The interest and conversation surrounding the behavior, socioeconomic patterns and consumer participation of Black women and girls is long overdue. Since the 1960s, Black women have had an undeniable hand in shaping post-modern American popular culture. From childhood to womanhood, Black women have innovated distinct styles of hair and clothing, made musicians like The Jackson Five, Prince and Beyoncé household names, and continue to shape our culture as consumers, heads of households and leaders in the Civil Rights Movement and Black Lives Matter.
Assistant Professor in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies and African American and Africana Studies at the University of Kentucky, Aria S. Halliday Ph.D., has directed her astute intellect on examining and documenting the importance of Black women’s presence and contributions in American culture.
Her books “Buy Black: How Black Women Transformed U.S. Pop Culture” published by University of Illinois Press in April 2022 and “The Black Girlhood Studies Collection” published by Canadian Scholars in 2019, are invaluable explorations of the impacts, theory and existential experiences of Black women and girls.
The Black Girlhood Studies Collection “brings together emerging and established scholars from North America to discuss what Black girlhood means historically and in the 21st century, and how concepts of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, religion, and nationality inform or affect identities of Black girls beyond school or urban settings.” Halliday does an amazing job of creating a thoughtful and well-researched literary environment that considers Black girls in a world that ignores the deep crevices of their lives and perspectives.
Buy Black “reveals what attitudes inform a contemporary Black sensibility based in representation and consumerism. It also traces the parameters of Black symbolic power, mapping the sites where intraracial ideals of blackness, womanhood, beauty, play, and sexuality meet and mix in consumer and popular culture.”
“There’s still so much that is not documented about Black girls’ and women’s experiences. The research is interesting because it allows me to talk to some of the most interesting people and make sense of US and Caribbean societies through their eyes,” says Halliday in a recent interview with the online site Music Journalism Insider.
Halliday’s courageous and informative concentrations will help shape a new understanding of underrepresented Black women and girls. She has much to offer as a powerful thinker and scholar.
She tells MJI, “Currently, I’m really enjoying exploring research on nostalgia in Black communities, Black girls’ representation in film, and Black women’s cultural production. I’m working on several projects, one that includes listening to a lot of Millie Jackson and examining her life and career in conjunction with more contemporary ‘raunchy’ artists.”
Avid readers and those interested in African American and gender studies will enjoy her books and should anticipate the continuation of her research well into the future.