Angelica Romano Thesis-Draft 2 Culture in Education When we are younger our minds are constantly being molded to different ideas. Sometimes those ideas are positive and at times, negative. When there are negative ideas floating through a young brain it can produce a negative outcome. It can make one scared to feel opposite of what they are being taught to feel, and it can make one afraid to follow what the heart is telling one to do, in Opal Palmer Dais’s essay “Laying in the Tall Grasses, Eating Cane” Opal speaks of growing up in Jamaica.
She talks of although growing up in a country full of culture and literature, while living there she had no idea such culture existed. It was only after she left her homeland that she learned of her country’s richness in culture and literature. The theme in Dais’s essay was simply, lack of culture taught at a young age can breed certain ignorance towards one’s culture. It was only when she moved away from her homeland that she began to see the bias of how she was being taught as a child.
She covered a whole new love for her culture, and for her skill, writing. When Addis was growing up she was taught that her country had no history, had no literature, and that her native tongue was not the proper way of speaking. She was taught to speak in the “Queens language” and any author she read was almost always a dead, white man. Addis even admits that she herself believed that a writer was “a synonymous with death” (185). She also felt the history she was being taught in school was “erroneous or at best lopsided and suspect” (185).
She truly believed to become a writer you had to pass three qualifications. You had to be white, you had to be a man, and you had to be dead. Three qualifications that Addis herself, was not. She admits that she would write for her own eyes only. It was a form of release for her. It was only after Addis went to New York City that she began to see her own self-worth. While in New York Addis had discovered that there were authors that were of color, like herself. She had come to find authors such as Longings Hughes, Secondly Brooks, and Jean Toomey.
Addis admits that Toner’s Cane,”l’s the most responsible for me recognizing and answering the call of a writer” (186). She was attracted to the story because it reminded her of her homeland, where she would lie in the tall grasses and eat her cane, and write her stories, for herself. The discovery of those three African American authors is what led Addis to discover more and more books from Caribbean authors. Addis admits she was “amazed and also angry it took me so long to discover these writers” (186). This only proves my argument further.
It wasn’t until Addis had moved away that she began to see the culture and literature of people from her own country. It made her angry because for so long in her life she believed that authors had to be dead and white to write. However, while here in New York she began to see that they could be black and alive. It wasn’t until LeRoy Clarke declared Addis a poet that her voice started to become heard. And her fear of sharing her work subsided. Show young people there are people like them that are doing what they want to do.
You must show them that their culture is rich and show them to be proud of their culture. To teach a young person that everything they know is irrelevant and push your own ideologies on them, will Just suppress their true identities. If it wasn’t for Dais’s parents sending her to New York, she would have never been able to see the culture her people thrived from. If it wasn’t for her moving away her talent might have never been discovered. She began to believe in herself and her work, and she began to believe it didn’t need to Just be read by her, but by others as well.