Here’s an email exchange that happened last night.
On Sep 28, 2009, at 9:21 PM, Amanda wrote:
What do you mean about a story? I though we were working on “Why is this book important to you” thing, expanding that and such. I guess I missed something in class.
Mrs. Chili replied:
First of all, take a DEEP BREATH. DO NOT – let me repeat that, DO NOT – freak out about this.
This is a personal narrative, Mandy; you’re going to be talking about how this book influenced you or informs your identity.
Remember the example that I gave in class (Cass read it from the class website)? If I were to write this alongside you all, I would write about how my passion for social justice was sparked when I was 12 and reading Roots for the first time. I would talk about how, before I had the experience of that book, I never REALLY understood what slavery was – to me, it was some dusty and distant thing that happened in history books; it didn’t MEAN anything to me. Through the experience of reading Roots, though, I came to know characters – Kunta and Bell, Kizzy and Chicken George – and to CARE about them. That book moved me deeply, and reading about the experiences of characters I cared about helped to personalize something that I – as a modern white girl of relative privilege – could never experience.
Because of that experience, I started to look carefully at how prejudice operated in MY life – in my home and my school and my world in general. I started to become more sensitive to the nuances of power and oppression, about how discrimination plays out in my life, and where I can effect change in the world. I would probably tie my story together by telling my reader that, as a teacher and an academic, my field of inquiry now rests in the literature of the oppressed and, because of the interest that I stared with Roots when I was a girl, the adult that I am now is a GLBTQ advocate and a Holocaust scholar, and I let my sense of equality and justice inform EVERY part of my life – both personal and professional.
Get it? If you want more, email me back – I’ll be at my computer for another 20 minutes or so (but I’m going to crash by ten…)
She’s in class with me now, and it seems that she’s still speaking to me. Baby steps…