Linguistic Justice

In their July 2020 CCCC statement on Anti-Black Racism and Black Linguistic Justice - featured above in short form, and in longer form here, scholars April Baker-Bell, Bonnie J Williams-Farrier, Davena Jackson, Lamar Johnson, Carmen Kynard, and Teaira McMurty call for Black Linguistic Justice. Drawing on their own and other research which signals the connection between linguistic and racial identity, they argue that to ask students to erase or devalue their language is to ask them to erase or devalue that part of their identity. They call for us to move away from "respectability language pedagogies that require Black students to project a white middle class identity to avoid antiBlackness, especially when they are growing up amidst Black liberation movements like BLM" (April Baker-Bell, "We Been Knowin", 8) They  challenge many common-place practices in composition classrooms, such as teaching students to code-switch, arguing instead for what Vershawn Ashanti Young has theorized as "code-meshing": "an alternative vision of language...one that offers the 'disempowered' a more egalitarian path into Standard English, a route that integrates academic English with their own dialects and that simultaneously seeks to end discrimination" (Other People's English: Code-Meshing, Code-Switching, and African American Literacy, 56). These scholars ask us to think of what it might look like break the standard of teaching Standard Academic English as the most valid mode of communication, instead valorizing multiple Englishes as equal in our writing classrooms. In the words of April Baker-Bell, "What is the purpose of a language education if it is cannot be used for various sorts of freedom or to save students' lives?" (7)
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