Essay One Assignment:
Responding to Karla’s Questions About Tyranny and Responses to It in 13th and The Beautiful Struggle
Your friend Karla, who is Latinx, comes to you with a dilemma. In her American history class at
GCC, one of the students keeps claiming that the election of Barack Obama in 2008 proves that
racism is no longer really a problem in the U.S. Karla has two questions: “What do I say to this guy, what details and evidence can I give, to prove that racism is not just a problem of the past?” and “Besides all this, studying American history has made me feel completely depressed about whether people of color can ever really do anything effective to respond to racism or any other form of injustice. I know you are reading The Beautiful Struggle. Using details and examples from that book, what can you tell me about the most effective ways to respond to racism?”
Karla has two main questions, so your essay needs to respond to both of them:
􀀀 Assure Karla that (unfortunately) there is plenty of evidence she can give showing racism still exists by citing details and examples from 13th, your mini-research project, and/or
The Beautiful Struggle. One way to think about the way racism plays out in the lives of the Coates family is to ask yourself this question: What obstacles does this family face that a European-American family might not face? This section of your essay should be around a paragraph or two; it should probably make up about one-fifth of the final essay.
􀀀 Describe at least three different ways Ta-Nehisi and Paul Coates respond to the problem of racism and explain to Karla how effective you think each one is, using details and examples, including at least four quotations, from The Beautiful Struggle.
Your paper should include:
􀀀 An introductory paragraph of at least five or six sentences that introduces Karla’s situation and the book we are reading in class. You might also, if you wish, introduce 13th.
Since your essay has two main tasks – to convince Karla she’s right in thinking racism still exists
and to cite some evidence to prove it and to describe and evaluate Ta-Nehisi’s and Paul’s responses to it – your thesis statement will also have two parts: one part will be to make a claim that racism is still a pressing problem; the other part will be to name and evaluate the different ways Ta-Nehisi and Paul Coates respond to that racism. We will spend time in class practicing drafting two-part thesis statements.
􀀀 One supporting section which summarizes some evidence that racism is still a problem, using details and examples from 13th, your mini-research project, and/or The Beautiful Struggle.
􀀀 At least three other distinct supporting sections with clear topic sentences which discuss and evaluate three ways Ta-Nehisi and his father respond to that racism. It is most likely that in doing so, you will be discussing the ways they respond separately – that is, Paul responds differently than Ta-Nehisi, so one section you may be discussing a response that is Paul’s alone. In another section, you may be discussing a way Ta-Nehisi responds that is his alone.
Use details and examples from the book to illustrate these responses. In considering how to evaluate each of these responses, you might ask yourself the question, “Does this method of responding to racism work? Is it effective? Why or why not?” You should also use details and examples from the book to prove the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of a particular strategy.
􀀀 A concluding paragraph which briefly restates your responses to Karla’s questions and discusses the implications of what you’ve proven. Abuses of power are everywhere in our society. What can the Coates family teach Karla and all of us, if anything, about how to respond? In what ways does learning about the Coates family’s struggles change our views of our country? In what way might we see our tasks as Americans differently after reading this book?