Race in Technical Communication

Last week’s readings are exactly what I’m hoping that the broader field of Technical Communication will take up and really consider. In fact, it’s what I want to be a part of. Each chapter takes on a different perspective regarding the relationship between race and the field. Del Hierro’s chapter on hip hop offers us a set of methods that technical communication is missing out on using. Hip Hop has been taken up for some specific kinds of technical communication–education and marketing are two prominent examples. Its utility in these spaces is supported with plenty of research and evidence to point to its efficacy. However, these are also spaces where cultural studies and cultural rhetorics have most likely always been integrated and involved, I think. The topic may not be pervasive or widely accepted, but educators have long explored opportunities for connections between their scholarship and culture. This is a great example of that at work: http://livestream.com/schomburgcenter/events/4990989 In the example, Chris Edmin illustrates how hip hop pedagogy and cultural insight in general can serve both pedagogical and evaluative purposes. If you watch, pay close attention to the performances by the students near the beginning of the talk (around 12-13 mins) and then again toward the middle when he talks about what that could do in a classroom (I think around 46-48ish mins).

I also think the critical race conversation is important to have too. As I mentioned briefly in class, black people have conversations in their homes all.the.time about how their race shapes their professional identity. How one chooses to speak, or what Pandora station you listen to, or how you dress can all be called into question. If  you engage in a way that is too raced, you’ll be labeled unprofessional and jeopardize your job. One quote that  was particularly interesting to me is when Edwards talked about the social construction tenet of CRT. She says, “social construction means that those in power in a society invent thoughts and structures when convenient. Social construction allows for those in power to pick and choose what is important and ignore facts when necessary” (383).  This resonated so much because one of the most frustrating experiences is the gut knowledge that the rules just changed because of you. I’m keeping this chapter in my back pocket because I’m sure it’ll come in handy.

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