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Statement on Jan. 6 Events and the Importance of Writing & Rhetoric

CWPA Colleagues:

The brutal insurrection on Wednesday, January 6, at the U.S. Capitol highlighted many disturbing elements of our current political landscape. Language was weaponized and used to incite violence. As a community of writing program administrators and teachers, we were astonished and dismayed—not just by the actions of the frenzied mob, but also by the amoral provocations of certain elected officials, the prevalence of false narratives before and after the insurrection, and the glaring contrast between the treatment of the mostly white seditionists and that of protesters who, in 2020, demonstrated in support of racial justice for Black and Brown lives. We strongly condemn the violence, sedition, and racism of Wednesday’s events.

CWPA has a role to play in supporting an educated and deliberative citizenry. Words are actions, and rhetoric matters. While it has been difficult to refocus our attention on preparing our programs and classes for the coming semester, the CWPA Executive Board firmly believes that the work we do in our classrooms, programs, and campuses supports a more just, less violent, and increasingly informed society. When we teach our students how to evaluate sources and narratives, how to support their positions with critical thinking and careful research, and how to disagree with words rather than with violence, we teach them to resist the forces that led to Wednesday’s insurrection. When we centralize readings by marginalized authors, enact critical language pedagogies, and implement inclusive assessment practices, we help to counteract this nation’s troubling history of white supremacy. We empower students to join the fight for equity when we help them discern and hold steadfast to facts, engage in civic rhetorical practices, and understand the fragility of democracy. 

Our collective work as a community of writers, writing instructors, and writing program administrators is important. It has never been more vital to encourage critical thought; informed, non-violent debate; and antiracist pedagogies. And although it is difficult to return to work in the midst of our grief, outrage, and fear, we must remember that when we teach our students to debate, question, and delve deeply into perspectives other than their own, we are taking concrete actions to counteract racism, conspiracy, and violence.

In solidarity,

The CWPA Executive Board

(NOTE: We choose to capitalize Black and Brown as a mark of respect, even though we are cognizant that BIPOC communities are diverse within the broad political designations that are common in American society.)

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