Writing for Racial Justice
Words matter. Our WritingMKE team has often said that we aim to highlight the ways everyday writing and rhetoric are being used across Milwaukee. Recent nationwide attention to systemic racism has pushed us to re-evaluate what we are doing and how we are writing, editing, and curating in this space. As our own writing teachers might say, clarify what you mean here. Don't hedge. Show...don’t tell. So, here is our commitment to writing for racial justice moving forward:
We will amplify, support, and engage with antiracist writing, rhetoric, and organizations across Milwaukee. This city has a rich history of organizing, protest, and advocacy by and for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, migrant, and other historically marginalized communities. We aim to highlight the ways that everyday writing and rhetoric are being used to advance social justice, challenge oppression, and empower communities.
As students and teachers at a predominantly white institution (UWM) that also identifies as an open access institution, we believe the most impactful rhetors and writers we can learn from and support are those at the forefront of the fight for justice taking action outside of the academy. Our posts so far have connected graduate courses with writing and rhetoric in our local communities. Looking back on these posts, we learned about how the theories and concepts we were studying were at play in peoples’ everyday lives. The goal of this blog has been to dismantle the schism between the academy and vital pieces of rhetoric and writing created by people who have for too long been excluded from it. But to truly accomplish this, we need to stop centering this work around academia.
To that end, over the next year, we commit to:
- Solicit and publish blog posts that highlight community events, organizations, and spaces that are focused on antiracist work
- Diversify our contributors in order to represent a more inclusive range of perspectives and experiences
- Continue to educate ourselves on how to pursue liberation for all and avoid performative allyship
- Use the privileges we have to fight racial injustice and reduce the labor asked of people of color
- Foster connections between students of writing and rhetoric and local antiracist organizations
Above all else, we want the blog to promote and reflect antiracist action and not just nice words that encourage complacency and comfort for readers who benefit from white supremacy, which includes us. In order to hold ourselves accountable to these commitments, we will publish Antiracist Action Updates every month for the next year while also inviting our readers to engage in conversations across social media about how we all are taking action for social justice in our communities.
We will also continue to update two new pages under the “Racial Justice” tab: “Taking Action” and “Antiracist Literature,” which feature antiracist organizations to follow, support, and learn more about, and a reading list of antiracist materials for learning more about antiracism. We want these pages to give our readers options for taking tangible actions to support the antiracist missions of local and national organizations, learn about the history of oppression and racism both in the city of Milwaukee and the US at large, and celebrate and uplift the ways in which various organizations and activists improve, empower, and fight for our local communities.