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Writing Center Journal

Abstract

Writing centers increasingly have been concerned with issues of race and racism in the center. However, most of the conversation around race has centered on student writers, with references to tutors of color given only in passing or in the context of larger discussions on race. This study uses interview data and a grounded theory methodology to examine the experiences of racism and anti-Blackness in writing centers for female Black undergraduate and graduate peer tutors, categorizing the experiences in three ways: attacks on character and identity, denials of credibility, and silencing. Connections are drawn with the experiences the tutors have outside the center, and the argument is made that the racial tension of their centers puts the women in a position of constant negotiation, performing a balancing act in which they must filter their responses to their racist encounters out of self-preservation. The results indicate that writing centers are not yet where the field and practitioners would like them to be and that much of the emotional labor of maintaining a tolerable work environment is falling to tutors of color. Writing center directors must do more to take back this responsibility and change the culture of their centers.

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