The Writing Center at the University of Washington, Tacoma, is telling students that expecting Americans to use proper grammar perpetuates racism.
A press release put out by UW Tacoma’s Writing Center argues that “there is no inherent ‘standard’ of English,” and that pressure to conform to proper American grammar standards perpetuate systems of racism.
“Linguistic and writing research has shown clearly for many decades that there is no inherent ‘standard’ of English,” claims the writing center’s statement. “Language is constantly changing. These two facts make it very difficult to justify placing people in hierarchies or restricting opportunities and privileges because of the way people communicate in particular versions of English.”
The university’s Writing Center Director, Dr. Asoa Inoue, suggests that racism has produced certain unfair standards in education.
“It is a founding assumption that, if believed, one must act differently than we, the institution and its agents, have up to this point,” Inoue claimed. While overt racism is usually easily identified, more elusive are microaggressions, forms of degradation which manifest on a subconscious and casual level. As the statement reads “Racism is pervasive. It is in the systems, structures, rules, languages, expectations, and guidelines that make up our classes, school, and society.”
The university’s Vice Chancellor, Jill Purdy, claimed that the Writing Center’s new statement is a great example of how academia can fight back against racism. “Language is the bridge between ideas and action,” she claimed. “So how we use words has a lot of influence on what we think and do.”