Breaking through the Silence
An elderly woman waits along the sidewalk as the Metro bus full of student swings by to pick her up. As she enters, she holds a number of 99¢ Store bags in hand. She is clearly Hispanic, her brown skin and white hair and her modesty stand out. The bus continues its route. The elderly woman knows her stop is coming up. But she obviously strains to put her words together when notifying the bus driver. Impatient and incomprehensive, he simply ignores her. Seeing this, I approach her. “Is everything okay, ma’am?” I ask her in Spanish. She gratefully smiles and responds “I’m lost and the driver won’t help me.” When the bus arrived at her desired stop, I pushed the button for her and she was on her way. How I felt bad for her inability to speak English. This could have been my grandmother I thought. How will she manage next time? Is silence the mark of social control? Those who are silenced, whether they are slaves during America’s dark past or one of today’s non-English speaking immigrants struggling to learn the native language, may seem to be weakened and lessened. But do the controlling hands of our spoiled society judge whether the silenced are lost and feeble? Absolutely not. Silence in the form of resistance grows in the individual and empowers him or her to break from the public’s standard. Famed novelists and extraordinary writers Richard Rodriguez, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Frederick Douglass are some of the few who were victims of being silenced by fellow students, teachers, and authority. Yet, they found a way to break past the prison bars placed around them by society’s norm by finding themselves through education and a little strong will. Robert Rodriguez was once a young boy who felt like one with his native tongue: Spanish. He describes his household language as the glue that held him and his family together. It bonded them while facing an outside world where they stressed to cope with and learn the...
Cited: Rodriguez, R. Hunger of Memory, The Education of Richard Rodriguez: An Autobiography. 1st Ed. New York City: Dial Press Trade Paperback, 1982. Print.
Douglass, Frederick. “Learning to Read”. The Norton Reader, 13th ed. EDS. Linda Peterson et al. New York: Norton, 2012. 346-350. Print.
Kingston, Maxine Hong. “Tongue-Tied”. The Norton Reader, 13th ed. EDS. Linda Peterson et al. New York: Norton, 2012. 401-404. Print.
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