Posted on December 12, 2023

Professor: Asking Black Students to Write Using Standard English Is ‘Anti-Black Linguistic Racism’

Jack Davis, Western Journal, December 9, 2023

Expecting black students to write standard English that their teachers understand is racist, according to a University of Michigan professor.

April Baker-Bell believes that “traditional approaches to language education do not account for the emotional harm or consequences these approaches have on Black students’ sense of self and identity,” according to an article in Equity in Teaching Academic Language.

Baker-Bell expounded on that during a November online workshop for faculty and graduate students hosted by Northern Illinois University, according to the The College Fix.

Baker-Bell said that because black language is “devalued in classrooms,” it “reflects how black lives are devalued in the world.”


Requiring black students to use standard English is “anti-black linguistic racism,” she says.

A workbook handout for her presentation at Northern Illinois defined that as “the linguistic violence, persecution, dehumanization, and marginalization that Black Language-speakers experience in schools and in everyday life.”

The workbook had exercises in which teachers and graduate students could “think through how [they] might be complicit in the reproduction of anti-Black racism and anti-Black linguistic racism through curricula, language instruction, pedagogies, practices, and language policies,” according to The College Fix.

The workbook also said that a linguistic justice course would allow those taking it to better be alert for “white linguistic hegemony and anti-Black linguistic racism.”