Creating spaces for emotional justice in culturally sustaining literacy education: Implications for policy & practice

Roberta Price Gardner, Kennesaw State University
Sandra L. Osorio, Illinois State University
Shashray McCormack, Jefferson County Public Schools


Drawing from theories of culturally sustaining literacy practices, Black and Latinx Crit, and feminist theories, the authors explore emotional justice as a form of critical social emotional learning to counter the race-neutral emphasis of social and emotional learning focused on universal characteristics and academic aims. They argue that centering the lived experiences of Black and Brown students helps nurture critically conscious subjectivities and opportunities for authentic literacy engagements including students’ reader response, linguistic freedom, and play, among other culturally situated forms of literacy. Their analysis of a Black male student’s literacy experiences and extant language and literacy research centering cultural sovereignty and racial resistance, highlights the role of teachers and school policies as forces that can diminish or exacerbate the well-being of Black and Brown children in schools. The article concludes with recommendations and suggestions for fostering culturally sustaining literacy practices that are emotionally just.