National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) recently revised the position statement concerning English and Language Arts Materials of Indigenous Peoples and People of Color. This statement begins the new document:
“Indigenous communities and People of Color in the United States, including Native Americans and Alaska Natives, Pacific Islanders, Asian Americans, Blacks, Chicanx, Puerto Ricans, and others, continue to suffer debilitating and systemic discrimination in jobs, housing, civil rights, and education. Part of this discrimination takes place in the form of erasure, and these communities continue to face a school curriculum that, for them, frequently downplays or does not include their communities’ work and contributions. Ironically, it is also a curriculum which, in a different fashion, deprives white students and teachers by denying them opportunities to gain a more complete and accurate picture of the diverse and intricately connected constellations of histories and literatures of the United States. While some strides have been made, that work is incomplete, and the still-existing structural inequalities within education continue to make an impact on all students.”
Interestingly, the recent publication of American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins has sparked controversy because a Latinx did not write the novel that depicts Mexican characters, situations, challenges, and culture. NEHS chapters may wish to review the NCTE document, read more of the debate on cultural appropriation, and sponsor forums for discussion in their communities or within chapters. Another interesting project would be to review English curricular texts and consider the representation of cultures, author ethnicities, and genders.