A Continuum of Competencies

Submitted By:
Jessica Flaxman, Rye Country Day School, Rye, NY

Critiquing Racial Literacy: Presenting a Continuum of Racial Literacies by Laura C. Chavez-Moreno
Educational Researcher, AERA, April 28, 2022

In her recent article in Educational Researcher, UCLA Professor Laura C. Chavez-Moreno problematizes the idea that racial literacy is simply "the enactment of antiracist practices and ideologies" and suggests that instead, racial literacies exist along a continuum of competencies. Racial literacy, Chavez-Moreno argues, is more than the belief in anti-racist ideas or the use of anti-racist speech; further, she says, "the label illiterate serves as a political tool to stigmatize certain people and their literacy practices." Such labeling is "counterproductive" insofar as it deems race-evasiveness, for example, as a form of illiteracy when in fact, Chavez-Moreno states, it is "a way of making meaning of our world." Instead of the literacy/illiteracy binary, Chavez-Moreno promotes a differentiated approach that helps people to "conceive of all literate practices as conveyors of racial literacies, whether from a race-evasive or an antiracist orientation." Ultimately, she feels that racial literacy, like other literacies, is best understood as continuous and evolving.

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