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Breaking the Stereotype

In: Social Issues

Submitted By msanchez564
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Breaking the Stereotype In his writing “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me,” Sherman Alexie explains how he taught himself how to read through a Superman comic at the age of 3. He did this by imagining what the illustrations were portraying and then putting words to the pictures. He then became fascinated with reading at a young age and began reading anything and everything he could get his hands onto. He got his fascination of reading from his father who read a lot as well. Growing up Alexie was exposed to piles of books throughout his home. These included murder mysteries, gangster epics, basketball biographies and anything else he could find. In this writing about his childhood Alexie makes it very clear that as a minority he refused to fail and fall into the stereotype surrounding his Native American heritage. He knew he wanted to learn, and that he loved to read. According to the writing, most Indians in that time were expected to be short, quiet and uncommunicative in-front of their non-Indian teachers, and did not want to speak up or seem smart in the classroom, especially at the young age Alexie was. Therefore they were comfortable around other Indians but came off as completely un-intelligent around non-Indians. He always spoke out in class and asked questions, he was not afraid to stand out, because he knew it was not necessarily a bad thing. Alexie describes a smart Indian viewed as “a dangerous person, widely feared and ridiculed by Indians and non-Indians alike” (29). Despite this, he refused to fail, he was smart, and arrogant. Alexie’s intelligence and will to learn as a child is an inspiring story.
Alexie talks about how he now also not only enjoys writing for a living but also speaking to Indian children. He states “I visit schools and teach creative writing to Indian kids. In all my years in the reservation school system, I was never taught how to write poetry, short stories, or novels. I was certainly never taught that Indians wrote poetry, short stories, or novels. Writing was something beyond Indians. I cannot recall a single time that a guest teacher visited the reservation” (30). His passion to give Indian children something he was not given as a child on a reservation is a great part of his biography, it makes his story that much more likable. And to think, he did not even want to be a writer, he was originally set on being a pediatrician. Despite all the books he read, he ended up doing what his readers may think he was meant to do, write.
It is because of people like Sherman Alexie that our country’s morals, values, and ideas are progressing and changing with time. His will to learn in this story is inspiring and enjoyable because it is not every day you hear about the little details that help minorities rise up, stand out, and want more. In the present time that is exactly what is happening more and more. One example of a minority breaking a stereotype that surrounds their culture and is happening in the present time is the Hispanic college graduation rate. Hispanic college enrollment at four-year schools increased by 22 percent between 2009 and 2011. The point is everyday there is someone inspiring people to break the stereotype that they fall into, to take a different path and fight for a better future. That is why I chose this piece of writing, I am the type of person to do that and to want a better future despite what others may assume. The type of person to take a different path and strive to want more.

There is a great lesson to learn from Alexie in this piece of writing. A lesson that it is okay to stand out, to not follow the path that is expected. That you do not have to be like the rest, and that anyone can want to do more with their lives no matter where you come from or what is expected of you. In the time setting that this story took place not many people did that. Now, not only are people breaking those stereotypes and patterns of all different sorts, people are now bringing awareness to the subjects. That is exactly what Sherman Alexie is doing here. He is writing to show non-Indians that not all Indians are unintelligent and unsuccessful.

Works Cited
Alexie, Sherman. “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me.” The Writer’s Presence. Seventh Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012
Benson, John. “Latino College Enrollment Rises, More Hispanics Graduating” hrc.org 24 July 2013 Web

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