A Multi-Dimensional Pedagogy for Racial Justice in Writing Centers
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This article has its origins in relationship: in a group of writing teachers/tutors all similarly committed to racial justice talking with each other about how those commitments become manifest and are made actionable in our everyday lives. Our conversations have informed, grown out of, and occurred alongside the ongoing work of the IWCA (International Writing Centers Association) and MWCA (Midwest Writing Centers Association) Special Interest Groups on Antiracism Activism. Victor Villanueva’s 2005 keynote address and subsequent publication in The Writing Center Journal have catalyzed the work of the SIGs as well as revived in writing centers calls for students’ linguistic and cultural rights—calls stretching back to the 1950’s debates that led to the CCCC’s crucial resolution “Students’ Right to Their Own Language” in 1974 and no fewer than thirty resolutions on diversity passed by the NCTE since 1970.1 Since Villanueva’s 2005 address, we have seen frequent discussions on writing center listservs; a number of conference presentations, articles, and chapters on anti-racism in writing centers (e.g., Condon; Dees, Godbee, and Ozias; Geller, et al.); and recent book-length manuscripts, including Harry C. Denny’s Facing the Center (2010), Laura Greenfield and Karen Rowan’s edited collection Writing Centers and the New Racism (2011), and Frankie Condon’s I Hope I Join the Band (2012). We reference this history and the growing literature in writing centers to illustrate that this article and our own attempts at pedagogical intervention occur within a much longer and larger disciplinary conversation in the field of composition and rhetoric. Together, the aforementioned resolutions and scholarship on students’ linguistic and cultural rights not only counter overt racism and related language discrimination, but also begin the hard work of addressing implicit, institutionalized, and (inter)nationalized racism, which are often more difficult to identify and intervene into.