Writing Spaces Commits to Anti-Racist Practices

  • Posted on: 16 June 2020
  • By: mvetter

We, the editorial staff at Writing Spaces, have witnessed with horror the recent brutal deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbury, Tony McDade, David McAtee, Rayshard Brooks, and so many others at the hands of law enforcement and White supremacist vigilantes in the U.S. We apologize for not speaking out sooner, and want to make explicitly clear that we denounce all forms of racism and White supremacy and commit to anti-racist publishing, community-building, and research practices.

We acknowledge that the United States was both founded on and profited from the systemic exploitation and oppression of African and North American indigenous peoples, through the enactment of the institutions and ideologies of slavery, settler colonialism, and manifest destiny. Contrary to neoliberal and conservative attitudes related to the eradication of racism in contemporary U.S. society, systemic racism and White supremacy continue to operate in every facet of American life and culture. While these operations are especially explicit in the American (in)justice system, the prison-industrial complex, private industry, and political representation, anti-Black racism also continues to proliferate in academic and publishing spheres.

At colleges and universities across the U.S., not only are Black faculty not adequately hired or represented within majority-White departments, they are consistently subjected to harassment, microaggressions, and discrimination. Black scholars face publication biases and aren’t adequately cited or credited for their research. In terms of academic promotion, Black faculty are too often overlooked for leadership positions such as department chairs, college deans, and university provosts. Black faculty, and especially Black women faculty, are also more likely to devote more of their time to service and other uncompensated labor. Black students, furthermore, face a daily onslaught of discrimination, prejudice, and microaggression both in the classroom and beyond it.

As a project dedicated to OER ethics, Writing Spaces has already committed to making resources for literacy instruction more accessible. However, we acknowledge that our project has a long way to go to become a collection that actively promotes anti-racist literacy learning and curriculum diversity. Composition and language education, in line with other academic disciplines, have a long history of linguistic gate-keeping. Despite academic critiques and policy statements from major organizations such as NCTE, the promotion of standard language norms and textual genres in the composition classroom continue to reward White, middle class students and penalize minority and multilingual students. Furthermore, most English faculty also fail to adequately diversify their curriculum, often tokenizing minority voices and identities at the margins of their course content. Finally, despite the field’s theoretical understanding of the centrality of identity to writing, literacy, and language, too few teachers make such an understanding accessible to their students.

As English scholars and educators, The Writing Spaces editorial team acknowledges their complicity in White supremacy. Furthermore, we commit to anti-racist publishing, community-building, and research practices that will counteract the failings described above.

As publishers,
1. We commit to the publishing of Black and minority authors in future volumes of Writing Spaces
2. We commit to publishing instructional material that rejects standard English ideologies and promotes understanding in regards to the centrality of identity in language and writing practice
3. We commit to publishing instructional material that promotes racial literacy

As community members,
4. We commit to creating and curating anti-racist resources for literacy education on the WS website
5. We commit to supporting and centering Black and minority voices in our major organizations and conferences
6. We commit to engaging in anti-racist action in our local communities and academic institutions

As scholars,
7. We commit to inclusive citation practices that give credit to Black and minority research
8. We commit to meaningful collaboration with Black and minority scholars

For Recommended Resources & Further Reading, please see the Racial Justice Resources. This list is in-progress and we welcome suggestions (please email editors@writingspaces.org).