Thursday, December 20, 2007

On Literacy

(This, written at 5 am, was inspired after reading and grading 43 papers from my La Raza Studies class on "Chicanas and Latinas On the the Borderland")

On Literacy

People are going to judge you by how you speak. My mother said it best: What do I gotta do? Draw you a picture? "People are going to judge you by how you speak," she always warned me. She also drilled the Judge into my head, constantly correcting my grammar. As she unreeled The Rebel in me to boot. What was I to do? With the name of a writer and named for a book, but write? I wasn't destined for anything. I was the throw-away sheet, the slim shadow on a wall colored the color of "the Colored" life-sized target of a brown wooden man nailed to the wall of the public swimming pool in San Jose, California in the summer of 1960, under a sign that read "NO COLOREDS" -- that couth curt catch-all phrase. I was tossed from it all as a "nigger" in person and through bureaucratic labelings that kept me out of 7 countries and two continents, that I know of, including my first love: the Celtic Isles I was named for.

This conquest of the dangling participle is an exercise in fear management and a daily practice of grace within a lost land (of mine).


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