Posts

Blogbook -- Racist Hegemony And the Language Choices We Make

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Entry 17 Vico’s common sense and Marxism’s dialectic help us understand racist discourse as a dialectic that is both language and logos and material practices and decisions, all of which are accomplished in the world around us. These two aspects of racist discourse reinforce each other. Being a mutually reinforcing dialectic means that racist discourse is racist common sense, which also means racism is systemic, or structural in our world, work, and lives.  To really take advantage of what Marxian theory offers, we shouldn’t stop with classical Marxism. Theorists such as Antonio Gramsci, reconsidered the classical Marxist dialectic. He explained that actually both the base and superstructure operate simultaneously, influencing each other. You cannot consider one before the other, as classical Marxism did -- that is, everything sprang out of the material base. So for Gramsci and others the dialectic of base (material conditions and outcomes) and superstructure (language about and reflec

Blogbook -- Racism as Common Sense

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Entry 16 Allow me to back up from my previous posts and take yet another run at defining racist discourse for literacy teachers and classrooms. I’ve taken several runs at the concept in the last two weeks or so. It’s a boat ( entries 7 and 8 ). It’s a field ( entry 10 ). It’s a discourse that is a tautology ( entry 15 ). I’ve even called it an equation ( entry 14 ). But through all these different ways to understand racist discourse is the idea that it works often from common sense that circulates freely in society, literature, our language practices, and of course, our classrooms and their standard operating procedures. So let’s think more carefully about common sense .  If half of what I’ve said up to this point is accurate, then racist discourse is in much of our common sense -- that is, the stuff we say and make decisions from, the stories we tell about each other, the euphemisms, the jokes, the logics that work around us all the time. And since we take these ideas and language as

UPDATE -- CWPA Response to My Call for A Boycott

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On April 18, 2021, I posted on this blog about why I was leaving and the CWPA and asked for a loving and compassionate boycott of the CWPA until it could demonstrate structural changes that addressed its racism and White supremacy culture. As of today, that post has been accessed 11,850 times (less than a week). Three days later, the WPA Journal and its publisher, David Blakesley, both offered a statement and letter of support of the boycott and the demand for the CWPA to make antiracist changes. Six days after I posted, the CWPA's  Executive Board released a formal statement  (dated 4/23/2021).  As of this writing, the petition for boycotting the CWPA has 702 signatories on it. That is over double the total membership of the CWPA. Thank you to all who signed that petition. It made a difference.  While I do not plan on responding to the elements of the CWPA's formal statement, I do want to offer a few words to those doing this kind of social justice work -- that is, helping

Blogbook -- Our Tacit Racist Tautologies

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Entry 15 Now, I’ve mentioned a few times that racist discourse is a dialectic that is mutually reinforcing. What I mean is that racist language justifies and explains a racist world of racist judgements, actions, practices, and outcomes. At the same time, racist judgements, actions, practices, and outcomes justify the racist language. All the while, most of these judgements, actions, practices, and outcomes are not labeled as racist. This dialectic generates power. Think of it like a mobius strip, or a tacit racist tautology that ultimately produces racialized flows of power in particular directions, mostly toward middle and upper-middle class White people in Europe and America. Even the founders of the U.S. as a nation understood how power is produced through such categorizing of race. In describing Jefferson’s drafting of the Declaration of Independence, and the debate around it in the Continental Congress, Ibram X. Kendi explains:  For these rich men, freedom was not the power to ma

Why I Left The CWPA (Council of Writing Program Administrators)

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The full title of this post could be: "Why I Left The CWPA And What Others Might Learn From It." Know that, and know there's antiracist lessons for everyone in this post.  Recently, I severed all my ties and professional associations with the Council of Writing Program Administrators (CWPA). I had to. It was the only thing I could do, and I want to tell you about it.  I've been an active member of the CWPA for about 15 years. I haven't always been able to attend their summer conference, but I have kept up with its journal ( WPA: Writing Program Administration ), the people in organization, the statements and other work of the organization, and the good work its members have done over the years. Also I was until recently a member of its celebrated Consultant Evaluator Service, which offers a valuable service to the discipline and institutions by reviewing and offering recommendations to colleges and universities concerning their writing programs.  Up until recentl