Writing Center Statement on Anti-Racism
The MSU Denver Writing Center supports Black Lives Matter and is committed to anti-racism. We are proud of the statements issued by our university and fully support them (which can be found here and here). We particularly commend the President and the MSU Denver Board of Trustees for their commitments to use the university system for “constructive social and political change” and, to that end, we are now, and have always been committed to creating an anti-racist environment in the writing center and will become even more active in the university community in these pursuits. We also stand by the resolution of the Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy and the Africana and Chicana/o Studies Departments as they strive to make MSU Denver more equitable.
We recognize that the police have murdered countless brown and Black people, including George Floyd, Elijah McClain, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Atatiana Jefferson. We mourn the countless other Black, Brown and Indigenous victims, the numbers of which are growing every day. We acknowledge that systemic racism and police brutality are the causes of these deaths. In order to address these tragedies and enact justice, we support efforts by the Black community to dismantle white supremacy, and to end police violence. We support an overhaul of the current racist systems in our society, including our government and criminal justice system, and believe that such change cannot come soon enough.
We recognize the role racism plays in shaping educational systems, including here at MSU Denver. Because we focus on writing, we are deeply aware of the role language plays in shaping thought and power structures. Language and our attitudes toward spoken and written language are both vehicles for and symptoms of systemic and implicit racism. As writing professionals, we are called to value the language of Black, Brown, and Indigenous groups and dismantle the white supremacy embedded in social, academic, and professional communities.
In our commitment to anti-racist practices we will take concrete, actionable steps to challenge and dismantle practices that value white voices and uphold white supremacy over Black, Brown, and Indigenous voices in our community. (See below for a list of tangible actions)
We will continue to:
- Acknowledge our complicity, as individuals and as a writing center, in upholding and circulating white supremacist language attitudes and practices.
- Define our complicity as a racist, harmful practice that we must stop.
- Diversify writing center staff, leadership, and practices.
- Help faculty identify and revise assignments and grading rubrics that are embedded with racism, including approaches to grammar instruction and assessment.
- Collaborate with campus and community departments and organizations to facilitate anti-racist workshops and foster awareness of the politics of language.
- Embed anti-racism theory and practice in all staff education and training.
- Build on programs such as RIDES and Frederick Douglass Day.
- Build a resource library on Black, Brown, and Indigenous topics and pedagogy.
- Privilege Black-, Brown-, and Indigenous-owned businesses in purchasing decisions.
- Accept that we will make mistakes, receive criticism humbly and with gratitude, grow from our missteps, and remain open to suggestions.
To that end, we welcome any and all feedback about this policy and/or our actions. Please let us know how we're doing at the button below.
The Writing Center’s Antiracist Practical Applications
What we are doing to integrate antiracist practice in the Writing Center
It is important to us that we do not just give lip service to the idea of antiracism, but take concrete action to be an antiracist organization. To that end we have taken these steps, so far. We welcome any suggestions from the community, as well.
The first step was to establish the CIDCA Committee who is:
- Reading How to be an Antiracist together to brainstorm ways to incorporate Kendi’s ideas into writing center practices.
- Planning a workshop or series of writing center staff workshops surrounding Kendi’s book
- Writing Blurbs for the Writing Center staff weekly newsletter, the Tuesday Tune-Up, to disseminate information to staff and prompt self-reflexivity as an organization regarding anti-racist policy and practice.
- Establishing a relationship with other Diversity and Inclusion committees on campus to partner on activities
Activities that came out of the CIDCA committee and other staff initiatives include:
- Establishing the Antiracist Book Club on Meetup and Facebook that meets the last Thursday of every month and is open to anyone who would like to join.
- Piloting a program to facilitate departmental presentations on antiracist writing pedagogy
- Partnering with the Center for Teaching, Learning and Design on faculty training for how to use Originality Checker with an emphasis on social and restorative justice
- Partner with Prison Pen-Pal program-- link with “Black and Pink”
- Antiracist praxis on Writing Center’s social media
- Currently reviewing all of our front-facing and staff documents and websites for references to Standard Academic English (SAE) and adding an asterix (*SAE), which is a linguistic sign indicating that the concept is not “real” but theoretical