Why English Class is Silencing Students of Color

In this video, Dr. Jamila Lyiscott names language as a site of cultural struggle and an area of marginalization for BIPOC.  Through her research and her personal experience, she outlines how devaluing of the languages, such as African American English, leads to erasure of people of color.  Her discussions include an outline of the ways in which access to multiple Englishes supported President Obama and questions the limitations of understanding students through the 5 paragraph essay.  Dr. Lyiscott outlines five paradigm principles for educators:

  • Awareness (Who Am I? – as educator as students?)
    • What are the social identities, language practices and linguistic repertoires?
  • Agency and Access (Once privileges and marginalization are understood, how do you have young people move beyond AA English (or other languages) as deficient?
  • Actualization
    • Creating continuous opportunities
  • Achievement
    • Rigorous powerful standards for our classrooms AND our institutions. How does engaging in the process transform the space and the discipline
  • Alteration and Action
    • Challenging the idea of what speaking and learning looks like, (e.g. in HipHop the cypher is a circle, no one leads, no one is lesser)

She ends with a story and call to internal balance, a focus on oneself to be able to do the work.

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