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Dante Brodie

Professor Cassandra Blandford
23 November 2015
When we were assigned this project, at first I was a little mad. It was
still relatively early in the semester, and I was starting to get used to this
class, so I knew a big project was coming. I just figured that our literacy
memoirs were going to be that main big assignment. What was crazy to me
was that we received this assignment right in the midst of our literacy
memoir. However, I definitely understand what I didnt see then: the two
topics go hand in hand. Not necessarily the subject matter of my Extended
Inquiry Project, but the process of analyzing and discovering certain things
about people and their literacy that I didnt know before. Going into my
inquiry project, I had to think about my own identity before choosing a
different one to focus on. This was cool to me because I got to think and
analyze certain things about myself that I wasnt fully aware of. I didnt even
realize that this process would end up being so similar to the original thought
process of my literacy memoir. So naturally, I took some of my creative
influences from the literacy memoir when I got into the culture of Islam and
its literacy. This was definitely an essential part of my research, because I
had a new found appreciation for the effect that literacy has on ones life.
Like I said, this assignment forced me to think about and define my
own identity as a person before I was able to define the identity of others

and recognize all of the things I dont identify with. I liked that we actually
took time in class to focus on identities of ourselves and of others, because
this helped me gain a better understanding of the diversity that is out there.
One thing that surprised me was that so many of us in the same class had so
many different identifying factors about us. Without even thinking of it, we
had been externally defined by the same identities we admitted to being
characterized by. So, as I started identifying myself, I was able to see the
reality of every persons different identity and how their combination of
identifying factors can set them apart from me so much. After I was clear
about what I identified with, I was able to have a clearer and more openminded view on the differences between me and others as well as why their
identities fit them and not me.
Early in my research, I was totally unsure about where I wanted to go
with this project. However, I already knew that there were certain topics I
could draw more interesting information from. Among these were
homosexuals, but I didnt choose that because it was too popular of a choice.
I wanted to represent for an identity that I could personally learn about for
myself, not from others. Another I thought about using was the identity of
White people in America. I didnt choose this topic because Im biased
against them, in a way. I cant really explain why, but I dont really care to
identify at all with them or understand some of their views and things they
do in America. When I started thinking deeper, one thing that was constant
in my mind and stayed was the idea of religion. I think this was mainly

because when I had to define my own identity, it required me to look at

myself as multiple pieces of a collective being. All of the things that effected
me coming up is what made me the person I am today, so one thing I could
link to religion was upbringing. One of the most popular family/ household
models in terms of a culture is that of Muslims. They tend to take care of way
more children than the average American family and is paid in honor by
everybody in their community. This, after looking up statistics, is definitely
something that we should try to mimic here in the United States. I chose the
religion of Islam because its the one alternative religion that I have actually
admired over time. I admired it because it is so disciplined and focused on
their principles. As I started leaning towards Islam, I also realized that many
Muslims have positive things in common. There is a consistent theme of
peace and serenity amongst most Muslims that I really like and would love to
look more into.
I looked up first-person accounts of popular figures that had converted
to Islam. One of the most famous people that adopted this way of life was
Malcom X. He made a trip to the city of Mecca, the home of Islam. While he
was there, he wrote a letter back to the United States. This letter was my
favorite source out of all the ones I drew information from. Knowing the kind
of figure Malcom X was, he talked in the letter about how peace and unity
were so prevalent among Muslims. Reading about the way he revered
Muslims was odd for me because I also thought of Malcom X as a radical
extremist for race equality. It made me think about the Islamic culture

differently, since he was all for violence and affirmative action while he was
here in the US. This made me change my approach of the religion, because I
was thinking that the principles Muslims lived by were somewhat
unacceptable by other people such as us. Hwoever, I had to consider that
there are so many admirable concepts they live by and we tend to ignore
some of these concepts. In a way, Malcom Xs letter made me kind of see the
Muslim side of the disconnect between religions.