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Code Switching in the State of Our Union

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Agnes Scott chapter.



On campus, I serve as a Diversity Coordinator for the Gay Johnson McDougall Center for Global Diversity and Inclusion (it’s a mouthful) and in this job, I am able to create and facilitate many event ideas. One of my favorite projects is InFocus, which is essentially a dialogue series that is at the intersection of pop culture and social justice/history. We have one every month and the topic varies depending on what is happening in the world. From sex politics to linguistic assimilation, InFocus has it all. Typically, I provide the background information regarding the topic and pose questions to help facilitate the conversation so that the audience members are able to share their opinions, comments and even questions that they have.

This month, we focused on the recent email incident at Duke University. We divided the dialogue up into four sections: language and culture expectations in public spaces, linguistic assimilation vs accommodation, inclusive language practices, and implicit bias and xenophobia. These were just some of the questions we raised: what are the expectations of how we communicate in public spaces? Who creates these and why are these considered the norm? What are the implications of slang, accents, and code-switching? How can we practice inclusive language beyond the scope of gender neutral terms? How can we avoid dissociating common words we use to label a group so for example, clique, international, or even shouting?

Without getting into the specifics and the thoughts that were shared at the event, I definitely find myself learning more even as a facilitator each time we have one. If any of these questions made you look at the incident from a different perspective and drew you in to answering them, I highly encourage you all to attend InFocus topics that spark your interest.