There’s a BIPOC Caucus in the CWCA/ACCR

Vol. 4 No. 2 (Fall 2022)

By Vidya Natarajan and Megumi Taguchi

Vidya Natarajan is a first-gen immigrant whose mother tongue is Tamil, and a settler on the lands of the Anishnaabek, Haudenosawnee, Lunaapewak and Chononton Peoples (now called London, Ontario). She teaches writing and coordinates the Writing program at King’s University College.

Megumi Taguchi lives and works on the unceded, traditional lands of the Qayqayt Peoples, in a city commonly known as New Westminster, in British Columbia. A fourth generation racialized settler, she believes that because her family on her father’s side settled in the Okanagan region, home of the Syilx (say-ooks) people, they were able to avoid the worst of the racial discrimination and imprisonment by the Canadian government during WW2. She is a former peer tutor and English language tutor, and is currently services coordinator at Douglas College, where she supervises and helps run the operational side of tutoring. She is working on her master of education in TESOL at the University of British Columbia.

SIGs and Caucuses

Special Interest Groups (SIGs) have long been a way for likeminded scholars and activists to come together at conferences around subjects or projects in which they are deeply invested. As antiracism became a key node for advocacy, research, and attention among members of the International Writing Center Association (IWCA), the Antiracism Activism Special Interest Group, active since 2006 (Godbee & Olson, 2014) consolidated itself. Talisha Haltiwanger Morrison and Keli Tucker (2019) document how the IWCA’s “Antiracism Activism SIG became a standing SIG in 2017” (p. 4). They note that under their co-leadership, the SIG’s “primary goal has been to develop resources and support to help its members move toward the action invoked in the SIG’s name” (2019, p. 4). Many SIGs function on the basis of common professional and academic interests; in giving racial identity full recognition, however, IWCA’s Antiracism Activism SIG acknowledges the complex involvement of identity-based interests in social and professional interactions. Continue reading “There’s a BIPOC Caucus in the CWCA/ACCR”

Commitment to Antiracism: CWCA/ACCR Statement of Commitment to Antiracism

Background

The CWCA/ACCR Statement of Commitment to Antiracism is a living and active document. It will guide and inform the Board and its committees in all activities, such as strategic planning, conference organizing, resource creation, and membership recruitment. Following the statement’s publication on our website today in January 2022, the Board and the BIPOC Caucus will work together to implement an action plan and measures for tracking progress, for updating and revising the statement, and for supporting individual members and member schools in doing this critical work.

The Statement of Commitment to Antiracism is the result of significant cooperation and collaboration by various individuals and groups within CWCA/ACCR. The Statement was originally crafted out of a similar statement by the British Columbia Writing Centres Association (BCWCA). It was composed and revised over a period of approximately 12 months from January to December 2021, engaging Board members and general members of the organization.

Following the draft shared with members at the 2021 Annual General Meeting, racialized members of CWCA/ACCR formed the BIPOC Caucus and undertook the task of revising the Statement to make it more inclusive and to recognize the different roles that members have in doing this work. Their work has been instrumental, and CWCA/ACCR is indebted to these members for their commitment, vision, and labour. As a result of their work, the published Statement is more fully representative of our organization, and it details CWCA/ACCR’s commitments to and responsibilities for fostering and supporting antiracism in our organization and in member writing centres.

The CWCA/ACCR Statement of Commitment to Antiracism is the lens that will filter and focus all activities of our organization now and in the future. It reminds us that writing centre work is never neutral; that language is never standard; and that our practices of teaching, tutoring, and coaching must be equitable and informed by antiracism theories and practices to be effective. It impels us to examine our organizational culture, our membership, and our leadership, and to make intentional and sustaining changes to our systems and processes, and to our mentorship and leadership pathways.

I invite you to read the Statement of Commitment to Antiracism and consider how you can help move it from text to action:

  • What elements of this statement resonate with you?
  • As a current or future member of CWCA/ACCR, how can you participate in this work in your own writing centre/writing program? In your institution? In your teaching or research? In any of the initiatives or action items in the statement?
  • What support do you need from CWCA/ACCR to engage in antiracist research or practice?
  • What can you contribute to CWCA/ACCR’s efforts to transform this statement into action?

Please contact me if you wish to share your ideas, your interests, or your personal commitment. I look forward to joining with all our members in conversations about antiracism in CWCA/ACCR and in our member writing centres at the 2022 conference.

Clare Bermingham, PhD
President, CWCA/ACCR

Read the full CWCA/ACCR Statement of Commitment to Antiracism.