Episode 14: Practicing Anti-Racist Pedagogy with Alisa Sánchez, Carlos Delgado, and Jessi Johnson

We continue the conversation about dismantling White supremacy and systems of oppression, especially in higher education, with Professors Alisa Sánchez, Carlos Delgado, and Jessi Johnson of the USC Writing Program. In this episode we talk about anti-racist pedagogy and ways we can uphold inclusive values and practices in the writing classroom.

Based on recommendations from our guests, we’ve added more resources to the Anti-Racist Reading List. We invite you to read, to listen, and to learn.

This episode was recorded on June 5. Please be aware that, because we recorded via Zoom, there are occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @writingremixpod.

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode
  • Kimberlé Crenshaw
  • Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
  • They Say / I Say by Cathy Birkenstein and Gerald Graff
  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. & E.B. White
  • Richard Lanham
  • Kimberly Jones: “How Can We Win?”

“Diversity is not the same as anti-racism.” -Jessi Johnson

“The objections seem to imply: yes, we begin from an unacceptable premise of White supremacy, but your ideas challenge White supremacy, so we can’t do your idea. It’s this amazing contradiction that academia continues to uphold.” @C_A_Delgado

“Our students are coming into the classroom multilingual. That can mean literal languages. That can mean backgrounds, knowledges, perspectives. [We want to] give each of those languages equal agency.” -Jessi Johnson

“Multimodality [means offering] different modes into the classroom space so it’s more inclusive…deconstructing the traditional academic essay, or saying there’s more than one way to approach the academic essay.” -Jessi Johnson

“Code-meshing is the idea that you can equally value all ways of speaking and all codes and all ways of thinking…So you don’t only have to say you can only use standard Western English and that’s the only way you’re going to get an A. It’s instead to say you come from a multitude of languages and ways of expressing your codes, and we want to mesh them all, rather than forcing you to switch back and forth between them.” -Jessi Johnson

“We have so many intersecting aspects of ourselves and so many different identities that all converge to make us very unique people, and we want to make space in the classroom for those intersecting identities.” -Jessi Johnson

“There are a thousand assumptions, invisible assumptions, that people who don’t get this work are making–and they don’t even know they’re making–about the history of Empire and the history of violence and who gets to say what English is right, who gets to say what English is good. We as gatekeepers have the opportunity to address some of that, but when our assumptions are built in…to give somebody a C- because they couldn’t talk like I do, it’s an extension of that violence.” @C_A_Delgado

“I really do and really don’t want to be tender with people because I love other people and we’re all human here…At the same time, it often feels like a betrayal, and a betrayal of myself, like I’m suppressing my anger and my pain in order to to be able to do my language and my affect and everything in the right way in order to not just be heard but be heard in a way that will start to make in-roads.” -Alisa Sánchez

“There is a tradition within Western thinking and writing that cherishes and loves the rebel…There is a long tradition of especially White men saying ‘Be free in your writing!’–until Black people are trying to write that way.” @C_A_Delgado

“I really want to show people their anti-Blackness and then invite them to cross a gap. That’s my hope in all of this.” @C_A_Delgado

“Allyship [in the classroom] means not assuming that your students know that you are for them. It’s speaking up and actually voicing that.” -Jessi Johnson

“The rubric becomes this terrible source of power for gatekeeping…So what I do is we get rid of the rubric, and we build it from the ground up collaboratively.” -Jessi Johnson

“It’s no longer just about diversity; it’s about expressing their intersecting identities, and it’s about valuing those identities. Literally valuing. I will give you a grade, and I will value this identity. And that’s anti-racism.” -Jessi Johnson

“It’s as though we forget once students enter the classroom that they got into college because they wrote a personal essay. They got into college because they know how to write.” @C_A_Delgado

“Rather than have [students] practice the ‘genre’…teach them how to read genre…Otherwise we’re just re-hashing a version of the five-paragraph essay.” @C_A_Delgado

“It’s about teaching those skills of critical thinking and critical reading and making choices as a writer…but it’s about being able to do those while being who you are and while not having to assimilate to a White identity.” -Alisa Sánchez

“[I’ve seen] the damage that [assimilation] can do, and it’s damage not only to individual students but that also ripples out and becomes collective trauma.” -Alisa Sánchez

“That’s why [it’s important] to welcome people to write in all of their languages and to be who they are. Since writing is so vulnerable and so powerful, that is a really important site in which to make sure we’re doing that work as teachers.” -Alisa Sánchez

“What we teach is what will continue.” -Jessi Johnson

“Thinking about this time and what to take from this…it’s to invest in the long-term transformations…that we transform knowledge production and we transform the academy and we transform writing and that it’s happening through our students…I see again and again that they are the ones who are–through their writing and the way that they do their work–shifting things and making change and creating that space.” -Alisa Sánchez

One thought on “Episode 14: Practicing Anti-Racist Pedagogy with Alisa Sánchez, Carlos Delgado, and Jessi Johnson

  1. This almost sounds like the movie 300. I can tell you guys were between the hills when the hunchback betrayed you. He knew you guys meant well but the Persian academia army was too strong. Imagine what Carter G Woodson would be thinking right now if he were still alive. “Miseducation of the Negro” They would rather us to continue to make a backdoor outside regardless of how wrong it is. Definitely loved this podcast, the honesty and realness. Look forward to listening to other episodes.

    Like

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