“…understanding racism will [not] necessarily make us non-racist or even anti-racist…Race, like sex, is sticky, it sticks to us…even when we think we are beyond it. Beginning to live with that stickiness, to think it, to feel it, do it, is about creating a space to deal with the effects of racism.”Sara Ahmed, “The Nonperformativity of Antiracism,” 2004
“...whether it is acknowledged or not, race is present in the classroom: our behaviors as teachers stem from the presence of race, and our students similarly operate within race structures.”Dae-Joong Kim and Bobbi Olsen, “Deconstructing Whiteliness in the Globalized Classroom,” 2016
“There is no neutrality in the racism struggle…The opposite of ‘racist’ isn’t ‘not racist’. It’s antiracist….The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it — and then dismantle it…[n]ot be frozen into inaction.”Ibram X Kendi, How to be an Antiracist, 2019
To be antiracist is to actively work to dismantle racism. An antiracist pedagogy, then, is one that actively works to recognize and dismantle racist ideas and practices in the educational space. It requires being “color-attentive, instead of color-blind” (Pimentel, “The Myth of the Colorblind Writing Classroom,” 139), acknowledging “the structuring presence of race” and racism in our classrooms, as well as working to change the ways we teach in order foster more liberatory learning environments.
In the composition classroom an antiracist approach can involve critically reflecting upon and re-working many of ways we teach writing, from the ways we assess writing and provide feedback to students, to the kinds of writing assignments we ask them to complete, to the language standards we authorize, to the readings we use, to the way we understand and mobilize our own identities in the classroom space. Continually refiguring these teaching practices towards antiracism, as Ahmed articulates it, puts us in a sticky space, one that is not easy to just move past or through. As Octavio Pimentel, Charise Pimentel and John Dean note, “Antiracist pedagogies are never simple or complete. Rather, writing instructors must be intentionally reflective on their pedagogical practices and constantly adjust their practices to address newly realized forms of whiteness and/or racism” (“The Myth of the Colorblind Writing Classroom,” 120).
To encourage this kind of reflection and adjustment, this site is designed to be a place where theory and practice meet, helping English 110 instructors envision what an antiracist pedagogy might look in our classrooms at UD. Additionally, these resources offer some potential avenues for implementing the Composition Program’s new goal and practice (“use writing as an act of engaged citizenship; identify and consider the values that all writers bring to their work”). The site brings together existing research on antiracist pedagogy with the concrete practices and materials of our own E110 instructors. The site is not meant to be a comprehensive overview of all possible ways to be antiracist in your pedagogy; nor is it meant to be formulaic, prescriptive or pretend that there is only one way to do this work. Given the situatedness of knowledge and our own intersectional identities as instructors, as well as the differently composed classrooms we encounter from semester to semester or section to section, it does not seem that there could ever be just one way to do this work; the practice must emerge in dialogue with the situation. Rather, what we have shared here are some materials and ideas to hopefully inspire dialogue, collaboration, or reflection about how you might do this work in your own E110 classrooms.
We have divided the site into sections in which you will see assignments, course polices, and syllabi from instructors, briefly contextualized within larger bodies of research that help explain and understand the antiracist nature of these interventions. We have also included a list of reading resources and a place for self-work and reflection that can be done outside the classroom to better equip you to be an antiracist in the classroom space. This site is just the tip of the iceberg; a much larger list of resources — many of which informed the making of this site — has been compiled by Jessica Edwards and Brett Seekford in the UD English Teaching Race CANVAS site. Please do check that out (you can email Dr. Edwards for access to the site if you don’t already have it).
The following instructors contributed their materials and input to this site: Nicolette Bragg, Kathleen Lyons, Shailen Mishra, Eric Morel, Tiffany Probasco, Brett Seekford, Brooke Stanley, Sarah Wasserman, and Délice Williams. All instructors who have contributed work are comfortable with you using their language in your own materials, although they would appreciate attribution.
The site was co-curated by Victoria Aquilone and Jessica Jones for the Composition Program in the Fall of 2020.
Do you have material you think might be useful to share? We welcome continued contributions to this site, and feedback on it through this link.