Who “has an accent”? Do you? Professor Mari Matsuda, a leading critical race theorist and feminist legal scholar, argues that we all have accents, and that radical pluralism in response to linguistic difference is required to achieve a vibrant equality and democracy. In this talk, Prof. Matsuda argues for the expansion of anti-oppressive practices in social work to include awareness of accent discrimination.


The Columbia University School of Social Work offers self-study courses for your professional development. The following course is worth 1.5 contact hours. Once you have registered, you will receive an email with the recording, workshop evaluation and post-session test links. We will email your continuing education certificate to you within 30 days of completing the post-session test.


“When certain accents are deemed inappropriate for the workplace, for political life, for use in schools and boardrooms, a policing of public and private boundaries occurs. Who may speak, when, and where, is a typical mechanism for distributing power.

Accents construct social boundaries, and social boundaries reinforce accents. The circumstances that perpetuate accents—including residential segregation, tracking systems in schools, and social distancing—are socially created. In distributing social standing according to accent we distribute according to accents we have, in part, created.”