Rutgers University has now jumped on the “grammar is racist” train, with the school’s English Department declaring proper grammar is part of white supremacy because students of “multilingual, non-standard ‘academic’ English backgrounds” are allegedly disadvantaged.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that the department “will change its standards of English instruction in an effort to ‘stand with and respond’ to the Black Lives Matter movement. In an email written by department chairwoman Rebecca Walkowitz, the Graduate Writing Program will emphasize ‘social justice’ and ‘critical grammar.’”
“This approach challenges the familiar dogma that writing instruction should limit emphasis on grammar/sentence-level issues so as to not put students from multilingual, non-standard ‘academic’ English backgrounds at a disadvantage,” Walkowitz said. “Instead, it encourages students to develop a critical awareness of the variety of choices available to them [with] regard to micro-level issues in order to empower them and equip them to push against biases based on ‘written’ accents.”
Walkowitz further said the school’s English Department would add “workshops on social justice and writing,” “increasing focus on graduate student life,” and “incorporating ‘critical grammar’ into our pedagogy,” the Free Beacon added.
“The “critical grammar” approach challenges the standard academic form of the English language in favor of a more inclusive writing experience. The curriculum puts an emphasis on the variability of the English language instead of accuracy,” the outlet added.
The Free Beacon spoke with speech pathologist and libertarian activist Leonydus Johnson, who called the new approach to grammar “insulting, patronizing, and in itself, extremely racist.”
“The idea that expecting a student to write in grammatically correct sentences is indicative of racial bias is asinine,” Johnson told the outlet. “It’s like these people believe that being non-white is an inherent handicap or learning disability…. That’s racism. It has become very clear to me that those who claim to be ‘anti-racist’ are often the most racist people in this country.”
Proper grammar has been under attack as racist for years. As The Daily Wire reported in 2016, The Guardian deemed grammar to be racist and an expression of white privilege. Mona Chalabi, a columnist at the paper at the time, claimed grammar is a privilege.
“It doesn’t take much to see the power imbalance when it comes to grammar snobbery. The people pointing out he mistakes are more likely to be older, wealthier, whiter, or just plain academic than the people they’re treating with condescension. All too often, it’s a way to silence people, and that’s particularly offensive when it’s someone who might already be struggling to speak up,” Chalabi said.
In 2017, the University of Washington in Tacoma deemed grammar to be racist, as The Daily Wire reported at the time.
“Linguistic and writing research has shown clearly for many decades that there is no inherent ‘standard’ of English,” the school’s writing center said in a statement at the time. “Language is constantly changing. These two facts make it very difficult to justify placing people in hierarchies or restricting opportunities and privileges because of the way people communicate in particular versions of English.”
The statement also called grammar an “unjust language structure.”