chapter  4
22 Pages

Resistance, Reading, Writing, and Redemption: Defining Moments in Literacy and the Law

WithSHERMAN G. HELENESE, LINDA A. SPEARS-BUNTON AND KIMBERLY L. BUNTON

We may not ordinarily think of the symbiotic relationship between literacy and the law. What does one have to do with the other? Law is the people’s official agreement to establish systematic rules of conduct and behavior to govern the affairs of a particular national body. Literacy is often narrowly conceptualized as an individual ability to read, write and speak a particular vernacular. Indeed, literacy is too powerful and complex to be reduced to “the mere knowing of letters, words and sentences” (Freire, 2000). Literacy is the catalyst to social justice and ultimately social change. In the tradition of Paulo Freire, a person is not literate until he or she has become politicized, that is, become aware of the impact of social, cultural and political realities on their lives (Freire, 2000). Literacy leads to praxis, informed action. Thus, a literate person is able to interpret and manipulate the various forms of verbal language necessary to unlock the key to societal freedom.