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.
MY RESPONSE TO LEONARDO MENDEZ’ ESSAY 2:
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!