I can relate a lot to how Sandra Cisneros feels. Not on the part of being the only daughter in a family of six sons but on the fact that I also want my parents to be proud of me and to recognize me for the things I achieve and as an individual apart from my sibling. Just like Sandra who wants her dad to think of her as more than a daughter who should go to college to find a husband, but as his only daughter, the writer. Instead of only his daughter who teaches. Everything she’s ever written has been for her father. To have his approval. Which I believe is something a lot of kids want from their parents; approval, understanding, appreciation, etc.
What I found interesting about this reading was that Malcolm X didn’t waste his 7 years in prison doing absolutely nothing. He made use of his time by getting hold of a dictionary to study and learn some words. He started by copying words off the dictionary onto a tablet with his pencil down to the punctuation marks. Then he’d read out loud everything he had written down over and over again. Which I actually admire that he did because he didn’t let being locked away stop him from learning more words that he never knew existed or could possibly exist. I found it amazing that he didn’t just remember the words themselves, but their definitions all in a day. He took action, he changed the fact that he wasn’t able to express what he wanted to convey in letters that he wrote.
I believe that I resonated with “Learning to Read” by Malcolm X because although I did not have any problem being able to read and write, I did have problems with communication just like he did because of my boundaries of knowing one way to speak. I didn’t know how to properly communicate with people and even today, it does become quite a problem in situations where I can’t express myself. I know so many words in English and could write the most beautiful essay yet somehow when people are involved I stumble over words and I get nervous and the English language becomes a blur to me. At one point in time, just as Malcolm X did, I decided I needed to re-evaluate my comprehension of what is perceived as the common English language in my community AKA slang, so I did the only reasonable thing which was to study the way people interacted, how they spoke and how to speak like them. At first it was complicated because you don’t just automatically know what words mean, you hear them and figure out by example what it is supposed to mean. Only then can you say “okay this is how I’m supposed to use said word” and then apply that knowledge. Without studying first I would have felt as Malcolm did when he read books and skipped what he didn’t understand. I would have been foolish to jump in head first into speaking without knowing what I was saying and luckily I understood that. At one point I finally caught up and it felt really nice to be able to connect with other people of my age or just other people in general. Even if they weren’t necessarily my age I could finally understand what they were saying and I could talk to them and not have them say I sound a specific way, as if I had no idea what was going on. Just standing back and actually taking the time to expand the little bit of English that I know, I am now able to communicate on so many different levels. It’s a liberating feeling to not feel restricted by whatever your circumstance is and I believe that’s exactly how Malcolm felt which is why he never stopped reading and writing when he could. You get to experience new things from such a small thing as broadening your vocabulary and every experience onwards brings some form of joy. Now I can code switch whenever I’m talking to someone. I know slang, so I can talk to people on a day to day basis on the street, I know “proper” English, so I’m able to speak to somebody on the phone as if I were a professional with every ounce of slang gone and I probably know other forms of English as well through reading, writing, and speaking. Continue reading “Response to “Learning To Read” by Malcolm X”
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