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How Broken English Made Me Whole

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Jamila Lyiscott

on 25 September 2015

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Transcript of How Broken English Made Me Whole

How Broken English Made Me Whole:
Exploring Race, New Literacies, and Social Justice Within a Youth Participatory Action Research Framework

It is Diachronic & Synchronic
New Literacies in the Classroom
Slaveowners possessed the increasingly elaborate state codes controlling the labor and physical being of slaves. Yet they sought more—even the words, the very language of their slaves. To masters, the words of slaves appeared doubly significant. On the one hand, they were intimate, the personal expression of self and world. On the other hand, they were potent, lethal things. By seeking to control slave language, masters sought to exact slave complicity in their own subjugation. (485).

- John Sekora (1987), "Black Message, White Envelope"
“until I am free to write bilingually and to switch codes without having always to translate, while I still have to speak English or Spanish when I would rather speak Spanglish, as long as I have to accommodate the English speakers rather than having them accommodate me, my tongue will be illegitimate” (81).

-Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands: La Frontera
Berlin of 1884 was effected through the sword and the bullet. But the night of the sword and the bullet was followed by the morning of the chalk and the blackboard…The bullet was the means of physical subjugation. Language was the means of spiritual subjugation (9).

one of the most humiliating experiences was to be caught speaking Gikuyu in the vicinity of the school. The culprit was given corporal punishment—three to five strokes of the cane on bare buttocks—or was made to carry a metal plate around the neck with inscriptions such as I AM STUPID or I AM A DONKEY...what is important…is that the language of our evening teach-ins, and the language of our immediate community, and the language of our work in the field were one…And then I went to school, a colonial school, and this harmony was broken. The language of my education was no longer the language of my culture (11).

-Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, 'Decolonising the Mind'
A Tool of Enslavement:
A Tool of Colonialism:
A Tool of the Politics of Respectability:
"Bringing Down the House"
Bringing Down the Classroom?
Linguistic Profiling: the racial identification and discrimination of an individual or group of people based on their speech

H. Samy Alim, "We are the Streets’: African American Language and the strategic construction of a street conscious identity"
How have schools been complicit in reproducing linguistic inequities? How have you been complicit?
1. What does it look like for knowledge production to be captured and engaged from organic intellectual spaces?
3. What does it look like for students to co-produce the knowledge and social action necessary for true change?
3a. WHILE tapping into the navigational capital embedded in Black literacy practices, the rhythm of the cypher, the photo-visual power of digital literacies, the lyrical dexterity of spoken word?
2. How does a critical participatory space open new worlds for challenging language and racial ideologies?
Black Literacies: Rooted in West African culture, forged in adversity
Hip Hop: Anti-hegemonic stance, global impact
Spoken Word: Lyrical dexterity of the written and oral word combined
Digital Literacy: Photovisual, reproduction, branching, informational, socioemotional literacies
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