For Sunday 5/3 / Leonardo Mendez Essay 2 Feedback

Hi everyone–can’t believe it’s already coming to be May!

I want us to think a bit more carefully about the paragraph.  The paragraph is the basic building block of the essay.  For your paragraph to form a solid brick in the house that is your essay, it needs to be intentionally put together—and focused on doing 1 thing: developing one point, discussing one idea, describing 1 event, etc.

To get us thinking about how to form strong paragraphs, I want us to read Leonardo’s Essay Two Draft for Sunday.  As you read it, I want you to do 2 things:

I) make a list of notes: 1 note about each paragraph in Leonardo’s essay–1 note containing 3 parts:( 1a) what the paragraph’s main idea/focus is and (1b) what the paragraph does for the essay and reader; what its role in the essay seems to be; and (1c), one suggestion for making each paragraph more focused.

Write your list here.

II) Rearrange your list of Leonardo’s paragraph so that it forms the outline of a differently ordered essay.  Basically, you are rearranging his paragraphs into a new order—but not just any order! Be sure your order makes sense.  At the end of your new list of paragraphs, write a note explaining why you put the paragraphs in the order you did.

That’s all.  I’ll look for your responses Sunday!  Email me with questions.



1. Mendez includes here his questions regarding Gaga’s “Angel Down”—presumably questions he is curious to explore in the essay (but he doesn’t explicitly say this).  The questions are not (yet) in prose form, but rather are in the form of a list (as is a preliminary note regarding the different topics the song is “about”.)
2. Mendez introduces background info about the song and its connection to the Trayvon Martin shooting as well as the Black Lives Matter movement.
3. Mendez introduces a quotation from the lyrics to “Angel Down” and explores the question of what this lyric might mean.  He also responds to it with his own view on whether and how people have just been “standing around” before digressing into brief mentions of a couple other topics (that could form the basis of their own paragraphs):
    a) gun control and
    b) the symbolic meaning of the term “angel” in this song.
4. Mendez discusses “Triptych: Texas Pool Party” by Namwali Serpell, paying particular attention to the section which represents mythically the perspective of the police officer, Eric Casebolt, who brutalized Tatyana Rhodes during a pool party altercation in McKinney, TX several years ago.
–(4b) He then makes a claim about the connection between police brutality and a new term, “system racism,” which could be discussed further.
–(4c) Mendez then immediately moves into a discussion of what I presume is an article about racist remarks on social media made by police officers in Philadelphia (he doesn’t–yet–introduce us to the author name and title of this article). After introducing a couple quotations of what police officers posted to social media, Mendez then begins making a connection to a quotation from Serpell’s text about police officer diversity training—a great connection, but one which could be explained further or in different terms.  He also makes the claim that “irony” is involved here but doesn’t (yet) explain this.
5. Mendez includes here a list of a two quotes from Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World and Me, which I assume he will contextualize and connect to his other material in his next draft.
6. This is Mendez’ Works Cited page.  (Watch the formatting.)
My proposed re-ordering of the paragraphs:
2. I think the background info and context really works as an opening paragraph.
3/3b/1 (combine). I think Mendez could keep the first half of his (currently 3rd) paragraph where he quotes from the song and poses a question about it.  He could then use his question regarding this line to transition into some of the other questions (from his paragraph that currently is first–with the questions).
3a. A discussion of how the song—and Martin’s killing—connects to gun control and the different debates surrounding gun control could go next.
**New paragraph** describing the sounds of the song and how they might connect to the topics at play: police brutality, gun control, etc.
4a. Mendez could then add a transitional sentence explaining why he wants to discuss Serpell’s text about the Texas Pool Party incident and go into the first part of that paragraph.
4b. I think a separate paragraph could be formed out of Mendez’ interest in the connections between the psychology of the police officer in Serpell’s “Texas Pool Party” (i.e., how the police officer appears to think) and what he refers to as “systemic racism”—a term that he could also explain more about in this new paragraph.
4c. Mendez could then form another new paragraph where he discusses the article on racist comments on social media made by Philadelphia police officers.  In his opening lines of this new paragraph, he could explain how this phenomenon is an example of “systemic racism” and its connection to police officer psychology.
5. **Mendez may not need to explore the connections to Ta Nehisi Coates’ text (although it could be interesting if he did).  I’d suggest trying to move his discussion back toward Gaga’s song—I’d be more interested in hearing him write a bit more about that toward the end of his essay.
6. In the coming weeks, I will point you towards some online resources for formatting your Works Cited pages.  Stay posted!

11 thoughts on “For Sunday 5/3 / Leonardo Mendez Essay 2 Feedback”

  1. The notes I took while reading Leonardo’s essay:

    Paragraph 1: This paragraph consisted of questions that I’m assuming would be answered in the essay. The paragraph helps readers understand exactly what the author will be discussing/answering in their essay. Putting the questions first was different from most essays which is a good thing, but I also felt like all the questions weren’t answered in the essay.

    Paragraph 2: This paragraph starts off the essay explaining a little bit about the song. The paragraph helps readers understand what the song is about and why it was written.

    Paragraph 3: The paragraph focuses on a specific lyric that is about bystanders and the author expresses their confusion on it. This helps readers get a look inside of the song and wonder what the lyric means to them. I would suggest not repeating things as I felt like there were some run on sentences.

    Paragraph 4: This paragraph threw me off as I didn’t know if the author was referring to another text or the same song, but I would say that the paragraph was a text to text comparison and how there were other incidents that inspired the singer to write this song. I would suggest talking more about the song before comparing it to other texts.

    Paragraph 5: This paragraph makes another comparison about gun control. There were two lyrics in this paragraph that showed readers how the author made this comparison. I would suggest putting paragraph 5 before paragraph 4 and explaining it in more detail.

    Overall I thought it was good song choice and touched on. important issues in the society that are still present today. I would say add more details as there’s a lot you can include about this issue.

    1. Good notes, Unamta–do you mind clarifying at the end of your post the new order of the paragraphs you’d suggest? I know you started to in your notes, but it would be helpful to see your new order a bit more clearly. Thanks.

  2. These are the notes I took when reading Leonardo’s essay:

    Paragraph One:
    This paragraph states Lady Gaga’s song, “Angel Down”, which discusses the topics of racism and religion that is recurrent throughout America, specifically relating to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman and how that incident led to a mass revolution in protests against racism and police brutality on unarmed African Americans. This paragraph gives insight to the reader as to what the gist of the essay is going to be and leads on to how the issues relating to the song will be discussed further in depth of Lady Gaga’s opinion. However, I feel as if Leonardo could have started it off either his opinion of racism, police brutality, and religion in this country or just some general background information on how it affects America as a whole to reel in the audience more as to what he wants to convey.

    Paragraph Two:
    The second paragraph discusses the following certain lyric that stood out to Leonardo from the song: “Why do people just stand around?”. Following this, the paragraph goes into him questioning the accuracy of her statement when certain actions were taken regarding justice for Trayvon’s death; this is where the introduction to the topic of gun control comes in. This paragraph shows the reader how incidents that were taking place at that time in the country caused Lady Gaga to question what she saw as to the proper measurements that should have been made a priority to take place in order to see that justice is served. On the other hand, I would suggest that Leonardo include his opinion as to who the “Angel” she was referring to in the song as part of him answering the questions he posed to the reader in the beginning of his essay; I would suggest he answer the following: What are the key factors into how the song was made that helps express her thoughts regarding racism and religion in America and was it effective?

    Paragraph 3:
    This paragraph refers to another text that discusses another instance of police brutality that took place and was nationalized on television for the world to see. Leonardo includes examples of the text that shows the author fictionalizing that same scenario but in the viewpoint of a cop and how it similarly reflects the thought process of certain racist police authorities in America. I would suggest that he goes into depth more about some of the quotations he included and how the power of words can manifest into reality. Are these words preconceived notions that are brought down from generation to generation? Can this cycle be broken and what will it take for it to be broken?

    Paragraph 4:
    This paragraph includes the topic of gun control in which Leonardo incorporates two additional quotes relating to his stance on the essay. His primary idea that he brings up regarding this portion of the essay is to how important the gun is when compared to the life of a human being. I would suggest that he goes into detail more about why he wanted to include this portion of the paragraph in this essay; there really isn’t that much insight as to where he wants to go with this, and as a reader, I became confused as to what the quotes had to do with your stance of arguing whether or not the concept of the gun is worth risking the life of a human being.

    After making certain revisions, if I were to reconstruct Leonardo’s essay, I would put the paragraphs in the following order: Paragraph 1, Paragraph 4, Paragraph 2, then Paragraph 3. I believe that since Leonardo discusses the main idea regarding what he wants to convey to the reader, Paragraph 1 will be a great start as to the general information that he includes with the background to the song discussing racism and religion, in regards to the national controversy of the assassination of Trayvon Martin. Paragraph 4 will be best to follow because it flows into the topic of gun control and whether or not a gun is more important than a human life. Paragraph 2 should follow this in that after discussing gun control, he ties back into the lyric that stood out in Lady Gaga’s song that deals with that issue of justice or the lack of it in which he could talk about how certain instrumentals or different structures of the song interpret that. Then, he should include Paragraph 3 because it gives insight of another incident, and it will be great to follow a singer’s perspective from looking at an outside point-of-view to transition to a police officer’s point of view in a separate incident that produces identical results of discrimination and racism being displayed to minorities.

    1. Fabulous post, Jayvon. You will notice from my notes on Leo’s draft that we don’t necessarily have the exact same approach to re-organizing his draft (which is fine), but it’s clear that you’re really thinking about the organizational decisions Leo might make, which is the most important thing to be doing (both when thinking about the organization of other people’s essays and your own).

  3. Paragraph 1 – 1a.) The main focus of this paragraph Leonarado explains what the song Angel down by Lady Gaga means. It was written based on the death of Trayvon Martin who was shot unarmed by George Zimmerman. 1b.) this shows the reader why the song was written in the perspective of the artist because he explains Lady Gaga’s interview with Beats 1.
    Paragraph 2- 1a.) The main focus on this paragraph is Leonardo’s question on a specific line in the song. He goes on to not agree with the lyrics that were chosen. 1b.) this shows the reader his opinion on why he believes Gaga’s use of the phrase “why do people just stand around?” isn’t accurate.
    Paragraph 3- 1a.) The main focus on this paragraph is about the Texas Pool Party by Namwali Serpell. About the racist acts the police officer did to a 15 year old African American girl in 2015. 1b.) This shows the reader the comparison between the injustice racist acts of police officer and George Zimmerman who killed Trayvon Martin based on his skin.
    I would suggest maybe placing paragraph 2 before paragraph 1, explaining your perspective on the song first and leading into Gaga’s explanation. Even though I don’t believe you have to necessarily add Gaga’s explanation in.

  4. Paragraph 1
    a. Lady Gaga’s Angel Down discusses police brutality on African Americans and may have initiated the BLM movement.
    b. This paragraph sets the stage and introduces the reader to the main idea Mendez will discuss throughout the essay.
    c. The song could be described a bit more before we dive into the analysis. Nothing too deep, maybe just things like its tone, the sound of the instruments, or the feel of her voice so the reader understands what’s being analyzed.

    Paragraph 2
    a. The constant acts of violence against African-Americans has prompted pushback from those in the community.
    b. This paragraph addresses the lyric that claimed that people don’t do anything to help those affected, or to prevent their suffering.
    c. The organization and wording of the points could be adjusted to aid the flow of the paragraph. A couple of the thoughts are undeveloped and as a result do not add to the paragraph as it should.

    Paragraph 3
    a. There really are officers out there who have the disgusting mentality that would encourage and justify their racial discrimination.
    b. This paragraph permits the author to express his opinion on the issue and make an allusion to another text.
    c. I think the quotes from the other text outweigh the points that he uses them to make. To balance it out, the large quote can be trimmed down.

    My rearrangement is simple. I would just put the third paragraph first. I think it would do a great job of setting the tone of the essay with its exploration of police morality. It would put the reader in the pragmatic mindset, preparing them to discuss police brutality. From there, paragraph 1 would introduce the song and paragraph 2 would begin the discussion. Clean and simple.

  5. Paragraph 1
    a. Overview of the song Lady Gaga’s “Angel Down” and its connection to discrimination in America towards African Americans
    b. Gives a bit of background information on the Trayvon Martin case
    c. Generally speaking, I wouldn’t include my input in the introduction paragraph; instead, I suggest starting a new paragraph with “I believe that…” as you did in the last sentence for the first paragraph.

    Paragraph 2
    a. The main focus of this paragraph is about questions developed on Lady Gaga’s lyrics/ word choice
    b. Gives insight into Leonardo’s research on the song
    c. I would suggest maybe fixing a couple of grammatical errors since this is just a draft, with the purpose of making the reading sound more fluid

    Paragraph 3
    a. Speaks of a text that connects to the topic of the song
    b. This paragraph allows Leonardo to connect the issues from “Angel Down” to another article “Triptych: Texas Pool Party by Namwali Serpell”
    c. You should include more of your questions into this paragraph, and cut down some of the quotes to clean up the summary you’re giving us

    My rearrangement for Leonardo’s essay goes something like this: 1,3,2
    my explanation for this is because-

    *the 1st paragraph is a good introductory statement and quite simple enough that gives the reader an idea of what to expect.
    *The 3rd paragraph should be switched as the second paragraph because I feel that it has potential; it has a good structure that could develop even further in the following paragraph about gun control and discrimination. And connect it to Trayvon Martin’s case perfectly.

  6. I)

    Paragraph 1:
    a) The general overview of the song choice, Angel Down, from its inspiration and its history.
    b) This paragraph gives the reader background information regarding the song that’s important to give context to the questions asked and to be familiar with the song.
    c) I would like to hear more of the history of the song – such as, the time period of the song’s release, what was going on at the time, and the importance of this song being released when it was, especially from an artist like Lady Gaga.

    Paragraph 2:
    a) To question and analyze/critique the portions of the song.
    b) This paragraph gives the reader a look into your thoughts and how you translated the lyrics in your own way.
    c) Going further into the question(s) you had would greatly add more support to the paragraph. Trying to understand an alternate POV and answer what she meant by “people standing around” would another nice thing to add.

    Paragraph 3:
    a) Introduces the reader to a secondary text surrounding police brutality that connects to the lyrics of the chosen song.
    b) Having an additional source to observe as a reader allows them to think about potential ideas/questions they have and how the texts relate to one another.
    c) Providing quotes, precise data, or cited sources would give more credibility to the details given!


    My new order for this essay with be P1, Questions, P2, P3, P4 – which is almost exactly how it’s already written! Introducing the song straight off the bat is the best move for this type of paper. It provides insight into the artist’s mindset and inspiration for the song, while also building on your future supporting paragraphs that analyze the lyrics from your POV. I’d switch the questions to second due to the nature of questioning the song after it’s introduced would make the most sense once knowing some general information of its origin. Continuing on to question from your own thoughts or experiences then later introduce external texts to further analyze the song would be a great way to the common theme together for a tidy conclusion.

  7. Paragraph 1
    A: The main focus of paragraph one is racism and police brutality, specifically about the Trayvon Martin case expressed through Lady GaGa’s song “Angel Down”.
    B: The paragraph introduces the topic of what the article is going to be about. The paragraph acts as an opening.
    C: Leonarado could have started the paragraph by introducing the topic then introducing Lady GaGa’s song.

    Paragraph 2
    A: the main focus of this paragraph is one line in the song. “Why do people just stand around?” Leonardo asks a series of questions regarding that question, then gives his input on what he believes about that question.
    B: The role of this paragraph is to challenge the idea in the song. The idea that people stood around as this racism occured when that was far from the case.
    C: Leonardo could have begun the paragraph with the line of the song then question it. He started the paragraph by stating “Upon hearing the song one question I had about it was…” He then later asked the “one” question he had two times in two different ways. He could have just asked the question once then proceeded with the paragraph.

    Paragraph 3
    – Is very confusing to me. Leonardo starts off by stating “The next question I had is…” then goes off the bench to talk about a texas pool party never asking a question. The paragraph seemed out of order and unfinished making it hard for me to properly answer the questions.

    If I were Leonardo I would keep the paragraph order the same but I would word things differently. He had the topics in the right order but his ideas seemed to be all over the place. I understood his ideas in the first two paragraphs and they did fall into place with each other but his word choice didn’t fall in line with the ideas.

  8. Paragraph 1
    the song was written for the black live matter movement by lady gaga
    Give the reader context or background about the song writer and what motivated the creation of the song.
    Paragraph 2
    more connections are made between the song and the black live matter movement
    a series of question which were asked at the starter answered
    Paragraph 3
    like teasaya saw I thought the incomplete sentence in the 3rd paragraph was strange and usually wish it was complete to get the thought process behind writing this paragraph
    I guess im a traditionalist the idea of the question first I nice but I don’t like it. I find myself asking are these question behind the thought process you had while writing the paragraph or these the question me as a reader is suppose to be asking?
    putting question at the start don’t make me think critically about what you’ve written

  9. Notes from Leonardo’s essay:

    Paragraph One:
    In this paragraph he states Lady Gaga’s song,” Angel Down.” it discusses the topic of racism and religion, which is happening in America, especially about the shooting death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, and how it led to a mass revolution in protest against racism and police brutality on Innocent African Americans. This paragraph helps readers understand precisely what the author will be discussing in his essay.

    Paragraph two:
    In this second paragraph, the author discusses about specific lyrics from the song. This song helps the readers understand what the song is about and why it was written. The organization and wording of the points could be adjusted to aid the flow of the paragraph.

    Paragraph Three:
    The paragraph centers on a specific lyric that is about bystanders, and the author expose their confusion on it. This helps readers take a look inside the song and wonder what the lyric means to them. This paragraph permits the author to express his opinion on the issue and make an allusion to another text.

    My rearrangement would be very simple. I would put the third paragraph first because that would be a great way to set a tone for the essay. That’s all I would replace them both.

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