Languages of Power and Resistance Future Teachers Writing for Social Justice

Languages of Power and Resistance: Future Teachers Writing for Social Justice

Beth Buyserie

Prompt 6.1. Submitted June 22, 2020; accepted September 12, 2021; published January 31, 2022. For the PDF version of this essay and any supplementary material accompanying it, visit .

Abstract: This research assignment asks preservice undergraduate secondary education teachers in an applied grammar class to engage in a two-prong research project: a multimodal, interactive “poster” and a research paper that together explore the pedagogical possibilities for engaging with World Englishes in middle and high school classrooms. The prompt invites students to consider social justice and equity at the level of language. The assignment draws on both antiracist and queer pedagogies and examines the relationships among language, power, and resistance to linguistic oppression in the classroom. As students work through the assignment, they enact real-life stories of historical and contemporary figures from around the world who were forced to speak a colonizer’s language and resisted linguistic oppression. They then read articles focusing on Black Language, Indigenous languages, and World Englishes, which serve as touchstonesfortheirownresearch.1 Although designed for a grammar pedagogy class,the assignment can be modified for multiple disciplines; at the end of the article, I provide several examples of how teachers outside English might modify the assignment for their own disciplinary contexts.

The Languages of Power and Resistance research assignment presented here asks students in a 300-level Applied Grammar for Teachers course to consider equity at the level of language. As we learn in class, the unquestioned norm of teaching and privileging only standard English in classrooms is often grounded in whiteness, which minimizes, rejects, and dismisses ways of speaking and knowing privileged by communities of color, global English speakers, and Indigenous peoples. In disrupting the power dynamic of equating a standardized English with literacy, the prompt encourages students to research and reflect on how they, as future teachers, might value and foreground students’ home languages in their classrooms.

Seeking to go beyond mere appreciation, the assignment requires students to address concepts of linguistic power and resistance in their pedagogies. As June Jordan ((1988)) explains in her classic article, “Nobody Mean More to Me Than You and the Future Life of Willie Jordan,” the connections between one’s mother tongue and education are critical and life-giving. In foregrounding the importance of Black English, Jordan says, “our language is a system constructed by people constantly needing to insist that we exist, that we are present” (p. 367). Several decades later, April Baker-Bell, in critiquing white supremacist language practices and focusing on Black Language as a means of knowing the world, argues that the study of Black Language is key to antiracist pedagogies. As Baker-Bell (2020) asks, “How do we move beyond traditional approaches to language education that do not view students’ racial and linguistic identities as interconnected?” and “What is the purpose of a language education if it cannot be used for various sorts of freedom or save students’ lives?” (p. 7). This understanding of language as a life-giving practice is both the inspiration and goal of this assignment. As Gloria Anzaldúa ((1999)) stresses in Borderlands/La Frontera, “I am my language” (p. 81). For Anzaldúa, language cannot be separated from identity, which means that teachers committed to social justice must seek multiple ways of privileging students’ languages, knowledges, and lived experiences as part of their antiracist pedagogical practices.

As a white teacher who speaks a standardized version of English, I recognize that I am complicit in the very linguistic oppression that I wish to challenge. My commitment to antiracist pedagogies is, due to my positionality and language use, always at risk of tokenizing what I wish to honor. Therefore, as a queer teacher, I intentionally draw on queer theory, which, when combined with antiracist pedagogies, provides me with multiple approaches for challenging normativity—the unquestioned expectations that maintain power and inequity—in the classroom. In describing queer possibilities for the teaching of grammar, Stacey Waite ((2016)) emphasizes that “Grammar itself is built on dominant norms and cultural assumptions” (p. 82). Because whiteness, including white language practices that maintain inequity, is so often the unquestioned norm in the teaching of English (Baker-Bell 2020; Jordan 1988), I frame this assignment within the context of a course that weaves together both antiracist and queer pedagogies, following Baker-Bell’s ((2020)) call “that an antiracist language and literacy education has to be intersectional” (p. 3). As such, this assignment seeks approaches for disrupting normative white ways of teaching grammar so that my future students—and myself—continue to act on calls for social justice via language and education.

Prompt Overview

For twelve years, I taught a 300-level Applied Grammar for Teachers course, taken primarily by Secondary Education students in English and History at my former institution, a Predominantly White, Research I institution on Nez Perce lands. Because grammar classes, as well as composition classes, are often rightfully critiqued for perpetuating a form of language that privileges and perpetuates whiteness and normativity in writing (Baker-Bell 2020; Haussamen et al. 2003; Smitherman, n.d.; Waite 2016), I intentionally designed this course to examine how unquestioned standards of language are often used to exclude and maintain linguistic inequity; in other words, I frame this course to examine the relationships among language, knowledge, and power. Although the Council of Writing Program Administrators no longer specifically includes the examination of language, knowledge, and power as one of its outcomes for first-year composition (Dryer et al. 2014), I explicitly apply the learning outcome to our grammar and pedagogy class as a way to critique traditional grammar’s connection to whiteness and normativity—as well as to highlight all languages’ “articulation of the possible, even at the level of grammar” (Waite 2016, 85). This framework of language, knowledge, and power provides the class with a means of understanding English’s role in colonizing land, language, and ways of knowing (Smith 2012); allows us to explore concepts of code meshing and the power of Black Language (Baker-Bell 2020; Canagarajah 2006); and engages us in pedagogical practices of resistance to linguistic oppression (Christensen 2000). This focus on language and power, rather than applying only to grammar, composition, or education classes, is adaptable to multiple disciplinary courses, particularly those that foreground social justice as a means of seeking equity in the classroom.

To facilitate this crucial work, I designed a two-pronged research project for our undergraduate grammar pedagogy class: a multimodal, interactive “poster” and a text-based research paper, which together provide students with opportunities to research the relationships among language, power, and resistance. For this assignment, students research how they might address linguistic power—including both oppressive power and the power to reclaim one’s language for survival—and make space for resistance to linguistic oppression in the classroom. They research the histories and grammars of a variety of World Englishes (inspired by Canagarajah [(2006)] and Smitherman [(1977)]), ways of foregrounding students’ home languages through culturally relevant pedagogies (e.g., Baker-Bell 2020), and the connection between Indigenous Languages and ways of knowing (Smith 2012). This social-justice approach to language foregrounds equity, challenges students and teachers to rhetorically listen to their research (Ratcliffe 2005), and asks students to apply their findings to their future teaching.

Classroom Context

Throughout the undergraduate course, the future teachers and I explore multiple definitions of grammar and language, emphasizing the rhetorical and communicative possibilities of both. Rather than present grammar as an unbending system of rules, we question the notion that Standard Edited English2 and academic discourse are linguistically neutral, and we examine how grammar and language are structurally influenced by systems of power, including those maintained by racism, colonization, social class, sexism, and other forms of oppression (Baker-Bell 2020; Canagarajah 2006; Christensen 2000; Smith 2012; Smitherman, n.d.). We begin the course by reading the Conference on College Composition and Communication’s ((n.d.)) Resolution on Students’ Right to Their Own Language, which “affirm[s] students’ right to their own patterns and varieties of language” and rejects the “attempt of one social group to exert its dominance over another” (p. 19). We pair this text with Geneva Smitherman’s ((n.d.)) article on “CCCC’s Role in the Struggle for Language Rights,” where we reflect on not just her content but her rhetorical use of language, sentence structure, and punctuation. We also discuss the concept of World Englishes (Canagarajah 2006) to emphasize how language, grammar, and usage are always rhetorically situated—and influenced by power, systems of oppression, and opportunities for linguistic resistance.

A frequent objection to such an approach to grammar, one that de-emphasizes and questions the prestige and seeming neutrality of standardized English, is that students simply engage in a writing free-for-all, where “anything goes”—a racially- and class-coded critique that assumes users of multiple and non-standardized Englishes are not or cannot be rhetorically intentional in their writing. Instead, as with any rhetorically-informed writing-based course, we emphasize revision for audience and purpose. The course assumes that language is fluid and rhetorical, highly dependent upon the connection between speaker/writer, audience, and context (Jordan 1988). Therefore, we resist the notion that texts written in anything other than standardized white English are incompatible with successful communication and instead rely on experimentation and multiple Englishes to emphasize rhetorically-effective writing (Canagarajah 2006; Christensen 2000; Smitherman, n.d.). As such, the course pays careful attention to sentence-level communication for whichever languages and varieties of English the students choose to write in, either for this class or future audiences.

Admittedly, most students enter the class wary of grammar. Even for those who tend to speak and write a standardized form of English, grammar has often been used simply to point out the errors in their writing, rather than framed as a strategy for rhetorical communication (Micciche 2004). Our focus on pedagogy allows us to explore how even the smallest units of language might be employed for social justice aims. We do this by analyzing our everyday use of grammar and punctuation, focusing on authentic texts ranging from tweets to protest posters. We experiment with writing rhetorical fragments, considering when a fragment might be more effective for our audience than a complete sentence. As such, while we learn various grammar conventions, we also create sentences that intentionally break the “rules” to convey our message. Students become human sentences, with each student being given a different word on a color-coded index card, to learn about parts of speech and syntax. As students move around the room to create and manipulate different sentence structures, they both identify the boundaries of language and illustrate the fluidity of language.

As a class, we use this activity and other kinesthetic and visual activities to consider “sentences differently—as having more available possibilities than we initially imagined” (Waite 2016, 85). We also discuss how “syntax, the structure of an idea, leads you to the worldview of the speaker and reveals her values” (Jordan 1988, 367). In these activities and throughout the course, we use not only standardized English but also Spanish and Black Language to demonstrate the multiple ways grammatical concepts, such as verb tense, possession, and intentional repetition, can be effectively communicated (Baker-Bell 2020; Haussamen et al. 2003; Jordan 1988; Smitherman 1977). And since we complete not a single worksheet in the course, choosing instead to privilege authentic language and reading contexts, students have considerable time to apply course concepts to their own writing. By the end of the course, students may not love grammar, but many have reported that they and grammar are now friends—and that those who strive to use their writing for social justice can be more intentional in their message.

Project Beginnings and Pedagogical Approaches

This social-justice-based research project began over a decade ago when a student in my course remarked that they simply did not believe in the validity of multiple Englishes. This comment concerned me, as I thought I had set up the course to emphasize the lived experiences and knowledges of their future students who would speak, write, and negotiate multiple languages and Englishes. Upon reflection, I realized that while we had until that point already discussed linguistic social justice and equity in language, as well as read several articles that discussed the concept (Canagarajah 2006; Smitherman, n.d.), none of my major assignments required students to research the history or theory of a particular language or variety of World English. Therefore, students could interpret our language and power discussions as mainly a side note in the curriculum, and they would sometimes wonder when we would get back to the “real” content of the course: “neutral” and “correct” grammar.

To challenge this misperception, I created this research assignment, which I begin by asking my preservice teachers to participate in Linda Christensen’s ((2009)) Linguistic Tea Party, described in Teaching for Joy and Justice. In this activity, students read and role play the linguistic experiences of nearly 20 historical and contemporary figures from around the world, including queer mestiza Gloria Anzaldúa ((1999)), who employed Chicana Spanish to “overcome the tradition of silence” and reclaim the pride in her language and identity (p. 81); Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o, who writes in his native Gikuyu to resist the colonizing influence of English and to encourage other African writers to write in their native languages; Irish language activist Damien O’Donovan, who in the 1920s fought for Irish independence and the freedom to speak Irish; Siletz elder Bud Lane, who teaches his tribal language as a way to preserve both the language and tribal culture; and Molly Craig who, as a mixed-race Aborigine in 1930s Australia, was stolen from her home and forcibly taught that her native language and culture were inferior. (Her life also inspired the movie Rabbit-Proof Fence [Noyce (2002), (2002)].) Collectively, these and other stories feature people who were forced in the name of education to speak English, who were physically abused for speaking their own language, who speak and write only in their native language to validate its legitimacy, and who research and teach their languages to uplift the people in the community. These stories of linguistic power, oppression, hope, and resistance are the heart of this project, inspiring research beyond an academic exercise, moving instead toward an applied social justice project that privileges lived experience.

To support this five-week research project, students and I engage in a weeklong research forum where we read several texts on language and power. Students admittedly find it challenging to narrow a topic as large as “language and power,” so this research forum is key to helping them narrow their focus and understand how other language scholars have approached similar topics. Each semester, I provide a bank of readings that the students select from (refer to prompt below), so each semester our research forum changes depending on the students’ interests. Our readings usually include Anzaldúa’s ((1999)) “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” from Borderlands/La Frontera, which examines how her multiple languages are connected to her identity as a queer mestiza; the opening chapter of Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s ((2012)) Decolonizing Methodologies, which traces the connections between imperialism, history, and writing for Indigenous peoples; selections from Geneva Smitherman’s ((1977)) Talkin and Testifyin, which describes the linguistic roots and grammatical patterns of African American English; and Vershawn Ashanti Young’s ((2011)) “Should Writers Use They Own English?,” a text written in both African American English and standardized English to argue for the benefits of code meshing. Since language and power are broad topics, reading these articles as a class allows us to challenge our assumptions and examine the possibilities for student research. While some students use these readings to frame their own research, others use our forum as a springboard to pursue other avenues of inquiry.

For the research forum, students divide themselves into small groups, selecting the article their group wants to read more closely. While the entire class does a detailed skim of all the articles, each group’s chosen article is the one they will more closely analyze and informally present to the class. For their forum presentations, students summarize the author’s main points, provide a historical overview (if relevant), and highlight the author’s discussion of power and resistance. Students note the author’s use of language and how their use of language signals their primary audience (Jordan 1988). Since this is a research project, we also spend considerable time highlighting the various types of sources that the author cites: academic peer-reviewed sources, yes, but also interviews, podcasts, posters, tweets, and other examples of authentic language used in everyday contexts. As part of our process, we discuss why the author likely chose to include such a range of sources for their own article. This discussion not only allows us to begin brainstorming possible sources and source types for their own research project, but it also challenges students to actively seek sources written by people, often authors of color, who are from the language community they will be studying. Lastly, the group highlights the article’s potential connections to pedagogy and the teaching of grammar, challenging themselves to apply more theory-based articles to their future classrooms. After each group presents, the students switch groups and synthesize the articles. In these new groups, students brainstorm possible research questions for their upcoming projects. They consider research questions that foreground theory or historical context, pedagogy, or a combination of theory and pedagogy.

The Assignment: A Multimodal Poster and Research Paper

By providing so much preparation for the research project, many students recognize that our social justice research project is the cornerstone of our 300-level Applied Grammar for Teachers course. Their prompt, a two-part research project entitled Languages of Power and Resistance, takes its lead from the articles we read and asks students to research and analyze the relationships among language, power, and resistance in a variety of historical or cultural contexts; additionally, the prompt asks students to consider how they might apply their research to their future teaching or communities. As mentioned above, students present their findings through both a multimodal, interactive poster and a research paper. While most students apply their research to their future pedagogies, others apply their research toward individual or community opportunities for resistance against linguistic oppression. Their recommendations for change often focus on small, everyday aspects of language and power, which many students believe makes their ability to enact change more immediate and sustainable.

For the poster—a term I define quite broadly to signal a format beyond a traditional essay—students are encouraged to design a project that is both interactive and creative in order to introduce their classmates to their area of research. Students have produced paintings, games, storybooks, and collages, in addition to digital presentations that embed audio and video clips. Any format is acceptable, provided the student can engage their classmates and facilitate a 10-minute, small-group dialogue. The goal is to educate and motivate an audience, as well as to discover new pedagogical possibilities for teaching about language and power. Rather than serve as artifacts to guide them in their presentations, their posters should encourage their classmates to apply concepts of language and resistance to their future teaching, local community, or daily use of language. As such, these interactive posters often inspire students to research more aspects of a topic—and to more intentionally consider their future students—than they would have with just a traditional paper. While the paper itself is often written as a “traditional” essay, students are not required to follow a standard format or make a specific claim. For example, in keeping with queer theory, students can explore what they might not know about a concept and why they cannot know it (Waite 2017). This option to highlight what they might not know about language, resistance, and racial identity also provides space for students to reflect on their positionalities and lived experiences as part of the research process.

Regardless of their approach, I encourage students to incorporate any variety of English or language that is rhetorically effective for their argument. Students decide which language(s), Englishes, or dialects to use, quote, and/or cite in order to best communicate their research. They also carefully select their intended audience, as not all students want to use the same language for all audiences. Importantly, I do not insist that students use a non-standard variety of English, as I recognize that not all students want to use their home language with a white teacher who speaks standardized English. Students who are not heritage or cultural learners of a language or version of English are asked to cite speakers/writers of these languages, rather than risk appropriating or disrespecting a language or culture with which they do not identify.

Sample Student Responses to the Prompt

As I outline in the prompt below, students have considerable agency in designing this project. To help them focus, I encourage these future teachers to consider the kinds of texts or historical events that they will likely teach, or strive to teach, as they revise a curriculum to foreground social justice and equity. Once students identify a text or event to teach, such as a novel with multiple varieties of English, their results are often deeply personal and engaging. For example, many students have researched the Englishes they speak or that are most likely to be spoken by their future students, such as Black Language and Spanish-influenced English. Some students research the rules and cultural contexts of these languages; other students research the pedagogical possibilities for teaching multiple Englishes in their future classrooms. Other students, cognizant of the fact that they will be teaching on Indigenous lands, have conducted initial research on the language spoken by the local tribe; they have also researched the violent histories of colonial schools—and how Indigenous peoples employ language as a means of sovereignty (Smith 2012). Other students have examined young adult novels by authors of color and researched possibilities for honoring and foregrounding the characters’ mother tongues. These approaches, students have found, promote social justice by dialoguing on race and identity among young adults.

Still other students have taken different approaches. Notably, one student’s project focused entirely on visual images of language and power as they researched the history and agency behind various LGBTQ pride flags, including the lesser-known transgender, bisexual, pansexual, and genderqueer pride flags. Another student submitted a poster with hand-drawn images of people who had the word “Silenced” written over their mouths, surrounded by a variety of quotations that discussed the power of language. In a similar vein, several students have created protest posters to communicate their message, accompanying their posters with written research projects that described the battles various Indigenous people and people of color have historically waged—and continue to fight—for equity in language and education. Some students argue for the continued teaching of standardized English in schools but in a way that acknowledges the variety of students’ home languages. One future elementary school teacher researched possibilities for incorporating language and power into a K-5 curriculum. Provided students engage thoughtfully with the material, I encourage all approaches that explore the relationships among language, power, and resistance.

Challenges and Future Considerations

Throughout the years, I have admittedly faced a variety of challenges with this assignment. I often spend considerable time introducing students to the authenticity of World Englishes (Canagarajah 2006; Smitherman, n.d.). Even when this information is well-received, the topic is vast enough to make it difficult to fully comprehend in one semester. Ironically, a more current challenge is that some students, often those who self-identify as progressive, now simply agree with the premise that all varieties of language should be respected. My new challenge is to find ways to encourage students to go beyond simple respect of a language and to more critically consider concepts of equity and social justice. What, we now ask, might their classrooms actually look like in order to engage in this work? What challenges do they need to be prepared to face? What models can they rely on when resisting and navigating those challenges? In what ways can they continue to be leaders or allies, and what work must they do in order to respectfully acknowledge and navigate their positionality in terms of language, race, class, gender, and sexuality? Given our predominantly white institutional status on Indigenous lands, these questions are important as students continually reflect on the connections between language, power, and resistance.

As I continue teaching this project as a scholar of queer composition pedagogies, I plan to draw more intentionally on queer theory to strengthen the connections between language and social justice. In Dreads and Open Mouths: Living/Teaching/Writing Queerly, Aneil Rallin ((2019)) questions what we lose when a queer curriculum is framed within normative outcomes and standards. In my teaching of multiple Englishes, I have admittedly emphasized the fact that all languages are rule-based to highlight their legitimacy, as well as to (I now realize) “justify” their presence as a subject of study in our class. To be clear, we need to continue teaching an in-depth study of the syntax and conventions of multiple Englishes as part of an antiracist pedagogical practice. As Baker-Bell (2020) emphasizes, “many ELA [English Language Arts] teachers leave their teacher education program without knowing that Black Language is a rule-based linguistic system that includes features of West African languages and has roots as deep and grammatically consistent as Scottish, Irish, and other world Englishes” (p. 6). That said, while languages like African American English are indeed rule based and have established patterns (Baker-Bell 2020; Jordan 1988; Smitherman 1977), I do not want to unintentionally emphasize the rules—or the norms—as the main reason that the language is valuable and worthy of study. Instead, I want to better emphasize the historical significance of the language, the speaker’s ability to resist oppressive systems, and the cultural importance of the language itself in a social justice classroom. By simultaneously studying a language’s conventions while also questioning our emphasis on rules and norms, I continue to seek queer approaches to the teaching of grammar that also foreground antiracist pedagogies.

Possibilities for an Interdisciplinary Audience

Although this prompt was designed for an Applied Grammar for Teachers course, this assignment can easily be altered for other disciplinary contexts. Business, science, or mathematics, in addition to the humanities and social sciences, can all examine how the language of our respective disciplines reinforces systems of oppression. Teachers can ask their students to research ways that disciplinary languages have been used to colonize, racially oppress, and normalize genders and sexualities—and to research possibilities for resistance and agency. For example, what do contemporary scientists and mathematicians need to consider as they apply their content to justice-based statistics? How might, for example, quantitative Indigenous methodologies (Walter and Andersen 2013) or queer quantitative methodologies (Patterson 2019) challenge disciplines to (re)consider aspects of language and power? After acknowledging the continued reality of these oppressions, students can research possible ways that scholars and activists have reclaimed their disciplinary language and created space for resistance—and then begin contributing to such social justice projects themselves. In response to ongoing global conversations on language and racial justice, teachers in all disciplines must continue to find new and thoughtful ways to highlight the racial and structural injustices in our communities and classrooms, foreground students’ lived experiences, and continue the important work of teaching critical reading, writing, researching, and thinking.


At its core, this project asks students to consider equity at the level of language and explore how language intersects with power bolstered by racism, colonization, sexuality, and social class. As I write this essay, the world is engaged in two global conversations: the COVID-19 pandemic and the worldwide protests over the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black people who have died because of white supremacy. While the pandemic feels like a new conversation, the conversations around colonization and racial injustice are not new. Yet all language, from the global conversations to the smallest grammatical units, shapes epistemologies, transmits power, and serves as means of resistance to these ongoing oppressions. Teachers and students dedicated to social justice and equity can focus on language, power, and resistance as one way of contributing to the structural changes that we critically need.

ASSIGNMENT Languages of Power & Resistance Research Project

English 326: Applied Grammar for Teachers

As teachers, we have daily opportunities to affirm that our students’ lives and language are unique and important. We do that in the selections of literature we read, in the history we choose to teach, and we do it by giving legitimacy to our students’ lives as a content worthy of study.

—Linda Christensen, “Teaching Standard English: Whose Standard?,” 2000, p. 102


As future teachers, editors, writers, and citizens, how do we “affirm students’ lives and languages”? I argue that this process is much more complex than simply appreciating a student’s home language. What do we have to know about how language is used? How might we consider issues of power? And to help address student agency, how do we discuss issues of resistance? It is relatively easy to say that we will honor all languages, but it is much more difficult to put this concept into practice. Rather than “ensuring” that you will know how to incorporate these concepts into your classroom, this research project will help you think about the complexities of language, power, and resistance, and consider your subject position, including what you know and what you don’t know.

Assignment Focus

As students, you have a lot of freedom in how you want to complete this assignment and what the results will look like. I ask two guiding questions below, and you’re free to pick either of them—or come up with your own (but please check with me first if you create your own).

Guiding questions (focus on one): How do you, as a teacher, address concepts of linguistic power and resistance? How do you value students’ home languages in the classroom?

Possible General Ideas—You’ll Want to Be More Specific

Final Format

A 4-6 page paper due Week 11 plus a “poster” due Week 10. The poster may be hard copy or digital, and you must be prepared to present it to a small group of students in an interactive way. I expect that a good chunk of this project may include more summary/analysis than argument. However, at some point, I would like you to come up with some sort of argument/angle/proceeding questions for us to consider. Do consider how these concepts relate to the classroom/profession in order to apply your research to a specific context. As always, remember that you may decide to write in a variety of English (or codemesh with another language) that is most rhetorically appropriate for your audience and purpose.

Additional Requirements and Due Dates

Research Forum (to prepare for Research Project)

Forum #5 [online discussion post] asks you to select, read, summarize, and respond to one of the articles below (on Blackboard). Here’s a brief introduction to each of the articles:

Note: For the Forum, you may not have time to finish your entire article, and that’s okay—but do try to read most of the article or make a detailed skim of the article. Remember, this Forum is just to get you started with your research, to promote thinking and discussion. You may decide not to use this article in your research; you might also decide to research a completely different subject.


Anzaldúa, Gloria. 1999. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. 2nd ed. Aunt Lute Books.

Baker-Bell, April. 2020. “We Been Knowin: Toward an Antiracist Language and Literacy Education.” Journal of Language & Literacy Education 16 (1): 1–12.

Canagarajah, A. Suresh. 2006. “The Place of World Englishes in Composition: Pluralization Continued.” College Composition and Communication 57 (4): 586–619.

Christensen, Linda. 2000. Reading, Writing, and Rising up: Teaching About Social Justice and the Power of the Written Word. Rethinking Schools.

———. 2009. Teaching for Joy and Justice: Re-Imagining the Language Arts Classroom. Rethinking Schools.

Conference on College Composition and Communication Committee on Language Policy. n.d. “Students’ Right to Their Own Language.” In Students’ Right to Their Own Language: A Critical Sourcebook, edited by Staci Perryman-Clark, David E. Kirkland, and Austin Jackson. Bedford/St. Martin’s. (Reprinted from College Composition and Communication, XXV. 1974).

Dryer, Dylan B., Darsie Bowden, Beth Brunk-Chavez, Susanmarie Harrington, Bump Halbritter, and Kathleen Blake Yancey. 2014. “Revising FYC Outcomes for a Multimodal, Digitally Composed World: The WPA Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition (Version 3.0).” WPA: Writing Program Administration 38 (1): 129–43.

Greenfield, Laura. 2011. “The ‘Standard English’ Fairy Tale: A Rhetorical Analysis of Racist Pedagogies and Commonplace Assumptions About Language Diversity.” In Writing Centers and the New Racism: A Call for Sustainable Dialogue and Change, edited by Laura Greenfield and Karen Rowan, 33–60. Utah State University Press.

Haussamen, Brock, Amy Benjamin, Martha Kolln, and Rebecca S. Wheeler. 2003. Grammar Alive: A Guide for Teachers. National Council of Teachers of English.

Jordan, June. 1988. “Nobody Mean More to Me Than You and the Future Life of Willie Jordan.” Harvard Educational Review 58 (3): 363–75.

Micciche, Laura R. 2004. “Making a Case for Rhetorical Grammar.” College Composition and Communication 55 (4): 716–37.

Noyce, P. (Director). 2002. “Rabbit-Proof Fence [Film]. Rumbalara Films.” Rumbalara Films.

Patterson, G. 2019. “Queering and Transing Quantitative Research.” In Re/Orienting Writing Studies: Queer Methods, Queer Projects, edited by William P. Banks, Matthew B. Cox, and Caroline Dadas, 54–74. Logan: Utah State University Press.

Rallin, Aneil. 2019. Dreads and Open Mouths: Living/Teaching/Writing Queerly. Litwin Books.

Ratcliffe, Krista. 2005. Rhetorical Listening: Identification, Gender, Whiteness. Southern Illinois University Press.

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 2012. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. 2nd ed. London: Zed Books.

Smitherman, Geneva. 1977. Talkin and Testifyin: The Language of Black America. Houghton Mifflin.

———. n.d. “CCCC’s Role in the Struggle for Language Rights.” In Students’ Right to Their Own Language: A Critical Sourcebook, edited by Staci Perryman-Clark, David E. Kirkland, and Austin Jackson, 58–82. Bedford/St. Martin’s. (Reprinted from College Composition and Communication, 50(3), pp. 349-76, 1999).

Waite, Stacey. 2017. Teaching Queer: Radical Possibilities for Writing and Knowing. University of Pittsburgh Press.

———. 2016. “The Unavailable Means of Persuasion: A Queer Ethos for Feminist Writers and Teachers.” In Rethinking Ethos: A Feminist Ecological Approach to Rhetoric, edited by Kathleen J. Ryan, Nancy Myers, and Rebecca Jones. Southern Illinois University Press.

Walter, Maggie, and Chris Andersen. 2013. Indigenous Statistics: A Quantitative Research Methodology. Left Coast Press.

Young, Vershawn Ashanti. 2011. “Should Writers Use They Own English?” In Writing Centers and the New Racism: A Call for Sustainable Dialogue and Change, edited by Laura Greenfield and Karen Rowan, 61–72. Utah State University Press.


  1. Black Languages, World Englishes, and Indigenous are capitalized according to scholars April Baker-Bell ((2020)), Suresh Canagarajah ((2006)), and Maggie Walter and Chris Andersen ((2013)).↩︎

  2. Scholars and organizations refer to and interrogate the concept of Standard Edited English via various terms, including Edited American English (Conference on College Composition and Communication Committee on Language Policy, n.d.), White standards of English (Jordan 1988), Metropolitan Englishes (Canagarajah 2006), standardized Englishes (Greenfield 2011), and White Mainstream English (Baker-Bell 2020). I introduce my grammar students to many of these terms, not only so that they are familiar with them, but so they can analyze which ones strive to be neutral and which ones acknowledge English’s role in colonization and white supremacy. Due to the range of terms used, I vary my usage in this article, depending on the context of my argument. For example, here I refer specifically to Standard Edited English since that is one term many of my students will encounter in public K-12 schools. This term, as we discuss, acknowledges differences between oral and written language, but still fails to acknowledge the connections between language, racism, and racial identity.↩︎