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March 18, 2022

SVSU to host Black language scholar April Baker-Bell

Saginaw Valley State University will welcome a thought leader and published author on how language usage can negatively impact Black students. April Baker-Bell, associate professor of language, literacy, and English education at Michigan State University, will speak Wednesday, March 23 at 7 p.m. in SVSU’s Rhea Miller Recital Hall as part of the Dow Visiting Scholars and Artists Series. It is free and open to the public.

An international leader in conversations on Black language education, her research examines the intersections of Black language and literacies, anti-Black racism and antiracist teaching practices. She authored the award-winning book “Linguistic Justice: Black Language, Literacy, Identity, and Pedagogy.”

The book provides ethnographic snapshots of how Black students navigate and negotiate their linguistic and racial identities across multiple contexts. By highlighting the counterstories of Black students, Baker-Bell demonstrates how traditional approaches to language education do not account for the emotional harm, internalized linguistic racism, or consequences these approaches have on Black students’ sense of self and identity.

In 2020, Baker-Bell was honored by the National Council of Teachers of English with the George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language. She was also honored with the Michigan State University Community Engagement Scholarship award in 2021.

The Dow Visiting Scholars and Artists Series was established through an endowment from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to enrich the region’s cultural and intellectual opportunities.