Yanar Hashlamon, The Ohio State University
I’ve been a Graduate Co-Editor with TPR for two years now. As a marginalized writing center scholar, my experience of the field is, at all times, informed by the ways in which my way of doing and seeing writing center work is supported and resisted, amplified or obscured. As an editor, I have worked with writers struggling to carve out space for themselves within writing center studies. I’ve struggled doing the same thing. I joined TPR because I wanted to support our unique mission as an open-access, multimodal journal with publications from writers across academic statuses. Two years on, my goal as an editor isn’t to make TPR stand out, but to make our practices common in our field.
I don’t want us to be special because I’ve been able to call out tone policing in mediating reviewer-author interactions, or because we offer to mentor writers through the review process, or that we solicit work ranging from experiential manifestos to data-driven research. I want all writing center venues to do these things. That we are unique in these ways shows how much more work there is to be done in our field. Our practice at TPR represents important steps. It carries a kind of momentum we can continue to build on and extend to other scholarly spaces in our field. To this point, my reflection isn’t nearly as meaningful as the work and writers who have informed my thinking as an editor at TPR in the last two years:
- Writers who center the perspectives of writing center directors outside the US – those in English as a Foreign Language contexts
- Havva Zorluel Ozer: Staffing an EFL Writing Center: Issues and Perspectives
- Writers who center the identity construction and language practices of multilingual tutors
- Writers who center their experiences as women of color to complicate the homogenization of struggles minorities are assumed to commonly experience in writing centers and writing center studies
- Wonderful Faison and Anna Treviño: Race, Retention, Language, and Literacy: The Hidden Curriculum of the Writing Center
- Writers who center their experiences as women of color to expose and confront racism in writing center studies and administration
- Talisha M. Haltiwanger Morrison and Talia O. Nanton: Dear Writing Centers: Black Women Speaking Silence into Language and Action
- Writers who center Black consultant perspectives on Black language in the writing center
These writers all work against scholarly exclusions and overt aggressions characterized by the absence of people of color’s perspectives in writing centers and writing center studies – our perspectives as writers, administrators, and even as research participants. The aggressions marginalized writing center professionals experience in uniquely intersectional ways are issues that every member of this field must hear and work to address.
I’m not the first person of color in our field to say we have a lot of work to do. To engage in anti-racist action. In decolonial action. To work with marginalized writing center scholars and writers for whom writing center spaces can be places of support, or spaces containing the same violence we experience in university classrooms and workplaces. We have to work to understand and dismantle white supremacy in the ways it pervades our professional and editorial norms. It appears every time Black scholars are told their experiences don’t ‘fit’ the field’s turn to RAD research. It appears every time white scholars are celebrated for publishing anti-racist writing when scholars of color go uncited and unheard for doing the same thing. It appears when we put focus on scholars who talk about racism without confronting the ways we push out marginalized scholars who suffer its violence. These are patterns in academia in general, but writing center journals have their own habits within them.
I am describing a discomfort our discipline often refuses to dwell in and learn from. The pieces from TPR I highlighted above are not articles we should publish once. We should return to them over and over again. As editors come and go and aspects of this journal change, we must still commit ourselves to anti-racist work in writing center studies. We must still center the scholarship that tells us more about ourselves and our work than many feel comfortable admitting. Dwelling in discomfort is a necessary step in dismantling white supremacy and developing our practices along axes of racial justice as administrators, tutors, writers, and editors.