Op-Ed: What’s Wrong With Reading?
This week, I was happy to read an article that defends reading for pleasure. It was reprinted on the Huffington Post from Youth Communication. The article was written by a fifteen year old named Anthony Turner.
I wish I had been able to find someone like Anthony among my black peers when I was in high school. Like Anthony, I was teased for enjoying reading in high school. Unlike him though, I couldn’t take pride in what I loved because I felt alone and that I didn’t have a place to belong. Fortunately, I managed to identify with literary characters like Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series and Ponyboy Curtis from the teen fiction book The Outsiders.
In the article, Anthony mentions that black youth culture prizes guys who are athletes and musicians. A similar value is placed on black women. Instead of intelligence, black youth culture values women’s looks and how provocative they are.
While the same thing can be said of men and women of almost any race, Anthony mentions that black and Hispanic men have the lowest graduation rates. According to the National Women’s Law Center, 37 percent of Hispanic female students and 40 percent of black female students drop out of high school.
How sad is it that a good chunk of young minorities become nothing more than a statistic?
There are two things that cause reading to be disdained: the lack of a good family rearing and the influence of the mass media, especially entertainment media. A less minor reason is that the right book isn’t being read.
As a black female, I am grateful that my parents showed me the value of an education and instilled in me a love of reading. In fact, my mother told me that she read while I was still in her womb. Not sure if it’s true, but it paid off.
With the influence of the media, some minority youth are brainwashed into selling themselves short. If you don’t do what is considered cool or popular, then you are considered lame. Even worse, some minority youth are asked by their peers and others, “Why don’t you act more Hispanic?” or “Why don’t you act more black?”
I was asked the latter question indirectly. Despite the angst I felt with that and being teased, I rebelled against the status quo and kept reading for pleasure and being myself.
What most of my peers didn’t know is that I only liked reading for pleasure when I could choose the books I wanted to read. I hated reading the majority of books that were assigned to us in high school. Thanks to the library and a cool teacher who introduced me to teen fiction in middle school, I found material that I enjoyed.
Now in college, I have gained pride in being a bibliophile and share that pride with others by blogging. I hope Anthony Hall’s pride never fades and continues to grow.
If more young people like me and Anthony can develop the courage and resilience to become knowledgable and follow their passions no matter what, then this world will become smarter, more unique, and awesome.