Professor Says Grading, Good Grammar Are Examples of White Supremacy

by Evan Weaver


MUNCIE, Ind. — Ball State University recently hosted a presentation to “engage with the question of how English language practices in college classrooms contribute to white supremacy.”

“Freeing Our Minds and Innovating Our Pedagogy from White Language Supremacy” was the title of the 75-minute guest lecture given on October 14 by Asao Inoue, a professor and the associate dean of the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at Arizona State University.

“We are all implicated in white supremacy,” Inoue said during his presentation, co-hosted by Ball State’s English department, university writing program, and Office of Inclusive Excellence.

“This is because white supremacist systems like all systems reproduce themselves as a matter of course,” he said. “This includes reproduction of dominant, white, middle-class, monolingual standards for literacy and communication.”

White language supremacy, according to Inoue, is “the condition in classrooms, schools, and society where rewards are given in determined ways to people who can most easily reach them, because those people have more access to the preferred and embodied white language practices, and part of that access is a structural assumption that what is reachable at a given moment for the normative, white, monolingual English user is reachable for all.”


“Your school can be racist and produce racist outcomes,” Inoue said. “Even with expressed values and commitments to anti-racism and social justice.”

In one of his slides, Inoue states that “grading is a great way to protect the white property of literacy in schools and maintain the white supremacist status quo without ever being white supremacist or mentioning race.”

Another slide dealt with possible objections to his theory (shown above).

As previously reported by The College Fix, Inoue is known for advocating that students should be graded based on the “labor” they put into their work, not the “quality” of the finished product.

“We must rethink how we assess writing, if we want to address the racism,” Inoue wrote in his 2015 book “Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies: Teaching and Assessing Writing for a Socially Just Future.”

In another paper, “A Grade-less Writing Course that Focuses on Labor and Assessing,” Inoue argued that writing teachers should “calculate course grades by labor completed and dispense almost completely with judgments of quality when producing course grades.”

During his presentation at Ball State University, Inoue said that in order to succeed in even the most liberal and forward-thinking institutions of higher education today, a person of color has to act, think and sound white to some degree.

Inoue’s call to action was for students to consider the language they use and question how what they do in college is another version of what he described as society’s long-standing inherited, structured, normalized, eugenic, and white-supremacist project.

“How do we innovate ourselves out of this historical racist project so that we are engineering together, a bigger, more diverse, more equitable braver, more beneficent, tomorrow?” Inoue asked the audience.

Inoue’s presentation, which included a question and answer session, was in front of a packed crowd. Some students attended as part of a class assignment.

“We have to take field notes for ENG 220: Language and Society, where we relate what we are talking about in class to real life examples, and that talk was one of them,” Hannah Sullivan, one of those students, told The College Fix.

Sullivan said she agreed with what Inoue said about grading in terms of motivating students.

“Grades within themselves often take away from the learning process as the focus becomes more about memorization of information rather than learning and exploring the information,” Sullivan said.

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Evan Weaver is a junior at Ball State University in Indiana. He is double majoring in news journalism and telecommunications and minoring in sports studies. He covers news and sports for the Ball State Daily News student newspaper and is press secretary for his campus Students for Life chapter. He is also a member of Cardinal Catholic. In his free time, Evan enjoys riding his bike, spending time with his family, and browsing the news.
Photo “Asao Inoue” by Ball State University. Background Photo “Ball State University” by dayne baughman. CC BY-SA 3.0.




Appeared at and reprinted from The College Fix

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6 Thoughts to “Professor Says Grading, Good Grammar Are Examples of White Supremacy”

  1. Vicki Steerman

    OMG what an idiot.

  2. Sophie

    Sorry, but it’s incredibly racist to suggest that racial minorities in America can’t be really great, really skilled writers unless they conform to white supremacy. The whole history of Black fiction in America would beg to differ. Zora Neal Hurston confirmed to white supremacist notions of grammar?! James Baldwin was just a tool of white institutions? THIS is one more attempt to erase black history and accomplishment.

  3. Donna

    This man is lazy and racist to even make these ridiculous allegations. Language and the ability to communicate is a necessary factor in any society, and the most important factor for equality at any level. His use of an awful lot of “big words” in his lecture leads me to believe that he is nothing more than another pompous instructor who thinks he’s the smartest person in the room, when in reality he’s a total bore making excuses for failing to engage his students enough to make them want to learn.

  4. CCW

    You can tell education is really improving. Just look at Seattle School System. Math in school has been declared racist. Inherently yellow and brown races does better in math, so have a racist advantage over other kids.

    In my early college days I wondered if (Liebnez or Newton) whoever invented calculus, were maybe a little sadistic, but never thought they were racist. Now I know why I had a bad time initially with that subject. I am apalachian american and have the DNA certificate to prove it. I demand reparations for being subjected to a racist requirement to graduate.

  5. Karen Bracken

    This guy is the reason parents need to think twice about sending their kids to college. This country’s majority rwce is white. Don’t like it go live where the demographics is more to your liking.

    1. Melanie Rowley

      What a complete moron. Anything to excuse students who fail either because they won’t do the work or have been taught they can play the bad whites card.

      He is sick.