Vershawn Young

Professor, Joint Appointed with English Department
(519) 888-4567 x 41596
Location: ML 232A

Dr. Vay is a scholar and teacher of African American communication, law, literacy, literature and performance.

He is the current chair of the Conference on College Communication and Composition (CCCC), the world's largest and longest-standing organization devoted to research and teaching of college reading, writing, speaking, listening, and visual representing. He is perhaps best known for his sociolinguistic concept code-meshing, which promotes recognition and acceptance of the robust and positive ways that people's home, heritage, cultural languages influence all of their communicative practices in school, in home, and at work. 

As chair of CCCC, Dr. Vay assembled the committees that produced game-changing position statements on Black Linguistic Justice and Black Technical and Professional Communication 

Dr. Vay has served as a high school drama/English/speech teacher, an elementary school principal, a supervisor of itinerant theater teachers in Los Angeles, and a school board administrator.

He is a solo performance artist and actor. He won “best performance in a play” for his portrayal of the brain-damaged Gabriel in August Wilson’s Fences. He also regularly tours his one-man show, Your Average Nigga, based on his first book of the same name.

As an anti-racist activist, dr. vay is a member of the Aptly Outspoken Collective, which offers consulting services related to diversity and inclusion to organizations and schools. Aptly Outspoken also produces biweekly free webinars on cultural competence and antiracism for the public. 

Before joining the departments of Communication Arts and English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo, he has been on faculty at the University of Kentucky and the University of Iowa. 

Dr. vay describes himself as serious but friendly and welcomes opportunities to chat over coffee with new and old students, friends, and colleagues.

Recent Work

Recent Articles:

Why Chadwich Boseman is more of a hero than Hollywood's Black Panter, The Conversation, Sept 21, 2020

White Prof's admission she posed as Black raised hard questions about race and identity, The Conversation, Sept 20, 2020

Banning the N-word on campus ain't the answer--It censors Black professors like me, The Conversation June 28, 2020

Black Lives Matter in Academic Spaces: Three Lessons for Critical Literacy, Journal of College Reading and Learning, January 2020

“Straight Black Queer: Obama, Code Switching, and the Gender Anxiety of African American Men,” PMLA, Vol. 129.3, May 2014

Recent Books:

The Routledge Reader of African American Rhetoric: The Longue Duree of Black Voices. Routledge, 2018. Edited by Vershawn Ashanti Young, Michelle Bachelor Robinson.

From Uncle Tom’s Cabin to The Help: Critical Perspectives of White Authored Narratives of Black Life. Palgrave McMillon, 2014. Eds, Claire Oberon Garcia, Vershawn Ashanti Young and Charise Pimental,

Other People's English: Code-meshing, Code-switching, and African American Literacy. Teachers College Press, 2014. Vershawn Ashanti, Young, Rusty Barrett, and Kim Brian Lovejoy, Y’shanda Rivera