“‘Proper English’ vs. Social Justice”

Presented by Rebecca Wheeler
May 12 & 19, 2019

*On May 12, astute speaker, Rebecca Wheeler, enthralled her audience to such grand extent that her originally planned one-Sunday presentation evolved into a multi-part series, per attendees' earnest request!

Join us, May 19, for another lively, lexical encore and continued application of language in living out our values!

Our ears prick up when we hear speech like "Mama jeep out of gas" or "He walk to the story yesterday." We think, "English, sloppy, broken." We hear "missing apostrophe, missing verb, forgotten verb endings." And we assume, "uneducated" and perhaps "ignorant." This Forum will help participants understand and then move past dialect prejudice to recognize that all language and varieties are regular, systematic and rule governed. All dialects — such as African American Vernacular English (AAVE) — are linguistically equal even if not socially equal. We will see ways to recognize the inherent worth and dignity of different ways of speaking, as we work to walk the road of social justice in our time.

This Forum is presented by Dr. Rebecca Wheeler, Professor of English at Christopher Newport University. For 20 years, Rebecca’s research addressed inequities in urban education as she helped teachers reach their African American students who spoke a local vernacular. Wheeler has published more than 20 articles and two books on the topic of code-switching, teaching Standard English in urban classrooms. She looks forward to sharing this research and encouraging exploratory discussion on issues of language and equity in America and the world.

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