Not White Supremacist Preparation, but Linguistic Reparations
So I woke up last night at about 1:30 am. I was dreaming about students, adults, and rooms, and a university. I was making arguments and talking with all these students, who were also writing teachers. They were leaving and coming into rooms. I was leaving and coming into rooms.
Someone asked me about preparation, about how first-year writing courses prepare students for their tomorrows. How do we prepare students if we are doing all this antiracist stuff, if we don't have our standards, our rigor?
At one point, in response to these questions, I said: "It ain't about preparation. It's about linguistic reparations. Our work should be about giving back, about making linguistic reparations."
I woke up saying not White supremacist preparation, but linguistic reparations.
I was wide awake at this point. And I wondered, what would linguistic reparations look like? What would they be in a first-year writing course at ASU or any other college or university?
I did a Google search of "reparations." I get this.
How do we, writing teachers and educators, "make amends" for the wrongs we've been doing in our classrooms for a century now? How do we make amends for the linguistic shoe-horning we've done to our BIPOC students, squeezing them all into an ill-fitting, one sized boot not made for the wide range of activities they want to do tomorrow?
I resist the simple equation that linguistic reparations is mainly about money, like it's just an economic exchange. Money is always a sad exchange for our laboring and languaging. I don't think we can put a price on the linguistic wrongs we've done.
And I don't know if it is even "repairing something," although something is broken. But maybe this is a start. Maybe it's also "making ready again," as the Late Latin suggests? How do we create ecologies in our writing classrooms that encourage the "making ready again" of our students, and what central role can linguistic reparations play?
What if the central purpose of first-year writing classrooms was to make linguistic reparations? What would be revolutionized?
This is what kept me up last night.