English professsors demand higher ed reject 'standard English' language, 'put some respeck on Black Language'

  • A group of professors signed a letter demanding that higher education rethink its approach to language.
  • The academics asserted that the use of “Standard English as the Accepted Communicative Norm” is rooted in racism.

Several professors are teaming up to demand that colleges do away with the concept of “standard English” as Americans know it today, in favor of accommodating “Black Language.”

The Conference on College Composition and Communication released a statement demanding reform of the linguistics used in higher education. The CCCC is an organization claiming to promote diversity among college campuses, by way of establishing “broad and evolving definitions of literacy, communication, rhetoric, and writing.” 

"That is, it might not sound like you desire it to, but remember, it sounds real right, regardless of unrelenting white supremacist socialization."   

In its statement, the organization addressed how linguistic racism supposedly plagues higher education.

The announcement, titled “This Ain’t Another Statement! This is a DEMAND for Black Linguistic Justice!” cited Michigan State University English professorApril Baker-Bell’s assertion that “the way Black language is devalued in schools reflects how Black lives are devalued in the world . . . [and] the anti-Black linguistic racism that is used to diminish Black Language and Black students in classrooms is not separate from the rampant and deliberate anti-Black racism and violence inflicted upon Black people in society.” 

Baker-Bell is a self-proclaimed “teacher-scholar-activist” who touts that she coined the term “Anti-Black Linguistic Racism.”

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The statement was signed by Bell, along with California State University-Fullerton professor Bonnie J. Williams-Farrier, Boston University Professor Davena Jackson, Michigan State University English professor Lamar Johnson, Texas Christian University gender and race studies professor Carmen Kynard. It was also signed Teaira McMurtry, who was listed as being affiliated with the University of Alabama at Birmingham

The professors use the term, “White Linguistic Supremacy,” and suggested that English is a language stemming from racism and solely belonging to White people. The organization demanded that higher education, therefore, reject “Standard English as the Accepted Communicative Norm” and push for the education of “Black Language.” 

The group claimed that opposition to this point shows a disregard for “Black Lives.”

In the same statement, the professors upheld CCCC's statementon Ebonics. Ebonics is defined by Merriam-Webster as “African American Vernacular English” which it defines as “a nonstandard variety of English spoken by some African Americans.” 

“Ebonics reflects the Black experience and conveys Black traditions and socially real truths. Black Languages are crucial to Black identity. Black Language sayings, such as ‘What goes around comes around,’ are crucial to Black ways of being in the world. Black Languages, like Black lives, matter,” states CCCC.

However, instead of labeling Ebonics as a variety of the English language, this organization repeatedly identifies it as its own “Black Language.” 

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The group demanded that “teachers reject deficit descriptions and other misnomers (e.g., home language, informal English, improper speech, etc.),” and that “teachers stop using academic language and standard English as the accepted communicative norm, which reflects White Mainstream English!”

Standard English is defined by Merriam Webster as “the English that with respect to spelling, grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary is substantially uniform though not devoid of regional differences, that is well established by usage in the formal and informal speech and writing of the educated, and that is widely recognized as acceptable wherever English is spoken and understood.” 

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Other demands included that “teachers, researchers, and scholars put some respeck on Black Language and refrain from engaging in Black linguistic appropriation,” and that “teachers respeck Black thought and how that thought manifests in Black speech and writing. That is, it might not sound like you desire it to, but remember, it sounds real right, regardless of unrelenting white supremacist socialization.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @katiekdc_



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Katie Craft
Katie Craft | Arkansas Campus Correspondent

Katie Craft is an Arkansas Campus Correspondent with Campus Reform. She is a senior at the University of Central Arkansas, studying Political Science and Broadcast Journalism. Katie is also the President and Campus Coordinator of her school's chapter of Turning Point USA. 

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