“Addressing Racial Diversity in a Writing Center,” by Nancy Baron and Nancy Grimm, initially seemed to promise me some insight into how I should recognize race differences as a white (or Anglo) writing tutor. Instead, I was left with questions. The belief that we should not be colorblind but instead embrace our cultural differences is not new to me; my high school English department emphasized how much richer our understanding of texts is when we consider it from various viewpoints. I was saddened by the first story’s tale of “white prose;” I would hope that we can read the opinions of others without rejecting them. However, I have to ask: what if the professors do not recognize alternative voices as valid? Can I, as a writing tutor, encourage a student to write in his or her own way if that will negatively impact their grade in a course? Do grades or personal integrity take priority, and how can I help a student with that terrible choice? I would hope, indeed I believe, that a professor at a university as diverse as ours would be able to accept alternative views and ways of writing, but what if that is not the case?
I found little in the way of actual advice in this article. I found the anecdote about a diverse writing center somewhat helpful and rather heartening, but I do not understand how the authors would have me change my tutoring. Quite simply, I found this article interesting and informative on the subject of race in academia and in general. It certainly made me think about my own attitudes towards race, and I appreciate it in that sense. However, as an article for learning about race in the writing center, I would have appreciated more concrete discussions of what changed for individual tutors and for the center as a whole. Without those components, I found it hard to see what exactly I should do to address race in writing.
Emily Kohn, Class of 2015