Tyina Steptoe's newest book, "Houston Bound: Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City," examines how the migration of Black East Texans, Creoles of color and ethnic Mexicans affected constructions of race between the 1920s and 1960s in Houston, Texas, which was then one of the most ethnically and racially diverse urban areas in the United States.
"Houston Bound" draws on social and cultural history to show that the racial order of segregated societies was not just shaped by political and legal acts, but also that socio-cultural factors such as religion, language, skin color and music influenced ideas about race, hierarchy and community. Steptoe's migration history also uses music and sound to examine racial complexities, tracing the emergence of Houston's blues and jazz scenes in the 1920s, as well as the hybrid forms of these musical genres that forged shared social spaces and carved out new communities and politics.
Steptoe is currently working on a project that explores how Rhythm and Blues performers Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton and Little Richard subverted and challenged gender norms in the 1950s. She is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Arizona.