The Culture We Speak

The Culture We Speak is a podcast examining the intersection of culture, language, and education.  On this platform we decenter mainstream gaze and offer resources to improve educator effectiveness in serving global majority populations (

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Meet the Host: Dr. Dionna Latimer-Hearn

Dionna Latimer-Hearn is originally from Middletown, OH and received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a minor in French Studies from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Following the completion of her degree she worked for the French Embassy as an English Language Instructor in Montargis, France. She completed her Master of Arts Degree in Speech-Language Pathology at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She has served as a multilingual speech-language pathologist and educational consultant since 2002, holding positions in Illinois, Japan, Maryland and Texas.  She currently works as an educational consultant and continuing education provider in support of a number of organizations in the US and abroad.

Dr. Latimer-Hearn received her Doctor of Philosophy Degree with distinction in Instructional Leadership for Changing Populations at Notre Dame of Maryland University in Baltimore, MD.  She is the inaugural recipient of the National Black Association for Speech-Language and Hearing (NBASLH) Clinician of the Year Award. Dr. Latimer-Hearn is also a recipient of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Minority Dissertation Fellowship Award, the World Education Research Association (WERA) Innovative Poster Award and the CREATE Doctoral Scholarship.  She has presented her research on African American English at more than a dozen conferences including:  the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, World Education Research Association World Congress, and American Educational Research Association Conference.  Dr. Latimer-Hearn is the author of the book Unexpected Places, and is the founder and director of the REACT Initiative, a Christian nonprofit organization that promotes equity in education for historically marginalized populations.  She is the founder and administrator of RespectTheDialect a Facebook group and website promoting awareness and understanding of the African American English dialect.  She is also the founder and administrator of The Culture We Speak online community which provides a space to discuss podcast topics and related content.   

For more information about her work, visit


Articulating Activism

Wednesday Jan 03, 2024

Wednesday Jan 03, 2024

In this episode, I interview Palestinian American activist Bahia Amawi about her fight against Texas’ anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) legislation.  We explore how these laws impact our work as speech-language pathologists and discuss their broader implications on free speech and global discourse about justice and human rights.  Our conversation emphasizes the crucial need for open dialogue and understanding in the face of oppression.
Ms. Bahia Amawi started with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications from the University of Florida.  She worked in advertising for a couple of years.  After realizing the environment of long hours, stressful deadlines, and lack of feeling any reward wasn’t suited for her, she went back to school and graduated with her master’s degree in speech language pathology from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fl. She worked full time with Austin Independent School District during the school year and at a health clinic over the summers until she had her first child thus influencing her switch to contracting so she could balance motherhood and still be involved in her field.  Currently, Bahia is an active member of her Austin surrounding community.  She is involved in youth group, and Islamic education outreach, she is a homeschooling mom, and she contracts (without the anti-BDS law) as a speech language pathologist with Pflugerville Independent School District. 
Bahia Amawi is featured across news sources in Texas and beyond for her advocacy against Anti-BDS legislation.  She is also featured in the documentary, Boycott (by JustVision), available on Apple TV, Google Play, Vimeo on Demand, and Prime Video.
Additional Resources:
A Texas Elementary School Speech Pathologist Refused to Sign a Pro-Israel Oath...
US: States Use Anti-Boycott Laws to Punish Responsible Businesses
Boycott (Documentary)

Saturday Sep 23, 2023

In this episode, Dr. Vishnu KK Nair and I delve into the intricate relationship between capitalism and the prevalence of biased materials and practices within communication sciences and disorders. Our candid discussion highlights trends in global service delivery and their repercussions on historically marginalized communities.  We also discuss how the pursuit of profit can deter clinicians from dedicating the essential resources and time needed for equitable service delivery for global majority populations.
Vishnu KK Nair, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences at University of Reading (UoR). He is trained as a speech and language therapist and has worked in universities across four different countries: India, Australia, USA and the UK. He co-leads the health theme of the Centre of Literacy and Multilingualism at UoR. His current research utilises critical methodologies in understanding the intersection between bilingualism, race, and disability. He is committed towards decentring English and monoglossic ideologies and emphasizes on engaging in research and clinical practice that is rooted in racial, linguistic and disability justice.
Twitter - @vishinair5 
Article:  A Critical Analysis of Standardized Testing in Speech and Language Therapy, Nair, Farah, Cushing, 2023

Friday Jun 23, 2023

In this episode, Shari Tucker and I engage in a thought-provoking conversation about Title IX, basketball, soccer, and equity work within the context of our personal journeys as former Division I college student-athletes.  We delve into the triumphs and challenges that shape the ever-evolving landscape of equity in the educational arena.  We also explore the transformative power of equity work and its resounding impact on the lives of students, athletes, and society as a whole.
Shari Tucker is currently serving in her third year as the Director for Equity for the Shorewood School District.  Prior to joining the Shorewood staff, she served as a classroom teacher as well as an Associate Principal for the Glendale River Hills School District.  Shari has served in the Milwaukee Public School system for 16 years as an educational assistant, classroom teacher, Culturally Responsive Grade Level Leader, and a GE Demonstration classroom educator.  Shari is also a consultant with ICS for Equity.   She received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Marquette University where she played Division I college basketball.  Lastly, she holds two postgraduate degrees, one in Educational Leadership as well as a Master's of Education.
Join The Culture We Speak Facebook Community
Learn more about our sponsor, REACT Initiative, Inc.

A Labor of Love

Saturday May 13, 2023

Saturday May 13, 2023

In this episode, Taija Sparkman and I discuss motherhood, homeschooling, and maternal mortality in the US.  We also explore her homeschooling journey and the launch of Mo At Home, Taija’s new business offering at home coaching for birthing people.  
Taija Sparkman is a wife and homeschooling mama to three beautiful, brown girls. She is a childbirth coach and the owner of Mo At Home, LLC, where she provides virtual coaching, classes, and workshops to help empower birthing people. Taija is very passionate about parenthood and raising awareness of systemic racism, especially when it comes to the health and rights of Black and Brown birthing people. Using creative themes and lessons she designs herself, Taija and her husband are dedicated to creating a foundation of cultural awareness and good citizenship for their family. In addition to childbirth coaching and homeschooling, Taija also freelances writing and editing projects. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, laughing, reading, and writing poetry. You can connect with Taija's business Mo At Home, LLC on her website, Facebook, and Instagram at and follow her homeschool adventures on Instagram.Website:
Additional Resources and Info: 
The U.S. Maternal Mortality Crisis Continues to Worsen:  An International Comparison
Colorism: Understanding Skintone Discrimination
Rise to Bloom with Jonnita Deveroux

When Cultures Collide

Wednesday Mar 08, 2023

Wednesday Mar 08, 2023

In this episode, Sandrine Umunoza, Manar Jaber and I explore issues relating to the violence of systemic racism on immigrant populations in Canada. We discuss their organization GAAROA and examine antiracism efforts in the professions of speech-language pathology and audiology. 
Sandrine is a bilingual speech-language pathologist of Rwandan origin who practices in English and French. She lives in Gatineau, Québec where she owns her own private practice (Cabinet d’orthophonie l’Envol). She has also offered various conferences and workshops across Canada about how to better be culturally responsive in practice and she specializes in multilingual language development and multilingual education practices with a focus on identity and culture. Also, for the past 10 years, Sandrine has been involved with indigenous communities to better serve their communication, language, and learning needs. She teaches at the University of Montreal at the Speech-language and Audiology Master’s program (École d’orthophonie et audiologie) and the University of Québec in Chicoutimi in the department of Education Sciences.  Sandrine is an active member and cofounder of Le Groupe d’action antiraciste en orthophonie et en audiologie (GAAROA) or the Anti-racism Advocacy Group for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. She is also the co-author of the Report on the Impacts of Systemic Racism in the Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Professions in Québec (August 2020).
Manar is a trilingual speech-language pathologist of Lebanese and Syrian origins who was born and raised in Montreal. She works in the public health system and in private practice, primarily with racialized and multilingual communities. For the past three years, she has been practicing with autistic children and their families. She is interested in multilingualism, identity matters, and anti-racist activism, and is continually learning in order to make her practice more respectful of neurodiversity and more inclusive. Also, as of recently, she started working as a project coordinator for the implementation of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies in the department of Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Québec in Trois-Rivière. Manar is an active member of Le Groupe d’action antiraciste en orthophonie et en audiologie (GAAROA) or the Anti-racism Advocacy Group for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. Through her volunteer work with GAAROA, she has offered workshops covering topics such as cultural responsiveness, implicit biases and microaggressions. She is also the co-author of the Report on the Impacts of Systemic Racism in the Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Professions in Québec. She currently lives in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Connect with Sandrine: 
Private practice: Cabinet d’orthophonie l’Envol
Instagram: @orthophonielenvol
Connect with Manar:
Instagram: @manaar.j
Email :
GAAROA website and social media:
Instagram: @gaaroa2020
To contact and/or book an event with Dionna Latimer-Hearn: | | 682.777.2749 

Sunday Jan 15, 2023

In this episode, Dr. Anick Tolbize and I discuss the challenges of forming an identity through a borrowed language and worldview.  We examine the validity of creole language and culture, the inadequacies of demographic categories, and the significance of embracing one’s own identity. 
Dr. Anick Tolbize lived in the US in the state of Minnesota for five years while completing her PhD in educational psychology. She has been living and working on the island of Rodrigues, her home island, in the Republic of Mauritius, Indian Ocean since 2012, as manager and training coordinator for the Roman Catholic Education Authority Rodrigues, primarily applying Response to Intervention to set up services to support struggling learners in the area of reading in English as a second language. She is married and a mom of three young children.
Work by Dr. Tolbize:
Tolbize, A. (2019). RtI in the challenging context of the Republic of Mauritius. SAGE Publications Ltd, 

2022 and Through

Friday Dec 30, 2022

Friday Dec 30, 2022

In this mini episode, I provide updates about recent events, highlight a social media discussion about multicultural perspectives, and offer suggestions to promote equity for historically marginalized groups in 2023.
Dionna Latimer-Hearn is an alumnus of Northwestern University, The George Washington University, and Notre Dame of Maryland University.  She has served as a multilingual speech-language pathologist and educational consultant since 2002, holding positions in France, Illinois, Japan, Maryland, and Texas.  She currently works as an educational consultant and continuing education provider in support of a number of organizations in the US and abroad.  She is the founder and director of REACT Initiative, Inc., a nonprofit organization advocating for equity in education.  Dr. Latimer-Hearn is the host of The Culture We Speak, a podcast examining the intersection of culture, language, and education.  She is the recipient of a number of awards including the inaugural Clinician of the Year Award which was presented by the National Black Association for Speech-Language and Hearing (NBASLH).    
Get more content relating to The Culture We Speak by visiting our Official Page and by joining our Facebook Group
Thanks to our sponsor, REACT Initiative, Inc., for continued support!
Other ways to connect with me:  
Website - 
LinkedIn - 
Facebook -
Instagram -   
Respect the Dialect  -
Business Turning Point - 

Parent and Community Engagement

Thursday Sep 22, 2022

Thursday Sep 22, 2022

In this episode, Ms. Susana Barrios and I discuss her engagement in parent and community advocacy in Baltimore, MD. Strategies to improve educational opportunities for culturally and linguistically diverse populations are discussed.
Ms. Susana Barrios is a self-described learner of life and an agent of change who currently serves as an outreach coordinator for Disability Rights Maryland.  Disability Rights Maryland is a protection and advocacy agency.  Ms. Barrios is an active volunteer for a number of organizations where she advocates for parent involvement and empowerment.
Disability Rights Maryland 
Advocacy & Community Building Through Language Learning Panel Discussion

Monday Jul 25, 2022

In this episode, Ms. Ruskamp and I explore issues pertaining to language diversity and social activism.  She shares some insight into her experiences attending school in Oakland, CA during the Ebonics Controversy.  
Ms. Simone Akila Ruskamp (she/her) is a Black woman who loves Black people. She is a co-founder of Juneteenth Santa Barbara as well as Healing Justice Santa Barbara. She has led successful campaigns to center de-escalation and affirmation of life in Santa Barbara police use of force policies, secure monies for mental health positions instead of additional funding for law enforcement, establish city and county institutional support for Black cultural events, and to designate sites of Black Santa Barbara history as historical landmarks to protect them from gentrification. She currently is one of the driving forces behind the forming police oversight commission in Santa Barbara, an organizing effort spanning over four years.
Simone is a Masters of Social Work student at Howard University where she is a John E. & Barbara S. Jacob Social Justice Fellow and ambassador for the HBCU Center for Excellence in Behavioral Health. She studies Afrocentric approaches to healing and therapy. Simone is the former Vice President of Howard University's School of Social Work Student Council Association and is currently a student representative to the DC Chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers.
Healing Justice Santa Barbara website:
Social Media:

Tuesday Jul 05, 2022

In this episode, Dr. Karen Davis and I discuss microaggressions in communication sciences and disorders and our experiences at the 2022 National Black Association for Speech-Language and Hearing Convention.  
Dr. Karen Davis is an associate professor at Middle Tennessee State University who has worked over 15 years as a school speech-language pathologist.  Her research interests are centered in the domain of language and literacy for struggling learners.  Dr. Davis’s research interests include language and literacy disorder in culturally and linguistically diverse populations, reading comprehension intervention, interprofessional education/practice (IPE/IPP), and cultural responsiveness in CSD education.

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