This will be a quick post, but we’ve done so many on how current math instruction, with its focus on showing your work and arriving at the correct answer, is based on white supremacy, we thought it would be interesting to take a peek at what’s going on in English classes. Case Western University this week is hosting a lecture by Vershawn Ashanti Young titled, “Say They Name in Black English: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Aura Rosser, Trayvon Martin and the Need to Move from College Writing Instruction and Toward Black Linguistic Arts.”

It’s funny: this editor used to teach first-year (aka freshman) composition, and while his graduate instructors devoted whole classes to what was then called black English vernacular, black students would come to him in the writing center for help making their papers grammatically “correct” — which would now be considered white supremacy at work. Tenured faculty would say to leave it as is and cash the tuition check.

Here’s what’s up and how Black Lives Matter is tied up with freshman English classes:

His 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, Young 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.

Remember all of those math teachers tweeting that 2+2 = 5 in order to fight white supremacy in math classrooms? Same thing.

Young has written 10 books, including this year’s “This Ain’t Yesterday’s Literacy: Culture and Education After George Floyd,” “which has been adopted as a common reader at several universities.”

This semester at Case will cost students $26,224.

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