About BanchaLenguas Language Justice Collective
Bancha Lenguas is a collective of interpreters and language justice workers dedicated to promoting a just society by eliminating language barriers and building multilingual communities. Our interpretation services and popular education workshops are geared at supporting community organizing and social justice.
We are based in Bulbancha: the Choctaw word for “the land where many languages are spoken” or “the land of many tongues”, now known as New Orleans. We are named BanchaLenguas as an acknowledgement of the occupied indigenous land we live on and a reminder to center our work in the rich traditions and pre-colonial languages of this land, as we promote individual political empowerment and socio-political equity over assimilation.
Through language justice work, BanchaLenguages strives to honor and visibilize the rich history of indigenous peoples; recognize the complex and painful histories of migration, displacement, colonization, capitalism, and racism; and facilitate multi-racial and multilingual movement-building. We are committed to promoting equal rights for all by addressing root causes of oppression.
Language justice and multilingual spaces
Language justice is key to building and achieving racial and social justice. We believe that people should be able to express themselves in the language in which they feel most comfortable and powerful. Attention to language justice creates spaces where people are invited to bring their whole selves, and the whole range of their perspectives and experiences, into the room.
When we say multilingual space, we don’t just mean a space where many languages are spoken, but spaces where there is a commitment to equality among languages, as well as a resistance to the dominance of any one language in the room. Language dominance often goes unnoticed. Yet individuals who do not speak the dominant language continually experience their marginalization and exclusion on all kinds of micro- and macro- levels.
Finally, when people are able to communicate directly together across language differences about their experiences, thoughts, and visions: ideas, learnings, and deep relationship-building and collaboration can take shape. These are the seeds of movement building. By practicing language justice and intentionally creating multilingual spaces, we are struggling towards “a world where many worlds fit.”
Our collective’s understanding of language justice draws on many other language justice projects’ rich work, support, and resources. We are particularly grateful to Caracol, Antena Aire, Center for Participatory Change, and the Highlander Center. For a more in-depth explanation of language justice and detailed breakdowns of interpretation styles, best practices for building multilingual spaces, etc. we highly recommend Antena Aire’s guide: How to Build Language Justice.