My name is Carmen Kynard and I am currently an associate professor of English and Gender Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York (CUNY) and associate professor of English, Urban Education, and Critical Psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center. I interrogate race, Black feminisms, AfroDigital/African American cultures and languages, and the politics of schooling with an emphasis on composition and literacies studies. My first book, Vernacular Insurrections: Race, Black Protest, and the New Century in Composition-Literacy Studies won the 2015 James Britton Award and makes Black Freedom a 21st century literacy movement. I trace my research and teaching at my website, “Education, Liberation, and Black Radical Traditions” (http://carmenkynard.org).
My commitment to teaching as part of my professional identity and research represents many years of experience which include: founding teacher for one of the Coalition of Essential Schools in Bronx, New York; on-site school consultant and summer institute leader for the New York City Writing Project; curriculum consultant and designer for the African Diaspora Research Institute and Caribbean Cultural Center in New York; composition instructor in the English Department and SEEK program of Medgar Evers College; instructional coordinator for the Center for Black Literature (CBL); facilitator for CBL’s Literature-to-Life and arts programs for Brooklyn high schools; instructional coordinator for pre-college workshops and dual enrollment courses at Medgar Evers College aimed at area Brooklyn high school students; curriculum designer and staff developer for a Community Learning Center Grant in Harlem, New York; seminar leader for “Looking Both Ways” (a joint literacy initiative between CUNY composition faculty and NYC Department of Education English teachers); and more. Each of these experiences has situated my work in literacy education in very different ways and continues to shape my ongoing understandings of the multiple sites of intervention where such work must occur.
I have worked at a variety of institutions now, but always with a particular commitment to those places and programs that enroll large numbers of first-generation, working class students of color. In my previous positions, I have worked as the director of a first year writing program and English professor at St. John’s University. Before that, I worked in the Department of Urban Education at Rutgers-Newark University. I began my work as a college professor in the Department of English at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York, the setting that taught me everything I know and can do today.
Each semester, each space, and each institution present both struggles and opportunities to create a space for literacy work that questions and enriches my social environment rather than reify dominant relationships between institutions of power and racially-economically subordinated groups. This means that I approach literacy as: the space for what people do, rather than what they have or do not have; a set of socio-cultural practices, rather than a set of neutral skills to be acquired according to already given political and social hierarchies; a deep engagement with political processes (we either construct ourselves as objects or we act as subjects who can change what lies before us); and an issue of context---personal, cultural, geographic, and historical.
If the conversation is truly about multiple literacies, political access/action, justice for racially subordinated communities, and critical pedagogy, I am all in!