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Vernacular Insurrections

Race, Black Protest, and the New Century in Composition-Literacies Studies

Carmen Kynard

Publication Year: 2013

Relates Black Freedom Movements to literacy education.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

It’s been a long time coming on this book and so I have many thanks to give. My editor at SUNY, Beth Bouloukos, has been the kind of writing teacher we should all have: patient, supportive, and critical. I am indebted to a special cast and crew at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education and to the Founders Fellowship there under the leadership of ...

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Introduction: Runnin with the Rabbits, but Huntin with the Dogs: On the Makings of an Intellectual Autobiography

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pp. 1-20

After five years of teaching high school, I needed space and time to think through what I had witnessed in the education of the African American and Latino/a youth whom I had taught. I wrote to my college undergraduate mentor, Sylvia Wynter, explaining that I was taking time off to “think my way out of this twilight zone that has become my daily reality.” The personal statements that my graduating high school seniors...

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Teaching Interlude I: Method Men and Women

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pp. 21-24

Back when Wu‑Tang Clan was the hottest and newest thing on the scene in New York City and I was a high school teacher, I could never seem to keep my thoughts to myself. Wu‑Tang Clan, for the few who don’t know, was a large group of nine musicians and wordsmiths from the New York area who were all the rage in the early 1990s, the exact time when I left middle school teaching and began teaching high school English and Humanities...

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Chapter 1: “Before I’ll Be a Slave, I’ll Be Buried in My Grave”: Black Student Protest as Discursive Challenge and Social Turn in Nineteenth- and Twentieth‑Century Literacies

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pp. 25-66

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a calculated system of education maintained the economic subordination of global black masses in Africa and the United States and was deployed by the same American, capitalist brokers. This racial subjugation via schooling produced an educated class who would come back to bite educational institutions in...

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Teaching Interlude II: Through Their Window

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pp. 67-72

Super, Sweet, Soul, Sonic, Sisters. That’s what my friends and I called one another in junior high school but we did not invent those words. It was the effect of Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force, the force behind what is now known as the Universal Zulu Nation.1 I only remembered this a decade later, in 1999, in the semester that I met Rakim,2 a student...

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Chapter 2: “I Want To Be African”: Tracing Black Radical Traditions with “Students’ Rights to Their Own Language”

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pp. 73-106

At a time when ev’rybody and they momma, black and white academics alike, call everything black folk said and did in ’60s social justice movement essentialist, Parks’s (2000) Class Politics: The Movement for the Students’ Right to Their Own Language (SRTOL) came along and blew up a new spot, giving us a different context and paradigm.1 Class Politics ...

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Teaching Interlude III: Undoing the Singularity of “Ethical English” and Language‑as‑Racial‑Inferiority

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pp. 107-110

Like many students I have met, Sherrie, a young black woman, did not see herself as someone who wrote well.1 That spring semester of 2001, Sherrie and her writings are as clear to me today as if it were just yesterday. Sherrie would routinely do things in weekly, informal journal assignments such as write two verb forms for the subjects of EACH of her sentences ...

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Chapter 3: “Ain’t We Got a Right to the Tree of Life?”: The Black Arts Movement and Black Studies as the Untold Story of and in Composition Studies

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pp. 111-142

Artists, as Benjamin argues, are never autonomous. They do not merely represent, talk about, propagandize, or serve their world; they produce it.1 In keeping with Benjamin’s line of thinking, you could also say that we, as composition scholars, are also agents in producing our social worlds. My main interest in this chapter is to ask and look at the kind of social...

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Teaching Interlude IV: “Not Like the First Time, Talkin Bout the Second Time”

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pp. 143-148

My very first year of teaching college composition was at a campus of the City University of New York (CUNY) as I was working on a master’s degree focused on composition and rhetoric. I wanted to stay connected to the area where I had taught high school and thought that this particular campus would be the perfect place. I even had a student who recognized ...

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Chapter 4: “The Revolution Will Not Be [Error Analyzed]”: The Black Protest Tradition of Teaching and the Integrationist Moment

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pp. 149-190

In composition studies, discussions of CUNY, open admissions, and basic writing in the 1960s have often been dismissed if the speaker is not a CUNY instructor, did not know Shaughnessy, or the speaker is not familiar with the political terrain of the 1960s. And yet rarely are these “authorized” speakers nonwhite; rarely are these speakers knowledgeable ...

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Teaching Interlude V: “Your Mother is Weak”

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pp. 191-196

Let me be honest here and admit that most of the times when I remember laughing like there is no tomorrow, those times have been in classrooms. That tendency probably kept me from staying in my original teaching position in New York City: junior high school, with sixth graders. I can still see Marvin and Roland, both of them all of maybe three and a half...

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Chapter 5: What a Difference an Error Makes: Ongoing Challenges for “White Innocence,” Historiography, and Disciplinary Knowledge Making

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pp. 197-232

By the close of chapter 4, I visited the following historical sites: (1) an HBCU‑locus and black student protest tradition as part and parcel of the polemics of teaching composition; (2) CUNY black and Puerto Rican student protests as literacies; and (3) the histories of black radicalism in the context of segregation (especially in the North and New York) as...

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Outerlude: Leaving the Emerald City

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pp. 233-250

I will end this book with, arguably, the place and time in which it really began. I take you back to circa 1990 when I was a college undergraduate. At this point, I was involved with youth community organizations in the neighboring community of East Palo Alto, about a forty‑minute walk away from campus. On one end was the college’s most famous and brilliant...


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pp. 251-310


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pp. 311-326

Back Cover

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p. BC-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9781438446370
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438446356

Page Count: 334
Publication Year: 2013