Rutgers University Tackles “Racist” Proper Grammar Standards

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Rutgers University Tackles “Racist” Proper Grammar Standards

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The implicit bias of liberals is on full display at Rutgers University, where the English Department declared proper grammar to be “racist” and stated it was exemplary of “white supremacy.” The announcement prompted outcry from minority groups who recognized that the notion is discrminatory because it assumes that non-white students cannot be held to the same standards of writing as whites.

Rutgers English Department made the announcement in an e-mail with the subject “Department actions in solidarity with Black Lives Matter,” written by department chairwoman Rebecca Walkowitz, who said the Graduate Writing Program will emphasize “social justice” and “critical grammar.”

“This approach challenges the familiar dogma that writing instruction should limit emphasis on grammar/sentence-level issues so as to not put students from multilingual, non-standard ‘academic’ English backgrounds at a disadvantage,” Walkowitz wrote. “Instead, it encourages students to develop a critical awareness of the variety of choices available to them [with] regard to micro-level issues in order to empower them and equip them to push against biases based on ‘written’ accents.”

According to Walkowitz’s e-mail, the University’s English Department created a Committee on Bias Awareness and Prevention in 2012 to address areas of concern following a “racist incident in the department,” though the e-mail does not provide any additional details regarding the incident. At the committee’s most recent meeting, members decided to “move from a role emphasizing awareness and prevention towards a role emphasizing ‘culture change,’” she wrote. Some of the initiatives to come out of that meeting include new requirements for all English instructors to attend at least one workshop on “how to have an anti-racist classroom” and organizing two teach-ins focused on Black Lives Matter and police brutality — it was not made clear what any of these initiatives have to do with the subject of English.

The department also announced it will provide more reading on the subjects of racism, sexism, homophobia, and other types of “systemic discrimination.”

Seemingly in an effort to demonstrate just how woke the English Department is, Walkowitz also highlighted the Writing Program’s associate director for diversity and equality position, as well as a newly founded Diversity and Equity Steering Committee, which is focused on addressing racism in the classroom. Again, the e-mail does not elaborate on why the niversity has decided to heavily politicize the school’s English curriculum.

Yet if Rutgers University was concerned about “systemic discrimination,” it need not look further than its new standards, according to speech pathologist and libertarian activist Leonydus Johnson, who called the new approach to grammar “insulting, patronizing, and in itself, extremely racist.”

“The idea that expecting a student to write in grammatically correct sentences is indicative of racial bias is asinine,” Johnson told the Washington Free Beacon. “It’s like these people believe that being non-white is an inherent handicap or learning disability…. That’s racism. It has become very clear to me that those who claim to be ‘anti-racist’ are often the most racist people in this country.”

Sadly, Rutgers is not the first institution to claim proper grammar is “racist.” Washington-Tacoma professor Asao Inoue made similar claims as far back as 2015 in his book Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies: Teaching and Assessing Writing for a Socially Just Future. In one of his papers, he claimed grading practices should dispense completely with “judgements of quality” because American grammar is “racist” and an “unjust language structure.”

Inoue’s assertions even found their way onto a so-called anti-racist poster at the University of Washington, Tacoma’s Writing Center. The poster claimed American grammar is inherently “racist” and argued that students should not be penalized for using slang or poor grammar in speech or in writing assignments.

According to the poster, “There is no inherent ‘standard’ of English,” and “language is constantly changing.” As a result, there is no real justification for “placing people in hierarchies or restricting opportunities and privileges because of the way people communicate in particular versions of English.”

“We promise to emphasize the importance of rhetorical situations over grammatical ‘correctness’ in the production of texts,” announced the poster. “We promise to challenge conventional word choices and writing explanations.”

Grammar is just one area targeted by implicitly racist social-justice warriors.

In 2019, American University invited faculty members Neisha-Anne Green of the Academic Support and Access Center and Marnie Twigg of the Writing Studies Program to lead a faculty workshop to reinforce Inoue’s ideas.

The session, entitled “How to Incorporate Anti-Racist Pedagogy in Your Classroom,” walked faculty through revising their course materials so as to avoid accidentally reinforcing racist practices.

In 2017, staff at the Columbia University Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) went so far as to urge professors to allow students to assess themselves because members claimed grades were a “currency for a capitalist system” — lest we forget the SJW agenda is not only anti-white but also radically anti-capitalist.

Of course, the irony of these campaigns for “inclusivity” is that they themselves are inherently racist. They rest on the notion that non-whites cannot be held to the same standards because they simply cannot compete with their white counterparts. Rutger’s and Inoue’s assertions presume minority students are incapable of speaking and writing in proper English and require the protection of academia to safeguard them from such unfair expectations.

What’s more, the changes in standards will do a disservice to students who possess poor writing skills, observed Walter E. Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University, in response to Inoue’s ridiculous assertions:

When or if these students graduate from college, they are not going to be evaluated in their careers by Inoue’s tailored standards. They will be judged according to their objective abilities, and it probably follows that if they fail to meet those objective standards, the standards themselves will be labeled as racist.

In other words, once these students are no longer protected by their “safe spaces,” they will be judged harshly for their inability to meet even the most basic and objective standards of writing and communication. Imagine being a parent or student who has paid $12,000 a year for in-state tuition, or $28,000 a year in out-of-state tuition only to see absolutely no improvements in the student’s writing abilities.

SJW campaigns for “inclusive grading,” student self-assessment, and grading practices that dispense with quality judgments undermine the very purpose of higher education, which is to hold students to the highest standard and encourage them to meet those expectations. Sadly, the Left has shamefully politicized and weaponized the college campus as a tool of anti-white, anti-male, anti-Christian hatred that no longer focuses on higher education but on indoctrination.

Courtesy of The New American