Apparently, social justice is a key component of being an effective writer.

Colleen Flaherty of Inside Higher Ed reports.

Write Privilege

TAMPA, Fla. — White privilege — the concept that whites benefit from structural racism in ways that similarly situated nonwhites don’t — has been hotly debated among academics for decades. But recent events — from the riots and protests in Ferguson, Mo., to the closure of a University of Oklahoma fraternity over its racist chants, to this week’s beating of a black University of Virginia student by campus police — have reinvigorated that debate, along with calls for teachers to talk directly with their students about white privilege.

For professors inclined to answer those calls, just how should they do it, particularly in a writing class? That was the topic of a popular session Thursday at the annual meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication. The session was led by Ersula Ore, an assistant professor of writing at Arizona State University who found herself at the center of a debate about police racism on that campus last year, when she was body-slammed by campus police after they stopped her for jaywalking and she refused to show her ID. (Ore is African-American.)

Ore, who has declined to answer questions about her case, citing legal concerns (she is suing the university), didn’t talk about her own experience Thursday. But she offered a historical overview of discussions of white privilege in top writing pedagogy journals. Ore noted a seminal 1998 article by Catherine Prendergast, a professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, arguing that race is the “absent presence” in composition studies and advocating the study of whiteness and racial privilege in the field. That argument gave way over the next decade to the notion of teaching empathy as an antiracist strategy, Ore said.

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Write Privilege (Inside Higher Ed | News)