"engaging race": Teaching critical race inquiry and community-engaged projects

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What good is rhetoric," asks Ben Kuebrich, "when Tamir Rice wasn't given a second to speak?" (567). Kuebrich's 2015 article about the processes and production of a community publication, I Witness: Perspectives on Policing in the Near Westside, "was not written for the current moment" (568) of heightened and visible race-related strife and violence but surely speaks to it. "I don't know how to write for this moment" (568), Kuebrich asserts, but knows all of us who understand the power and perils of language in the long history of racial oppression must try. Two years after Kuebrich's insistence that rhetoricians and compositionists counter the racist rhetorics that dehumanize, devalue, and threaten the lives of African American males, the call for rhetoricians to participate in antiracist work is persistently and palpably urgent. The "still . . . very deep and strong current of racism and White supremacy in the United States" (Au xvi) has been exacerbated by the Trump White House, from the White House website listing "Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community" as one of its "Top Issues," using language that connotes African Americans as the opposition while reinscribing racist stereotypes ("Standing"), to Louisiana's May 2016 "Blue Lives Matter" bill treating police officers as a protected class (Shuey). As Mark Potok, Senior Fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center claims, "[I]t seems undeniable that Trump's reckless, populist campaign has left a legacy of hatred, violence, and division.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-132
Number of pages28
JournalCollege English
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics


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