In The Danger of A Single Story, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks a lot about power; the power to shape the narratives of what is defined as desirable, as good, as inferior, as truth. It’s important to acknowledge that power also shapes the way languages and dialects are perceived in terms of what is acceptable, or not in society.
This spoken word performance by Dr. Jamila Lyiscott serves as another reminder of that reality, as well as the existence of resistance to it.
“Jamila Lyiscott is a “tri-tongued orator,” and this powerful spoken-word essay celebrates — and challenges — the three distinct flavors of English she speaks with her friends, in the classroom and with her parents. As she explores the complicated history and present-day identity that each language represents, she unpacks what it means to be “articulate.”
The writing center at my current institution has a Linguistic Diversity Initiative that is built upon the assertion that no dialect is superior. I collaborated with some of the staff there to facilitate a Teach-In Workshop on Students’ Rights to Their Own Language, which acknowledged the role of white supremacy, colonization, and other dominant forces that contributed to the power dynamics that situate “Standard English” as the norm.
From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones