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In this issue:
1. WHAT IS
2. HOW DO
YOU MENTOR BIPOCS AND LGBQTS IF YOU’RE SWMC?
MLA HANDBOOK RELEASED APRIL 2021 FOR FALL
REVIEW: Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad
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1. WHAT IS
“Inclusivity” has become an echoing new buzzword in higher ed. According
to the Chronicle’s e-newsletter Teaching, inclusiveness
“takes into account students’ varied backgrounds, beliefs, and identities,
allowing them all to feel as if they have something to contribute.” The
e-newsletter Tomorrow’s Professor says inclusive teaching
“address[es] the needs of all students in your classroom and ensure that
all students are able to participate equitably in your class. [It]
requires preparation before entering the classroom and consistent efforts
in the classrooms to create an environment that will be beneficial for
Inclusiveness isn’t just “teaching and learning,” a movement that
differentiates traditional teaching methods (such as the
“sage-on-the-stage” model) from those that are proven to create more
knowledge in students. And it isn’t just multiculturalism or diversity,
which in the past often has been pursued by celebrating different colors,
cultures, ethnicities, and gender identifications in readings about them.
Inclusive teaching is both of these and more.
means to “start where the students are at, not where professors are at,”
says Teaching: let all students “feel as if they have something to
contribute.” For example, if you have students from several diverse
countries, how would you encourage them, in a first draft, to start an
argumentative essay by using their own cultures’ methods of making a
point? How would you then help them move to the structured organization of
an essay for their academic or professional plans?
“Inclusive teaching,” says Tomorrow’s Professor, “requires
preparation before entering the classroom and consistent efforts in the
classroom.... Examine your implicit biases and the classroom environment,”
“consider the class’s demographics,” reflect inclusive teaching in your
syllabus, and “include diverse authors....” Develop a “positive classroom
environment...where all...feel comfortable to participate and...their
contributions are valued” and “provide opportunities for students to get
to know each other.” You even can share relevant details about your own
climb to success.
These sound like more work. However, many faculty are at least half way
there, especially those who have established a good base of frequent group
work and/or individual student meetings. Another intermediate step is to
imagine and ask your students how you can help them succeed using their
personal backgrounds. As in most good teaching, incremental change helps
you avoid feeling overwhelmed, especially in these already challenging
Inclusivity in Teaching E-newsletter
Inclusivity in Tomorrow's Professor 1684
HOW DO YOU MENTOR BIPOCS AND LGBQTS IF YOU’RE SWMC?
Are you SWMC–straight, white, and middle class? If so, how can you
mentor BIPOCs and LGBQTs? I remember sitting in my office years ago with a
Black female student, thinking, “What do I dare say? How can I respect our
differences when she may not even want to talk about it to an older white
Step by step, I learned how by asking questions, humbling myself,
occasionally needing to apologize, and remembering when I was young, poor,
and countercultural. I slowly learned that students who aren’t part of the
dominant culture often appreciate my honest attempt to help if I approach
each one respectfully as a unique individual. I also discovered such
students need mentoring much more than others because of the veil of
silence faculty place around them for fear of saying or doing the wrong
The Chronicle’s e-newsletter Race on Campus offers
“tips from longtime mentors.” First, says Race, you should treat
students of difference like any others: human beings with strengths and
limitations. Susan Corbridge, a former clinical professor and now a dean
of nursing and medicine at the University of Illinois-Chicago, says of
students, “I want to hear what their concerns are and what barriers
they’re facing instead of just assuming I know. It’s important to start
You also can clarify to your class from the start that you expect
everyone to treat all classmates with great respect and equality, no
matter who they are or what they look like. And you can tell them that
what they say to you is private (except for what you are required by law
to share). Third, don’t ever expect someone to be a representative of
their own race or culture. These three actions alone help create a safe
space for students to open themselves.
also suggests that in private conferences, you never should pretend to
understand what you haven’t known yourself. Corbridge helped a black gay
male who said of her mentoring, “Susan never pretended she’d understand my
lived experience.” She connected him to opportunities and to integrating
“his activism into his career planning, particularly in examining how race
and sexuality are tied to health disparities.”
adds, “Be Open and Empathetic.” Corbridge and another dean, Phoenix
Matthews, suggest asking, “In what ways have you experienced challenges
that I may not be aware of?” “Ask first,” says Race, “and don’t
assume...the answers.” Also never be afraid to ask, “How can I help?” even
if you don’t have all the answers.
Through my students’ experiences, I discovered the varieties of how
they are “othered.” The path, however, was through the stories, hopes, and
abilities of each one.
Race on Campus on Mentoring
MLA HANDBOOK RELEASED APRIL 2021 FOR FALL TEACHING
You’re not alone if
you are thinking, “Wasn’t a new edition published just a few years
ago?” It was, in 2016, with major changes. Fortunately, the new 9th
edition largely continues and expands upon the previous core.
the new edition is an “all-in-one resource that makes MLA style easier
to learn and use for writers at any level.” Significantly longer, it
“works as both a textbook and a reference guide.” The extra materials
offer extended examples and explanations. Purdue’s OWL and many
schools plan to update their online materials for fall 2021.
Some of us long in service to the English language are struggling
with one change. You now may use “they, theirs” when referring to singular
nouns: e.g., “Shanice picked up their book” (especially if a student has
asked to be called “they, theirs”). The new Handbook does suggest
you attempt parallel singulars by using words such as “her” instead of
“his” when either would work or, more simply, changing both noun and
pronoun to plurals. However, if it is easier or more natural to say
something like “Keisha, Bill, or Maria can turn in their assignments,”
it’s okay, even if you have to ignore your mother’s or grade school
teacher’s stern correction ringing in the back of your mind.
Some of you also may be teaching APA Style. If so, the Publication
Manual of the American Psychological Association released its most
recent edition, the 7th, in 2020.
MLA.org 9th Ed., 2021–What's New
APA Publication Manual, 7th Ed., 2020
BOOK REVIEW: Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad
Fiction, Doubleday, 2016.
Colson Whitehead wraps its arms around you and pulls you deeply
underwater into the pre-Civil War South and rural North. It tours
slavery by exploring the life of Georgia slave Cora.
She is born
on a “reasonable” plantation: obey the rules, and you won’t be shot,
tortured, or hung. One night her mother escapes. Youthful Cora resents
being left behind but dreams of the North’s blissful freedom. Just
into her teens, she is raped. Later, when a new master takes over, she
is whipped within an inch of her life, and her friend Caesar convinces
her to escape.
They barely make it to
the underground railroad, which the book imagines as a real, haphazard,
below-ground system. Cora and Caesar ride the deep rails to what appears
to be a paradise in South Carolina: dorm rooms, food, jobs, and medical
care. However, they discover that the state owns them and decrees
sterilization and medical experiments. As they prepare to sneak away, a
vicious bounty hunter from Cora’s former life kills Caesar and almost
grabs her. She escapes through the railway’s tunnels to North Carolina,
where she is trapped for months in a low, hellishly hot attic, the only
window of which shows, every Friday, the town’s weekly celebratory beating
and hanging of a runaway slave. Then the bounty hunter discovers her and
chains her, hand and foot, to his open cart for a long road trip back to
finally escapes to the rails again, running to a freedman’s Indiana farm
where she begins to heal in a large community of escapees. However, nearby
racist Hoosier farmers run amok, burning and killing. She barely escapes
to the West.
Whitehead chooses real historical backgrounds to frame fictional
arguments. Jim Crow advocates long have postured that the pre-Civil War
South was not so hard on slaves and even allowed free Blacks to prosper.
Whitehead decimates that viewpoint by showing several versions of what
Blacks really experienced. A belief also exists that the freedom-loving
North was a haven where all Blacks could find peace and security.
Whitehead also bashes this myth. He equally eviscerates the racist meme
that some Blacks were treated well on plantations by showing what really
happened even in such “good” environments.
was a critical and commercial success, winning a well-deserved National
Book Award (2016), a Pulitzer (2017), and others. Whitehead later won the
Pulitzer in 2020 for his novel Nickel Boys (2020), and a 2002
MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship, both of which mirror even more
intently the literary genius of his emotionally-difficult but simply told
tale of Cora.
The New York
Times calls The Underground Railroad a “hallucinatory novel
about the horrors of slavery.” In future decades, Cora’s story long may be
considered one of the best fiction accounts ever of pre-Civil War racism,
especially for students. An Amazon Prime TV limited series
is being released May 14.
New York Times Book Review
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