Lack of Literacy Plays Large Role in Oppression

Photo by Nicole Williams

The idea of being able to pick up a newspaper and read it may seem like second nature to many individuals since we do not often encounter people who cannot read in a college setting, but in this country there are hundreds of thousands of people who cannot read at all, which includes people who are only able to read in their native non-English language.

ProLiteracy, an international nonprofit organization based in Syracuse, N.Y., which supports the people and programs that help adults learn to read and write, has noted that 36 million American adults read at about a third grade level and only a fraction of them will get the help they need.

People with an inability to read cannot face entire job markets, so they are rendered unable to take advantage of basic human rights and privileges like access to the Internet, news, statistics, changing opinions, rules and many new references to culture.

Frederick Douglass once said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free,” and while times have changed from the more obvious implications Douglass was making about African American oppression, the core of this philosophy has not gone away.

Oppression and destruction of literature are often hand-in-hand as shown with famous book burnings or even the ideas of censorship of literature. Being able to read allows us to formulate opinions, see new perspectives and change our worldview from the new and more active society we live in.

In terms of survival, reading plays a large a role as do any famous tools in avoiding oppression. Being able to read the philosophy of newspapers or novels can all help shape both your understanding of the people and the world around you.

As said by Franz Grillparzer, “the uneducated person perceives only the individual phenomenon, the partly educated person the rule and the educated person the exception.”

The ability to read can create entire opportunities for new and exciting culture as well, which give a window into our experience and the ability to dissect the life we have.

It is well-known that the uneducated are easier to rule and easier to oppress; it has been a classic example of force used by some of the worst villains in the history of our world, from the oppressions of slaves across the world to the dictatorships that crushed the spirit of people who longed to be free.

The main message behind reading is the simple concept that understanding the world around you gives you opportunities to explore and save your thoughts for dreaming and creating. The act of reading helps separate humans from animals in that it gives us the chance to talk with people long gone and present our own thoughts for the future.

It may seem uninteresting considering how reading is a part of our culture, but allowing others to join and making sure that everyone can enjoy the pleasures and responsibilities of reading are not only part of our job as the lucky who can attend school, but also as members of the human race.