Letter-Writing to Engage the Issue of Racialized Police Brutality
In the fall of 2015, I assigned nineteen students to write letters to dead people. To be more specific, my class wrote posthumous letters to victims of police brutality, in an exercise meant to connect them to individual stories. The assignment emerged from a moment of pedagogical crisis, during a time in which the nation had been rocked by the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, all Black men and women, at the hands of law enforcement. Protests on city streets and campuses had divided the country and our student body. I was teaching a journalism class I had developed at American University in Washington, D.C., called Race, Ethnic and Community Reporting. I had taught it annually six times before without incident, but 2015 had proved to be different. Letters of any kind were neither on my syllabus nor a common writing assignment in our discipline. Halfway through that semester, I felt compelled to deviate from both the plan and the norm. Click here to continue reading.
Where and How We Might Teach Hybrid:
A Pedagogical Review of Kazim Ali’s Silver Road
Kazim Ali’s Silver Road (2018) is a book that speaks to me deeply in its somatic approach, border-crossing formal and thematic considerations, and its profound treatment of “home.” The text breathes between lineation and prose. The story draws in astronomy, poetry, history, literature, and geography. I was drawn to write a review of Silver Road, but I wondered what would happen if I pushed against that genre boundary, too. I wondered what would happen if I tried to develop an understanding of the book through pedagogical analysis and drove with it on a meandering road trip through the classification system of academic disciplines. In other words, I wanted to ask, How might this book be taught? Click here to continue reading.