The Art of Intimidation 

Literacy, a Perspective 

Before I began writing, I stumbled on a search that included new words in Pop Culture Slang. I realized there’s a whole world of teenage social media code that if I had never begun to research, I wouldn’t have found. 

Words such as: extra, periodt, snatched, finsta, and no cap. Those words make me so uncomfortable. I’m sure Grammarly is not going to like them either. Why!? 

My first encounters with these words gave me pause, I felt tinges of fear thinking, I failed as a Mom and an Aunt. I felt my Nieces and Nephews had little hope for a great future. My cousins, I believed, had also slipped in intelligence from their younger years. I had no knowledge that there was another language out there; one that would veer society further away from cogent language. I was duped until I ran the search and my son had a good laugh at my expense.

To see the writing on social media platforms in Pop Culture is alarming for me. The first paragraph and second paragraphs are funny and that was the point. Laughter is good therapy, now we need to dig into the repercussions of slang in our communities. 

If you’ve gotten this far, I can confidently assume literacy is not a problem you have. I can also stretch my stance and add that you may take your literary advantages for granted. To create context, I can say that the sight of a book or a magazine is not a factor that you find Intimidation at glance. Also, you probably don’t fully understand a mental-prison; feeling a constant sense of anxiety or failure that accompanies an illiterate individual. 

I cannot recall a time in my life where I was intimidated by the sight of a word(s), for example; It or And or even Book. Sadly, 1 in 5 adults and about 19% of High School Graduates in America are functionally illiterate. The inability to read necessary information or material is an epidemic on its own.

Using the stats above, means at least 1 in 5 adults, assuming there are two parents in each home; there is at least one family represented by an adult who cannot read. In Black-America, a majority of families are more likely to be represented by one parent. Out of those families, there are four families with a parent who can read, and one family represented by a parent who cannot read. 

Upon considering these realities, focusing on the parent who cannot read; those children have little to no help with their homework or they have to balance home and their educational progress on their lonesome. Playing devil’s advocate, I’ll add that some children find the task and responsibilities of reading daunting and choose not to bother. This child ultimately adds to a number of adults who cannot read. It is unknown whether or not when these, now, adults begin a family if they will create a desire to appreciate literature in their families or produce children who will find the exercise an inconvenience. 

How does this affect us? How does it affect our community?

Right now, we are in a societal restructuring. We see police brutality and a plague that continues to claim the lives of black american citizens; innocent people representative of extreme socioeconomic disparities. I’ll proffer, you want to vote now more than ever. Correct that statement. You currently have a burning desire to encourage your community and your family to vote in 2020. Is that right?

Pessimism does not only concern us here in America; the world shares it. I have read many statements of individuals and foreigners, who are urging Americans to actively participate in the voting process. Sadly, they understand that they cannot cast a vote in this election which impacts our collective societies. The world understands how important it is for every single American to commit to our civic duties in the 2020 Election. 

Further, we have expatriates who have sought residence in foreign countries and have abandoned their physical addresses in the United States. With the intimidation of voting prevalent throughout this Administration, expats are finding it next to impossible to cast a ballot. 

We hear stories of behavioral difficulties among school-aged children who suffer from the inability to read. We listen to stories of the disturbing amount of those who are illiterate, which find themselves repeatedly in the tows of the American, Judicial System. We hear stories of children who ultimately abandon education altogether because they cannot read. 

What happens?

Because I understand that we are a selfish lot in this human experience, I will appeal to your burning desire and begin to tie this altogether. First, it is terrible that many black men cannot read. However, black women are too a representation of illiteracy. We should refrain from solely charging black men with the inability to read. We must continue to have candid conversations about literacy and the lack thereof in our communities, highlighting our understanding of the sum of the cost. It is much greater than we realize.

So, you want everyone to vote, I do too. How? How can the majority of our communities vote in any electoral or local contest, when literacy is a prevalent issue. How can one go into a voting booth and cast a ballot they cannot read. Literary health is a problem and we need to confront it for what it is and understand how it affects our communities. 

It is easier to notice the more distracting forms of voter-intimidation. If we have learned nothing at all from recent protests; it is safe to say that no intimidation from Law Enforcement can prevent us from carrying out our civic duties. I recall the Honorable John Lewis in this moment; May he Rest in Power. We are not still bearing the beatings of our forefathers in an attempt to evade the voting process. No, we are not afraid of intimidation at a voting booth. We are not scared of camping for days to be eligible to cast our ballots to count for this contest. 

What creates fear are the numbers of our people, absent in the voting process. Literacy and voting is a question we should look at and be able to address it at its root. How can one vote when people in our communities disown others because they cannot read? In reading, there is comprehension. With comprehension, there is understanding. Add all of them together and we have a literate brother or sister who can vote confidential.

I think I have good reading skills yet my comprehension is questionable at times. Participating in the voting process for me and facing off with a ballots’ language is intimidating. That’s my truth and although I’ve been embarrassed to ask for help, I’m sure help is there.  

If you want us all to vote, let’s have a candid conversation about how Literacy is one of the original intimidating factors contributing to the absence of the Black VOTE in America. 

This, my friend, is The Art of Intimidation. 

Do you know of anyone or have you experienced an act of intimidation? Please comment below, I’d love to hear your story. 

Written by: S. B. Campbell

Photos are copyright free from #1 Pixabay, #2 Kaboompics, #3 Nappy, #4 Element5 Digital , #5 P C, #6 Daniel Edeke, #7 Nicholas Githiri, #8 Ola Dapo, 9# August de Richelieu. 

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