Fear of a Black Language: A Radical Language Policy Perspective to the Afrobarometer

Aisha Barise
International Journal of Community Development and Management Studies  •  Black in Quebec - Exploring Black experiences in health, justice, education and employment  •  Volume 7 (2023)  •  pp. 055-071

This paper complicates Black English-speaking Quebecers by mapping them to the poli-tics of multilingualism, through attempting to join Black and African thinkers on the dialectics of linguistic (in)securities. In particular, it joins “Francophone” and “Anglo-phone” Caribbean intellectuals: Édouard Glissant and Edward Kamau Brathwaite, in dialogue with Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, a pan-African intellectual.

Official language policies, ideologies, and practices within Canada and Quebec contribute to the marginalization of the Black population, in particular Black English-speakers in Quebec, as a double minority. Language is an important intersectional factor effecting the wellbeing of Black English-speaking Quebecers as it plays a significant role in their “experiences” of racial discrimination.

To challenge various forms of hegemonies and obscuration of violence that positivist logics engender through quantitative means; this paper aligns with emerging approaches critical quantitative approaches. Binary logistic regression model based on linguistic variables (home language practice) and non-linguistic variables (country, age, agency, trust) is employed to predict absence or presence of linguistic security using SPSS.

The results of the logistic analysis indicate that the five-predictor model provided a sta-tistically significant prediction of linguistic security, χ2(5, n = 3891) = 114.759, p < 0.001. This is points to how individual language policy operates in a “complex ecological rela-tionship among a wide range of linguistic and non-linguistic elements, variables, and fac-tors.” A critical implication of this is for language to be taken seriously, in newer rounds of the Afrobarometer, as it was in former years. This would entail challenging the nation-state framework of the Afrobarometer.

Language policies historically, and in present times, are tools of linguistic hegemony, colonial violence, and repression. Thinking about how language policy operates beyond nation-state borders with Caribbean and Pan- Africanist thinkers, in relation multilingual being, carves new possibilities for linguistic securities.

Graduate Student Research  |  Linguistic (in-)security, multilingual politics, language policy
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