By Briana Whiteside
It all started with Alondra Nelson’s book Body and Soul. Now, 75 entries later, I have covered considerable ground. My writings have become more diverse since I first started blogging in September of 2012.
I have written about various literary works, authors, television shows, and poets. However, my natural hair journey is where I allowed my personal feelings to enter into academic conversations. Natural hair, among black women has become an act of nationalism, as naturals seem to congregate and stand together on issues that surround the politics of hair, and support black owned hair care lines.
My latest project on colorism and beauty has allowed me to speak on issues that seem to be universal to black women. This new task has allowed me to think more critically on things that may seem second nature to us, such as personal style, skin color, and hair textures. I now find myself analyzing various representations of black women on television, and theorizing about how their characters would have varied if they were of lighter or darker skin. I also refer on multiple black feminist texts to see how they are in conversation with 21st century popular culture.
This type of “mind work” at this stage in my academic career has allowed me to write in various modes and reach a really diverse audience. To capture an audience and hold their attention for 13 sentences or less seemed daunting at first, now it has shaped my writing and polished my critical thinking skills. Blogging has helped me become more aware of my voice in academia, and has helped me identify where I enter the conversation.
Briana Whiteside is a graduate student in English at SIUE and a contributing writer for the Cultural Front.