Each February, Black History Month is a celebration of the achievements of African Americans and their central role in U.S. history. In Memo to Members, we wanted to highlight relevant articles and resources on black perspectives and social justice for the field of technical communication.
For more general information on inclusive communication, in January, the STC Florida chapter showcased inclusive technical communication in the monthly chapter meeting and in an article: Writing for Everyone: Inclusive Technical Communication.
The majority of technical communicators are white. Saul Carliner’s 2019 survey of technical communication found that over 80% of respondents responded that they are white:
To begin addressing this disparity, STC has established a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Panel to provide advice, insight, and recommendations on matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion. IEEE is going to have a special issue in 2022 on Enacting Social Justice in Technical and Professional Communication. We will provide a link to this special issue once it has been published.
But there’s more work to be done. While researching for this MtM, we had a difficult time finding lots of specifically technical communication articles and resources written by black folks or about black achievements in technical communication—it should not be as hard as it was to find resources on this topic. What we were able to find is below and we gave a small preview of what each resource is about. This is a good start- but we need to keep the momentum going to help technical communication become more diverse and inclusive.
Dr. Miriam F. Williams
One of the preeminent scholars in race, diversity, and ethnicity in technical communication, Dr. Miriam F. Williams, a Professor, Associate Chair for the Department of English, and former Director of the MA in Technical Communication at Texas State University. Dr. Williams stepped into the role of Editor-in-Chief of the journal Technical Communication of January of this year.
Links to her work
- Race, Ethnicity, and Technical Communication – SAGE Journals
- You will need a university library account for free access to the full article.
- Communicating Race, Ethnicity, and Identity in Technical Communication by Miriam Williams
- You will need to purchase the ebook from Amazon.
Natasha N. Jones
Natasha N. Jones is an Associate Professor at Michigan State University in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures. Natasha N. Jones is a technical communication scholar and a co-author of the book Technical Communication after the Social Justice Turn: Building Coalitions for Action (2019). Her research interests include social justice, narrative, and technical communication pedagogy. Her work has been published in a number of journals including, Technical Communication Quarterly, the Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, the Journal of Business and Technical Communication, and Rhetoric, Professional Communication, and Globalization.
Links to her work
- A podcast about diversifying Airbnb marketing and other materials by asking “Who isn’t here?”
- Social Justice though Technical Communication: Teaching Resources
- Resources developed by a graduate special topics technical communication course on Social Justice through Technical Communication
- CCCC Black Technical and Professional Communication Position Statement with Resource Guide
- A list of resources for you to read, watch, and/or listen to
- Y’all Call it Technical and Professional Communication, We Call it #ForTheCulture: The Use of Amplification Rhetorics in Black Communities and their Implications for Technical and Professional Communication Studies
- A dissertation that explains the use of Amplification rhetorics and applies them to technical communication
- Digital Blackface? Video Essay on Digital Communication by Khadija Mbowe
- A video essay explaining how the commodification of black people extends to digital images today