Confronting Resistance to Linguistic Justice: Developing White Racial Stamina in the Writing Center

Kelsey Hawkins, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Abstract

This article critically examines the resistance encountered in advocating for linguistic justice within writing centers, informed by my experiences as a graduate consultant. While much writing center scholarship articulates the ways that administrators confront resistance to linguistic justice in their centers, little has been said about how tutors might productively overcome resistance from their administration. Drawing from anti-racist frameworks, I reflect on how white fragility emerges in discussions of linguistic justice and how it is employed to impede productive dialogue and authentic anti-racist praxis. By engaging critical self-reflection, I also interrogate my own complicity in perpetuating habits of white fragility and the limitations of traditional approaches to deconstructing standard language ideology. Instead, I hope to suggest effective strategies for navigating institutional and administrative resistance in order to advance anti-racist approaches to writing center pedagogy. 

Keywords: linguistic justice, white fragility, anti-racism, racial stamina, standard language ideology, rhetorical listening

“Resistance from within the writing center, however, will be at least as obstructive to meaningful change as potential external pressures. Whites engaged in the work of anti-racism are challenged in an ongoing way to examine and re-examine how it is that we have learned whiteness and deeply internalized notions of white supremacy even and perhaps especially against our will. To take on racism is, in a critical sense, to take on ourselves; to struggle not only to remake our world but also to remake our consciousness.”  

– Frankie Condon (2007), “Beyond the Known: Writing Centers and the Work of Anti-Racism”

Introduction

In the decades since the Conference on College Composition and Communication (1974) published its resolution, “Students’ Right to Their Own Language,” writing center scholars have theorized approaches to advocating and enacting linguistic justice both within their centers and the larger institutional contexts that house them. For writing center directors and consultants who recognize that “writers whose social identities and language choices unsettle normalizedlegitimizedacademic conventions undergo linguistic violence from standard approaches of language policing” (Aguilar-Smith et al., 2022, para. 4), deconstructing standard language ideology is a fundamental concern of writing center work, and critical language awareness serves as the organizing principle at the intersection of their center’s everyday praxis and broader social justice orientation. In these centers, linguistic justice is founded upon anti-racist frameworks; administrators and staff acknowledge the ways in which white supremacy shapes and sustains standard language ideology while engaging in productive critical dialogue about language, identity, power, and privilege. 

Writing center administrators who understand that “racismnot unbiased unfamiliarity with linguisticsis the driving force behind [the] rejection of linguistic evidence” (Greenfield, 2011, p. 38) rely on professional development and scholarship to guide their centers towards a more explicitly anti-racist orientation to language. Scholars like Rachel Peterson (2023) recommend that writing centers facilitate “open forums” (para. 24) through regular staff meetings to discuss how social justice issues interact with writing center pedagogy. Others discuss how they use canonical linguistic justice scholarship like Rosina Lippi-Green’s (2011) English with an Accent and Laura Greenfield’s (2011) “The ‘Standard English’ Fairytale” to increase their staff’s awareness of white linguistic supremacy and to develop anti-oppressive language pedagogies in their centers (Aguilar-Smith et al., 2022; Basta & Smith, 2019). 

When I worked as a peer consultant during my undergraduate career, the University Writing Center (UWC) at my institution employed this type of explicitly anti-racist approach to language. Our mission statement affirmed the CCCC’s resolution as well as Baker-Bell et al.’s (2020) “DEMAND for Black Linguistic Justice” and, as a writing consultant, I was encouraged to develop my own critical language awareness. The UWC’s mission statement, professional development activities and pedagogies reflected a deep commitment to linguistic justice and anti-racist praxis. Many of the professional development activities that I participated in were oriented around the express aim of “work[ing] towards language justice by fashioning consultants into critical interventionists who can grapple with the complexities of language alongside writers” (Aguilar-Smith et al., 2022, para. 5). These efforts established the UWC as a socially responsive writing center, and my own enculturation into the center allowed me to advocate for linguistic justice in my sessions with students. 

However, when I returned to the UWC as a graduate student, a series of administrative and funding concerns had altered the material and ideological landscape that previous UWC administrators and consultants had developed. Conflicting notions about the writing center’s mission within the larger institutional context, funding and labor concerns, and a general devaluing of the UWC’s research and work within the institution forced out the directors I had previously worked with to advance linguistic justice. As I resumed my work as a graduate consultant at the UWC, it seemed to me that there had been an administrative turn towards an standard language ideology in which the writing center’s primary role became enculturating students into “standard” academic discourse rather than fostering critical language awareness among consultants, writing center clients, and the larger institution. Emphasis on assimilation often reflect larger institutional and cultural perceptions of the writing center as an instrument of white benevolence, a term that Wonderful Faison, Romeo García, and Anna K. Treviño (2022) use to describe the desire to help students of color “learn and adhere to the white rhetorical tradition” (p. 83). After years of participating in a community and culture which embraced linguistic diversity and valued anti-oppressive praxis, I felt that I was being asked to embody an attitude of white benevolence and to privilege the white rhetorical tradition in my work at the center.

As Basta and Smith (2019) describe in their examination of the ways that writing centers as institutions have been complicit in racist and colonialist structures, assimilationist practices are often articulated as “fixing” the writer or the writing that circulates in writing center spaces. Assimilationist practices are built on the assumptions of white linguistic supremacy and use a deficit model to conceptualize writers whose language practices deviate from standardized academic discourse. While assimilationist pedagogies often rely on the rhetoric of “good intentions” and empowerment, they invariably reproduce racist, imperialist, and colonialist hierarchies of language and power (Basta & Smith, 2019). During my time as a graduate consultant at the UWC, I became increasingly worried that the new orientation to writing center work I encountered was upholding assimilationist practices and reinforcing white linguistic hegemony. This new ideological positioning represented an abrupt departure from the commitment to linguistic diversity and justice that the UWC had maintained when I worked there as an undergraduate.

For the undergraduate and graduate consultants who staffed the UWC, the center’s apparent shift away from critical language awareness was difficult to navigate. Many of us remained staunchly committed to the promotion and enactment of linguistic justice and felt called to challenge the administration’s assumptions about standard language ideology in intentional and compassionate ways. We began, somewhat intuitively, with the strategies that many other centers have used to introduce linguistic justice work to its community: a theoretical grounding in critical language scholarship and the fostering of dialogue across ideological and embodied difference. However, the introduction of linguistic justice scholarship to the already delicate and charged dynamic of an evolving center proved ineffective and even divisive. I often felt that discussions about inclusive and critical language praxis were fraught and unproductive; I left staff meetings frustrated and with an increasing sense of futility for linguistic justice efforts. 

After several months of unresolved ideological tension, I began to observe the ways that white fragility, the process in which white people reclaim racial comfort and maintain racial dominance by responding to conversations about whiteness and racism with a range of defensive responses (DiAngelo, 2018, p. 2), had come to pervade and even characterize discussions of linguistic justice and antiracism in the UWC. Many times, the administration would respond to critiques of standard language ideology with what appeared to be anger, argumentation, and withdrawalcommon indications of white fragility (DiAngelo, 2018, p. 2). Symptoms of white fragility generally manifest when white individuals being asked to consider the implications of whiteness haven’t yet developed the racial stamina required to tolerate racial stress. Thus, white people are incapable of authentically engaging with antiracism until they build racial stamina through a critical examination of their own whiteness and the acknowledgement of their complicity in racist systems and structures (DiAngelo, 2018, p. 148). 

Additionally, observing exhibitions of white fragility in discussions of linguistic justice at the UWC compelled me to interrogate the ways in which my responses to these discussions also demonstrated a lack of white racial stamina. While I advocated for a more anti-racist approach to language in the writing center, it was safer and more comfortable to lament the lack of administrative support for linguistic justice than it was to confront the ways that I was complicit in the silencing of my colleagues of color. While critical dialogue and scholarship had proved ineffective bulwarks against white fragility’s persistence in conversations about race and language diversity, UWC staff members continued searching for viable avenues to advance linguistic justice in an environment that had become marked by resistance. In this article, I hope to reflect on the ways that white fragility manifested in the UWC and in my own approach to linguistic justice as well as articulate the strategies that allowed consultants to navigate institutional and administrative resistance. 

Resistance to Linguistic Justice 

Much of the literature pertaining to linguistic justice describes the resistance that writing center administrators face when asking students or consultants to interrogate standard language ideology and often provides productive strategies to ameliorate that resistance (Del Russo et al., 2020; Hutchinson & Morris, 2020; McCloskey et al., 2020; Robinson et al., 2020). However, little attention has been paid to those dynamics in which resistance to linguistic justice has flowed away from sources of power, from writing center administrators towards the undergraduate and graduate consultants they employ. As staff members, my colleagues and I lacked the agency to determine the center’s official approach to language or the authority to articulate a commitment to linguistic justice to external parties. Without recommendations for challenging dominant language ideologies while occupying a more precarious position within the power hierarchy of the center, the UWC’s staff had to establish its own strategies for enacting linguistic justice despite administrative resistance. Ultimately, we had to practice challenging manifestations of white fragility and begin cultivating white racial stamina instead. 

The purpose of this article is to share the strategies that consultants at one institution employed to counter a resistant administration in order to suggest pathways for linguistic justice to consultants working within similar power dynamics. By recounting a series of situations that occurred at the UWC during the past year, I hope to demonstrate the ways that white fragility disrupts efforts towards linguistic justice, the importance of critical self-reflection for white consultants and administrators, and the possibilities that become available when writing center communities cultivate white racial stamina. What I call for in this article is for white writing center administrators and consultants to move away from white fragility and towards white racial stamina in writing center work in order to make authentic commitments to antiracist language pedagogy. Building racial stamina necessitates that white consultants explicitly acknowledge racist structures and systems even while occupying disempowered positionalities within the writing center hierarchy. In this way, consultants and administrators can work to intentionally construct the kind of critical community that productively engages with difficult conversations in order to realize their commitments to language justice and antiracism. 

White Fragility in the Writing Center1

During the first consultant-led staff meeting after I returned to the UWC as a graduate student, a veteran graduate consultant selected “The Standard English Fairytale” as the focus for group discussion. Before the meeting began, I felt confident that a productive deconstruction of standard language ideology and assimilationist pedagogies would be facilitated through the explication of Greenfield’s argument. Consultants who were already familiar with Lippi-Green’s linguistic facts expected that the article would provide the new UWC community with an opportunity to “separate[e] the field’s actual knowledge from the systemically racist ideologies that shape its practices and ‘common sense’ judgments” (Basta & Smith, 2019, para. 19). But even the acknowledgement of basic linguistic realities proved divisive. During the discussion, a white administrator announced that she disagreed with Greenfield’s assertion that languages cannot be standardized; she also confessed that she didn’t consider the privileging of “Standard” English to be racist. My colleagues and I tried to articulate the implications of linguistic oppression for the writers who visited our center, but it appeared to me that the administrator maintained an attitude of skepticism. She eventually conceded that even if standard language ideology was an inherently racist project, she did not believe that it was the writing center’s responsibility to try to “solve” linguistic oppression within the scope of our 45-minute sessions. 

In conversations amongst undergraduate and graduate staff members after the meeting, many expressed disappointment with the direction the center’s pedagogy seemed to be headed and uncertainty over how to proceed with discussions of linguistic justice. Others were discomforted by the apparent white saviorism suggested by our administrator’s conceptualization of the writing center’s role in helping students assimilate into “standard” academic discourse. In conversations at the center, many of us acknowledged that our attempt to reaffirm the center’s commitment to linguistic justice during the first staff meeting was unsuccessful. Reluctant to allow standard language ideology to become the basis for our center’s pedagogy, several consultants made the collective decision to focus future staff meetings on linguistic justice. Over the next several months, we continued to prioritize conversations about language diversity and anti-oppressive praxis and searched for ways to productively dispel the resistance we felt during those discussions.

***

The story above illustrates the ways that white fragility engenders resistance to linguistic justice praxis and the inability of scholarship to facilitate meaningful dialogue without an intentional commitment from both parties to engage in challenging conversations, negotiate values, and recognize and challenge power hierarchies. Manifestations of white fragility during the first staff meeting prevented UWC consultants and administrators from operating as a “critical community”one in which participants practice “ongoing self-reflection, critical questioning, and effective dialoguing across and amidst difference” (Walter, 2022, para. 1). Reflecting on this story, it’s clear that our center had not yet begun cultivating the white racial stamina necessary to productively discuss linguistic oppression and the racist implications of standard language ideology. We, especially white consultants, had perhaps relied too much and too naively on scholarship to do the difficult, uncomfortable work of advocating for linguistic justice in the center. Depersonalizing our commitment to linguistic justice in this way, while appearing to be an effective strategy for protecting undergraduate and graduate consultants with less power to determine the pedagogical orientation of our broader community, diminished the urgency of our personal investment in linguistic justice. This in turn may have prompted administrators to react more forcefully and less mindfully than they would have otherwise. Ultimately, relying on linguistic fact proved a less feasible avenue for promoting critical language awareness to those with administrative power than it might be when administrators and scholars employ it to introduce emerging writing center consultants to linguistic justice ideology. In order for the UWC to commit itself to linguistic justice, both administrators and those with less authority needed to engage critically across ideological difference and search for productive ways to negotiate our center’s values without depending on scholarship to communicate for us.

Confronting Complicity through Critical Self-reflection2

Over the next several months at the UWC, consultant-led staff meetings continued to emphasize the importance of linguistic justice, and expressions of white fragility continued to disrupt and redirect these conversations. Despite our commitment to discussing race, language diversity, and the role of the writing center in dismantling standard language ideology, I felt that the administration was continuing to maintain an assimilationist perspective. They suggested that our responsibility as consultants was to assist writers in conforming to the expectations of their professors in order to be successful in academic contexts. Many consultants resented this reduction of our work to “fixing” student writing and writers and the expectation that we abandon our efforts towards critical language awareness. The staff was generally frustrated and discouraged by the rhetoric that had begun to redefine our center’s mission, but unsure how to navigate the power hierarchy that subordinated us as employees. The discussion portion of staff meetings seemed to be allocated less and less time each week, and it appeared to me that administrators often shut down or redirected conversations that critiqued assimilationist pedagogy.

This tension culminated in a heated exchange between a white administrator and a Black undergraduate consultant during a staff meeting in which the consultant was attempting to lead a discussion of Mitchell and Randolph’s “A Page from our Book: Social Justice Lessons from the HBCU Writing Center” (2019). While the consultant reflected on the center’s responsibility to advocate for linguistic justice, the administrator interrupted to challenge her assertion that language standards result in linguistic oppression. Despite the consultant’s attempts to reassert her position, I felt that the administrator continued to be argumentative and unreceptive. It was an uncomfortable exchange; many consultants were shocked by the administrator’s aggressive challenges though none of us intervened on behalf of our colleague to challenge the interruption, perhaps because we were confused by how to confront the apparent tension. After ten minutes, the discussion over the reading was halted to make time for a guest speaker. 

The consultant later expressed how uncomfortable and frustrating the exchange was for her. She confessed that she felt the need to moderate her tone and perspective in order to be heard by the white administrator, but that she ultimately believed her superiors had made up their minds to reject the linguistic and racial realities that she was attempting to elucidate. While consultants offered support and commiseration, it was hard to ignore that in our reticence to challenge expressions of white fragility even during an important conversation led by a consultant of color, we had in fact been complicit in the silencing of our colleague.  

***

One of the ways in which white fragility was being allowed to dominate discussions in the UWC was through the construction and maintenance of a “safe” space mentality characterized by the avoidance of criticism or challenge (Gramlich, 2019). By trying to create a safe and welcoming space for the administration to engage with linguistic justice scholarship while deferring to the traditional dynamics of professional hierarchy, our center had failed to account for the complexity involved when dialoguing across sociocultural and ideological difference. When a white administrator interrupted our undergraduate colleague of color in a discussion about race and language, I should have “called out” (Gramlich, 2019, para. 19) the microaggressive behavior rather than remaining silent. My complicity in the reassertion of racial comfort resulted in further entrenchment of white privilege and power in discussions of race and language during UWC staff meetings. 

Some staff members may have avoided explicitly calling out the administrator in order to allow the undergraduate consultant the space to share her perspective as a woman of color. I remember being reluctant to interrupt for fear of “speaking for” a marginalized group regarding their own oppression. Consultants, including myself, also may have been more concerned with being perceived as acting in a progressive way than with authentically enacting antiracist principles. In retrospect, this complicity may be attributable to consultants’ attempts to create two distinct spatial configurations during staff meetings: a “safe” space where undergraduate and graduate employees could engage a resistant administration in discussions of linguistic justice in ways that insulated us from professional risk and a “brave” space where consultants of color could express their experiences with linguistic oppression in order to make the conversation more immediate and urgent (and thus more convincing) for those who were skeptical of the importance of just language practices. However, this dissonance inevitably pushed the burden of linguistic justice education onto marginalized voices (Gramlich, 2019) while allowing white consultants to avoid holding administrators accountable for the ways in which they reproduced racist hierarchies during discussion. While writing center scholars acknowledge the importance of “occupying braver spaces to hold honest conversations about languages and effective writing” (Basta & Smith, 2019, para. 1), we must also repurpose Gramlich’s questions to examine the legitimacy of our “brave” spaces. Are white administrators and consultants participating in truly brave discourse by “mak[ing] assertions of acceptability and unacceptability” (Gramlich, 2019, para. 19)? Or are we merely “using historically underrepresented voices as a tool” for others’ enlightenment and to avoid our own discomfort in difficult conversations (Peterson, 2023, para. 1)?

Reflecting on the story above, it’s clear that the UWC had constructed a space in which marginalized members were responsible for facilitating brave conversations while white consultants and administrators were allowed to maintain their own sense of professional, social, and ideological safety. This dynamic indicates the lack of white racial stamina in our center. It also illustrates the ways that I, as a white consultant, was failing to enact meaningful antiracist work in my own way. During the exchange outlined above, I inadvertently positioned myself as the type of “well-meaning white” (p. 35) that Talisha Haltiwanger Morrison (2022) describes in her article about the continuum of racism in writing center work. As Morrison argues, “when bystanders remain silent, when they choose passivity, they align themselves with the aggressor, and also do harm” (p. 39). 

Initially, it was easy to locate the administration’s assimilationist pedagogy as the primary barrier to enacting an antiracist approach to language in the UWC. But all actors within the center, especially white consultants and administrators, needed to acknowledge that we were relying too heavily on scholarship and our colleagues of color to promote linguistic justice on our behalf. In order to cultivate racial stamina both personally and collectively, white consultants such as myself had to be more willing to relinquish their sense of safety. We also had to learn to wield our privilege in productive ways to explicitly challenge problematic systems, pedagogies, and behaviors in our center and to resist passivity.

Cultivating White Racial Stamina

Two weeks after the administrator’s interruption, I was scheduled to lead the staff meeting. I felt dissatisfied with how previous staff meetings had unfolded and began to recognize how my own white fragility had led me to be complicit in the persistence of racist structures and ideologies at the UWC. Until I examined how my whiteness had operated in discussions about raciolinguistic oppression, I recognized that I could not truly embody the antiracist values that I advocated for. I reflected on my reluctance to explicitly recognize and reject racist ideologies and performances during previous staff meetings and considered how my avoidance of negative feedback caused me to stay silent in situations that demanded my participation as a person who benefitted from the racial privilege that some of my more vulnerable colleagues lacked. Through this process of deep self-reflection, I began developing my white racial stamina which in turn encouraged me to approach interactions with the administration differently. 

When I began planning the discussion for the next staff meeting, I committed to participating more bravely by “calling out” the harmful effects of both white fragility and standard language ideology. At the recommendation of a writing center scholar outside of the UWC, I decided to ground the discussion in Brooklyn Walter’s (2022) concept of rhetorical listening in order to facilitate more productive dialoguing across, and with respect to, difference. Rhetorical listening, a term first theorized by Krista Ratcliffe (1999) refers to the practice of “hear[ing] discursive intersections of any cultural category” including race (196). In Walter’s article, rhetorical listening is defined as “an intentional form of listening that stretches beyond listening to repeat back or respond” particularly in writing center spaces (2022, para. 31); it is a process of engaging both mindfully and bravely in difficult conversations. I began the discussion by sharing how rhetorical listening had been a transformative practice for me and the ways that it had allowed me to begin deconstructing my white fragility. I then invited all members of the UWC community to practice rhetorical listening during the staff meeting discussion by responding reflectively rather than reactively, engaging in a willingness to be uncomfortable, and allowing others to share their perspectives without feeling the need to interrupt or debate. This invitation was meant not only to encourage more respectful communication, but to “call out” expressions of white fragility that silenced voices of color or derailed conversations about linguistic oppression. 

The discussion that followed felt much more productive and much less contentious than previous conversations about linguistic justice had. I observed that administrators communicated more mindfully and respectfully than I felt they had during the preceding staff meeting and consultants had more space to make explicit commitments to antiracist conceptualizations of language and to theorize ways for our center to enact linguistic justice through everyday praxis. After the meeting, one administrator even expressed appreciation for the opportunity to participate more intentionally in the conversation. While it would be disingenuous to claim that the discussion resulted in a reorientation of the UWC’s overall mission, the explicit acknowledgement of the racial dynamics operating at our center did result in more productive dialoguing amongst the UWC community. More importantly, it provided white consultants and administrators, including myself, the opportunity to practice racial stamina.

***

Engaging in critical self-reflection on my work at the UWC allowed me to confront the ways that my own white fragility impeded meaningful commitment to antiracism in my work as a writing center consultant. This final story illustrates the ways that cultivating white racial stamina can allow for more meaningful participation in discussions about race and language and can move writing centers towards a process of “community building that examines hidden and explicit power structures and calls out whiteness so that the community is genuinely inclusive of consultants of color” (Walter, 2022, para. 17). By holding myself and my white peers more accountable for episodes of white fragility, I was able to “critically embrace” (Gramlich, 2019) administrators exhibiting problematic behaviors without relying on my colleagues of color to shoulder the labor of social justice education. 

For most of the year, consultants dedicated to linguistic justice struggled to assert our ideological and pedagogical position in the evolving context of the UWC because white fragility inhibited both white staff members’ willingness to challenge racist constructions and administrators’ willingness to engage in critiques of standard language ideology. Operating as a critical community that encourages racial stamina instead of a “safe” space for white administrators allowed consultants to establish their commitment to linguistic justice more explicitly and purposefully. While developing and fostering white racial stamina did not signify the solution to all the issues surrounding race, power, and privilege in our center, it does suggest an avenue for navigating the resistance to linguistic justice that we encountered from our administrators. 

Looking Ahead: Implications for the Field and the Future

The situations that I explore in this article are highly specific to the dynamic operating in the UWC during the past year. While the stories included may not reflect the institutional and administrative contexts of your center, I hope that they productively complicate the narrative of resistance in which proponents of linguistic justice are those who occupy positions of power within writing center hierarchies and critical language awareness can easily be inculcated in resistant consultants through scholarship and dialogue. For centers like mine, traditional approaches to deconstructing standard language ideology may be insufficient strategies for navigating resistance, power, and white fragility. I urge administrators to be more aware of the ways that their position within their center’s power hierarchy insulates them from challenge or critique and that their avoidance of negative feedback prevents their community from embodying safe, brave, or critical ideals. 

I also encourage all white members of the writing center discipline to reject attitudes of white benevolence and begin developing white racial stamina. It is no longer sufficient to rely on scholarship and marginalized voices to advocate for linguistic justice on our behalf. An authentic commitment to antiracist ideals necessitates that we engage bravely in difficult conversations even and especially when we face resistance from those who wield power over us. Enacting linguistic justice requires us to first examine our privilege and complicity in racist structures in order to begin challenging those structures within our local contexts. Until we engage in this critical self-reflection and learn to tolerate the racial stress of acknowledging our whiteness, our efforts to design more equitable and inclusive spaces for all literacies and languages will amount to little more than pretense. Only by explicitly challenging white fragility can we begin neutralizing its capacity to undermine commitments to linguistic justice in our centers.

It’s difficult to predict how the UWC and its mission will continue to evolve in the future. Cultivating white racial stamina is an ongoing, recursive, and responsive process. Members of our community will have to continue critiquing manifestations of white fragility, challenging traditional racial and linguistic hierarchies, and engaging in difficult conversations with a willingness to receive negative feedback. Practicing racial stamina will not resolve the complex racial and sociocultural realities that produce linguistic oppression, but with intentionality and authentic bravery, we can move our center towards more just conditions for the administrators, consultants, and writers who occupy our spaces. 

References

Aguilar-Smith, S., Pouncil, F., & Sanders, N. (2022). Departing for a better writing center: Advancing language justice through staff professional development. The Peer Review, 6(1). https://thepeerreview-iwca.org/issues/issue-6-1/departing-for-a-better-writing-center-advancing-language-justice-through-staff-professional-development/

Baker-Bell, A., Williams-Farrier, B. J., Jackson, D., Johnson, L. Kynard, C., & McMurtry, T. (2020, July). This ain’t another statement! This is a DEMAND for black linguistic justice! Conference on college composition & communication. https://cccc.ncte.org/cccc/demand-for-black-linguistic-justice.

Basta, H. & Smith, A. (2019). (Re)envisioning the writing center: Pragmatic steps for dismantling white language supremacy. Praxis: A Writing Center Journal, 19(1). https://www.praxisuwc.com/191-basta-and-smith 

Condon, F. (2007). Beyond the known: Writing centers and the work of anti-racism. The Writing Center Journal, 27(2), 19-38. 

Conference on College Composition and Communication Committee on Language Policy. (1974). Students’ right to their own language. College Composition and Communication, 24(3), 1-18. https://doi.org/10.2307/356219

Del Russo, C., Krishnamurthy, S., & Mehalchick-Opal, M. (2020). Shifting the center: Towards an ethos and practice of social justice. The Peer Review, 4(2). https://thepeerreview-iwca.org/issues/issue-4-2/shifting-the-center-towards-an-ethos-and-practice-of-social-justice/

DiAngelo, R. (2018). White fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism. Beacon Press.

Faison, W., García, R., & Treviño A. K. (2022). White benevolence: Why supa-save-a-savage rhetoric ain’t getting it. In W. Faison & F. Condon (Eds.), CounterStories from the writing center (pp. 81-94). Utah State University Press.

Gramlich, J. J. (2019). Talking through: The detriment of avoidant discourse in WC allyship. The Peer-Review, 3(1). https://thepeerreview-iwca.org/issues/redefining-welcome/talking-through-the-detriment-of-avoidant-discourse-in-wc-allyship/

Greenfield, L. (2011). The standard English fairytale: A rhetorical analysis of racist pedagogies and commonplace assumptions about language diversity. In L. Greenfield & K. Rowan (Eds.), Writing centers and the new racism: A call for sustainable dialogue and change (pp. 33-60). University Press of Colorado.

Hutchinson, B. & Morris, A. (2020). Mesh it, y’all: Promoting code-meshing through writing center workshops.” The Peer Review, 4(2). https://thepeerreview-iwca.org/issues/issue-4-2/mesh-it-yall-promoting-code-meshing-through-writing-center-workshops/ 

Lippi-Green, R. (2011). English with an accent. Routledge.

McCloskey, J., Allain M., Drepaul, S., Hendry, K., Kindt. J., Sesay, A., & Welsh, D. (2020) Designing a more equitable future. The Peer Review, 4(2). https://thepeerreview-iwca.org/issues/issue-4-2/designing-a-more-equitable-future/. 

Mitchell, K. L. & Randolph, R. E. (2019). A page from our book: Social justice lessons from the HBCU writing center. The Writing Center Journal, 37(2), 21–42. 

Morrison, T. H. (2022). Beyond the binary: Revealing a continuum of racism in writing center theory and practice. In W. Faison & F. Condon (Eds.), CounterStories from the writing center (pp. 81-94). Utah State University Press.

Peterson, R. (2023). Emotional intelligence as a teachable skill: How empathy-based training can shape the writing center into an activist space. The Peer Review, 7(2). https://thepeerreview-iwca.org/issues/issue-7-2/conversation-shaper-emotional-intelligence-as-a-teachable-skill-how-empathy-based-training-can-shape-the-writing-center-into-an-activist-space/ 

Ratcliffe, K. (1999). Rhetorical listening: A trope for interpretive intervention and “a code of cross-cultural conduct.” College Composition and Communication, 51(2), 195–224.

Robinson, R., LeClair S., & Pouncil, F. (2020). Empowering the process: Redefining tutor training towards embodied restorative justice. The Peer Review, 4(2). https://thepeerreview-iwca.org/issues/issue-4-2/empowering-the-process-redefining-tutor-training-towards-embodied-restorative-justice/. 

Walter, B. (2022). Writing centers as critical communities: Redesigning community through critical dialogue, rhetorical listening, and the critical embrace.” The Peer Review, 6(1). https://thepeerreview-iwca.org

Notes

  • [1] The narrative portions of this article, indicated by Italics, are primarily informed by my own experiences at the UWC. However, I also draw from conversations amongst my colleagues during and after the events described. In order to be accountable to these collective experiences and ensure accurate narration, I offered my colleagues various opportunities to provide feedback on this article. While the narrative sections are told from my perspective, this feedback was invaluable in shaping the article and ensuring that the situations described represent a fair rendering of real events and conversations.
  • [2] The following narrative draws from an experience at the UWC that primarily involves an undergraduate consultant of color. Because of the sensitive nature of the event described, it is reproduced here with express permission of the consultant who also provided extensive feedback on this article.