In third grade, minutes after learning what a “journalist” was at Career Day, I inexplicably declared that I would become one. And then, years later, in 1995, I graduated form Barnard College and got my first job at Vibe magazine.

Covering celebrities and pop culture was great at Vibe—and later for Rolling Stone, Essence, L’Uomo Vogue, Glamour and other magazines. But after awhile, I realized that being a journalist didn’t have to just mean writing about other people. I could also focus on what was important to me and my life. Out of that realization came my books. Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America (St. Martin’s Press, 2001) was written with Lori Tharps and is a social history on all things African-American and hair. And in 2005, Akiba Solomon and I co-edited Naked: Black Women Bare All on Their Hair, Skin, Hips, Lips and Other Parts (Perigee/Penguin), an anthology of Black women talking about their love, hate and everything in between relationship with their bodies.

I’ve also begun writing fiction—another thing I first tried back in 3rd grade. In 2015, my first children’s book came out, Yani & Shani’s Rainy Day (Kifani Press; co-written with Shani Saxon-Parrish). I’m currently completing my first novel.