Soy porque Somos: Black Spanish Teachers Developing Hemispheric Black Language Pedagogies



Black language learners, Spanish Language Education, Black Language Pedagogies, Afrodiaspora


This article explores the ways in which U.S.-based Spanish language teachers who are racialized as Black, develop and navigate Critical Race Pedagogies (Anya, 2020) in order to resist linguistic pushout (Austin, 2022) and confront the racializing myths that serve to erase Afrodiasporic and Indigenous (hi)stories from Spanish language curricula. Specifically, the article investigates the supports, challenges, and recommendations of eight Black Spanish educators inclusive of authors one and two. The interviews elicited from the teachers most notably illuminated a shared experience of navigating academic institutions that required a defense of Blackness in order to restore balance to the classroom and to overarchingly antiBlack educational systems. Informed by linguistic and cultural expertise within themselves, their homes and communities, participants nurtured their defense of Blackness through Black-Self Determination or moves toward a full recognition of Black humanity (Wynter, 2003) in the Spanish classroom. The authors argue that a sense of harmony and truth which predates Greco-Roman notions of democracy and prizes order and justice, what Kemetic societies referred to as Maat (Obenga, 2004), was constantly being pursued through these teachers’ efforts. Through cultivating Black historicity, cross-ethnic solidarities and Ubuntu (the essence of humanity and compassion [Makalela, 2018]), alongside a steadfast resistance to negative stereotypes of Black lifeways,  the teachers experiences revealed approaches toward the development of what Clemons (2021a) calls Hemispheric Black Language Pedagogies which highlight Afrodiasporic presence and histories, to insist upon student success using pedagogical, curricular, and policy choices in the varying educational contexts.

Author Biographies

Aris Moreno Clemons, University of Tennessee Knoxville

ARIS MORENO CLEMONS, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Hispanic Linguistics in the World Languages and Cultures department at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Originally from the Bay Area in California, she has been steeped in the traditions of anti-racist pedagogies and has dedicated herself to developing and sustaining these practices in her ongoing career as an educator in K-12 and higher education spaces. Her research agenda is rooted in social change through an examination of the ways that what appears to be common knowledge is often constructed and ideologically maintained by various social institutions. Overarchingly, Aris questions the linguistic mechanisms responsible for the (re)construction and maintenance of racializing and marginalizing ideologies.

Tasha Austin, University at Buffalo

TASHA AUSTIN, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of teacher education, language education and multilingualism for SUNY Buffalo, Graduate School of Education. As a critical theorist, she engages Black feminist epistemologies to qualitatively examine language, identity and power through a raciolinguistic perspective, investigating the manifestations of antiBlackness in language education. Her dissertation and scholarly publications have been awarded by the American Educational Research Association, New York State Foreign Language Teachers and Northeast Conference on Teaching Foreign Languages, respectively. Her research can be found in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Foreign Language Annals and Applied Linguistics.