Posted on February 7, 2019
In short, Deborah Brandt’s piece states that one’s literacy is not necessarily the achievements of the individual, but rather the accumulation of encounters, or Brandt calls them, “sponsors”, that the person has had throughout life. These sponsors are usually temporary, but at the same time, provides a lasting effect on the individual. An interesting observation for me is that it is interesting to see how Brandt essentially shapes her argument of literacy through an economic example.
Many times, we hear success stories with the subject saying that they started from nowhere and worked themselves to where they are now. Did they actually start from nowhere? Considering the examples given in Brandt’s essay, I would disagree. Raymond Branch, coming from a family of solid socioeconomic status and being constantly exposed to new technology, has already been placed at a closer spot to the finish line than let’s say, Dora Lopez. By juxtaposing the two characters, it sharpens the growing need for not only sponsors, but also the quality of them as well. Race and gender used to and continues to unfortunately hinder some people in finding sponsors to aid them in literacy.
Relating to myself, I would say that one of my literacy sponsors must be my brother. Ironically, we don’t have a great relationship, but he’s made me more literate in understanding reality. Perhaps it may not be as direct of a sponsor as a parent, and the things he did may not be as significant, but to me, I’ve became more literate. He taught me how to build a computer. In fact, a lot of the basic computer knowledge that I have comes from him. Combine that with being exposed to technology early on, and you may figure out why I’m in the computer science major now. I like how Brandt gives an account of both sides on sponsors. It’s not entirely good nor bad. For example, my brother turning out to be a business major instead fueled me to cherish what my sponsor lacked: a sponsor of his own. When he was younger, my parents were too busy with work and dealing with the drama surrounding buying a new house, so nobody really looked after him. Thus, his morals and ethics come to be different than my family’s, and this further validates Brandt’s claim of the importance of sponsors.
Lastly, though the argument that Brandt makes throughout the piece, it is repetitive. She places an emphasis on nearly the exact aspects, which in my opinion, lowers her credibility a bit. Reading and writing may have been enough before for literacy, but now, it is just the bare backbone. As technology surges in, the latter sponsors in life, such as the government or employers, shift the standards of literacy. Thus, sponsors reap benefits of those who have succeeded under their guidance, and people take advantage of their literacy to apply for high paying jobs and bettering their life, maintaining this symbiotic relationship that has existed for a long time.