Digital Literacy
February 19, 2024

Steps to Digital Literacy - Jose Barajas

The Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) hosts digital literacy classes in many different spaces to assist community leaders in building their capacity with different digital mediums so that they can feel comfortable and competent in tackling the day-to-day use of tech.

Jose Barajas is an Outreach Worker for SWOP’s community violence intervention team, Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P). Jose had been volunteering with ENLACE in their softball program when Daniela, a worker with ENLACE, asked if he was interested in getting a job as a supervisor. In the interview, those present loved his passion and one of the individuals conducting the interview approached Jose to continue to speak with him afterward, stating that he loved the energy he gave off and wanted to know if something else opened, would he be interested. Weeks later, he received a call and was told about an opening with SWOP at CP4P.

Jose spent 27 years in prison, expecting not to be released and not once able to touch or make use of a computer. After getting to SWOP and learning about the opportunities for growth in digital literacy, Jose told himself that he needed to build these skills since tech is such a large part of today’s society. “I felt like everyone had a lifetime to build up their skills using tech and I’ve only had the last two years. When I heard about the computer classes offered for us, I was in one hundred percent, and I was hungry to do everything I could to make sure I learn this digital stuff.” When asked about how the classes were going, Jose responded that the classes didn’t feel too difficult and that Briana, one of SWOP’s Digital Equity Organizers, did a great job in explaining and walking him through the lessons. He continued to explain that he was diagnosed with a learning disability at a young age, so he wants to work that much harder to prove he can do what needs to be done to secure a better life for himself.

Recently, Jose, along with others from his cohort of outreach workers received their first certifications from the digital literacy classes. When asked how he felt about having tangible evidence that his hard work is paying off, Jose responded with this. “I’m not going to lie. I was emotional about the whole thing. I went home and shed tears then went and celebrated with my family because it felt like such a big accomplishment.” Since then, he has framed his certificate and recalls how people had told him he wouldn't amount to anything, and this was a step for him in proving he could be more than what he had hoped for. In his closing statement, Jose stated that he has plenty of ideas about what he wants to learn more about, citing how eager he is to learn more about the political end of our society so that he can approach different topics and issue areas with a mind of understanding. “I want to put the entirety of myself into learning everything I can at the moment so that I’m able to articulate appropriately in whichever space I find myself in.” Jose shared his story in the hopes that if there’s even a chance there’s someone like him who is going through the same thing that his story can be something that gives them courage and hope to pursue a different path and for them to give whatever they are going through their all.

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