Questions for the author, College alumna, and SSA assistant professor.
What surprising job have you had in the past?
When I was younger, I worked at the legendary ice cream parlor Margie’s Candies, up on Armitage and Western near where I grew up. I also worked at a call center for a while. I was really good at politely reading a script to people over the phone.
What do you hate that everyone else loves?
I don’t hate cats, but I’m terribly, devastatingly allergic to them, so just the thought of being around them makes me anxious.
What do you love that everyone else hates?
Grits with butter and sugar. This makes me an oppressed minority in my community, and I don’t care.
What’s your least useful talent?
I do a really good imitation of Lumpy Space Princess from Adventure Time as well as a pretty good Princess Peach.
What was the last book you finished?
White Negroes by UChicago graduate student Lauren Jackson. I was asked to write a blurb for it. It’s going to spur some good conversations when it comes out.
What advice would you give to a brand-new Maroon?
Chicago has 77 neighborhoods. Pick one, look up a restaurant or bookstore to check out, and go there without using a ride-share.
What book—or other work or idea—do you relish teaching?
I absolutely love teaching about Frederick Douglass. Any class I teach about education begins with the excerpt from his autobiography where he talks about learning to read and write while enslaved. I think it’s an important way to begin a conversation about what education represents for people.
What book changed your life?
Blacks, the collection of Gwendolyn Brooks’s poems.
What was the last book you put down before you finished it?
I really wish I could tell you that because it was a widely lauded book that was just terrible, and I was so disappointed. But that would cause writer drama! But oh, it was bad. I’m still bummed about it.
Tell us the best piece of advice you’ve received—or the worst.
“Protect your byline.” My friend and the Atlantic writer Vann Newkirk says that, and I think it applies to everything, writing and otherwise. Always think carefully about what it means to attach your name to something, because your name is all you have.