I am currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Claremont McKenna College. Previously I was a fellow at the Luskin Center for History and Policy and lecturer in the Departments of History and African American Studies at UCLA. Before that I was the Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. I earned my PhD in American Studies and Ethnicity from the University of Southern California.
My research focuses on the interconnection between social movements, public policy, and political economy in post-1865 U.S. history. My fields of interest include African American Studies, civil rights, policing and imprisonment, history of capitalism, working-class history, U.S. and the world, and fiscal and monetary policy. In general, all my research is about gender, race, class, and power.
My book manuscript, Fearing Inflation, Inflating Fears: The Civil Rights Struggle for Full Employment and the Rise of the Carceral State, 1929-1986, is under contract with University of North Carolina Press for their Justice, Power and Politics series. It describes the politics and economics of unemployment and the efforts win a federal governmental job guarantee and how this struggle impacted the ascent of of mass incarceration.
My article, “‘This Nation Has Never Honestly Dealt with the Question of a Peacetime Economy’: Coretta Scott King and the Struggle for a Nonviolent Economy in the 1970s,” was awarded 2017 Maria Stewart Prize for the best journal article from the African American Intellectual History Society. In addition, I often write for academic, policy, and popular audiences.
I am also working two new book projects. The first—There Were Alternatives: Working Class Resistance to Racism and Neoliberalism—is a linked set of biographies of leading activists who worked in, alongside, and sometimes against trade unions to resist the impacts of neoliberalism. It investigates the work of Coretta Scott King and the Full Employment Action Council; Cleveland Robinson and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; James Haughton and the Harlem Unemployment Center and Fight Back; and Jerry Tucker and the United Auto Workers New Directions movement.
The second examines the history of money through the lens of racial capitalism. Tentatively titled Making Money: Racial Capitalism from the Gold Standard to the Dollar Standard, this project explores the labor processes behind the history of money. I situate the history of the international gold standard alongside that of gold miners in South Africa and elsewhere to show how the work of gold miners was integral to international trade in the late 19th Century and after. I then describe the struggles to create monetary stability and faith in fiat currencies in the mid-twentieth century and after. In so doing, I inquire into the politics of central bank independence and what role this has played in leading central banks to prioritize inflation containment above employment, and how central bank independence has enabled U.S. Treasury securities to serve as a key source of portfolio stability for investors throughout the world.
I also co-host and produce Who Makes Cents?: A History of Capitalism Podcast with Betsy Beasley.