Linguistic Justice: Black Language, Literacy, Identity, and Pedagogy

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.

Purchase Information:
Linguistic Justice can be purchased at:

Author: Dr. April Baker-Bell is an Assistant Professor of Language, Literacy, and English Education at Michigan State University

Film & Editing Work: Peter Johnston, Michigan State University
Book Cover Art: Dr. Grace Player, University of Connecticut

From the series editor foreword by Valerie Kinloch and Susi Long: “Linguistic Justice is a book about Black people and identities, Black literacies and languages, and Black life and liberation. In fact, it is not only a book. It is also a complex love story about the valuable role teachers and teacher educators must play in supporting Black students to navigate and negotiate their linguistic, racial, and sociopolitical identities within multiple, hostile contexts. It is a love story about survival that is set against the realities of white supremacy that get materialized through racial
injustices and linguistic violence. It is a love story against Anti-Blackness, generally, and against Anti-Black Linguistic Racism, specifically. And what a love story it is!”

From the foreword by Geneva Smitherman: “At long last, this is the book we have all been waiting for. A book designed to develop our students’ critical understanding of and historical consciousness about Black Language. A book that builds on that critical inquiry to motivate students to formulate ways of impacting and changing the linguistic status quo. As a leading member of a new generation of language and literacy scholar-teacher-activists, Dr. April Baker-Bell represents for Black Language and its speakers because she gets it. Props and much respect to Baker-Bell for her wisdom, her creative genius, and her years of teaching experience in the educational vineyard, which have given birth to the brilliantly crafted Linguistic Justice: Black Language, Literacy, Identity, and Pedagogy.”

Editorial review by Carmen Kynard: “‘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.”

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