“Literacy is one of the greatest gifts a person can receive” is a quote written by Jen Silensky. This creates a question, “well, how is this statement true?” Literacy can be considered largely important in the world. This importance derives from the various types of literacy that go beyond just reading and writing. Literacy includes but is not limited to literacy in technology, oral communication, religion, politics, mathematics and so much more. Literacy can be hindered when obstacles are in the way. In addition, people can gain literacy through sponsorships. The journey of evolving personal literacies can be easy or difficult.
Writing about Writing by Elizabeth Wardle contains true stories about individual’s literacy journeys. The first article, Challenging Our Labels, was about students admitted into a four-year university but were burdened by the label “remedial.” The second article, From Outside, In, depicts an African American woman who struggled and overcame the language barrier between “black English” and proper English. These two articles are different yet similar in numerous ways. Challenging Our Labels consists more about writing in English while From Outside, In illustrates speaking and writing literacy. However, both articles are similar because they both are about the obstacles that derive from poor sponsorship and the rewards that sponsorship gives. One girl, named Sonia, from the Challenging Our Labels article states that being put in a remedial English class caused her to feel that she “wasn’t good enough to be a regular college student,” imposing a barrier for her to further improve her English writing skills (WAW, p. 289). Likewise, Barbara Mellix’s article, From Outside, In, found that she “felt…diminished because [she] [was] ashamed to be [her] real” self due to black English, her language, was very different from the custom standard English (WAW, p. 339). Literacy can be ultimately hindered if one is made feeling inferior to what is “customary” or “higher-level.”
As time went on, and the students began attending their remedial English class, they realized that the class was not actually remedial (WAW, p. 293). In fact, Sonia, and the other students concluded that they were “labeled by the school…[and]…were capable of being scholars,” all because their teacher sponsored them with college level texts and writing activities that were above and beyond the label, remedial (WAW, p. 293). Furthermore, Mellix became an exceptional writer and speaker in standard English with the sponsorship of her mother’s “‘proper mood’” that corrected her black English into standard English to prepare Mellix for the future (WAW, p.340). Labels being considered inferior are what hindered the students in the remedial class and Barbara Mellix. However, their sponsorships led them to success and a change of mentality that drove them to improving their individual literacies.
I connect to Mellix’s story because my father shaped my faith. I remember at church feeling like an outsider because I could never understand the Bible or the sermon given by the Priest. Yet, my dad would sit me down and encourage me to learn scriptures and practice finding where certain books of the Bible are located. He led me to becoming confident in my religious literacy. This newfound confidence made me strive to take matters into my own hands. Years go by and I still teach myself new things about my religion and read new books and chapters in the Bible. Without my father’s religious sponsorship, I feel as if I would be left behind due to my feeling of isolation from my other literate religious peers.
I have experienced the privilege of encouraging parents and educational labels that have influenced my literacy sponsorship and experiences. My mom and dad have always encouraged me to do well in school and to read books to improve my reading and writing. Due to my parents’ encouragement, I have succeeded in school so far. In addition, my dad has been a major part of my religious literacy as he pushed me to go to church and have faith in an un-forceful way. Ever since I was little, I have grown literate in my faith more and more each day, remembering all that my dad has taught me. In school, labels such as “proficient” and “intermediate” have definitely influenced my literacy. In learning another language, I have been put in an intermediate group. This label intermediate made me feel as if I was not capable of learning Spanish to the highest degree. It feels more of a struggle to learn Spanish than reading and writing, possibly because of being labeled “intermediate.” I personally feel that privileges and labels really affect how literate people become in certain things.