March 27, 2009

To counter stereotypes, read

Russell:  Advice to myselfI’ve heard people say they didn’t know they were poor. That’s the case unless somebody tells you, and plenty of people let me know. It did not take me long to figure out that most of the other kids did not have commodities and they lived in houses with light switches on the wall rather than a bulb dangling in the center of the room and several cords running away from that one connection so the wires were often hot to the touch.

There’s never any shortage of adults who want to tell you what to do, right? Do they still show you Indians in the textbooks that were either savage or stupid? I hope not. If so, I hope your folks give you stuff like the book I had about Will Rogers, an Indian who was smart and funny. They tell you your life is over if you can’t finish school, even though school is one teenage horror after another.
Steve Russell explains the alternative to finishing school:If you are smart, you are interested in how the world works, and if the school won’t teach you the things you need you will have to teach yourself. Whether your schools work for you is something you probably understand better than the adults in your life. Since you are me, the schools are not working for you, so I have one word that will save your life: read.

I seldom got caught skipping school because the last place they would look for a truant was the public library. I read books by the shelf rather than by author or topic. It was a small library.
Comment:  Some useful points here. One is how negative media messages can affect Indian children. Two is how reading and absorbing information can counteract these messages.

This is why reading Newspaper Rock is good for you. It doesn't necessarily matter if you agree with my points. You're thinking about things that 99% of the population doesn't think about, which puts you ahead of them.

For Russell's previous thought-provoking column, see Dumbest Discourse Since "Niggardly"?

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