As I was reading this weeks selections I could not help but think of a close friend, Mary-rose, of mine who teaches middle school English. (I’ll send these articles to her. I dunno if she’ll read em but worth a try) She’s a stickler for the grammatical rules that Vershawn Ashanti Young talks about in his article. I’m afraid that she would be more likely to agree with Stanley Fish than with Young but I cant blame her for this , she was taught this way. To work and teach within these lines that are considered Standard English. (I am in no way saying she’s a bad teacher for this either, i wanna make that clear. Shes doing something I could neva. Teach. and doing it pretty well IMO)
The narrow, prescriptive lens be messin writers and readers all the way up, cuz we all been taught to respect the dominant way to write, even if we dont, cant, or wont ever write that one way ourselves. That be hegemony. Internalized oppression. Linguistic self-hate.
I had a little trouble reading Youngs article, so instead of reading it in my head like I do with all academic writings, I decided to read it out loud and treat it more like a conversation. It felt as if I was talking informally with friends but with topics that are heavier and reserved for academic settings. Anyway, I essentially turned his article into a highlighter coloring book. If I were to place all the quotes in this post I’d essentially be quoting entire pages, so ill limit it to the ones that I found important. “Fish himself acquiesce to this linguistic prejudice when he come saying that people make theyselves targets for racism if and when they dont write and speak like he do”(Young 110). I love that this point was brought up, cause its Victim blaming 101. Oh you were denied _____ because your English is not academic, developed, standard, or refined enough. as Young says in the next lines Black English and its user don’t oppress themselves, but its the negative connotation that Black English has been given.
“A whole lot of folk could be writin and speakin real, real smart if Fish and others stop using one prescriptive, foot-long ruler to measure the language of peeps who use a yard stick when they communicate”(Young 112). I love love love love this quote. When I came across it I had to stop reading cause it felt as if a brick of realization hit my head. If we only change our perspective, our “standard” English lens then we can teach various cultural perspective, dialects etc. It sounds so simple to do, but as the phrase goes…easier said than done.
I want to point out that April Baker-Bell’s article We Been Knowin: Toward an Antiracist Language & Literacy Education did a wonderful job of giving its reader a taste of the bigger picture in just half a page.
We Been Knowin also signifies that communities of color, especially women of color, queer and trans people, people with disabilities, and people living in poverty BEEN knowin what has and has not worked. Our lived experiences have continually taught us how to think about freedom and collective liberation, and have laid the foundation for what must be done today. Though this article will reflect Black people’s epistemologies and language and literacy practices, I want to point out that systems of oppression that perpetuate anti-blackness are interconnected with and cannot be separated from how other communities of color experience racism, systemic injustices, and inequities. Indeed, sexism, classism, ableism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and other forms of oppression do not serve our collective liberation. This complexity suggests that an antiracist language and literacy education has to be intersectional.
This was a fantastic point to preface her article with. As I read the article, I not only thought about the injustices, racism, and anti-blackness surrounding language but how these systems of linguistic oppression also effect other communities. As Baker-Bell mentions above women of color, the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, and people in poverty. (Also correct me if I’m wrong but I’m sure this is the only article so far to mention people with disabilities.) On her second page she has already made it clear the injustice surrounding language effect more than one community, and that this is not only a issue for user of Black-English, but for everyone who is oppressed.
If you, for some reason, didn’t think Baker-Bell started off on the right foot then her next section Antiracist Critical Media Literacies sure was the right one. (second right foot?) The way media outlets use language for certain event is a clear indication of the necessity for Critical Media Literacies but especially antiracist ones. Living in this era of almost weekly mass shootings its difficult NOT to see the racist depictions by the media. How Baker-Bell mentions that Trayvon Martin, a victim, is criminalized while his murderer is portrayed as a “upstanding positive” person”. How white perpetrator are depicted by the media as Lone wolves or as having problems with mental health. It’s why antiracist critical media literacies are so important to teach, and understand. Educators need to adopt a “language that explicitly names and richly captures the types of linguistic oppression that is uniquely experienced and endured by Black Language-speakers”(Baker-Bell 7).
So I have to admit that I messed up on this weeks reading for Bad Ideas About Writing. We were assigned “African American Language is Not Good English” by Jennifer M. Cunningham BUT I mistakenly read the previous chapter “There is One Correct Way of Writing and Speaking” by Anjali Pattanayak. Once I realized this, I went back and read the assigned chapter. However, I believe these two chapter work wonderfully together and I urge everyone to read it.
“In the writing classroom, teachers can help students navigate Standard American English expectations while not suggesting a linguistic hierarchy. By speaking about language choices in terms of difference rather than deficiency and in relation to academic and nonacademic conventions, we can value both (or any) languages”(Cunningham 91). Cunningham illustrated her ideas extremely well in this quote. Once we rid ourselves and classrooms of this linguistic hierarchies we will take the steps to creating a proper multicultural, multilinguistic pedagogies.