Anti-Racist English Language Teaching and Scholarship

April Baker-Bell, College of Arts and Letters 

Denby High School 

Dr. April Baker-Bell has initiated and sustained a community-university partnership between the MSU English teacher education program and a network of high school English teachers and students in Detroit. Participating schools include Finney High School, Detroit Leadership Academy, and Denby High School. The partnership originated in 2008 while Dr. Baker-Bell was a high school English teacher in Detroit Public Schools, and evolved as she continued her scholarship on Black language, English education, and literacy studies at MSU. For the past three years, Dr. Baker-Bell, Ms. Mimi Henderson-Hudson, and the students in Ms. Henderson-Hudson’s senior English class at Denby have focused on an initiative called the THUG Collaborative, an acronym for the novel and film The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. The scholarship involves developing and refining anti-racist approaches to the teaching of Black language in partnership with classroom teachers and Black students. This focus responds to an urgent need in the field of English education: how to build on the linguistic assets that Black students bring with them into English classrooms. The results of this collaboration have been made public in a variety of formats for both scholars and educators/practitioners.