In my research I qualitatively analyze the intersections of language, identity, and power in face-to-face and mediated contexts. I explore race, gender, humor, activism, social media discourse, and institutional discourses in higher education, and I am particularly focused on the language, culture, and experiences of Black people in the U.S. I bring together theories and methods from fields including sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, discourse studies, media studies, sociology, education, and Black Studies.

Below is a selection of publications and research talks. A complete list of theses, publications, research presentations, and works-in-progress can be found on my CV.

Social media discourse

I’ve analyzed Vine racial comedy as a platform-specific genre of African American humor, and I continue to analyze the lasting impact of Vine’s multimodal discourse practices since its closure. I theorized the concept of everyday online activism based on the discursive practices of Black Tumblr users and have explored how others participate in this phenomenon on Tumblr and Twitter. I’m also broadly interested in how social media technologies shape language and interaction, including linguistic innovations in response to content moderation policies.

“Vine Racial Comedy as Anti-Hegemonic Humor: Linguistic Performance and Generic Innovation,” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 29(1), 27-49 (2019)

“Blackout, Black Excellence, Black Power: Strategies of Everyday Online Activism on Black Tumblr.” In Allison McCracken, Alexander Cho, Louisa Stein and Indira Neill Hoch (eds.), a tumblr book: platform and cultures, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press (2020)

“They edited out her nip nops”: Linguistic Innovation as Textual Censorship Avoidance on TikTok,” Linguistic Society of America, 2022 (poster and supplementary materials can be viewed here)

Language, race, and gender

I examine how racialized and gendered identities – and ideologies about them – are articulated through discourse in both online and offline contexts. I’ve explored how language can be used to construct, challenge, and reimagine the relationship between race, gender, and other social identities and the power structures that shape them.

My current research focuses on discursive practices of “Black TikTok,” including how diverse linguistic repertoires, cultural backgrounds, identities, and ideologies among Black people are represented by the digital community.

I’ve analyzed how social media users on Tumblr, Twitter, and TikTok have constructed humorously derogatory representations of the “straight white boy” as a critique of race, gender, and class privilege and hegemonic social power. In collaboration with my UCSB colleague Joy Garza, I’ve analyzed how Asian American comedian Ali Wong uses African American English features in her stand-up to challenge racialized and gendered ideologies about women comics and Asian women.

“Expanding Notions of “Black Language” through Representations of Black Linguistic Diversity on TikTok.” Department of Anthropology & Linguistics Program, University of South Carolina, 2023

“The Discursive Construction of ‘Straight White Boys’ on Social Media as Social Critique,” Department of English, West Chester University, 2021

“Appropriation of African American English and the Construction of Asian American Identity in Ali Wong’s Baby Cobra,” Linguistic Society of America, 2021

Diversity discourses in U.S. higher education

My dissertation, “Competing Discourses of Diversity and Inclusion: Institutional Rhetoric and Graduate Student Narratives at Two Minority Serving Institutions,” was motivated by my experiences as a Black woman in U.S. higher education. I analyzed diversity discourses, ideologies, and practices in U.S. colleges and universities and their impacts on the experiences of graduate students of color.  I examined how conceptualizations of diversity were discursively constructed and operationalized at two MSIs and I analyzed university websites as texts that (re)produce ideologies and reflect both hegemonic and institution-specific understandings of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

You can view the abstract and table of contents, and the full dissertation is available open access through University of California’s escholarship repository.

“Narrative Critiques of DEI by Graduate Students of Color at a Historically White Minority Serving Institution.” Department of Hispanic Studies, University of California, Riverside, 2022

“Diversity Discourse on University Websites: How It Can Uphold the Racial Status Quo,” National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, 2021

“Language and Race in Higher Education: Discourses of Diversity in the U.S. Academy,” Department of English, Boise State University, 2021


Drawing on both humanities and social science approaches to data collection and analysis, I use a variety of qualitative methods in my research, including:

  • Multimodal discourse analysis
  • Semiotic analysis
  • Online ethnography
  • Institutional ethnography
  • Ethnographic and semi-structured interviews
  • Focus groups

Conducting digital ethnography on social media” [Video]. SAGE Research Methods.

“Going Virtual: Linguistic Anthropological Methods in Online Contexts,” roundtable in the Raising Our Voices series, hosted by the American Anthropological Association

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