The Department of English at the University of Colorado Denver is committed to an inclusive, and specifically antiracist, approach to the teaching of English as part of a larger intersectional effort to invite all peoples, all bodies, all identities, and all abilities to a meaningful educational experience.
We recognize there is a real and urgent problem with systemic racism and, specifically, with racist actions within our own university’s history. For example, hundreds of predominantly Latino residents of Auraria were displaced and their homes demolished in the name of urban renewal and university expansion. Little will change without challenging the privileged structures that gave us our space on campus, a legacy of non-inclusive educational practices, broadly, and a tradition of language instruction, particularly, that have historically excluded marginalized communities.
Those of us who study language are in a uniquely powerful position to do antiracist work. Language mediates relations between different groups of people and participates in the construction of attitudes and behaviors. As a faculty, we collectively recognize our potential as educators—who design pedagogy, compose assignment prompts, assess students’ written artifacts, and engage in research activities—to counteract racist attitudes, especially via attention to language conventions and the texts that shape our communities.
This fact demands that teachers of writing and reading (1) do the kind of deep reflection required to more clearly see the harm done; (2) begin to find better, more equitable pedagogies to undo that harm in order to remove the barriers that stand in the way of equity; (3) provide a curriculum that helps students analyze texts as well as ethically consume, produce, and share discourse that responsibly perpetuates ethical attitudes and behaviors; and, (4) conduct research and activities through an antiracist lens.
This statement is meant to support meaningful action. As a department, we insist that we take on those uncomfortable reflections, challenging conversations, and use the discourse of responsible agents of change toward a future where all human rights are respected, particularly in respect to racial equity. We have much work to do.
(Adopted March 4, 2023)