An article on the University of Washington Tacoma’s website sparked a controversy. The school stated that an article in Breitbart “misrepresented” what their article said, so let’s give it a look to see if we can find the truth. The Breitbart article was entitled:
“University of Washington Declares Proper Grammar Is Racist.”
“The Writing Center at the University of Washington is telling students that expecting Americans to use proper grammar perpetuates racism.” Breitbart article beginning.
The University of Washington article, written by Dr. Inoue, is here. The following is the beginning of his statement:
“The writing center works from several important beliefs that are crucial to helping writers write and succeed in a racist society. Linguistic and writing research has shown clearly for many decades that there is no inherent “standard” of English. Language is constantly changing. These two facts make it very difficult to justify placing people in hierarchies or restricting opportunities and privileges because of the way people communicate in particular versions of English.
Because we all live, work, learn, and communicate within such racist systems, the consultants in the writing center assume that a big part of our job is to help students become more critical of these unjust language structures as they affect students’ writing and the judgment of that writing. In particular, being aware of racism as structural offers students the best chances to develop as writers and succeed on their own terms in an inherently racist society.”
The article was written by Dr. Asao Inoue, Director of the Writing Center.
Depending upon the forum or platform a writer is using, they should be aware of how they write and what they are saying. We call it ‘being aware of the audience.’ How words are phrased, and even the spelling of them are important to the creation of a written piece. You can use colloquialisms (slang) for some audiences and not for others.
It is also true that English is always changing. And it is true that the way someone writes, speaks, or looks is not a valid excuse to put them down. If the students want a job, however, they will have to learn to communicate in the real world.
The Director also promised to “challenge conventional word choices and writing explanations.” There is a certain measure of conformity that is required in any society with regard to language. Without that, we’re all just babbling to one another without understanding. It’s okay to challenge the way a student has written something, unless their agenda is to alter the “voice” of the student – if that’s the case then it should be stopped.
The article is extremely ‘politically correct,’ attempting to soften any student’s “microaggressions.” Such ideas need to be balanced against the ramification of his words: does it really build a writer’s skill, or does it intend to destroy other promising writers? Does it create the “snowflake” effect, or build inner strength to skillfully write from the heart?
Does Dr. Inoue have a faulty premise in the first place?
Refuting the premise
The trend in all universities now is to demand that all students believe that EVERY white person is inherently racist. There have been classes on ‘white privilege’ at different campuses. There have been confrontations with between students and outsiders, faculty, and news media…the controversy is endless.
All people need to have respect, it’s part of the human condition. But constantly raising the issue of racism is causing a backlash …of racism.
People who once didn’t care what color a person was are now speaking and acting differently because of all the hype. It has not REMOVED racism, the rhetoric is causing it to flourish. Anger on both sides of the issue is creating havoc.
The school, KIRO7, and The Spokesman Review, among others, took exception to Breitbart’s article and were quick to remind readers that Breitbart is an “alt-right” leaning media, which, in the vernacular of everyone now appears to mean “racist.”
In fact, if you Google “alt-right” you get a Wikipedia article that infers alt-right are white supremacists of the same ilk as Richard Spencer. The Southern Poverty Law Center also weighs in on the issue by labeling the “alternative right” as extremists and hate groups.
Speaking of not paying attention to the ramifications of what you write…
One news outlet stated that some of the comments on the Breitbart article contained poorly spelled words and racial epithets. That’s pretty standard for idiotic people on both sides of the political spectrum.
Perhaps all news media and Academia should remember that an ignorant jerk is an ignorant jerk no matter what side of the political aisle they are on. Assigning blame simply furthers the problem.