A response to “Voice of the self” By Keith Gilyard

Michael Vignoles 

Dr. Hall

A response to “Voices of the self”

Keith Gilyard uses personal experiences and imagery to help portray his experience being a minority and his own drug problems while maintain high school. I really enjoyed when Gilyard was writing about his experience he was not afraid to use his own language he grew up with and used during time of the story. The main fact that Gilyard was trying to prove is that you do not need proper English to writing a great story with meaning. Gilyard describes his language as “Black English” which some can argue is not the proper English society has chosen to be correct.

Gilyard had to struggle dealing with being a minority and being surrounded around a ghetto community. He dealt with finical struggles which lead to him drug dealing and burglary.

“I became involved in a series of crimes that initially ranged from purse snatching to burglary. Ripping off some White woman down in Jackson Heights”.  (p. 227) He dealt with finical struggles which lead to him drug dealing and burglary. This ultimately started his decline in his academics as well as the use of heroine. However, the environment that he was raised gave him the identity to be able to talk “black english” which is argued to not be correct. However, Gilyard is able to use black English to help connect and create a colorful image for the reader. Giliyard is painting an image for the reader during a burglary gone wrong

‘“Should I shoot him?” Wallace asked me. 

“Naw man,” I replied, my mind on the real business at hand. “We ain’t got time for that.”

“Only take a second.” 

“Naw man, stop jiving.” However, I wasn’t totally convinced he was. Tango was quietly pathetic, what you might call a hope fiend.’ (p. 233)

Gilyard is not afraid to use his own personal language that he grew up speaking to his family and friends. Ultimately this gives the reader an idea of Gilyard struggle and point of view before even knowing the writer. Using improper words like “Naw man” or “We ain’t got time.”

I also really enjoy that Gilyard was not scared to show his true literature abilities in the conclusion to make a strong and solid argument about whether Black English is proper and should be embraced more in public education.

“What has been commonly referred to by educators as “failure” to learn Standard English is more accurately termed an act of resistance: Black students affirming, through Black  English, their sense of self in the face of a school system and society that deny the same.”(p. 258)

As a minority, Gilyard and many other have been oppressed and dined their true home culture because society gets to choose what is proper and what is not. Gilyard broke social boundaries and stereotypes by writing a great narrative with a life lesson to never give up. Moving forward this piece has inspired me to not be afraid to use my personal experience and culture to paint a vivid image for my readers.

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