For more than eighteen years now, I have worked in culturally and linguistically pluralistic, urban schools, from K-16. Each semester, each setting, and each institution present both struggles and opportunities for literacy and writing research/praxis that question and enrich our social environment rather than reify dominant relationships between institutions of power and racially oppressed groups.
This personal history and commitment mean that I approach literacy and writing as: the space for what people do, rather than what they have or do not have; socio-cultural practices, rather than a set of neutral skills to be acquired according to already given political and social hierarchies; a deep engagement with political processes (we either accept ourselves as objects or we act as subjects who can change what lies before us); and an issue of context—cultural, geographic, and historical.
As an interdisciplinary researcher and scholar, I am especially interested in the ways that race, culture, and the politics of literacy instruction collide. I work as rigorously as I can to engage multiple processes of qualitative research linked to traditions of critical discourse analysis. The content and political-methodologies of my manuscripts, journal articles in composition and rhetoric studies, and collective works in educational studies all involve a close following of four, overlapping cyclical themes:
I) Composition-Rhetoric Studies and African American/Pan-African Discourses–In this theme, I look at the discourse patterns of students of color, particularly African American Language (AAL) and Pan-African writers, as representations of a unique political and cultural context in U.S. education.
II) Black Women’s Discourses of Work, Literacy, and Life– In this area of my work, I examine discourses of black women as histories and epistemologies that can shape research, schools, and methodologies. This theme is closely connected to the work that I do in discourse and composition-rhetoric studies but it is distinct in that it is explicitly connected to contemporary black women’s lives.
III) Race Critical Pedagogies– In this theme, I make an explicit connection to critical pedagogy and theories of race. In particular, I am interested in the ways that the histories of African American education in the context of racial oppression bear implicit connections to theories of critical pedagogies.
IV) Historiography and Africana Studies in Literacies Research– Here, I situate African American cultural spheres and aesthetic movements as histories of literate traditions.