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Talking College: Making Space for Black Language Practices in Higher Education

Anne H. Charity Hudley, Stanford University

Christine Mallinson, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)

Mary Bucholtz, University of California, Santa Barbara

Featuring vignettes by Drs. Erin Berry-McCrea, Kendra Calhoun, Joy Davis, Jeremy Edwards, Joseph Hill, Antione Tomlin, and Tracey Weldon and doctoral students Mx. deandre miles-hercules, Mr. Jamaal Muwwakkil, and Mr. Isaiah Simmons.

To appear in Spring 2022 with Teachers College Press

Talking College: Making Space for Black Language Practices in Higher Education shows that language is fundamental to Black and African American culture and that linguistic justice is crucial to advancing racial justice, both on college campuses and throughout society. Writing from a linguistics-informed, Black-centered educational framework, the authors draw extensively on Black college students’ lived experiences to present key ideas about African American English and Black language practices. The text presents a model of how Black students navigate the linguistic expectations of college. Grounded in real-world examples of Black undergraduates attending colleges and universities across the United States, the model illustrates the linguistic and cultural balancing acts that arise as Black students work to develop their full linguistic selves. Talking College provides Black students with the knowledge they need to make sense of anti-Black linguistic racism and to make decisions about their linguistic experiences in college. It also offers key insights to help college faculty and staff create the liberating and linguistically just educational community that Black students deserve.

Book Features:

  • Weaves together information and approaches drawn from the authors’ extensive experience working with Black and other students of color in higher education.
  • Provides an up-to-date discussion of Black language practices and their role in Black students’ college experiences.
  • Discusses the racial politics of language, including anti-Black linguistic racism and the struggle for linguistic justice as part of racial justice.
  • Offers a detailed model of Black college students’ diverse linguistic and racial identities.
  • Outlines concrete steps toward racial and linguistic justice that students and faculty can take today.
  • Accessible to students and faculty without a background in linguistics, while also engaging and informative for linguistics scholars. 

Talking College captures the reader-friendly and engaged approach from Charity Hudley and Mallinson’s previous work explaining African-American language and culture to a broad K-12 educator audience, while also incorporating recent research by each of the three authors on the context of the Black student experience in higher education. When African-American students enter college, they must navigate new and often unclear linguistic and cultural norms of higher education. In Talking College, we emphasize how a focus on language and culture in college and university settings can be used to empower African-American students and transform their educational experience.

Talking College is specifically tailored for African-American students and is designed to help them to be fully linguistically informed and make their own choices about how to understand academic and social success in higher education. It is different from the first two authors’ previous books in this regard, in that it speaks directly to the African-American student reader both as a scholar and as the agent and direct beneficiary of social and educational change. This book is for students, rather than simply about them. At the same time, it also provides crucial information for any reader who seeks to support the educational experiences of African-American students.