Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the U.S.

Oxford University Press
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Barack Obama is widely considered one of the most powerful and charismatic speakers of our age. Without missing a beat, he often moves between Washington insider talk and culturally Black ways of speaking--as shown in a famous YouTube clip, where Obama declined the change offered to him by a Black cashier in a Washington, D.C. restaurant with the phrase, "Nah, we straight." In Articulate While Black, two renowned scholars of Black Language address language and racial politics in the U.S. through an insightful examination of President Barack Obama's language use--and America's response to it. In this eloquently written and powerfully argued book, H. Samy Alim and Geneva Smitherman provide new insights about President Obama and the relationship between language and race in contemporary society. Throughout, they analyze several racially loaded, cultural-linguistic controversies involving the President--from his use of Black Language and his "articulateness" to his "Race Speech," the so-called "fist-bump," and his relationship to Hip Hop Culture. Using their analysis of Barack Obama as a point of departure, Alim and Smitherman reveal how major debates about language, race, and educational inequality erupt into moments of racial crisis in America. In challenging American ideas about language, race, education, and power, they help take the national dialogue on race to the next level. In much the same way that Cornel West revealed nearly two decades ago that "race matters," Alim and Smitherman in this groundbreaking book show how deeply "language matters" to the national conversation on race--and in our daily lives.
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About the author

H. Samy Alim is Associate Professor of Education and (by courtesy) Anthropology and Linguistics at Stanford University, where he directs the Center for Race, Ethnicity, and Language (CREAL) and the Institute for Diversity in the Arts (IDA). Some of his most recent books include You Know My Steez, Roc the Mic Right, Talkin Black Talk, and Global Linguistic Flows. He has also written for various media outlets, including The New York Times, Al-Ahram Weekly (Cairo), and The Philadelphia New Observer, among others. Geneva Smitherman is University Distinguished Professor Emerita of English, Co-Founder and Core Faculty, African American and African Studies, and Core Faculty, African Studies Center, at Michigan State University. She is a pioneering scholar-activist in the struggle for language rights and for Black Studies. Her list of books includes Talkin and Testifyin, Discourse and Discrimination, Black Talk, Talkin That Talk, Language Diversity in the Classroom, and Word from the Mother.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Oct 1, 2012
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Pages
224
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ISBN
9780199985982
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Language
English
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Genres
Language Arts & Disciplines / Linguistics / General
Language Arts & Disciplines / Linguistics / Sociolinguistics
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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In their new collaboration, Celia Genishi and Anne Haas Dyson celebrate the genius of young children as they learn language and literacy in our diverse times. Despite burgeoning sociocultural diversity, many early childhood classrooms (pre-K to grade 2) offer a one-size-fits-all curriculum in which learning is too often assessed by standardized tests. In contrast, Genishi and Dyson proclaimdiversity as the new norm. They feature stories of children whose language learning is impossible to standardize and teachers who do not follow scripts. These master teachers observe, informally assess, respond to, and growwiththeir students—some of whom are rapid language learners, and some of whom become speakers, readers, and writers at “child speed.” Much of this learning, regardless of tempo, is found within the language-rich contexts of play.

Chapters focus on children’s ways of communicating through varied modes, including the use of nonverbal expression; languages such as Spanish, English, and the variant of English known as African American Language; and multiple media. Throughout the text there is a resistance to labels such as “at risk” and a much-needed advocacy for child-sensible practices in a world where diversity is indeed the “new norm.”


Celia Genishiis professor of education and chair of the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University.Anne Haas Dysonis a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


“Contemporary early childhood educators find themselves in contexts that are fundamentally inimical to the time-honored wisdom in our field.Children, Language and Literacyspeaks to all of us with a commitment to the very young and strengthens our collective resolve to work in increasingly more effective ways with children, families, and the next generation of teachers.” —Mary Renck Jalongo, Editor,Early Childhood Education Journal


“Genishi and Dyson animate sociocultural theories of language learning by inviting us into the intimacy of children’s worlds. This book will become a treasure on the required reading lists for early childhood, ESOL, and language arts courses.”

—JoBeth Allen, University of Georgia, Athens


“If our standards-based economy requires us to make all children the same, to drain the joy out of learning, and to move lockstep through a set curriculum, we have forgotten what early childhood classrooms are all about. Genishi and Dyson remind us.”

—Beth Graue, Interim Director, Wisconsin Center for Education Research


“Celia Genishi and Anne Haas Dyson call on us to rethink children’s language and literacy instruction in the changing and diverse landscape of U.S. education. That call must be answered and they help us immensely understand how to do so.”

—Eugene García, Vice President, Education Partnerships, Arizona State University

In Always On, Naomi S. Baron reveals that online and mobile technologies--including instant messaging, cell phones, multitasking, Facebook, blogs, and wikis--are profoundly influencing how we read and write, speak and listen, but not in the ways we might suppose. Baron draws on a decade of research to provide an eye-opening look at language in an online and mobile world. She reveals for instance that email, IM, and text messaging have had surprisingly little impact on student writing. Electronic media has magnified the laid-back "whatever" attitude toward formal writing that young people everywhere have embraced, but it is not a cause of it. A more troubling trend, according to Baron, is the myriad ways in which we block incoming IMs, camouflage ourselves on Facebook, and use ring tones or caller ID to screen incoming calls on our mobile phones. Our ability to decide who to talk to, she argues, is likely to be among the most lasting influences that information technology has upon the ways we communicate with one another. Moreover, as more and more people are "always on" one technology or another--whether communicating, working, or just surfing the web or playing games--we have to ask what kind of people do we become, as individuals and as family members or friends, if the relationships we form must increasingly compete for our attention with digital media? Our 300-year-old written culture is on the verge of redefinition, Baron notes. It's up to us to determine how and when we use language technologies, and to weigh the personal and social benefits--and costs--of being "always on." This engaging and lucidly-crafted book gives us the tools for taking on these challenges.
Raciolinguistics reveals the central role that language plays in shaping our ideas about race and vice versa. The book brings together a team of leading scholars-working both within and beyond the United States-to share powerful, much-needed research that helps us understand the increasingly vexed relationships between race, ethnicity, and language in our rapidly changing world. Combining the innovative, cutting-edge approaches of race and ethnic studies with fine-grained linguistic analyses, authors cover a wide range of topics including the struggle over the very term "African American," the racialized language education debates within the increasing number of "majority-minority" immigrant communities in the U.S., the dangers of multicultural education in a Europe that is struggling to meet the needs of new migrants, and the sociopolitical and cultural meanings of linguistic styles used in Brazilian favelas, South African townships, Mexican and Puerto Rican barrios in Chicago, and Korean American "cram schools" in New York City, among other sites. Taking into account rapidly changing demographics in the U.S and shifting cultural and media trends across the globe--from Hip Hop cultures, to transnational Mexican popular and street cultures, to Israeli reality TV, to new immigration trends across Africa and Europe--Raciolinguistics shapes the future of scholarship on race, ethnicity, and language. By taking a comparative look across a diverse range of language and literacy contexts, the volume seeks not only to set the research agenda in this burgeoning area of study, but also to help resolve pressing educational and political problems in some of the most contested raciolinguistic contexts in the world.
Raciolinguistics reveals the central role that language plays in shaping our ideas about race and vice versa. The book brings together a team of leading scholars-working both within and beyond the United States-to share powerful, much-needed research that helps us understand the increasingly vexed relationships between race, ethnicity, and language in our rapidly changing world. Combining the innovative, cutting-edge approaches of race and ethnic studies with fine-grained linguistic analyses, authors cover a wide range of topics including the struggle over the very term "African American," the racialized language education debates within the increasing number of "majority-minority" immigrant communities in the U.S., the dangers of multicultural education in a Europe that is struggling to meet the needs of new migrants, and the sociopolitical and cultural meanings of linguistic styles used in Brazilian favelas, South African townships, Mexican and Puerto Rican barrios in Chicago, and Korean American "cram schools" in New York City, among other sites. Taking into account rapidly changing demographics in the U.S and shifting cultural and media trends across the globe--from Hip Hop cultures, to transnational Mexican popular and street cultures, to Israeli reality TV, to new immigration trends across Africa and Europe--Raciolinguistics shapes the future of scholarship on race, ethnicity, and language. By taking a comparative look across a diverse range of language and literacy contexts, the volume seeks not only to set the research agenda in this burgeoning area of study, but also to help resolve pressing educational and political problems in some of the most contested raciolinguistic contexts in the world.
It’s no secret that, in most American classrooms, students are expected to master standardized American English and the conventions of Edited American English if they wish to succeed. Language Diversity in the Classroom: From Intention to Practice works to realign these conceptions through a series of provocative yet evenhanded essays that explore the ways we have enacted and continue to enact our beliefs in the integrity of the many languages and Englishes that arise both in the classroom and in professional communities.

Edited by Geneva Smitherman and Victor Villanueva, the collection was motivated by a survey project on language awareness commissioned by the National Council of Teachers of English and the Conference on College Composition and Communication.

All actively involved in supporting diversity in education, the contributors address the major issues inherent in linguistically diverse classrooms: language and racism, language and nationalism, and the challenges in teaching writing while respecting and celebrating students’ own languages. Offering historical and pedagogical perspectives on language awareness and language diversity, the essays reveal the nationalism implicit in the concept of a “standard English,” advocate alternative training and teaching practices for instructors at all levels, and promote the respect and importance of the country’s diverse dialects, languages, and literatures.

Contributors include Geneva Smitherman, Victor Villanueva, Elaine Richardson, Victoria Cliett, Arnetha F. Ball, Rashidah Jammi` Muhammad, Kim Brian Lovejoy, Gail Y. Okawa, Jan Swearingen, and Dave Pruett.

The volume also includes a foreword by Suresh Canagarajah and a substantial bibliography of resources about bilingualism and language diversity.

Barack Obama is widely considered one of the most powerful and charismatic speakers of our age. Without missing a beat, he often moves between Washington insider talk and culturally Black ways of speaking--as shown in a famous YouTube clip, where Obama declined the change offered to him by a Black cashier in a Washington, D.C. restaurant with the phrase, "Nah, we straight." In Articulate While Black, two renowned scholars of Black Language address language and racial politics in the U.S. through an insightful examination of President Barack Obama's language use--and America's response to it. In this eloquently written and powerfully argued book, H. Samy Alim and Geneva Smitherman provide new insights about President Obama and the relationship between language and race in contemporary society. Throughout, they analyze several racially loaded, cultural-linguistic controversies involving the President--from his use of Black Language and his "articulateness" to his "Race Speech," the so-called "fist-bump," and his relationship to Hip Hop Culture. Using their analysis of Barack Obama as a point of departure, Alim and Smitherman reveal how major debates about language, race, and educational inequality erupt into moments of racial crisis in America. In challenging American ideas about language, race, education, and power, they help take the national dialogue on race to the next level. In much the same way that Cornel West revealed nearly two decades ago that "race matters," Alim and Smitherman in this groundbreaking book show how deeply "language matters" to the national conversation on race--and in our daily lives.
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