Empathy as Minority

As I dive back into reading for self study, I find that I often have to pause in what I’m reading because it makes me so angry. I made it only halfway through the New Jim Crow before I had to return it to the library (I plan to finish it eventually) because every other page I had to put it down. It is so frustrating and anger-inducing how society as a whole is so inhumane toward people of color.

Right now I’m in the middle of reading Dr. Jonathan Rosa’s “Standardization, Racialization, Languagelessness: Raciolinguistic Ideologies across Communicative Context.” In it he describes how during field research at a predominately Latinx high school, the Latina principal – who herself is bilingual in English and Spanish – pushes the idea that to be ‘bilingual’ is to be of an “inferior status.” There are excerpts of dialogue between Dr. Rosa and the principal where she says that bilingual education is utilized as a ‘crutch’ and that full immersion into English speaking classrooms should be used instead. As Dr. Rosa writes, “there was no formal way in which their Spanish language abilities were recognized as academically useful.”

That, dear reader, just sets a fire inside of me.

He also writes, “…[W]hile bilingualism is understood as a valuable asset or goal for middle-class and upper-class students, for working class and poor students it is framed as a disability that must be overcome.” I must state that Dr. Rosa argues against this idea, and whole concept of raciolinguistics (as so far as I have read thus far, which is admittedly minimal), is that multilingualism for racially minoritized people is demonized because of their “inability” to reproduce ‘standardize’ language when compared to white people, even when they linguistically are able to do so. I know I’m not describing it very well, and I plan to get more into what that means later, but for now, I’m writing about my FEELINGS.

My FEELINGS are anger, frustration, disbelief, incredulity about how callous WHITE PEOPLE can be toward POC who speak a little bit different from white people. There are so many examples out there of ways in which white people try to use language as a means of demonizing or controlling the narrative about POC. Here’s one.

It’ll be interesting for me to come to terms with these seemingly majority-held beliefs – as in, trying to power through reading about it. I didn’t think that my empathy was something that only a minority of people hold, but I’m quickly finding out otherwise. Me, a white person, am very much in my feelings of discomfort at this epiphany. I’m sorry there aren’t more empathetic people out there who are taking action to combat the inhumanity of white supremacy. But I will do what I can, learn what I can, to help dismantle it.

Finally Getting Started

You know how when you first get into something, you look like such a noob by how you talk about it?

Yeah, last post. But, I guess that’s how you learn and grow, right?

I’ve been talk talk talking about what I want to do, and haven’t been do do doing. Over the last few days I’ve narrowed down my starting points on how I’m going to jump into the linguistic side of my studying. I’m already fairly involved in the race/racism side while recognizing that I still have much to learn. But I feel like I have a fairly solid foundation on which to continue building. Tomorrow I’ll be checking out Ijeoma Oluo’s newest book, So You Wanna Talk About Race, from the library. I look forward to reading it.

As for the linguistics, I’m going to start by learning Phonology. After putting out a tweet asking about the intro book I have, I realized that I already have enough intro knowledge that it would be a huge waste of time to continue down that path. I need to jump into these intermediate “classes.” Also, I purchased Raciolinguistics but it’ll be a while before it gets here. I currently have sixteen different papers/articles lined up for reading, most from the same author, but I’m dipping my toes in and will plan to expand my point of view as I look at the citations.

Anyway, the purpose of this post was mostly to ramble my not-yet achievements so I can get the previous post pushed down. My kids still suck at sleeping, so I don’t get much time to myself to work on these things. Plus sometimes just don’t want to work on it while those cute little people demand an enormous amount of my time. These are the privileges awarded to me as a stay at home mom — read when I want with no deadlines. But it also means I rarely get shit done.

So, off I go to get shit done.

There’s a field for that: Raciolinguistics

After writing the previous post, it was as if the universe decided to answer my questions through the announcement of a new academic book: Looking like a Language, Sounding like a Race by Jonathan Rosa. I found exactly what I was looking for through Nelson Flores’s tweet,

Raciolinguistics? It seems so obvious now.

I’ve been doing as much research as I can, time allowing with two sick little people and a raging bout of depression. Raciolinguistics is such a new field of study that there is relatively little to be found about it. According to WikipediaDr. Flores and Dr. Rosa coined the term in the 2015 academic paper, “Undoing Appropriateness: Raciolinguistic Ideologies and Language Diversity in Education“, which I am currently in the process of reading. H. Samy Alim, John R. Rickford, and Arnetha F. Ball edited a book called “Raciolinguistics: How Language Shapes Our Ideas about Race“; I plan to purchase when there is some extra cash to be had. Once Rosa’s book comes out, I will be purchasing that as well.

I’m supplementing my studies by following Dr. Adrienne Keene’s wonderfully free course on Critical Race Theory. I’m actually starting there, since I’m forever broke, and so far I think it’s a fantastic place to build on.


I really think this is the niche I’ve been looking for. This whole summer has been spent learning about systematic racism and white supremacy, and I’ve been interested in Linguistics and Rhetoric since the last year of my undergrad program in 2011. I definitely would have not found the intersection of these two topic until this point in my life, but I’m glad to have found it. I will be dedicating any time my brain isn’t feeling like exhausted mush on learning as much as I can about CRT, Linguistics, and Raciolinguistics.


If you wanna take pity on my poor ass and give me a Christmas/Birthday gift (my birthday is December 30th), would you consider getting me one of these books? I ain’t holding my breath, but it would be a nice surprise. 🙂