Black Perspectives on Writing Program Administration: From the Margins to the Center

by Staci M. Perryman-Clark and Collin Craig

Over the past year and a half, we’ve been collaborating on the edited collection for CCCC SWR. Up until this point, much of our work has focused on anti-racist pedagogy both in the classroom as Black writing educators, in writing programmatic policies, and in disciplinary spaces that engage WPA research and scholarship. Through our collaborative work, we’ve asked the field to think more deeply and critically about how we foster stronger allyship not only with and for students of color, but also with each other as educators and disciplinary colleagues. For us, we see our current project as a more extended opportunity to gather a variety of voices that enact and move forward anti-racist pedagogies both in the classroom and as colleagues in our disciplines. We see WPA work, then, as a space to think about anti-racist pedagogy to effect not simply, classroom innovation, but also disciplinary and institutional transformation. In short, our current project includes voices from allies, WPAs of color working at PWIs, and WPAs of color working at HBCUs. Each contributor shares their administrative experiences and perspectives that highlight ways in which WPAs might leverage allyship to employ anti-racist pedagogy, with a particular focus on Black students and writing program curricular development. For us, anti-racist pedagogy is not simply an issue that pertains to students in our classrooms; based on the stories from these voices, we firmly believe that anti-racist pedagogical instruction requires our colleagues to learn how and what it means to practice anti-racism, and in particular, avoid racist, microaggressive behaviors in our daily interactions with one another. From being mistaken for another African American woman on campus despite no other resemblance than skin color, to being constantly asked to show ID before entering a campus building to host weekly office hours, a variation of microaggressive behaviors can shape the everyday realities of Black academic life.

Additional contributions to our project, however, do provide pedagogical examples of what anti-racist pedagogy looks like in curricula and how students have benefitted from these practices. In a chapter from our project, we use the CWPA Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing (http://wpacouncil.org/framework) to provide a framework for what success for Black student writers looks like in postsecondary writing programs. We even highlight a few examples of HBCU and PWI programs that are enacting successful pedagogies that support Black students. For us, anti-racist pedagogy means that students of historically oppressed populations, including Black students, are provided with the tools and institutional support to perform successfully in writing programmatic settings.

These days, our work at institutional sites has moved us beyond writing programs toward even larger institutional transformation. For Staci, she was recently appointed as the Associate Director of her university’s teaching and learning center, the WMU Office of Faculty Development (https://wmich.edu/facultydevelopment). In that role, she has developed a Teaching Inclusivity Series (https://wmich.edu/facultydevelopment/programs/teaching-inclusiity-series) that promotes workshops including anti-racist responses to Charlottesville. For Collin, his work as Project Coordinator for the university Black and Latino Male Initiative has allowed him to identify how to bring non-curricular driven learning environments in conversation with anti-racist, culturally sustaining university writing program learning objectives.  In effect, for us, we believe that in order to move the field forward in our adoptions of antiracist pedagogy, we also need to advocate more strongly for institutional change beyond the work we do as WPAs in campus-wide writing programs.  Moreover, while as a field, we should of course care about Black student success in writing programs, we must both connect and engage them with the larger sociopolitical issues facing Black students and our appeals to racial justice. This book, then, positions the work in writing programs with the work of social justice.

 

 

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