A flash of inspiration….


The more I contemplate it, I think that the suggestion to turn our current course into our own homegrown mini-MOOC (…thanks Andre) is a stroke of genius.

If you are wondering what a MOOC is, the acronym stands for “Massive Open Online Course”.  It is a course that is free, offered online, and it is open to the public.  Although there might be a start and an end date, participants can come and go, taking in what they please.  (i.e.  -low commitment barriers, but great potential to grow your professional learning network).  A MOOC is an event that invites people to connect and learn together.  Here is a short video that explains what is a MOOC is:

In short, a MOOC is a free open online invitation to join a community for a networked learning experience.  In a way, we have already laid the groundwork for this context by opening up our class website to a network by going “public” on twitter with our course hashtag #WritingRace.   But we have yet to actively invite others to join in on our ongoing conversation.

Here is an idea:

What if we conceived of your “presentations” as “units” in a mini-course offering that we made available to anyone who might be interested in joining us in a conversation about why race matters.  Earlier in the semester, we all imagined that you would proceed through these presentations in class and then you would drop that content down into a final “digital omnibus” – a kind of repository for your completed group work.  The problem with that concept is that it has less potential for impact and interactivity.  Although the content would be meaningful, it would be dead in the water.  This is why I have been prompting you all to think about how we might make our work matter more in the world beyond our classroom.   So…..

What if we flipped that paradigm?  What if we dropped the presentation content down into a special “course website” first?  The digital site would then be designed for the purpose of our own mini-MOOC offering on “Why Race Matters” (or whatever title you guys want).  Then your presentations would roll out in class, and we would use this material as an anchor for further explorations together.  All of you would serve as the facilitators of this open mini course.  We could advertise the course on twitter and send invitations to key folks (i.e. that class in VT that was mentioned, any other classes or groups we might want to connect with, Kean University colleagues, colleagues in the broader field that we admire, professional contacts, friends, etc.).  Anyone would be welcome to share in our content (your presentations) that make up our discussion, and we could include a few “live” events so people could connect with us  (i.e. -twitter chats, -google hangouts, etc.).

I know this might seem daunting, but if we front load the digital website first (as a mini-course) and then we rolled out the presentations in class a few weeks afterward, we could really engender more connected conversation I think.  I have some notion of how we could achieve this, and perhaps I will start by sharing some of that in more detail with you when we meet for class next Tuesday.  Here is a link to a MOOC I facilitated in the Fall.  Admittedly, this course was indeed a massive and global enterprise with some high profile people involved.  But it can serve as a design reference for our own project.  In a way, the task we identified has not changed (i.e. your group work).  The only difference would be the delivery of that work and a slight tweak to our proposed course schedule.

Blog #5:  Please ruminate on this proposal, and by all means respond with ideas/concerns/questions via your blog post for the week if you feel the calling.  Otherwise, blog an update on the details of your individual contribution to your group project.

I look forward to seeing you all on Tuesday evening,

Dr. Zamora




Feelin Some Type A Way (Slept-on redux)

Not tryna proselytize, or nothin; plus my Bible be shambolic. Or the acumen thereof, know what I’m sayin. And my fault, too, if I come off vexed. I am.

Y’all might may have heard the one, The Tower of Babel: the construction-work towards a literal stairway to heaven–no Zepplin, either–where God was like “Nah,” and smite all the contractors them, they tongues, with various lingoes to show them what was up. A talltale some of y’all might say, I know–and no pun effected–but the implications thereof: we dumb to ignore that, lookin at The Zeitgeist.

It been forever and a day (and still ain’t got no 40 acres & a damn mule yet!) and yet The White Man’s language still got folks thinkin that ‘that’. That they primary discourses basal; or: because they’re not standard, shouldn’t be at all. Or at least considered in the queue of public language performances. Because: if Black English Isn’t A Language, Then Tell Me, What Is.

And I hear you, Abiola–and, my bad if I seem dyspeptic–but I do agree that “learning to code switch is a skill and the better you are at it the better for communication” (Abiola, “Looking”).

Plus: the more languages you know, the easier it is to communicate in general; like, e.g., grammar becomes a cinch, then diction, and the tightness of the tethering of your verbiage get mo taut: no stiff-upper-lip stuff, either.

But code switching isn’t, wasn’t, something I learnt because it was “good” for me. Your Boy wasn’t laced with said so-called adroitness because of its beneficence; its affordances weren’t salient like that. There was nothing to palpate. It’s praxis wasn’t all ‘that’ neither, save for when I got served a Leatherstrap Special for having done done it wrong. Like, installin a preposition at a sentential terminal, as in “Where they at?”

I was inculcated with the idea that “White is Right” NOT “knowing mad language is how you increase buffering speeds on yo linguistic navigability.” That wasn’t a thing–“good” English was.

And on the real, too, you’re kinda rollin a Dawinian dice everytime you play favorites like that, if you ax me. Y’all hear bout what’s going on in China? How is that not equivalent to any one of us making ourselves up to be more palatable in the worse kind of way? And I know y’all’ve seen Sammy Sosa by now.

And while the artisanship of code switchin not lost all that much on Your Boy–I mean, I too did and still the code switchin two-, or however many step–but it come off more as living out oppression, IMO; see infra (and at about the 21:03 mark, y’all can kill it):

What Baldwin sayin is that oppression, upbringing–and it don’t matter how vigilant you think you is–call for a special type of surgery. His using “negro” to refer to black people isn’t so much stylistic, or condescending, as it is byproduct of conditioning. Itz the language of the Spanish, for one; and don’t get me started on how balkanized blacks was when it came to monickers: had us straight deracinating ourselves up from the inside on some extubatin type stuff; like–sh*t!

Me code switchin isn’t because my parents, the teachers, or anyone for that matter acknowledged that it was important for me to speak one way one place and another way another place because my language was hot.

What I considered home, for me, linguistically (or rather, lyrically), that is, the word-kist from which I took and take and makes and made it so that I can type type fast like ize does, or Iams is–was scrutinized. Demonized. Stigmatized. Ostracized. Sidelined and spiked and stomped out to be perceived as nadir. And on the regular.

For real, it’s like what Smitherman said, unless it Lippi-Green, that it the media “that conveyed the impression that Black English is the speech lingo of criminals, drug dealers, pushers, teenage hoodlums, and various sundry hustlers who [speak] in ‘mafuckers’ and ‘pussy-coppin raps'”. This just not the case if y’all’ve been steady pacing your Boy, wit these agog-behind blogs of mine.

But Black English, “brother talk,” whatever, still get a bad rap in the classroom, on the news, like it some other shit–and no pun. (Meanwhile: not a ONE of these wiseacres and dilettantes, with they fanfaronade and folderol, endowed with even a dab of that highgrade Your Boy be spittin when it come to this so-called claptrap crap.) People out here pretendin like nobody language equip them with inappropriate wordage. What’re they: “dolts”?

And the same go for text-talk, or techno-lingo: because we still not deliberatin the way we should bout that, is we? And y’all might not be feelin where Iams comin from, but as someone whose steadily dealt and deals with fucked up language on the regular like that: trust, a n*gga here.

And: again: no diss to my homegirl, Abiola: but I’m not about to big-up English like no blood done spilt because of it. And I’m gonna go as hard as a.

You see, the thing about rhetorical contexts, e.g., the classroom, is that they constitute experiences. And here go another, fo dat behind.

And please see infra: see how they play Your Girl Rachel Jeantel in the media. And I’m out on that note; one: