i am a second generation Black chicagoan and phd student in the african american studies department at uc berkeley. my doctoral research explores the nexus of race, class, and gender through an interrogation of the value of Black, male labor within a post-industrial context in peri-urban cities. focusing on gary, indiana—the former steel capital of the united states in the wake of the great recession of 2008—my work investigates how Black working-class men thrive and build community within hyper-masculine spaces of socioeconomic marginalization. i also examine visual ethnographic practices that challenge the narrow representations of Blackness in the calumet region within contemporary media discourse. before berkeley, i graduated cum laude from the university of massachusetts, amherst with a bachelor's degree in anthropology.
i am the principal photographer for Black chicagoland is... utilizing visual ethnography through a multi-modal approach to thicken the narrow media representations of Black life across the chicago metropolitan area. i have worked as an event photographer for sfmoma, mount holyoke college, and uc berkeley. i am also a musician, producer, and composer who is part of the eclectic grammy certified production duo tensei with chris kramer. tensei's music influences, include: hip hop, house, soul, jazz, "library music," and electronic music resulting in the genre bending compositions that fuse our many disparate styles. while steeped in the tradition of classic sample based hip-hop production, we do not rely on records for samples. we play and compose most musical parts with real and digital instruments and are entirely self-taught. we have worked with j ivy, bilal, georgia anne muldrow, brandee younger, and makaya mccraven. our music has also been featured on the tv show south side on hbo max and the blacklist on nbc. to check out our music on spotify, click here. i also produced the chicago hip hop classic, "dennehy" by serengeti and work as a solo producer, writer, and composer with sony | kpm.
i am a proud third generation Black chicagoan, former music journalist, phd candidate, and berkeley Black geographies fellow at uc berkeley in the geography department. my research and creative work is shaped by the role geography plays in Black identity formation (geographic Blackness) and the everyday rhythms of Black urban, suburban, and regional life (geographic scales). i draw from racialized forms of auditory placemaking or the ways Black people produce space and place through music and sound across chicagoland. i am the the author of the Black geographies library guide, founder of the Black geographies graduate student conference, chair of the Black geosonicologies research group with the center for race and gender at uc berkeley, and i recently published "Black scale: constructing "haunted" overpasses as relational methodologies" with robert moeller in the professional geographer.
before matriculating at uc berkeley, i graduated summa cum laude and phi beta kappa from mount holyoke college with a bachelor's degree in Black geographies. i am the first person to graduate with this degree. i also wrote an award winning honors thesis entitled: still sweatin'...mapping house and Black bodies: place-making in the Black house music and cultural community of chicago. my thesis explored the placemaking practices of the Black house community in chicago and the ways they exerted their sociogeographic power and (re)claimed space|place through the formation of house music, house culture, and what i termed, "house geographies." before returning to academia after a 17 year absence, i worked as a music journalist under the name arasia magnetic. i served as the executive editor of the popular hip hop blog kevingnottingham.com and as a freelance writer for hip hop dx, potholes in my blog, the chicago defender, soul train, and other websites. i have interviewed aretha franklin, common, outkast, chaka khan, bob james, and many other artists.
i am a nerdy weirdo who adores my husband, i'm obsessed with the tv show new girl, the sims, and geography, i love animals, and historical dramas about dysfunctional rich people is my jam. my late grandfather is my favorite conversationalist, my best friend is a beagle named whitney, and my mother is the most divine human i know. i am also rooting for everybody Black, especially Black women, Black queer folks, the Black house kids, and Black chicagoans.
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