I loved reading Kristen Moore’s piece on Black Feminist Theory within the technical communication field and classroom. Not only did I admire her personable and self-reflective writing style, but I also appreciated the way in which she structured the article – given the depth and complexity of subject matter, the simplistic manner along with the moments of self-evaluation or awareness (for example, on page 269, she recognizes how her own racial/ethnic identity can perhaps limit her expertise and experience in the realm of Black Feminist Theory, but I think this kind of honesty and awareness further augments her work/argument in it’s credibility and usefulness) made it (relatively) easy and enjoyable to read.
Digger deeper, Moore really got me thinking not only about why and how Black Feminist Theory is imperative in the development and diversification of technical communication – notably both in and out of academia – but also, from a personal standpoint, perhaps about the ways in which I could/should/might/will use Black Feminist Theory in the the not so distant future for upcoming research projects. Holistically, I think this article is a great illustration of ways of thinking and doing in terms of stepping out of that dominating and at times suppressing institutional box, as these “systemic and ideological patterns…dominate the United States at large” (269). Irrefutably, I believe this is the foregrounding purpose that Moore is trying to get at here; it is an ethical and moral calling at fellow technical communicators, teachers, scholars, and above all students in the field to recognize the importance of utilizing such a theory to in part “enact social justice” (266), create a diverse and innovative thinking, doing, and creating space of collaborative engagement (playing upon intersections between teacher –students, students – community/citizens, teacher – citizens, researcher – community, etc.,) and to dive into the “civic responsibility and potential of technical communication course” (276).
The idea of “intersectional oppression” (267) I think is a great way to coin together the different levels and complexities in the historical rooting of African American female oppression. I thought it was quite interesting to note how Moore mentions that feminism, for the most part, deals with white middles class women and in doing so further suppresses Black feminism; in essence, I think she is saying that for so many years gender >race in that feminist scholar and readership focused more on “gender-based oppression over other forms of oppression” (269). Even in this, we can see the extent to which such intersectional subjugation can intensify the level of suppression experienced by women of colour in the fields of writing, rhetorics, and communication. In this way, page 270 notes that students and scholars have “little exposure” to Women of Colour’s scholarship, practice, and theories. After reading that one sentence, I thought well, why? But in an instant moment of realization (and ‘duh’ moment too), based on what Moore explains throughout the article, I then was able to answer my own question rather quickly and confidently – simply because of the governing white ideology, policy, and praxis in intellectual, theoretical, and institutional spaces.
Overall on a pedagogical platform, Moore stresses the importance of integrating Black Feminist Theory into the technical communication classroom. Specifically, she calls to the concept of narrative along with an emphasis on the emotional investment (or similar to Miller in previous week – humanistic approach rather than technical?!) through community-based work and collaboration. That is to say that narrative, in essence, is perhaps the most “important ways of making knowledge” – through peoples own “stories…[and] lived experiences” (294) in life. By doing so, Moore argues that technical communicators (and its students) will “not only strengthen [their] abilities” but will also begin to build upon a collective and “interdisciplinary effort towards social justice and equity” (295). Similarly, Rebecca Walton in chapter 8 further instigates and encourage the lens of narrative in in the technical communication as it “provides a viable entry point for beginning dialogues about inequity and injustice from a critical-cultural perspective” (364). Through this certain level of human interaction and relatabilty, narratives, Walton points out, give way to the points of reference for “how we, as individuals and communities, experience all facets of life” (364) and as technical communicators, it is possible that, in effect, our job can be and should be a way to shed light on how communication can both empower and disempower and I think that’s the bottom line – we are humans; we talk to one another, either verbally or non-verbally, every single day; for the most part, we like to engage and share stories and talk about the highs and lows of life, to feel apart of some type of community (be that family, group of friends, sports team, Engl 7780 class, with colleagues at work, etc.,) and more often than not, we enjoy listening to stories (well, I do anyway!) because we’re humans and it makes life a wee bit less stressful/difficult/hard. My point is I think taking the fundamentality of the theoretical framework grounded in Black Feminist approach with an encompassing focus on the narrative into technical communication, both in and outside the institutional context, can provide a very special and complex lens into how and why some things are being communicated out there in the world in a certain way to ultimately shut certain people out – if we simply ask and listen to what and how people have lived through life thus far and then place this information into how we approach a particular job/project/text, the results could facilitate and thus enact social justice and equity in certain communities. Perhaps we need to more aware of the proactive power of narrative in mean making and informing knowledge onto one another.
To end, here is a short but pretty cool blog post on the intersectionalities of technical wriitng and narratives. Interestingly, it’s written by novelist Dell Smith, who works as a manager of a small team of technical writers at a Boston software company. Think it’s kind of cool to see his take on on it all given his professional experience and positionailty.