Afterword: Narratives that Determine Writers and Social Justice Writing Center Work
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Recently, I took over as my campus’ writing center director. I’ll be honest. I haven’t worked in a writing center since I was a graduate student at Oregon State (that was in the early 90s). I have a lot to learn. While I’ve helped assess and review the writing center at Fresno State and the one I’m currently directing, I haven’t read carefully in the literature for two decades. This summer has been one of rereading the literature on writing centers, and reading newer scholarship (to me). When I left writing centers and its scholarship in the early 90s, the discussions were about encouraging writers to take control of the consultation, to find ways to have them read and write on their drafts. It was about collaboration, agency-building, and student control. I remember working hard to find ways to be collaborators, not teachers, to have the writer read and mark on her draft. But we never talked about race or racism in writing center practices, never discussed the ways whiteness and whiteliness saturated writing centers and their practices. While in 2007 Geller, Eodice, Condon, Carroll, and Boquet identify the limited ways that writing center training texts address race and racism, the discussions I find in the literature today are ones that at least approach such concerns. These more recent discussions are ones about multilingual writers, diversity in writing centers, and the complexities around working alongside the growing numbers of international writers in U.S. colleges and universities. Many of these questions were initiated by Nancy Grimm in 1999, with other voices contributing important ideas, such as Victor Villanueva’s on the new racism, Paul Kei Matsuda’s on “the myth of linguistic homogeneity,” Vershawn Ashanti Young’s on “codemeshing,” Ben Rafoth’s on engaging with multilingual writers in writing centers, and of course, Greenfield and Rowan’s important 2011 collection, Writing Centers and the New Racism. But as Geller et al. discuss, there still is much work to be done around identifying white privilege and, I’ll add, white language privilege, in writing center practices.