Linguistic Justice: Black Language, Literacy, Identity, and Pedagogy, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Linguistic Justice

Black Language, Literacy, Identity, and Pedagogy, 1st Edition

By April Baker-Bell


128 pages | 13 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2020-05-13
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Bringing together theory, research, and practice to dismantle Anti-Black Linguistic Racism and white linguistic supremacy, this book provides ethnographic snapshots of how Black students navigate and negotiate their linguistic and racial identities across multiple contexts. By highlighting the counterstories of Black students, Baker-Bell demonstrates how traditional approaches to language education do not account for the emotional harm, internalized linguistic racism, or consequences these approaches have on Black students' sense of self and identity. This book presents Anti-Black Linguistic Racism as a framework that explicitly names and richly captures the linguistic violence, persecution, dehumanization, and marginalization Black Language speakers endure when using their language in schools and in everyday life. To move toward Black linguistic liberation, Baker-Bell introduces a new way forward through Antiracist Black Language Pedagogy, a pedagogical approach that intentionally and unapologetically centers the linguistic, cultural, racial, intellectual, and self-confidence needs of Black students. This volume captures what Antiracist Black Language Pedagogy looks like in classrooms while simultaneously illustrating how theory, research, and practice can operate in tandem in pursuit of linguistic and racial justice. 

A crucial resource for educators, researchers, professors, and graduate students in language and literacy education, writing studies, sociology of education, sociolinguistics, and critical pedagogy, this book features a range of multimodal examples and practices through instructional maps, charts, artwork, and stories that reflect the urgent need for antiracist language pedagogies in our current social and political climate. 


"The "D" came through and showed out in this book! The Detroit youth who are at the center of this study show us just how critical Black youth are to the linguistic inventions and thereby the new worldviews that we all experience through them. April Baker-Bell offers us the theoretical and pedagogical principles that will give back to Black youth the knowledge of who they linguistically/ideologically are. She is ushering in a new program and thought system for Black Language and Liberation for the 21st century, brilliantly reminding us of the ways that the struggles for and triumphs of Black Freedom have always been expressed within the deeply embedded philosophies of Black Language. Linguistic Justice: Black Language, Literacy, Identity, and Pedagogy is timely, unique, and critical…. a book that teachers, students, and anyone interested in Black Language will want in their hands."

Carmen Kynard, Texas Christian University, USA

"At long last, this is the book we have all been waiting for…. The book’s transformative lesson plans and inquiry-based teaching-learning experiences have been tested in the crucible of real world classrooms on both high school and college levels."

—From the Foreword by Geneva Smitherman, Michigan State University, USA

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: "Black Language is Good on Any MLK Boulevard:" A Call For Linguistic Justice        

Chapter 2: "What’s Anti-Blackness Got To Do Wit It?": Anti-Black Linguistic Racism and a Call for an Antiracist Black Language Pedagogy    

Chapter 3: "Killing Them Softly": The Impact of Anti-Black Linguistic Racism    

Chapter 4: "Scoff No More": Antiracist Black Language Pedagogy as Praxis   

Chapter 5: "Black Linguistic Consciousness": On the Other Side of the Antiracist Black Language Pedagogy    

Chapter 6: (Bonus Chapter) "THUG LIFE": The Power of Young Adult Literature in an Antiracist Black Language Pedagogical Framework

About the Author

April Baker-Bell is Assistant Professor of Language, Literacy, and English Education at Michigan State University, USA.

About the Series

NCTE-Routledge Research Series

The NCTE-Routledge Research Series

Series Editors

Valerie Kinloch, The Ohio State University

Susi Long, University of South Carolina


The NCTE-Routledge Research Series, copublished by the National Council of Teachers of English and Routledge, focuses on literacy studies in P-12 classroom and related contexts. Volumes in this series are invited publications or publications submitted in response to a call for manuscripts. They are primarily authored or co-authored works which are theoretically significant and broadly relevant to the P-12 literacy community. The series may also include occasional landmark compendiums of research.

The scope of the series includes qualitative and quantitative methodologies; a range of perspectives and approaches (e.g., sociocultural, cognitive, feminist, linguistic, pedagogical, critical, historical, anthropological); and research on diverse populations, contexts (e.g., classrooms, school systems, families, communities), and forms of literacy (e.g., print, electronic, popular media).

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / Sociolinguistics