Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Linguistic Justice: Black Language, Literacy, Identity, and Pedagogy

April Baker-Bell,  Associate Professor of Language, Culture, and Justice in Education at the University of Michigan in the Marsal Family School of Education

In this talk, Dr. April Baker-Bell will discuss how anti-Black linguistic racism and white linguistic supremacy get normalized in teacher attitudes, curriculum and instruction, pedagogical approaches, disciplinary discourses, and research, and she will discuss the impact these decisions have on Black students’ language education and their linguistic, racial, and intellectual identities. Dr. Baker-Bell will introduce a new way to forward through Antiracist Black Language Pedagogy, a pedagogical approach that intentionally and unapologetically places Black Language at the center to critically interrogate white linguistic hegemony and anti-Black linguistic racism. A book sale and signing will follow the presentation.

This event is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and co-sponsored by the Center for Teaching, Learning and Scholarship (CTLS), the Faculty Success Center, and the departments of English and sociology.

Topic overview written by Ella Layton ’26

Biography (provided by the speaker)
Dr. April Baker-Bell  is an award-winning transdisciplinary teacher-researcher-activist and associate professor of Language, Culture, and Justice in Education at the University of Michigan in the Marsal Family School of Education. She is faculty in Educational Studies and the Joint Program in English and Education (JPEE). Dr. Baker-Bell was formerly an associate professor of Language, Literacy, and English Education at Michigan State University (MSU) and an adjunct associate professor at MSU’s Center for Bioethics and Social Justice in the College of Human Medicine. Before joining the professoriate, Dr. Baker-Bell was a high school English Language Arts Teacher in Detroit. She also served as adjunct faculty at Wayne State University and Oakland Community College. Dr. Baker- Bell is an international leader in conversations on Black Language education, and her research interrogates the intersections of Black Language and literacies, anti-Black racism, and antiracist pedagogies

Baker-Bell’s latest research project involves collaborating with healthcare scholars and researchers to develop, implement and study antiracist medical curriculum interventions that support healthcare professionals with developing an antiracist praxis for confronting and reducing racial bias and anti-Black racism in medical and healthcare institutions. Baker-Bell’s award- winning book, Linguistic Justice: Black Language, Literacy, Identity, and Pedagogy, brings together theory, research, and practice to dismantle Anti-Black Linguistic Racism (a term Baker-Bell coined) and white linguistic supremacy. The book provides ethnographic snapshots of how Black students navigate and negotiate their linguistic and racial identities across multiple contexts, and it captures what Antiracist Black Language Pedagogy looks like in community with Black youth. Linguistic Justice features a range of multimodal examples and practices through instructional maps, charts, artwork, and stories that reflect the urgent need for antiracist language pedagogies in our current social and political climate.

Baker-Bell is the recipient of many awards and fellowships, including the 2021 Coalition for Community Writing Outstanding Book Award, the 2021 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s New Directions Fellowship, the 2021 Michigan State University’s Community Engagement Scholarship Award and the 2021 Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Creative Activity, the 2020 NCTE George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language, the 2020 Theory Into Practice Article of the Year Award, the 2019 Michigan State University Alumni Award for Innovation & Leadership in Teaching and Learning, the 2018 AERA Language and Social Processes Early Career Scholar Award, and many more.

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