The Color of Language

Centering the Student of Color in World Language Acquisition

by Kami J. Anderson (Author)
©2023 Textbook XIV, 102 Pages


The​ Color of Language helps to shed new light on the intersectionality of language, race and identity by offering readers a unique multi-perspective approach to the proscription of identity when language and culture have a direct impact on the understanding of race and ethnicity.

Using the lens of Afrocentricity, Womanist pedagogy and Foster et al.’s Heuristic for Thinking about Culturally Responsive Teaching (HiTCRiT) as an important pedagogical tool, Kami Anderson discusses raciolinguistics and its implications as a tool for language activism for Black students in the foreign language classroom, demonstrating how supremacist notions of language have often hindered the success of Black students in this area.

Engaging in Afrocentric language activism to challenges hegemonic notions, The Color of Language explores the inclusion of Afrolatino culture as a means of offering new pedagogical solutions that can foster language equity for African American students in the foreign language classroom today.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgment
  • Introduction—Language Is the New Super Power
  • Part I Unschooling the School Teacher
  • 1 Afrocentric and Womanist Pedagogy in the Classroom
  • 2 Unschooling the Black Child
  • 3 “Black Like Who?”: Teaching Cultural Identity to the Black Child
  • Part II Redirecting the Pedagogy
  • 4 Language Swag: A New Way to Do Language with Historic Skills
  • 5 Afrolatinidad as a Tool for Racial Justice in the Classroom
  • Part III Looking Beyond the Content Learning Outcomes
  • 6 Global Impact of Language Learning for Black Children
  • 7 Case Study Reflection: Afrocentric Foreign Language Pedagogy in Action
  • References
  • Index

←x | xi→


In 8th grade, there was a statewide speaking contest for language learners. My Spanish teacher encouraged me to participate...so I did. At the school level, it was down to me and another, Giselle, for Spanish and two students for French. I didn’t know at the time that Giselle was selected to be the native speaker and I was selected to be the non-native speaker.

On the day of the competition, we went to sign in. The man asked me: “Do you speak Spanish at home?” My answer, “yes.” As a truth-teller, in my eyes, that was not a lie. I get my competition card and go through the day.

It’s time for the awards ceremony. The announcer says, “...and 2nd place for pronunciation for native speakers, Kami Carey!” I was happy! My mother was in the audience confused. I was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI. My mama was born in Montclair, NJ, and raised in Washington, DC. There were no parts of that native-speaking Spanish!

On the way home, she uncovers my “logic” that brought me to take home a native speakers award. Remember, the man asked me if I spoke Spanish at home. My answer was yes. Because my mom and I go over colors, days of the week, numbers and practice saying “Hola, cómo te llamas” often. That’s all Spanish. It was done at home. I did tell the truth, I just missed a nuance there.

←xi | xii→

But here’s the thing. There was something that I had that day when it came to language that I want us to consider for our own students: I had a BOLDNESS in language that didn’t allow me to see anything about my language journey that was inferior or less than anybody else’s.

There was nothing about my language journey that made me feel as if I should second guess my ability or my capacity. Here’s the kicker: none of my Spanish teachers showed me this.

Let’s be real for a moment: Black children have historically been told to silence their “home language.” They are constantly corrected when they use African American English (AAE), and they are sometimes even chastised and ridiculed. But what if we actually looked at the ways Black children use language not as a threat or mark of inferiority but instead as a tool for language learning? What might we instill in language confidence that could help with language retention and sustainability?

That’s what I hope you get out of this book. Strategies to help students communicate their purest essence of self in whatever language they choose. I want them to be as bold and confident as that 8th grade me who saw no issue with speaking her truth (even if it wasn’t quite what they meant) and being rewarded for ways in which I embodied language.

←xii | xiii→


Everything I do is for my four wonderfully multilingual, precocious, and beautifully curious children. This book is no different. I began this journey of Black language activism in the world languages for them and those like them. For Jeffrey, Jachin, Jason, and Jasira, this book will continue to build a nation of Black bilinguals for you that will explore and experience the global playground with their own words on their own terms.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge Dr. Richard Wright at Howard University, who probably saw this journey in language sooner than I did. It was his encouragement to take language classes and even complete my doctoral comprehensive exam in multiple languages that showed me the power at the tip of my tongue and my fingertips. I am forever indebted to his guidance during my doctoral process and have to credit him for the evolution you see here.

Finally, Dr. Andre E. Johnson, is who pushed me to complete this book. Thank you for trusting my scholarship and innovative approach to language, communication, and culture to “kick off” this series!

←xiv | 1→

Introduction—Language Is the New Super Power

“Language has always been a site of negotiation and resistance for African Americans in White middle class society” (Richardson, 2004, p. 168)


XIV, 102
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2022 (December)
Afrocentricity The Color of Language Centering the Student of Color in World Language Acquisition Kami J. Anderson African Americans bilingualism pre-service teachers world languages language learning communication pedagogy
New York, Berlin, Bruxelles, Lausanne, Oxford, 2023. XIV, 102 pp.

Biographical notes

Kami J. Anderson (Author)

Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Kami J. Anderson has a passion and compassion for others and difference through language. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Spelman College, a Master’s degree in International Affairs/Interdisciplinary Studies in International Communication and Anthropology from American University and a PhD in Communication and Culture from Howard University.


Title: The Color of Language