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April Baker-Bell

Associate Professor, Marsal Family School of Education

Dr. April Baker-Bell is an Associate Professor of Language, Culture, and Justice in Education in the Joint Program in English and Education and Educational Studies at the University of Michigan Marsal Family School of Education. A former high school English teacher and graduate of the Detroit Public Schools Community District, her research is situated at the intersections of Black Language and literacies, anti-Black racism, and antiracist /pro-Black language pedagogies.

Dr. Baker- Bell is an international leader in conversations on Black Language education, and her multi award-winning book, Linguistic Justice: Black Language, Literacy, Identity, and Pedagogy, brings together theory, research, and practice to dismantle Anti-Black Linguistic Racism (a term Baker-Bell coined) and white linguistic supremacy. The book provides ethnographic snapshots of how Black students in Detroit navigate and negotiate their linguistic and racial identities across multiple contexts, and it captures what Antiracist Black Language Pedagogy looks like in community with Black youth. Linguistic Justice features a range of multimodal examples and practices through instructional maps, charts, artwork, and stories that reflect the urgent need for antiracist language pedagogies in our current social and political climate.

Her latest research project, which was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, involves collaborating with healthcare scholars and researchers to develop, implement and study antiracist medical curriculum interventions that support healthcare professionals with developing an antiracist praxis for confronting and reducing racial bias and anti-Black racism in medical and healthcare institutions.

Dr. Baker-Bell is the recipient of many awards and fellowships, including the 2023 Michigan Council of Teachers of English’s Charles Carpenter Fries Award, the 2021 Coalition for Community Writing Outstanding Book Award, the 2021 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s New Directions Fellowship, the 2021 Michigan State University’s Community Engagement Scholarship Award and the 2021 Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Creative Activity, the 2020 NCTE George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language, the 2020 Theory Into Practice Article of the Year Award, the 2019 Michigan State University Alumni Award for Innovation & Leadership in Teaching and Learning, the 2018 AERA Language and Social Processes Early Career Scholar Award, and many more.

Prior to joining the Marsal Family School of Education, Dr. Baker-Bell was an Associate Professor of Language, Literacy, and English Education at Michigan State University. She was affiliated with the English Education program, the Department of African American and African Studies, and the Center for Bioethics and Social Justice in the College of Human Medicine.

Selected Publications

"Linguistic Justice: Black, Language, Literacy, Identity, and Pedagogy."

Baker-Bell, A. (2020). NCTE Routledge Research series. 

“We Been Knowin: Toward an Antiracist Language & Literacy Education.”

Baker-Bell, April. (2020). Journal of Language & Literacy Education (JoLLE), 16(1).

“Dismantling Anti-Black linguistic racism in English language arts classrooms: Towards a Black Language Pedagogy.”

Baker-Bell, A. (2020). Special Issue in Theory into Practice on Equity in Teaching Academic Language, 59(1).

"Learning Black language matters: Humanizing research as culturally sustaining pedagogy."

Baker-Bell, A., Paris, D. & Jackson, D.  (2017). International Review of Qualitative Research, 10(4).

“For Loretta: A Black Literacy Scholar’s Journey to Prioritizing Self- Preservation and Black Womanist/ Feminist Storytelling.”

Baker-Bell, A. (2017). Journal of Literacy Research, 49(4).

“The stories they tell: Mainstream media, pedagogies of healing, and critical media literacy.”

Baker-Bell, A., Stanbrough-Jones, R., & Everett, S. (2017). English Education, 49(2).

“The pain and the wounds: A call for critical race English education in the wake of racial violence.”

Baker-Bell, A., Butler, T., & Johnson, L. (2017). English Education, 49(2).

"I can switch my language, but I can’t switch my skin: What teachers must understand about linguistic racism."

Baker-Bell, A. (2017). In The guide for White women who teach Black boys, Corwin Press, 97-107.