Book Review: Mixed Race Hollywood

In the wake of “Obama-mania,” conventional wisdom about racial identity is facing a set of new and unique challenges. It is therefore imperative for scholars and industry professionals to reflect upon multiracial identification, representation, past and post-racial politics as they pertain to art and to life.

How It's Done: Using "Hitch" to Reduce Uncertainty

I developed an original classroom activity to apply Uncertainty Reduction Theory to initial relationship development using "Hitch." Using my "Uncertainty Reduction Strategies" worksheet to screen a scene between the film's protagonists (played by Eva Mendez and Will Smith), students discover that initiating interpersonal relationships is both rule-governed and imaginative.

Mixed Messenger: Barack Obama & Post-Racial Politics

The election of President Barack Hussein Obama marks an important milestone in United States racial politics. Many cultural critics and opinion leaders argue that Obama’s popularity and position represent post-racial accomplishments for the nation.

Dissertation: Impurely Raced // Purely Erased

This dissertation won NCA's 2009 and 2010 Outstanding Dissertation Awards.

This dissertation, Impurely Raced // Purely Erased: Toward a Rhetorical Theory of (Bi)Racial Passing, develops a theory about the interrelations between mixed race identification and passing as they pertain to the field of rhetoric and to United States slavery and segregation settings. I introduce the concept of (bi)racial passing to argue that passing is a form of rhetoric that identifies and represents passers intersectionally via synecdoche.

A Different Kind of Professor

In this chapter I share how I experience my multiracial and gendered identity on a day-to-day basis in the academy. I explain the development and expression of my own standpoint along with some blatant and latent forms of discrimination I've faced. I then introduce some creative ways I've found to succeed by questioning the academic environment and focusing on creativity, change, and the power of changing demographics. I conclude by expressing my standpoint of what it means to be a different kind of professor.

Close to the Edge: The Representational Tactics of Eminem

This manuscript examines Marshall Bruce Mathers III, known both as Eminem and Slim Shady, as he employs pedestrian speech acts to walk the edge between “here and there.” Walking is the discursive process through which a subject is constituted by the relationship it creates with the Other. de Certeau outlines three stages through which this process occurs: (1) appropriation, in which the speaker acquires the language of a given culture to bear the burden of his/her own experience; (2) a “spatial acting-out of the place,” through which the speaker airs his/her position with relation to the language; and (3) allocution, through which the speaker posits the Other as the reference point for the speaker’s own subjectivity and negotiates the relationship between the two positions (97-98). Eminem’s commercial success is examined in terms of these three stages as a method for understanding his representative strategy and his continued commercial success in a popular music as a transracial medium.

Have a Little Faith: Religious Visions in Prison Break

In this chapter I use Fantasy Theme Criticism to look at Prison Break in order to uncover the ways in which its mantra, “have a little faith,” is both encoded and translated into Christian spiritual and religious visions for the characters’ lives.

A Rhetorical Response to Hurricane Katrina

In this piece I look at Hurricane Katrina through the lens of rhetoric. I explore how, in press coverage, interviews and resident testimonials, symbols can be used to state and to counter-state, to create suspense and surprise, to reveal more than one or even two sides to any story. Key questions asked include: How do catastrophic and ineffable events, whether considered acts of God or acts of man, become controversies contested on the symbolic level? How can rhetoric be mobilized to persuade disparate communities/audiences to act according to a shared vision of the common good? And, how is humanity argued for in a contentious climate? I argue that rhetorical theory allows us to go about an exploration of the dialectical tensions that arise among conflicting communities as they argue from their own linguistic and symbolic systems. It can reveal the very real costs of resisting or identifying with competing notions of universality and community as they are used to argue for humanity. I share my hope that we can learn to reconsider the effects of submerged particularities within unifying terms which have been historically deployed in national and international rhetorics of reconstruction.

In Search of a "Singular I:" A Structurational Analysis of Passing

This article explores the cultural, social, and communicative challenges inherent in the phenomenon of black-to-white racial passing in the United States among upwardly mobile, heterosexual, bi-racial men in the early twentieth century. Specifically, it applies Giddens’s Theory of Structuration to legal precedent and literature in order to describe why and explain how passers severed social relations with black American communities in general and, in many instances, with their black families in particular. This analysis of passing on macro, meso, and micro levels ultimately calls the ideological and epistemological foundations of race itself into question.

Voices Underground: Hip Hop as Black Rhetoric

...presented at USC's Norman Lear Center's Popular Music Project

In this article I use metaphoric criticism as a framework for a content analysis of underground hip hop lyrics. Findings suggest that form equals argument: that meaning and identity reside in no one place, but reappear often on the surface of quotidian experience.