Statement on Anti-Racism
The Department of Writing is committed to fostering an antiracist teaching and learning environment for students, faculty, and staff. We condemn our nation’s brutal history of racism, colonialism, and white supremacy. We affirm that diversity is vital to American identity. Black lives matter. Indigenous peoples and ways of knowing matter. We recognize that the University of Alaska Anchorage campus, which sits beneath the Chugach Mountains and alongside the waters of the Chanshtnu (Chester) Creek, exists on the unceded homeland of the Dena'ina people of Eklutna, the Eydlughet and K’enakatnu tribes. We commit ourselves to pedagogical practices that not only acknowledge colonialism's local impacts but also encourage and nurture Alaska Native voices as a response. We acknowledge formal writing instruction has adopted language norms from mostly white, traditionally educated, middle- and upper-class people and used those norms as standards in the classroom. Decades of negative judgments followed, apparent in standardized tests and grading systems, of those who deviate from the norms of the group in power. The narrowness of our norms has cost us the rich language assets our students might share with one another and the world; however, we believe that with care, determination, and humility, higher education can be reshaped to promote equality.
Anchorage is among the most culturally diverse cities in the United States, with speakers of over 100 languages. As professors of writing in this community, we have a responsibility to embrace pedagogies that not only respect but promote diverse cultural traditions in writing and communication. We welcome students from around the world and believe that multilingualism is a strength, as diverse language practices further career opportunities, cultural understanding, and justice by connecting people locally and globally. We commit to teaching texts by people of color as constitutive pieces of the English language’s rich linguistic tradition; exposing, analyzing, and challenging overt and implicit racism; and reflecting the realities of our students’ lives and identities. We have a further duty to help dismantle educational practices on our campus that reflect outmoded conceptions of “good writing” that, even when unwittingly applied, often discriminate against students of color. We acknowledge that our perspectives and actions as educators are still influenced by racism, and we pledge to work towards a more equitable and just institution for all Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. We affirm that all people, cultures, and linguistic traditions are inherently valuable, and through a commitment to antiracist pedagogy, we seek to create a culture of respect, equity, and inclusion in order to serve minoritized student writers as they further develop their voices and engage with the world.