Week 5 Reading Response: Literacy Matters

Heavy would be the word for this week. Followed by the emotions of fear, shame, hate, love, kindness, and hope. You can see and feel the tensions in this country; our differences feel palpable. It’s an uneasy place to navigate. Some of use based on the color of our skin are able to navigate with truly different realities based on the privileges that come with our race. Yes, I am talking about white privilege and it can be an uncomfortable conversation to have, but it’s important to look at what that means if you are white. It’s not a new conversation, Peggy McIntosh wrote this simple article back in 1988 focusing on ways we can unpack the invisible privilege of being white. Looking at white privilege does not mean that we do not have our individual challenges, that we haven’t felt vulnerable, but it does mean that we may walk differently through the world.

In this weeks reading by Henry Jenkins (2008), the concepts of access, privilege, and participation were what stood ou to me. These have always been issues within our society. Who has access to knowledge and learning? Do some have more privilege based on socio-economic status and how does this influence how they participate in the world? Jenkins suggests, “Educational reformers have long argued that schools need to break down the walls that isolate classroom teaching from the larger learning ecology surrounding schools, incorporate outside perspec-tives, connect textbook knowledge with real world contexts through authen-tic inquiries, and link emerging expertise to the meaningful performance of social roles” (2008, pg. 232). We need to break down many walls to allow everyone to engage and participate in society. 

Since we live in a “2.o” world, we are participating and engaging digitally more than ever. There are so many platforms, apps, chats, videos, networks, communities, and sites where digital learning can happen and where the discourse of learning occurs. When you are not face-to-face with someone it can be easy to let this space of learning and communicating become adverse, demeaning, and downright threatening at times. How we build community digitally is incredibly important and how we use it do divide, censor, and condemn is also important. When we blog, tweet, create, and share publically we are sharing our own narratives. In the book the “The Political Is Personal”, “Generically, the autobiographical form emphasizes personal narrative as authentic and authoritative” (Anderson, K.V., 2011, pg. 132). This means that what we post it can be considered a way to enter our voices into the world, but by being authoritative there is responsibility to consider who our potential audience and what meaning are we sharing with each other.

As Jenkins indicates in the goal of the Teacher strategies Guide, literacy should be a generative process, that is purpose-driven, recognizes individual motives, and how those motives can be used for collaborative decision-making (pg. 13). I would argue that as we engage and participate in social media and digital spaces we encourage discourse that is deliberative, critical, and inspires collaboration. These spaces can become a way to spread hate, intolerance, fear, and messages that are meant only for consumption not active engaged discourse. It can also be used as a positive space to consume support, love, and community. My friends mother posted this on her Facebook page (for privacy reasons I am not going to provide the link):

My Darling Daughter:
I love you so much that I have to say this. I do not want you here anymore. I want you in Ireland or Canada or Austraulia or Lower Slobbovia or any Damn Where they do not kill Black Folks. If they are doing it to the Brothers, it is just a matter of time before thE Sisters are next. i love you too much to think about you being one of the martyred. Please leave this damn crazy country while there is still time. I would rather see you as a barrista in Canada or a nanny in Ireland or a sheep shearer in The Outback and know that somewhere on this Earth you were still living and loving and breathing. i am very serious about this. Our country is sick, very sick, and believe me a char woman’s job in Manitoba looks pretty damn good to me right now. Honey please leave and take cHESSIE WITH YOU. lOVE,

Becoming literate with new technologies opens up an individual quick access to connect, communicate, learn, and share. Many people participate and engage with a true sense to learn together and collaborate to create new texts that inform, entertain, and engage. However, mother’s should not have to ask their child to leave their country because the public discourse is creating a society that does not feel safe to be one’s true self. We matter, learning matters, but I get to walk safer today then my friend because she is a black lesbian who does not have as much invisible privilege as I do, as a straight white woman.


Anderson, Karrin V.”The Personal Is Political:Negotiating Publicity and Privacy in Hillary Rodham Clintons Living History.” Telling Political Lives. 1. Marshall, B.V., Mayhead, M.A. United States, 2008 . 132-146. Online.

McIntosh, P. “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” https://www.deanza.edu/faculty/lewisjulie/White%20Priviledge%20Unpacking%20the%20Invisible%20Knapsack.pdf. June 9. 2016.

Jenkins (2008) Afterword: Communities of Readers, Clusters of Practices

Photo Credit: Black Lives Matter isn’t stopping – POLITICO www.politico.com


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