most "ratchet" shows is putting in real work talking about abortion (Ebony.com)
- A historical book review (American Journalism)