Say They Name in Black English: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Aura Rosser, Travon Martin and the Need to Move from College Writing Instruction and Toward Black Linguistic Arts

by English Department & Writing Program

Academic Topic: Writing

Fri, Apr 30, 2021

3:15 PM – 4:30 PM EDT (GMT-4)

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In this talk, dr. vay, past chair of Conference on College Communication and Composition (2018 to 2021), asks audiences to review the “Know Their Names: Black People Killed By The Police in the USA” (found here prior to his talk. 

dr. vay’s address will argue that the exclusive focus on writing and standard language ideology in First Year Composition replicates and fosters state-sanctioned violence against Black peoples. Drawing on American history, discourses of composition studies, the attempts to make comp/rhet only about writing, and current calls for Black linguistic justice, dr. vay will provide other rhetorically- and linguistically based options that instructors must use to inform their literacy pedagogies geared away from racial domination and toward liberation of Black peoples, they bodies, they tongues, and they socio-cultural performances.  

About the Speaker: Vershawn Ashanti Young, who goes by dr. vay, is the Hildegarde & Elbert Baker Visiting Scholar at CWRU in Spring 2021.  dr. vay has been writing for newspapers and magazines for almost twenty years. Two of his most recent pieces have been on the white-to-black racial passing of a Jewish college professor and on the controversial use of the Nword. This latter piece was reprinted in the magazine of Canadian Association of University Teachers. dr.vay is a solo performance artist. At the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, he is the program development chair of Black Pan African and Diaspora Studies and a professor in the departments of Communication Arts and English Language and Literature. He is the author or coauthor of ten books, including This Ain't Yesterday's Literacy: Culture and Education After George Floyd (Fountainhead Press, 2021), which has been adopted as a common reader at several universities. He is also coauthor of Other People’s English (Parlor Press, 2019), The Routledge Reader of African American Rhetoric (Routledge, 2018), and Neo-Passing: Performing Identity After Jim Crow (University of Illinois Press, 2018). He is currently the chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), the largest educational organization dedicated to college literacies of communication.

This Lecture is supported by the CWRU Writing Program, English Department, and Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities.