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Faculty awarded for racial equity and literacy work

MCTC English Faculty 2017

Writing opens dialogue to inform equity work on campuses nationwide

MCTC English faculty Dr. Renee DeLong, Dr. Kathleen Sheerin DeVore, Shannon Gibney, Dr. Michael Kuhne and former faculty member Dr. Taiyon Coleman were awarded the Mark Reynolds Teaching English in the Two-Year College (TETYC) Best Article Award for 2017. The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) grants the annual award to TETYC author(s) whose article manifests excellence in the areas of content currency, style, form, value to readers and overall impression.

The Risky Business of Engaging Racial Equity in Writing Instruction: A Tragedy in Five Acts, investigates how writing programs, instructors and the profession itself engage in the erasure of race. It looks specifically at the erasure of blackness and brownness and the hesitancy to address white privilege. According to its authors, the article was “inspired by pain, real suffering, anger and frustration.”

A meaningful recognition

The article began as a presentation given at the 2016 College Composition and Communication Conference in Tampa, Florida. Following the conference, the presenters were invited to submit the content as an article for publication in the TETYC which, according to Kuhne, is the main journal for the composition discipline throughout Canada and the U.S. He said, “Earning this recognition from my network of peers is very meaningful and it was an honor to write and publish with peers who I both admire and respect.”

Each of the authors came to the article with different individual goals; however, collectively, they shared two objectives. The first objective was to make sense of their personal and shared experiences. The second was to inform and inspire others who find themselves in situations where predominantly white faculty teach predominantly students of color and where faculty of color experience white privilege and its debilitating effects. “This award could mean that we call our profession to push for assessment of and trainings in substantive racial equity work,” said DeVore.

A validation of time and energy

Colleagues from across the country reached out to the authors to share how the article resonated with their experiences and provide ideas and concepts about beginning or advancing equity work on their campuses. “This award could mean we call our profession to push for assessment of and trainings in substantive racial equity work.” Gibney added, “The award means the important topic of racial equity work in composition classrooms at two-year colleges has made it into some mainstream disciplinary circles which is encouraging.”

The selection committee members for the 2017 Award included Howard Tinberg (chair), Dianne Fallon, Anthony Funari, Rebecca Fleming, Robert Lazaroff, Jill Kronstadt and Marlena Stanford. The award included a plaque and cash prize that were presented in March at the Conference on College Composition and Communication’s annual meeting in Portland, Oregon. DeLong attended the conference to accept the award. She said, “I was struck by how many of the award winners are grappling with equity issues.” DeLong also stated she loves that the article is personal, political and theoretical which is what she believes teaching and scholarship should be. “Receiving the award is a validation of the time and energy we put into working toward racial equity at MCTC.”

Work in progress

The authors agreed, collectively, “Winning the award has not substantially changed our working environments. The award is nice, but we do not assume things will change because of it. However, we continue to do the equity work (necessary) to make those changes we want for ourselves, our students and this college; and we invite others to do the same.”

TETYC, published four times annually, is for English instructors at two-year colleges and teachers of first- and second-year composition at four-year institutions. TETYC publishes theoretical and practical articles on composition, developmental studies, technical and business communication, literature, creative expression, language and the profession. For additional information about TETYC, visit the NCTE website and view the article.