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Nia Martin

English 105

Professor Rachel Salgado

2 March 2018

Evolving Identity Within Literature: #2 Revised

For years, literacy in the classroom has portrayed a single identity that relates to

older generations. This disconnection of generational culture has caused students to

continuously lose interest in reading and writing within the school system. Since I was

little, I struggled with my identity. I found myself scanning through magazines to

establish my style, searching through shows and movies for relatable characters, and

listening to music to ease my soul and clear my mind. I was unable to describe who I

was. It’s through my experiences that I understand the struggles for students to relate to

school assigned literature. This single identity that literature encompasses, is through

the perception of those who have not been in school for years: Adults.

Even though adults are the ones teaching youth and developing the curriculum, it

is important that we work to mend the generational disconnect between teachers and

students. The 21st Century is the era of technological advance. Almost everyday

something new is being developed through technology, but we seldom see that

innovation be praised and implemented within the school system. Most teachers grew

up without cell phones and instant access to music. This has shaped their thinking and

led to an oversight of its importance to students today. As a society, we need to be

inclusive of the non-traditional types of literature that students are interested in to

eliminate the disconnect between students. The inclusion of social media and music as
appropriate forms of literature should be the first steps in evolving literature’s identity.

Being open-minded about how social media and music can educate students allows for

diverse cultures and ideas to shape character and develop views on society.

One of the major concerns amongst educators and parents, is the negative effect

of social media on youth. This notion that social media is a nuisance to society has

developed because of adult’s disconnection to it. If society is able to see social media

as easily accessible written works instead of a distraction from educational growth, then

we can begin to formulate a connection between modern out-of-school literacy and in-

school literacy. The positive effects of social media on youth has been shown by the

March for Our Lives: Gun Control Protest. Through Twitter, Facebook, and other social

media, students were able to learn about various in-school mass shootings. Students

began to step up and voice their beliefs about implementing stricter gun laws to prevent

mass shootings. It was the youth that led to the national March for Our Lives,

connecting millions of strangers who share a common belief. This type of movement

would not have occurred without social media. Social Media provides an avenue for

students, especially those who identify as visual learners, to better prepare for the

outside world. It caters to the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. Social media is

more than just a way for youth to virtually connect with their friends, it is a way for them

to network with professionals, discover careers, learn new languages, and more. It is

essential that we incorporate social media apps and other technology into the

classroom to gain the attention of students.

Music is another form of writing that educators do not acknowledge as literature.

Critics claim that hip hop and rap have negative impacts on the development and
character of youth. This is partially true in that, music does have a huge influence on

young people. It allows for them to express their emotions, experiences, and more

through writing. It is hypocritical to say that music is not part of literature, but poetry is.

In my opinion, music is a poetic writing represented through vocal and instrumental

sounds. Critics claim that hip hop and rap increases alcohol consumption and violent

behavior because of some of the content in the music, but this can be also be said

about in-school literature. Many of the books I have read in school, include content

about characters heavily drinking alcohol, resulting in violent behavior and adultery. As

a society, we need to stop judging the content of non-traditional literature and begin

embracing it. Incorporating hip hop and rap allows for students to be more engaged in

class because they can easily relate.

Many of these critics against hip hop and rap are of an older generation that does

not understand the significance of these genres of music on youth. Personally, I began

listening to hip hop and rap at a young age to help me find happiness in my life. When I

was younger, I had problems with bullying which resulted in depression. My older sister

used to cheer me up after school everyday by having mini dance parties featuring music

from TLC, Tupac, and Jay Z. Everyday I looked forward to listening to music with my

sister. These mini dance parties led me to writing poetry. Poetry is a way for me to have

an outlet for my fears, happiness, anger, hopes, and dreams. My parents helped me to

relate my love for poetry to the poetry that I read in class. I was able to find my identity

and better my out-of-school writing with my in-school writing. I hope that other students

will be able to find that same connection.
One of the most common complaints about hip hop and rap concerns the

language and slang used to express the writer’s feelings. The reasoning behind the

slander of hip hop and rap proves that there is miscommunication and

misunderstanding of what the purpose of hip hop and rap is. The new generation of

songwriters, are developing music that their peers are able to relate to. Each generation

has a slightly different culture which results in people developing ways that they can feel

like they belong in the world. James Baldwin eloquently agrees that, “people evolve a

language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances, or in order not to be

submerged by a reality that they cannot articulate” (Baldwin). Each generation of youth

developed their own terminology (slang), music, art and more that relates to that

specific generations culture. Even though all generations have commonalities, it is the

differences that make each generation unique. I love music because it allows me to

calm my nerves when I am stressed and makes me happy when I am sad. The lyrics

within music allows for relatable meanings that evoke emotions that I usually bottle up

inside. Through music I am able to feel the pain, happiness, etc. that the singer sings

which allows for my soul to be uplifted and emotions to be matched.

Societal norms are constantly changing. It is time that we include literature in that

transformation. The increase in technological innovation is shaping the world and we

need to include that innovation in our education. Educational institutions should take

advantage of technology and music as it provides direct and instant engagement with

students. Transforming literature to be more relatable to students through the inclusion

of social media and music allows for a greater synthesis of pre-existing knowledge.
Students will be able to apply what they learned more effectively if the information was

immersed in a familiar culture.

Works Cited

Savitt, D. Jill. 82.05.06: Female Stereotypes in Literature (With a Focus on Latin

American Writers), Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute,
teachersinstitute.yale.edu/curriculum/units/1982/5/82.05.06.x.html. Accessed 12

Sept. 2017.

Baldwin, James. “If Black English Isn't a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” The New

York Times, The New York Times,

www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/29/specials/baldwin-english.html?mcubz=3.

Accessed 12 Sept. 2017.