Generally students move through that complex space fluently-- entering and exiting pidgin or Hawaiian or formal english or text-speak easily depending on the need. They read myriad contextual and identity clues to gauge what exact timber and tone Self-awareness can bring barriers to empowered self-expression though-- and the stigma or fear of sounding haole or mismatching the dialect to the occasion is stressful.
But as for me and my house....All communication is ultimately empowering. Students being able to slide into the dialectally appropriate mode is the highest kind of success.
I'm wandering off track with this.
The real question is....
What is writing?
What is empowerment?
And what is a tool for empowerment?
Writing is any kind of writing-- any form, any genre, any purpose. I accept marginalia and latrinalia and tumblr-esque keyboard smashes and paragraphs of emoji. I accept scrawled reminders on palms and gothic tattoo letters scraped into forearms. It is self-expression and passionate and also deadly-dry-- columns and rows and sums and averages. It can emerge effortlessly as a prayer or get bashed out of you only through hours of tedious research, revision, pain, blood, constriction and sweat.
So empowerment? Does that mean a sense of entitlement? In the best way-- not in the sense we often here where entitled means spoiled and arrogant-- but entitled as in-- given a name-- given a role. Endowed with authority and validity. It's important-- especially for marginalized people-- girls, people working in a second language, people whose ethnic, racial cultural or religious identity makes them a social target. It's the belief that you have the right to take up space.
So how is writing a tool for empowerment? I'm reminded of the simple Archimedean machines-- wedges, levers, wheel and axel, screw, inclined plane, and pulleys. Language-- specifically writing-- can be that sharp wedge which divides the unbreakable boulder along the weak lay-lines. And lever-words can lift impossible weights, can screw into the impermeable depths, and heave you against gravity to impossible heights. Language-- but especially writing-- a stab at permanence that it is-- can be that wedging, lifting, shattering ideas.
Writing allows us to place our small marks of permanence on the world-- allows our words to emerge from our minds and linger slightly longer than they would have if only inscribed in breath. We can float our thoughts onto papers and they will continue thinking themselves for moments and moments after our minds and mouths are clear of them.