Literacy has a rich background stemming from over 3000 years ago. It began, in its most basic form, as an oral form of expression growing into using written symbols to share information. Generally, literacy is defined as the ability to read and write (Hobbs). Literacy is however more complex than just reading and writing. It involves taking up -not a general source of knowledge as is commonly thought- but rather assimilating and creating one’s own culturally and societally available knowledge. From this definition, literacy becomes awfully situation-specific thereby derogating any power ascribed to attaining the knowledge of a specific culture and placing all cultures -and hence identities- on a singular plane. Although ideal, what is ideal? this is far from the reality in our greatly diverse yet paradoxically integrated society. Power, within this context, refers to the ability to influence and have authority over others whereas identity is the inherent and socially constructed view of oneself (Menge). Since identity is a social construct, it is greatly amenable to the environment one is exposed to. Due to numerous shifting and widening social constructs, certain cultures, and hence identities have developed a false but seemingly innate sense of a position of power as opposed to others.
The three writers who? Full intros needed. express the correlation between literacy, identity and power in both divergent and convergent ways, from the perspective of minorities in a society. Finn doesn’t fit that description. Their views are not only relevant to the western world but to any society that experiences power inequalities due to ethnic and socio-economic status differences. It is clear from the three discourses essays, articles, texts, etc. a discourse is a larger entity. that literacy, power and identity are correlated with each one of them having an influence on the other. Literacy and identity are both victims of circumstance and causes of power imbalance in societies. Their relationship is hardly ever linear and easily solvable? Why do we want to solve a relationship? by a singular solution. Understanding their relationship from the unique perspectives of those most affected by it could help develop a multifaceted view and approach when solving the resultant inequalities in society.nice final point. Is that what the essays do? If so, say so.Right from the start, Mellix and Anzaldúa come out very strongly in expressing how their distinct dialects affect power relations both within and outside their own linguistic dialects. Good topic sentence.Mellix, an American woman of African descent, was forced through societal pressure to adopt the use of different dialects of English (Black English and Standard English) depending on who she was associating with (Mellixpage # not author name needed). In the essay, Mellix demonstrates the underlying power implications involved in the situational use of either dialect. She says that the use of Standard English served two purposes: when addressing white people, it served to show their knowledge of their language -to assert a sense of equality between their two cultures due to their knowledge of this “dominant dialect”. On the other hand, standard-English speaking blacks used “proper” English to show that they were better than black English speaking blacks whenever they were around them but resorted to a mix of the two in the absence of the black English speaking blacks (Mellix 262).
Anzaldúa, a south Texan Latina, laments about the tension Chicano speaking Latinas find themselves in where they not only have to prove the worth of their dialect to North-Americans but to fellow Latinas. Chicano Spanish, which evolved from other languages, is considered less than other dialects. The Chicanas, therefore, end up facing an identity crisis that is compounded even within their dialect. In another instance, Anzaldúa noted that despite the Spanish community being the largest minority group in the USA, French rather than Spanish was advocated for teaching in schools due to its higher social status within society.
Evidently, the social status of different languages is a manmade construct that if unchecked resembles a consequence of natureyou are making many really strong points about these issues and this is one of them. Nice! . Logically speaking, no dialect on its own has more importance than the other since in and of itself it serves its purpose: conveying information, knowledge and ideas within a community. However, outside influences such as politics and economic factors place a false value on language bearing damaging consequences to minority groups in societies.
Both Mellix and Anzaldúa express how their dialects offered them a sense of family, belonging and a distinct identity. Mellix felt distanced when forced within the bounds of Standard English; which felt foreign as opposed to Black English (Mellix 261). It took her years of formal school training and mental restructuring in order to be able to express her whole self in a language she never considered her own but necessary to course through life.
Anzaldúa, described her people attaining their identity only when they had a name and a language that was wholly theirs (Anzaldúa 43). According to Finn’s review, one’s family has a direct bearing on which education system one eventually attends and consequently their future occupation –hence influence on society. Not only this, the education system which one attends ends up shaping their future identity. For example, in the essay, children in the working class schools ended up developing a rebellious streak as part of their identity (Finn 12).
A diverging point between the two essays, Anzaldúa feels ambivalent towards her own language and her culture whereas Mellix feels ambivalent towards the Standard English. Anzaldúa explains that despite feeling great pride and having a solidified sense of identity when she saw her language and its variants published, in films and in movies, she, together with other educated Chicanas, felt shame and alienated (Anzaldúa 41). She felt as if the two cultures within herself cancelled each other out leaving her null. One can sense that Anzaldúa is still battling it out within herself to find space for her identity within a society that shames her for it. On the other hand Mellix feels ambivalent towards Standard English. She senses that she both needs and dislikes it despite the power it accords her (Mellix 260).
People of minority groups within any society always have to go out of their way to accommodate the groups with societal power. A study by Steele et al. assessing how stereotypes affect performance of African Americans showed that African Americans performed poorer when under the threat of possible stereotyping (Claude Steele 123). Minority groups existing in environments where the actions of others directly or indirectly insinuate their inferiority with regards to their ethnic background may end up having a skewed identity of themselves or low intrinsic self-worth. This trickles down to how they respond to people in authority and how authority itself responds to them and their needs.
The two authors, Mellix and Finn, present two different ideas concerning identity and power that end up converging on the impact of the school systems. Teachers in Mellix’s school, which was a predominantly black school, taught Standard English using Black English. The irony of it all was not lost on Mellix. Teachers would reprimand black-English speakers with the thought that they would not be able to get jobs speaking Black-English.
On the other hand, Finn introduces the idea of social class and its influence within the school systems, identity and power. Finn reviews a study by Anyon that showed that the school system, and hence quality of education received, differed among different social structures. He demonstrated the far reaching effects of the school system and its influence on the path children take in the future. Children from higher social class families attended school that primed them to be leaders of the future (bear power) whereas those from, say, working class school who are disadvantaged because of either poverty or cultural reasons attend schools that prime them to work routine jobs. Finn indirectly presents the facts that oppose a common notion that children from poor backgrounds are less literate. We could now argue that children from poor backgrounds attend sub-standard schools as compared to children from affluent families. This goes to show that the problem is systemic rather than natural. To a lesser extent, Anzaldúa’s essay addresses the impact of the school system on literacy, power and identity. She points out that Chicano students within the USA were offered speech classes in order to get rid of their accents
Whereas Finn uses persuasive writing style both Mellix’s and Anzaldúa’s essays read like descriptive essays. Finn’s persuasive writing uses the existing body of knowledge concerning the influences of social class on the school systems to demonstrate the consequent inequity in literacy levels, power and the impact on identity. Mellix gives us an account of her story as in a memoir. This makes her story resonate with the reader because of the personalized approach it uses. Although Anzaldúa also uses a descriptive style, the essay is routinely punctuated with poetry in efforts of describing the importance of diversity in dialect and the current plights encountered.
Mellix takes the reader through a tumultuous journey of finding her voice within a language that is not inherently hers. She explores how her identity was intertwined with her form of expression and what it took for her to find a new identity and use it in developing literacy in forthcoming generations. Anzaldúa’s use of poetry and Chicano Spanish is like pungent garlic within her prose narrative. It makes the point her story is trying to describe. Anzaldúa refuses to conform to the societies powerful and accommodate the majority groups in her writing. She forcefully takes the power that has been elusive to many like her by, using her own words, using her wild tongue. Finn talks as if to a reader seeking to understand the disparity between the various school systems in the USA. He presents the case and gives suitable evidence in order to convince the reader that social classes do indeed impact school systems.
Literacy, identity and power do not lie on a linear relationship within societies. They are all affected and affect each other with the aid of other outside influences. Having more voices from society that have felt their impact, rise up and speak up will be off benefit in determining their intricate interrelatedness and making meaningful steps towards reducing inequities in society.
Strong draft, Tashae. The middle is the strongest and is where the points are most specific and best integrated w/ documentation. These last paragraphs lack that, but this is a draft, so revision can easily fix that. In the first paragraphs, things can get pretty vague and wordy. Revise to make your excellent perspective more direct and thus more powerful. Let me know if you have any questions or wish to talk.