Language Both Malcolm X And Richard Rodriguez Essay

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Language

Both Malcolm X and Richard Rodriguez frame language in terms of political and social power. Malcolm X and Richard Rodriguez both comment on the power of language to demark social status. Language is also a form of empowerment, both personal and political.

Rodriguez focuses on the social and political implications of bilingualism. The author shows that in the United States, English is the language of the dominant culture and all other languages including Spanish are segregated as private languages. Rodriguez states, "As a socially disadvantaged child, I considered Spanish to be a private language." Proponents of bilingual education do not understand the political implications of bilingual education, claims Rodriguez. A monolingual education in English would equalize the playing field, by allowing English Language Learners to assume the language of the dominant culture as their own. The situation would be different if all students in the United States had access to bilingual education and were taught to view Spanish and other languages as powerful. As it is, though, only English is the language of political power.
Malcolm X writes as a monolingual English speaker, but also addresses the concept of language as political power. For Malcolm X, writing is a form of taking action; writing is an inherently political act. "I've never been one for inaction. Everything I've ever felt strongly about, I've done something about. I guess that's why, unable to do anything else, I soon began writing to people I had known in the hustling world." Malcolm X taught himself how to read and write so that he could translate his political ideas into activism.

For both Rodriguez and Malcolm X, language is a sign of education "The average hustler and criminal was too uneducated to write a letter," states Malcolm X Rodriguez details his views on language learning in early childhood education. Similarly, Malcolm X states, "It was because of my letters that I happened to stumble upon starting to acquire some kind of a….....

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