On February 10 we heard from Aja Y. Martinez, Assistant Professor of English at University of North Texas. Her scholarship, published nationally and internationally, makes a compelling case for counterstory as research method through the well-established framework of critical race theory (CRT). Her book, Counterstory: The Rhetoric and Writing of Critical Race Theory, has been named by BookAuthority as one of the 20 Best New Rhetoric Books to Read in 2021.
More about her book: Humanities scholar Aja Y. Martinez makes a compelling case for counterstory as research methodology. Counterstory is a writing and research method of Critical Race Theory (CRT), founded in creative non-fiction genres of oral history, slave narrative, and testimonio. As a narrative form, counterstory illuminates other(ed) perspectives about genre and dominant ideology, and functions as a method for social justice-oriented writers to intervene in and counter practices that dismiss or decenter racism and those whose lives are affected daily by it. Through the well-established framework of CRT, Martinez reviews the counterstory work of Richard Delgado, Derrick Bell, and Patricia J. Williams, whom she terms counterstory exemplars. Delgado, Bell, and Williams, foundational critical race theorists working in the respective counterstory genres of narrated dialogue, fantasy/allegory, and autobiography, have set precedent for others who would research and compose with this method. Arguing that counterstory provides opportunities for marginalized voices to contribute to conversations about dominant ideology, Martinez applies racial and feminist rhetorical criticism to the rich histories and theories established through counterstory genres, all the while demonstrating how CRT theories and methods can inform teaching, research, and writing/publishing of counterstory.
Discussion Questions for Breakout Rooms:
• What is an ally?
• If you identify as an “ally” in whatever capacity, what does that mean to you?
• Do you have the right to bestow the title of ally upon yourself? Can you name yourself
an ally? Are you an ally simply because you say you are?
• What aspects of privilege do you have access to, and what measures can you take within
your institutions to make space and not just take space?
• How can you apply the work of accompliceship beyond allyship—whether that be in
your ministries, in your coaching, in relationship to institutions, or in interpersonal
conversations—toward the agency of those at the margins? In other words, what are
some strategies you can conceive to “get your people”?