Analysis of diversity in the media
Williams' research focuses on the ways in which marginalized people are portrayed in the media and how those images are connected to systems of power and oppression. She's presented her work at conferences including AEJMC and SXSW Interactive.
Intersectionality and the internet
Williams is interested in ways in which people of color use social media and how their use is causing important cultural and political shifts. She's also interested in social television, especially black social TV, and how gender, race, class and sexual identity are portrayed in reality television.
Male Mammies: A Social-Comparison Perspective on How Exaggeratedly Overweight Media Portrayals of Madea, Rasputia, and Big Momma Affect How Black Women Feel About Themselves
This qualitative project used in-depth interviews with 36 Black women, ages 18 to 59, to explore feelings about black men portraying overweight black women in films (Madea, Big Momma, Rasputia). Study published in Mass Communication and Society.
Digital Defense: Black Feminists Resist Violence With Hashtag Activism
Black feminists use digital activism as a tool for social justice. This commentary in Feminist Media Studies explains how the mainstream media missed stories of violence against black women and why digital activism is necessary. This commentary also highlights examples of black feminists' digital activism which raised awareness of incidents and issues that got little mainstream media coverage.
#SayHerName: using digital activism to document violence against black women
The Black Lives Matter movement and mobile technology forced the nation to pay attention to police brutality against black people. Most mainstream news coverage focused on the brutality cisgender black men experience. This commentary recognizes how the #SayHerName hashtag acknowledges police brutality against black transgender and cisgender women that are absent in mainstream media.
Williams is the principal investigator of a study about the ways in which videos and photos of police brutality against black people that circulate on social media affect black millennials.
Social media and social justice
We are conducting in-depth interviews with young black people ages 18-24 to learn directly from them how seeing these images affected them during their formative years.