NaShara A.

Bynum Ashlyn Williams English 1101 November 6, 2012 Assignment Three: A Literacy History The interview took me back to Assignment One, Student’s Rights to Their Own Language. It reinforced, yet changed my stance on Standard English. At first I believed that not using Standard English could make people look at you differently, not respect you as much, and I still believe that. Not using Standard English could lead to people not respecting you as a person, as well as not respecting your views and opinions. I also questioned the success of a person in school or the workplace who did not speak Standard English. I no longer question the success of someone who does not speak Standard English. My mother speaks with a Southern dialect, but it does not interfere with her success at work. Her boss understands her as well as her co-workers and the customers and people she interacts with on a daily basis. They also respect her for her opinions and ideas, and she holds her own wait despite the difference in dialect. People understand what she is saying regardless where they are from. In some sense, Standard English is a myth. With different dialects we are allowed to accomplish more, educationally, ethically, and socially. Standard English mainly focuses on uniformity when it comes to reading, writing, speaking, when it should emphasis precise, effect, and appropriate communication in diverse ways. We live in America, “The Melting Pot,” where everyone is equal, where everyone’s voice will be heard, where everyone matters no matter the skin color, social status, origin, etc.

My mother, Marie C. Byrd is 49 years old and she resides in Pittsboro, NC, but she was raised in Chapel Hill, NC. She had a pretty rough life as a child. She was moved around constantly by her mother, until her mother just abandoned her and left her with her grandmother. With one income and nine children in a two bedroom household, she was obligated to grow up fast because times were hard back then. She had to take care of her siblings, go to school, get a job, and find time to have a social life. After a while, she became financially stable and decided to move out on her own. She is a single parent of two children, NaShara Bynum and T’keyah Bynum. T’keyah is 20 years old, attends Winston-Salem State University and NaShara is 18 years old, and attends University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She attended Chapel Hill High School, where she did not apply herself—she did not become active and join clubs/ organizations. She just wanted to be done. She stated in the interview, “I would just say that I just wasn’t that interested in continuing. I was so ready to be done because my mind was into so many other things. I was doing things that I should not have been doing. So, I wasn’t really concentrating on school— I did not really care. I didn’t understand the importance of it like I do now.” Throughout the interview, she constantly repeated “I was not focused; my mind was on other things.” She never went into full detail about what the “other things were.” This left me curious to what the other things were. Would it have benefited the interview? Could it have opened a new door, a new conversation allowing me to see the main thing that kept her from making a better life and future for her? Through the struggle, she finally graduated from Chapel Hill High School and then became a Certified Nursing Assistant at UNC Hospital. Though she is in the medical field, she states that reading and writing is a key aspect of her job. All information about patients that come to the hospital has to be recorded in medical terms and spelled properly. She has to be able to

read charts fluently and recite them to the head nurse in charge. She has to be able to hold educated conversation with visitors, patients, bosses, etc. It is easy for others to judge you based on your speech. She has to make a positive impression on everyone she meets, that’s the world of healthcare. She admits that there are times of struggle within her job of not knowing the meaning of specific words or the pronunciation. At those times, she does wish she would have continued her education. When asked why she did not, she again responded “I just was not focused on school—my mind was on other things.” She admitted that her family did not encourage her to continue her education. Her family did not make her sit down and do her work; they did not assist her when she needed help; and they did not have the funds to hire someone else to do so. Times were very hard for her. With the household being of a large size with one parent, none of the children really received one-on-one help. Everyone was sent to survive by themselves; you either do great in school, become something, or you do not. There was nothing or no one in her family that really motivated her to be successful, no one helping her to become better than the average. No one ever asked what she wanted to do after she graduated; they granted her the freedom to do whatever she pleased and that is the main reason why she did not further her education. With her children on the other hand, she did not grant them that freedom. It was basically the choice to go to college and continue being funded by her or move out and survive on their own. I think we were given that ultimatum because she now realizes how important education is and how hard life can be without it. She knows that we are not ready to be fully independent and that we would choose education over working full-time. She knows how important education is in today’s society—she knows that it will make or break someone’s future. A better education will allow you to learn how to speak and write in certain situations, whether with your boss, friends, family, etc. It will open doors for better communication, which

then will lead to people respecting you, as well as your views, opinions and more. She sees the difference in schooling from then to now. Teachers take more pride in their work now. They want their students to grow up into successful, contributing citizens. Back then it was more about getting the check and going home. There were no personal connections between the teachers and the students, like there are now. She never met a teacher who had a drastic impact on her life. None of them took the time to understand why she constantly made failing grades. They never took the time to get her help, such as after school help, tutoring, etc. She was too young to understand that her teachers were not completing their job efficiently, but as the years passed she began to see. She made sure that when her children were growing up they were given extra educational opportunities that she was not; they were placed in camps, tutoring programs, etc. They were given that extra push to have a stronger educational platform while she was not. They were placed in the best schools from teaching to security. She did not want her children to go through the same neglect as she did as an adolescent. If she were to go back to further her education, she would have a hard time succeeding. Education is not the same anymore. Everything with education has changed and will continue to change as time progresses. From the technology used in school, to the curriculums taught in school, to the rules and guidelines that are to be followed, to the students and their actions and attitudes, nothing is the same. She has not been in school since the eighties, so trying to keep up with modern society will be quite difficult. The curriculum is much harder and technology now plays a key role our generation’s learning. Technology was slowly rising in my mother’s era, but now it is in its prime. Everything taught in schools is taught with new, not old lady friendly technology. All parents would lag behind in school mostly because of technology. Technology would not be the only thing to hold her back, but she would hold herself back. She admits that she does not enjoy

reading and she only does it when it is mandatory. She states that “it makes her sleepy.” That means she would fall asleep every day. Reading is a key element of learning. Writing is also one; it is the main way of communicating on the collegiate level. Every assignment is an essay or some sort of formal writing. All the key elements she needs to be strong in to succeed with education, she is not. That would be a serious problem for her with the attempt to further her education. Everything changes with time and education is a prime example of that. Within the interview I could tell which areas were hard for her to discuss. She sighed frequently when discussing her childhood, her voice even lowered in volume at times. I could tell that the conversation was bringing unwanted thoughts and feelings, particularly “what if” thoughts. What if she would have continued with school, what if her family would have motivated her to do better… where would she be, etc.? Besides that, the interview was very informal, it felt like I was having a normal conversation with my mother… just asking a lot of questions. The interview was very positive and open nonetheless. I could tell when it came to discussing her family and upbringing, emotions began to come about. She went into full detail about her life, but I could tell that there were some things she wanted to keep to herself. Things she did not want anyone to know, especially about her childhood. She used “Uh” a lot, as if she were nervous to answer some of the questions honestly. Towards the end of the interview, I could tell she was pretty much over it. I could tell she was just tired of answering questions and the spotlight being on her. This interview allowed me to learn things that I never knew about my mother, especially about her upbringing and childhood. I never knew exactly how hard her childhood was because she never showed it. Not once did she blame her past for her present predicament. She also does not show a struggle with reading and writing. Like a normal person, she does have her moments of asking, “How do you spell this word,” but who does not? Despite

all the obstacles she had to endure throughout her lifetime, she managed to come out on top. She is a hardworking woman who will not stop until she has everything she needs and wants. She has established a great life for herself as well as her children. She did not let her past keep her from succeeding; she used it as her motivation. She made sure that what she had went through, her children did not. I have always respected and loved my mother, but the interview allowed my respect and love to grow even more for her. It was nice to get my unanswered questions answered. It was also nice to see the foundation of my family—what brought us to where we are today. Everything happens for a reason and maybe my mother not furthering her education was a blessing from God. It may sound idiotic or unrealistic to some, but I believe it. I was able to grow up differently compared to other children. I knew what struggling felt like, which strengthened my motivation to educate myself and become someone. Some people are not thankful for all the opportunities they are given, they complain and never think of those who go without. Struggling situations will give you a sense of thankfulness. Everything I have ever gone through I am thankful for—it made me who I am and brought me to where I am. Despite the educational hardships and the dialect barriers, my mother established a great life for our family. This brings me back to my new-found positioning toward SRTOL. Despite ones native language, they still have an equal chance to be successful as one who speaks Standard English, example being my mother. The emphasis should no longer be placed on Standard English; it should be placed on effective/ efficient communication skills. Why is it such a problem to accept people for their differences with speech? Not everyone can be alike, but we all have something of our own that is beneficial to the world.

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