Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Literacy and the Black Woman

Literacy and the Black Woman by Sharon Darling

"What does it mean to be a black woman?"

 Black women's literacy is more than just learning to read and write. This question, what does it mean to be a black woman, struck me the most being that it brings up so many diverse subjects with all types of answers. With generations of black women, this answer can alter as time unravels. This chapter introduces the meaning and perception of black women's literacy by posing the historical problems, the need to become more literate as a gender and race, a solution to the problem, and what is being done to solve it. The statistics Darling provides makes the present issue more surreal. I strongly agree with the fact that black women who got married did not formally use the educations they obtained and generally fed into the stereotype of the housewife woman with the working husband. The subject also concerning women with children before the age of twenty leads to so many subjects concerning blacks womens image and education. For example, the topic of welfare can be associated with young mothers and uneducated mothers working low class jobs because of their lack of ability to get ahead in society. I appreciate how Darling incorporated the positive literacies black women have obtained. For example, the ability for women to manage households financially means they have financially literacy. the different literacies remind me of the essay assignment in class based on our definition of literacy. The is so much more than just reading and writing and many black women have always had those other skills.
-Courtney Sykes

"Home literacy, American literacy"

To Be Black, Female, and Literate: A personal Journey in Education by Leonie C.R. Smith

"My education, whatever shape it took, would be a life-process and would become a tool with which I could do the necessary activist work in my community". -Leonie Smith

Leonie Smith, deriving from a family with little education, made it a life-long goal to become educated. Being a black woman from Antigue and then travelling to America forced her to face the struggles of forming a literacy as a Black American women, yet she did not get discouraged. Instead she worked hard to get to a point in her life were she felt her literacy was satisfactory to herself and at the potential she knew she had. The quote above reflects not only her transition from one form of education to another, but her willingness to view education as process that has no boundaries. Viewing literacy as a life-long process creates a continuing literacy of black women. Your literacy does not end once you learn how to read and write, but when you continue to learn and advance your knowledge. We should all view literacy as a life-long process.
In order for Smith to overcome the lack of knowledge in her family back in the carribean and the discouragement she felt in junior high and college, Smith had to know that as a black she women she had to become literate. Referring to the introduction by Kilgour Dowdy, as black women we represent our community. As Smith states in this quote, "..with which I can do the necessary activist work in my community". Becoming  a black literate women should essentially be a benefit to our community.
                                                                                              -Courtney Sykes

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Transforming the Way We Think and Learn

In the article "Transformative College Literacy of Literate Black Women Peer Counselors" by Robin Wisniewski, the word perception was used throughout to describe literacy.  This article is a study of perception and the transformation teachers and students make throughout their growth in literacy. 

Perception is donated as " the act or faculty of apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding."  This article went into detail about the way we as learners perceive.  We all have a different way of understanding the things we are taught.  Also, the way the teacher perceives the lesson is the way students learn.  However, it is up to the teacher and the student to work together to transform the way we think and learn.

The way we think and learn?  Well, we all are taught different ways to learn throughout elementary and secondary school.  As an adult, we sometimes choose the way we want to learn and develop different habits of practice and studying.  Moreover, everyone thinks differently.  However, we change the way we think all of the time.  Without change, there is no growth.  

The more we learn the more we think!

-Keiwana Glover

Monday, November 2, 2009

Teachers Make the World

Sunny-Marie Birney was adopted at the tender age of 2 by White people. All her life she felt as though something was missing something, a piece of that black culture that her adopted parents could not quite offer, since they knew nothing about it. The saying "college changes everything" has never been more applicable and true.
Four women; it is amazing the impact people can have on your life. Four women changed the life of Sunny-Marie Birney in ways she never imagined, and in a sense I can completely relate to her. Coming to Spelman College is a decision that impacts how I, young black woman, will look at life from here on out. I have never been in a community where everyone around me is so talented and educated yet everyone is all different. And I totally understand where she is coming from when she states that "The fact that they were Black women teaching literature, psychology, contemporary issues from a Black woman's perspective touched me." (Birney 50) It is one thing for it to be your peers, it is a completely different ball game when the women teaching you are Black women. It gives you hope - you begin to think if they can do it, then maybe I can do. That is the first step to effecting change in the world; hope.
From her teachers Birney feels a sense of community, like they care about not only her studies but also her well-being. Which is one of the factors that helps her decide she wants to be a teacher - the service mentality. Someone helped her construct her path, it is only honorable to do the same for others.
In closing, Birney is talking about that sense of community in the black community and how four women impacted her life and her journey. this quote puts it best. "The foremothers were concerned with the mind,body, and spirit; thus, the education they constructed with their students emphasized multiple literacies"(Birney 54) The education process shouldn't be only centered on bookwork because one literacy will only get you but so far in this life, hence why she and I appreciated/ appreciate the Black women teachers/ professors in our lives.
-Jheanelle Miller

Beyond the Text, She is More Than A Teacher

Voices of Our Foremothers: Celebrating the Legacy of African-American Women Educators A Personal Dedication

by Sunny-Marie Birney

"To teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students is essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin."

During this entire course we have discussed literacy and its impact on us as black women. We have often discussed how our community takes education from granted from the student stand point. But what about the people on the other side of the educational divide---the teachers. How many of us have had teachers who were truly passionate about their jobs? How did it affect you, knowing that you had someone outside of your family that truly wanted you to succeed? If you had a teacher who constantly told you that you would fail, how did that affect you?

Birney opens the chapter with a reflection of her past. She was raised by adoptive parents of Euro-descent and therefore never had an understanding of black literacy in the home. Although she had black teachers in grade school, it wasn’t until college that she encountered African American teachers who impacted her in a very positive manner. College served as an avenue for her to learn about her history and culture. At this time, Birney also learned from her professors that not only do they relay knowledge to their students, but they also provide a nurturing role, a sort of maternal literacy if you will. I have learned, not only from this chapter, but also from an educational psychology class, that students do well in a classroom if their teachers’ are supportive of them. For Birney her teachers were like her mothers who transferred school literacy and maternal literacy to her. It is safe to say that a teacher cultivates more than knowledge; they cultivate hope and respect to give to their students. These teachers had such a positive impact on her that Birney decided to become a teacher, so that she too could inspire people to do well and cultivate caring, nurturing relationships with her students. I think teachers do display passion for their profession when they go beyond the call of duty. As African Americans we already have a strike against us and another strike for being women. So I feel the importance of having a strong African American female at the front of the class room gives hope and encouragement for our young women to succeed. From personal experience, I have excelled in classes with nurturing teachers. No, I did not seek a mother in a classroom. However, when a teacher cares about your emotional well-being and not just that grade in the book, it extends a positive aura in the class room. I do well in positive and uplifting environments. So I see how having nurturing teachers in college moved Birney so deeply.

-Britney-Myshante Howard

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Back To Community

In the time it takes to update my status on Facebook, tell all of my "Tweeps" what I'm doing on twitter, send an email, and answer a text, my great grandmother is probably still walking down the hall of her senior citizen building taking lunch to a needy neighbor. In the world of Facebook, Twitter, texting, and email, we rarely see people that are around us. It is very simple to get a task done across the world by simply sending a message. The world has changed in the sense that people no longer communicate.
     In the days of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. communication was key to their success. They also had a great deal of "stick-to-it-tiveness" which means they didn't simply give up on a task that seemed difficult. With all of our modern technology our generation has begun to want everything at microwave speed and if the problem isn't solved by the time we awake the next day we are sometimes ready to quit. in Soremekun's article, she talks about the changes or lack of change she witnessed in society throughout her life. She mentions the bus boycott and the length of time that the participants stuck to their task in order to reach a desired goal.
     I also like the sense of community that was present in the home. Although the families didn't have much, they sat as a family to listen to the radio. Now days we see having a radio as obsolete. Radios have been replaced with ipods and families rarely talk to each other much listen to anything together.
     I believe that the family life that existed in the past especially in black families shaped them into a strong unit. With all of the distractions we have today, we may not communicate with our families like they would have in the past. I feel that a challenge to us all would be to step away from the computer, phone, tv, or whatever else keeps us from getting to know each other, and rebuild the sense of community in the black family and beyond. Once we become a strong unit like before, we will be able to  go into the world and be effective like the civil right activists that braved the path before us.

-Sequoia Boone

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Welfare and the Single Parent Woman

Black and on Welfare: What You Don't Know About Single-Parent Women by Sandra Golden

Sandra Golden was a member of the welfare system and pursued more than just a temporary check. Motivated by her family, Sandra advance in the welfare system to earn two masters degrees. Being a victim of the welfare system she was influenced to effectively evaluate the welfare system by examining single parent women on welfare. Although welfare is designed to help the people get to better places in life for their families by providing job training, there lies so many stereotypes within the system that strays it away from fulfilling it purpose. The women in Sandra study all had the same feelings about the welfare system, especially the case workers. Each woman felt disrespect because of the education level and never recognized for their other literacy’s. As Golden states in her piece more focus should be placed on the individual that is on welfare and be placed into jobs and programs that can give them progression in their life and sense of self worth. Many people stereotype the welfare system as those simply taking advantage and being lazy which causes discomfort for those who actually need the help and who are trying. Because of their lack of education, their social literacy’s are never recognized. Many of these women are leaders in their community and home. The ability to manage a household, budget and articulate well with others like their children’s teachers are other forms of literacy not recognized by the welfare system. If more time was put into the individuals, they could be more affectively placed into the proper programs applicable to them. Reform to the welfare system is needed. Most importantly the reform should come from within the people not concentrating on their weaknesses and not their strengths. An improvement on the individuals’ academic skills is mandatory. Targeting employers like hospitals, college and universities, banks, insurance companies, or programs that will help with furthering education and a career. If a system is corrupt and discouraging, those who are forced to be within the system will be discouraged. Especially for African American women, our self worth and self esteem in the work force should be re-evaluated.

-Courtney Sykes