DEGREES: B.A. in sociology; graduate certificate in women’s studies, the Graduate Consortium in Women’s Studies at Radcliffe College, Harvard University; Ph.D. in sociology, specializing in race, American immigration, social inequality, and social policy, Northeastern University
JOB TITLES: Sociologist and social research consultant; author; senior lecturer, Northeastern University College of Professional Studies
FAVORITE TRINITY MEMORY: Being an active member of several student organizations, including Imani (formerly Pan-African Alliance) and TCBWO, as well as a DJ for WRTC. Through these student organizations, I was fortunate to meet influential scholar-activists, such as Angela Y. Davis, close friends, and my husband, Damian Wilmot ’97, with whom I have two children.
What do you enjoy most about teaching? I enjoy helping my students gain awareness of and appreciation for the everyday impacts U.S. race, class, gender, and immigration policies have on local communities and how they can be a part of the solutions that improve social conditions for all. I make sociology come alive for my students by encouraging them to develop the capacity to use what C. Wright Mills calls their “sociological imagination” when making the distinctive link between private ordeals and public policies.
What does your research involve? My work as a sociologist and social research consultant is interdisciplinary and highlights local and national policy debates on race, education, immigration, housing, health and human services, and criminal justice. Often I am engaged in projects that involve working closely with executive directors, policy analysts, social entrepreneurs, and community advocates and their efforts to remediate social inequality in urban areas. My work as an author extends my social research but in a more personal way. My books, Stories of Identity among Black, Middle Class, Second Generation Caribbeans: We, Too, Sing America (2017) and Creating Black Caribbean Ethnic Identity (2010), use ethnography and narratives as a platform intended to empower marginalized and historically disenfranchised communities to tell their own stories about their experiences challenging structures of oppression while traversing public and private spaces.
Why do you think your work is particularly important in today’s world? I view my teaching and scholarship as a form of social activism, where the research itself can guide social action. My work also edifies the voices and perspectives that are often rendered invisible from public conversations about inequality. I have found both teaching and scholarship build public awareness of injustices that exist across communities to bring us all closer to dismantle the systems that serve to privilege some at the expense of subjugating others.
How did your experience at Trinity help prepare you for all you do now? While many experiences at Trinity helped me to learn academically and grow personally, there are two in particular that influenced me to become the scholar-activist I am today. First, my internship at Saint Francis Hospital’s Center for Sexually and Physically Abused Children in Hartford sparked my “sociological imagination” and gave me my first insight into the ways sociologists can effectively marry social research and social justice to directly impact and enhance the life chances of others. Second, I conducted research for my honor’s thesis during a summer-abroad research project, co-sponsored by Brandeis University and Trinity College’s Sociology Department. With the support and guidance of Professors Stephen Valocchi and Johnny E. Williams, I applied for and was awarded a $10,000 research and travel grant from Trinity’s President’s Office to travel to Grenada, West Indies, to conduct research on the impacts race, gender, and immigration have on Caribbean child-rearing practices. The experience confirmed for me that I enjoyed conducting social research and working with communities and that being a scholar-activist is one of the many important ways I can contribute to the positive social change I want to see in the world.
What was the most memorable course you took at Trinity? Professor Valocchi’s sociology of social movements course encouraged me to consider how and why social change happens and what impact social movements and social policy may have. The relevance of his course proved useful to me years later when I was a research assistant at the (former) Radcliffe Public Policy Center at Harvard University working on a project related to workforce development policies and their impact on women and families.