Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Nerdiness and White Privilege
The heading above comes from an article by the same title, written by sociolinguist Mary Bucholtz.
Since I just meditated on "Stuff White People Like", it seems to follow logic that I should mention the scholarly work that has addressed similar linguistic choices aligned with the ideology that accompanies white privilege.
In Bucholtz's article, in which she interviews the students at a high school who self-identify as 'nerds' and speak in a super-standard form of English that integrates scientific discourse, Bucholtz explains, "engaging in nerdy practices may itself be a form of white privilege, since these practices were not as readily available to teenagers of color and the consequences of their use more severe"(96).
True, SWPL isn't referring to itself as a book for nerds, or for people of privilege, but Bucholtz' findings seem to point to a connection between the availability of these choices and privilege.
"The Whiteness of Nerds" also points out that while these linguistic practices of high school students, who self-identify as 'nerds', further distance themselves from their African American counterparts, Bucholtz doesn't make claims to say that this isn't necessarily a conscious strategy of the nerd students.
Separating themselves from the African-American population was "not necessarily an intended consequence...nerds defined themselves in opposition to both coolness and blackness" (94)