Also represented in my published work are my interests in topics closer to the center of the field of Intercultural Communication, like race/ethnicity, gender, and class. My article “Black Shepherd, White Sheep,” a phenomenological study of an interracial Southern church in Race, Gender, & Class, demonstrates my concern for and struggle against discourses and performances of Whiteness. In this study, I conducted ethnographic interviews with members of a mostly White church that had recently hired a Black pastor. Subsequently, I analyzed narratives based on those interviews to uncover the essential structure of that experience from various perspectives within the church, including members, elders, and the pastor himself. I also recently published a set of autoethnographic poems called “Waffle Booty” in Southern Studies, employing the method of performative writing to explore my own and others’ performances of gendered and classed identities in Southern Waffle Houses.
Please feel free to email me if you for electronic copies (Adobe Acrobat .pdf files) of these papers.
While a PhD student at Arizona State, along with other intercultural and critical scholars among the ASU faculty and graduate students, I grew concerned that the undergraduate curriculum of the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication contained no regularly offered course that specifically focused on race and ethnicity as they intersect with, impact, and are shaped by communication. A course on Gender and Communication was included in the catalog and was offered consistently, but Race/Ethnicity and Communication had not yet been made official. In response to this gap in the curriculum, I took on a project with an advanced undergraduate research assistant, a female student of color. With her help, I constructed a syllabus for a class on Whiteness, carefully considering the choice and sequencing of readings and assignments given the context of ASU, where students are often unwilling to engage in self-reflexivity about their racial and/or socioeconomic privilege. In the Fall of 2007, I used this syllabus to teach an upper level special topics course called Communicating Whiteness, which explored race and ethnicity as social constructions with material impacts and asked students to question their unexamined assumptions about Whiteness, racialized Others, and interracial communication.
CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS
Before the course on Whiteness began, I received Human Subjects approval to collect materials from the students in the course for a pedagogical study of Whiteness in the classroom. I anonymously collected student journals, as well as other written assignments, and am in the process of conducting a discourse analysis on the effectiveness of the curriculum of the course.
I am also presently engaged in a follow-up study of the same church in the “Black Shepherd, White Sheep” discussed in the publications section above. At the time of the previous phenomenological study, the church’s primary concern seemed to be the acceptance by the predominantly White congregation of a newly hired Black pastor. However, in a cultural context where the “color line” is not only still sharply delineated, but is also conflated with socioeconomic class distinctions, the church has found surviving the appointment of a Black pastor to be the beginning, not the end, of many racialized issues. Among these are the battle against White flight from church membership, the resistance of Blacks to assuming leadership roles in the church, racial tension between members during the recent election, division over the production of music and other programming for Sunday services, and the impact of performances of race and class on bi-weekly small group Bible studies.
Whiteness and interracial communication has also become a topic of concern recently among some applied linguists and language teaching professionals, especially as they affect and are affected by post=colonialism and neo-imperialism in language classrooms and policy planning around the world. As editor of TESOL International’s Intercultural Interest Section’s quarterly newsletter, InterComm, from 2012-2015, I published several articles related to these issues. I am also currently working with several co-authors on an article for TESOL Quarterly on Whiteness in the field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.