Calebís Reading Response: 10.25.2011
Every time I buy Red Stripe, and offer it to almost anybody, they refuse me, citing that the packaging is just too terrible looking to prompt them to taste. Similar to Red Stripe, most minority dialects of English are treated in the same manner by the majority of the public (Iíve been guilty before too), noted as poor writing, poor thinking, and poor presentation. Just like the scenario with Red Stripe, everybody seems entirely too quick to point out problems with packaging, instead of just tasting the beer, or rather the ideas of student writers. It always seems to boil down to the same thing in basic writing study; we know what the problem is, scholars and professional organizations like CCCC and NCTE push for student equality on all levels, yet in the classroom we still push edited American English as the sole style of writing, relegating the idea of language diversity to composition scholars as teachers attempt to acclimate all students to the standardized language of America.
In discussing her native tongue and language politics, Gloria Anzaldua highlights this attempt at standardization by placing a standard on her readers; to get to the heart of her text you must take on her language and decipher bits of Chicano, Tex-Mex, and Spanglish that is embedded throughout the chapter. By favoring her native tongue, Anzaldua might anger some of her readers; however, by making her audience deal with the same burdens of language that she has routinely dealt with throughout her life, she seems to hope that a better understanding for other languages, namely Chicano, might be reached by the reader. Jordan, on the other hand, takes a different approach, although she does eventually come to the same common idea as Anzaldua. In her article, Jordan discusses the use of a black writing dialect, and really hits her point home when discussing the death of Willieís brother, who was killed by police for no reason. In response to the killing, Jordan and the class write personal letters and a class response to the incident in black dialogue, however, because of their language use and its associations with race, their words are never heard, and no justice really ever comes about. Both of these authors note that good writing can be done via minority dialects; however, due to political, racial, and economic stratification of these group members, their own dialects are not respected, their language is not apart of the academic curriculum (at least on a large scale), and they have no other options (in most cases) but to learn edited American English or not successfully make it through school.
Although the statement from the CCCC stands by the notion that all dialects and student languages are respectable means for communicating, and have a right to be used in both personal life and the classroom without interference. Despite this stance on language, the CCCCís have yet to make any true impact on education, as we still teach edited American English. I would like to think that we are getting much better regarding minority dialects, voices, and opinions; however, the fact of the matter remains that we as a country and as an academic system still push students from diverse backgrounds and language uses to conform under one standard language, which is dubbed the language of scholarship. Although I think Jaffeís Familia approach in the classroom could help studentís bridge cultural gaps that result from language, economics, or race, it is only a classroom tool, and canít change the fact that edited American English is considered superior to all other dialects. That said, I do think Jaffeís approach could help studentís deal with the stress of language assimilation, cultural assimilation, academic assimilation, as well as all the other transitions and transformations that studentís deal with in higher education. Despite its possible effectiveness, the Familia approach canít unravel the hierarchy that has been in place politically, socially, and academically since Americaís inception; Standard American English is the norm, no questions asked. I think I agree with Chimene, the world does seem impossible at times. As scholars, we are urged to understand the complications of language assimilation and grant all forms of language their due authority; however, as teachers we are expected to teach only one language (even more so for basic writers) over all the others, no if, ands, or buts about it. It is this split between academic education and political education that still burdens composition teachers, and this burden doesnít appear to be disappearing anytime soon, regardless of what scholars and compositions primary organizations argue.