Research

I take a fairly broad approach to how I conceptualize and think about my work.  Presently, my interest is investigating the domains in which members of underrepresented groups (i.e., racial/ethnic minorities, women, sexual minorities, etc.) may compromise, or fulfill, their need for authenticity, in light of societal or organizational expectations to assimilate.  Moreover, I study the downstream consequences, both positive and negative, of engaging in cultural self-expression vs. assimilating to norms of the dominant group.  Below, I briefly highlight some research areas where I’m presently doing work with collaborators (although this isn’t intended to be exhaustive).

NATURAL HAIRSTYLES

Sociohistorically, hair has played an important role in Black culture and White-Black race relations.  Given hair is an important dimension of self-expression, and our hair texture and hairstyles may partially signal our identity, I argue that hair may act as a medium for ameliorating or exacerbating inequality.  In this research stream, I seek to understand how distinctive hairstyles that accentuate Black identity (like afros and dreadlocks) may play a broader role in understanding how inequality is produced and sustained, both for people of African descent and other marginalized groups in American society.

INTERGROUP RELATIONS & CREATIVITY

I theorize about creativity as one form of self-expression that requires both ingenuity and boldness.   On the one hand, thoughtfulness and insight yield more creative outputs.  On the other hand, novel ideas can be praised or ridiculed, making creativity a bit of a risky proposition. These considerations may be especially true for members of underrepresented groups; indeed, they may feel they have unique creative insights but are deterred from pursuing or sharing these insights because of the barriers they anticipate to doing so.  In this research stream, I seek to understand how intergroup dynamics influence various stages of the creativity process, particularly for members of minority groups.

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