Write an essay on a topic related to the theme of racism and/or xenophobia that we have been discussing in this class.  Be sure to have or develop a main idea.  

One way to do this would be to use one of our readings on the theme of racism or immigration issues (or both), or find a current article or other source online to introduce your own main idea and supporting ideas on the same topic. Summarize the article, video, poem, story, or essay, and let it lead you into what you want to say on the subject.  Other essay-writing techniques could also work for you, such as beginning with an anecdote or a personal experience leading into your main idea.

Your essay should be 2-3 pages long (about 600-750 words), typed, double-spaced, on Microsoft Word, Pages, Googledocs, or whatever other platform you feel comfortable with. (If it’s a platform I cannot download for some reason, I will let you know.)  E-mail your essay to me by Wednesday night, Mar. 24, 11:59 pm (just before midnight). Know that you will have the opportunity to revise it and improve it after receiving feedback from me and/or your fellow students (your peers).

Here are some examples of possible topics (though you can come up with your own if it is related to these themes):

  1. “Racial Profiling”: How do Brent Staples’ experiences with racial profiling compare with things that are still happening today?  You can compare/contrast Staples’ experiences and feelings with any one or more incidents that have been reported on in more recent years.  Profiling could also refer to other races or ethnicities, such as Muslims, Asians, etc.
  2. Compare and contrast any two (or more) poems by Langston Hughes: Are they optimistic or pessimistic, in your view?
  3. “Innocence”:  A traumatic experience you or someone you know had as a child and why it is significant.
  4. “Hard Rock” and Imprisonment as the New Slavery
  5. “Incarceration” or “Justice and Injustice in the United States.” Any piece of Ava DuVernay’s film, such as images of Black “criminality” in the movie “Birth of a Nation”; how “The War on Drugs” led to mass incarceration of Black people; assassination of Black leaders; the issue of reparations; the issue of keeping Blacks in jail because they can’t afford bail; etc. 
  6. Economic inequality as expressed in two literary works:  “The Lesson” and “So Mexicans Are Taking Jobs From Americans.” 
  7. “To the Lady”: What happened to Japanese Americans during World War II, and why?
  8. Compare and contrast the attitudes towards immigration in the two poems “The New Colossus” and “Unguarded Gates.” How does each compare with today’s attitudes?
  9. If you are a “mixture” of different ethnicities or cultures, discuss how this affects who you are, based on one or more of the poems we read.
  10. The Native American experience as seen in poems by nila Northsun and Sherman Alexie.
  11. The Hispanic children’s experience as seen in “Bully,” by Martin Espada. 

These are suggestions. If you think of a different topic relating to these readings or issues, feel free to pursue it for your Formal Essay #2; or you can combine topics if you wish. You also don’t have to take up every subtopic within a given topic. Ask if you aren’t sure your plan is appropriate for this assignment. Again, the purpose of choosing a topic is to move on to developing a main idea: What about this topic?  

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