A group of professors with the Conference on College Composition and Communication want to do away with the requirement that black students learn “white mainstream English” and are, instead, demanding that “Black Language” be recognized as its own language.
As the College Fix reports, the group of professors — Michigan State University Professors April Baker-Bell and Lamar Johnson, Cal State University Fullerton Professor Bonnie Williams-Farrier, Boston University Professor Davena Jackson, Texas Christian University Carmen Kynard, and English scholar Teaira McMurtry — wrote a letter claiming “black language” is linguistically separate from its white “standard” counterpart.
As the country grapples with outward expressions of racism in society and in public policy, the professors argued there should be attention paid to academics and college curriculums to root out other forms of racism.
“We are witnessing institutions and organizations craft statements condemning police brutality and anti-Black racism while ignoring the anti-Black skeletons in their own closets,” the letter reads. “As language and literacy researchers and educators, we acknowledge that the same anti-Black violence toward Black people in the streets across the United States mirrors the anti-Black violence that is going down in these academic streets.”
The letter encourages teachers across the country “not [to] dismiss Black Language simply as a dialect of English, and do not treat it as a static anachronism—it’s not a thing of the past, spoken only by Black people who are positioned in a ‘low’ or ‘working class.’ Recognize it as a language in its own right!”
The professors also included a list of demands in their letter, where they said via the College Fix:
We demand that teachers stop using academic language and standard English as the accepted communicative norm, which reflects white mainstream English.
We demand that teachers stop teaching black students to code-switch! Instead, we must teach black students about anti-black linguistic racism and white linguistic supremacy.
We demand that political discussions and Praxis Center Black Language as teacher-researcher activism for classrooms and communities.
We demand black linguistic consciousness.
We demand that black dispositions are centered in the research and teaching of black language.
Welcome to #BlackLinguisticJusticeWeek!!!
* Yes, we are the same authors of the 2020 CCCC Special Committee for the Statement on Anti-Black Racism and Black Linguistic Justice, Or, Why We Cain't Breathe! that was released yesterday by CCCC.
See today’s demand below. pic.twitter.com/6EhoVhytUp
— Ebonically Speaking (@aprilbakerbell) August 4, 2020
“Socially constructed terms like academic language and standard English are rooted in white supremacy, whiteness, and anti-Blackness and contribute to anti-Black policies (e.g., English only) that are codified and enacted to privilege white linguistic and cultural norms while deeming Black Language inferior,” the letter continued.
This Ain't Another Statement! This is a DEMAND for Black Linguistic Justice! – Conference on College Composition and Communication https://t.co/IqZK9bmtJg
— WI DPI Literacy (@WisDPILit) August 11, 2020
The group claims “academic language and standard English are false and entrenched in notions of white supremacy and whiteness that contribute to anti-Black linguistic racism,” the College Fix reports.
Instead, the group encourages more people be accepting of “black language” and “demand that teachers and researchers decolonize their minds (and/or) language of white supremacy and anti-Black linguistic racism and study the origin theories and sociolinguistic principles that exist about Black Language.”
🚨 🚨 🚨 #BlackLinguisticJusticeWeek ended, but we are launching the Black Language Syllabus in September! Just wait on it….. 🖤✨🖤✨🖤
Music: Black Life by Rashad pic.twitter.com/xaQwY3yLtZ
— Ebonically Speaking (@aprilbakerbell) August 14, 2020