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ESSAY # 1
In their essays, “The Meanings of a Word” and “Being a Chink”, Gloria Naylor and Christine Leong describe their personal experiences with race growing up in the United States. Although their essays are personal, they can be considered universal for many people like Naylor and Leong because they are describing life in a society that is not inclusive and not color blind.
Using Naylor’s and Leong’s essays, answer the following question in an essay:
How important is the topic of race in the United States today in 2017?
• Support your point of view with examples from Naylor’s and Leong’s essays.
• Use at least 3 in-text citations–2 from the readings and 1 from one of the posted videos. You may not use other outside sources. The format for a video clip citation and its corresponding in-text citation USE MLA 8 citation
• Include a Works Cited list for your citations MLA 8. 1300 words which does not include identifying information or Works Cited, limited use of “I”
THIS IS THE ESSAY BY NAYLOR
“The Meanings of a Word” by Gloria Naylor
Language is the subject. It is the written form with which
I’ve managed to keep the wolf away from the door and, in
diaries, to keep my sanity. In spite of this, I consider the
written word inferior to the spoken, and much of the
frustration experienced by novelists is the awareness that
whatever we manage to capture in even the most
transcendent passages falls far short of the richness of life. Dialogue achieves its power in the dynamics of a fleeting moment of sight, sound, smell, and touch. (1)
I’m not going to enter the debate here about whether it is language that shapes reality or vice versa. That battle is doomed to be waged whenever we seek intermittent reprieve from the chicken and egg dispute. I will simply take the position that the spoken word, like the written word, amounts to a nonsensical arrangement of sounds or letters without a consensus that assigns “meaning.” And building from the meanings of what we hear, we order reality. Words themselves are innocuous; it is the consensus that gives them true power. (2)
I remember the first time I heard the word nigger. In my third-grade class, our math tests were being passed down the rows, and as I handed the papers to a little boy in back of me, I remarked that once again he had received a much lower mark than I did. He snatched his test from me and spit out that word. Had he called me a nymphomaniac or a necrophiliac, I couldn’t have been more puzzled. I didn’t know what a nigger was, but I knew that whatever it meant, it was something he shouldn’t have called me. This was verified when I raised my hand, and in a loud voice repeated what he had said and watched the teacher scold him for using a “bad” word. I was later to go home and ask the inevitable question that every black parent must face— “Mommy, what does nigger mean?” (3)
And what exactly did it mean? Thinking back, I realize that this could not have been the first time the word was used in my presence. I was part of a large extended family that had migrated from the rural South after World War II and formed a close-knit network that gravitated around my maternal
grandparents. Their ground-floor apartment in one of the buildings they owned in Harlem was a weekend mecca for my immediate family, along with countless aunts, uncles, and cousins who brought along assorted friends. It was a bustling and open house with assorted neighbors and tenants popping in and out to exchange bits of gossip, pick up an old quarrel, or referee the ongoing checkers game in which my grandmother cheated shamelessly. They were all there to let down their hair and put up their feet after a week of labor in the factories, laundries, and shipyards of New York. (4)
Amid the clamor, which could reach deafening proportions–two or three conversations going on simultaneously, punctuated by the sound of a baby’s crying somewhere in the back rooms or out on the street–there was still a rigid set of rules about what was said and how. Older children were sent out of the living room when it was time to get into the juicy details about “you-know- who” up on the third floor who had gone and gotten herself “p-r-e-g-n-a-n-t!” But my parents, knowing that I could spell well beyond my years, always demanded that I follow the others out to play. Beyond sexual misconduct and death, everything else was considered harmless for our young ears. And so among the anecdotes of the triumphs and disappointments in the various workings of their lives, the word nigger was used in my presence, but it was set within contexts and inflections that caused it to register in my mind as something else. (5)
In the singular, the word was always applied to a man who had distinguished himself in some situation that brought their approval for his strength, intelligence, or drive: (6)
“Did Johnny really do that?” (7)
“I’m telling you, that nigger pulled in $6,000 of overtime last year. Said he got
enough for a down payment on a house.” (8)
When used with a possessive adjective by a woman–”my nigger”–it became a term of endearment for her husband or boyfriend. But it could be more than just a term applied to a man. In their mouths it became the pure essence of manhood–a disembodied force that channeled their past history of struggle and present survival against the odds into a victorious statement of being: “Yeah, that old foreman found out quick enough–you don’t mess with a nigger.” (9)
In the plural, it became a description of some group within the community that had overstepped the bounds of decency as my family defined it. Parents who neglected their children, a drunken couple who fought in public, people who simply refused to look for work, those with excessively dirty mouths or unkempt households were all “trifling niggers.” This particular circle could forgive hard times, unemployment, the occasional bout of depression–they had gone through all of that themselves–but the unforgivable sin was a lack of self- respect. (10)
A woman could never be a “nigger” in the singular, with its connotations of confirming worth. The noun girl was its closest equivalent in that sense, but only when used in direct address and regardless of the gender doing the addressing. Girl was a token of respect for a woman. The one-syllable word was drawn out to sound like three in recognition of the extra ounce of wit,
nerve, or daring that the woman had shown in the situation under discussion.(11)
“G-i-r-l, stop. You mean you said that to his face?” (12)
But if the word was used in a third-person reference or shortened so that it almost snapped out of the mouth, it always involved some element of communal disapproval. And age became an important factor in these exchanges. It was only between individuals of the same generation, or from any older person to a younger (but never the other way around), that girl would be considered a compliment. (13)
I don’t agree with the argument that use of the word nigger at this social stratum of the black community was an internalization of racism. The dynamics were the exact opposite: the people in my grandmother’s living room took a word that whites used to signify worthlessness or degradation and rendered it impotent. Gathering there together, they transformed nigger to signify the varied and complex human beings they knew themselves to be. If the word was to disappear totally from the mouths of even the most liberal of white society, no one in that room was naive enough to believe it would disappear from white minds. Meeting the word head-on, they proved it had absolutely nothing to do with the way they were determined to live their lives. (14)
So there must have been dozens of times that nigger was spoken in front of me before I reached the third grade. But I didn’t “hear” it until it was said by a small pair of lips that had already learned it could be a way to humiliate me. That was the word I went home and asked my mother about. And since she knew that I had to grow up in America, she took me in her lap and explained. (15).
THE OTHER ESSAY BY LEONG I WILL UPLOAD IT TO YOU ITS CALLED Definition–Being-a-Chink-3.pdf
Does understanding gender differences in conversation and understanding stereotypes help men and women to communicate better without so many misunderstandings?
• Provide 2 in-text citations for examples used from the reading.
• All citations must be MLA 8 format.
This is the URL
This is the Citation
Kennedy, X. J. The Brief Bedford Reader, 13th Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017. [BryteWave].
• Use an objective voice which is outside the situation as much as possible. That means, avoid the overuse of “I”.
• Carefully proofread for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and missing words
• Include Works Cited which contains citations from the reading in Bedford.
• Proofread and edit for correct essay formatting.
• Minimum word count: 1200
This is the reading
But What Do You Mean?
Why do men and women so often communicate badly, if at all? This question has motivated much of Tannen’s research and writing. Excerpted in Redbook magazine from Tannen’s book Talking from 9 to 5 (1994), the essay reprinted here classifies the conversational areas where men and women have the most difficulty communicating in the workplace.
William Lutz’s “The World of Doublespeak,” the essay following Tannen’s, also uses classification to examine communication problems, in the form of misleading verbal substitutions that make “the bad seem good, the negative appear positive.”
1 Conversation is a ritual. We say things that seem obviously the thing to say, without thinking of the literal meaning of our words, any more than we expect the question “How are you?” to call forth a detailed account of aches and pains.
2 Unfortunately, women and men often have different ideas about what’s appropriate, different ways of speaking. Many of the conversational rituals common among women are designed to take the other person’s feelings into account, while many of the conversational rituals common among men are designed to maintain the one-up position, or at least avoid appearing one-down. As a result, when men and women interact — especially at work — it’s often women who are at the disadvantage. Because women are not trying to avoid the one-down position, that is unfortunately where they may end up.
3 Here, the biggest areas of miscommunication.
4 Women are often told they apologize too much. The reason they’re told to stop doing it is that, to many men, apologizing seems synonymous with putting oneself down. But there are many times when “I’m sorry” isn’t self-deprecating, or even an apology; it’s an automatic way of keeping both speakers on an equal footing. For example, a well-known columnist once interviewed me and gave me her phone number in case I needed to call her back. I misplaced the number and had to go through the newspaper’s main switchboard. When our conversation was winding down and we’d both made ending-type remarks, I added, “Oh, I almost forgot — I lost your direct number, can I get it again?” “Oh, I’m sorry,” she came back instantly, even though she had done nothing wrong and I was the one who’d lost the number. But I understood she wasn’t really apologizing; she was just automatically reassuring me she had no intention of denying me her number.
5 Even when “I’m sorry” is an apology, women often assume it will be the first step in a two-step ritual: I say “I’m sorry” and take half the blame, then you take the other half. At work, it might go something like this:
A: When you typed this letter, you missed this phrase I inserted.
B: Oh, I’m sorry. I’ll fix it.
A: Well, I wrote it so small it was easy to miss.
6 When both parties share blame, it’s a mutual face-saving device. But if one person, usually the woman, utters frequent apologies and the other doesn’t, she ends up looking as if she’s taking the blame for mishaps that aren’t her fault. When she’s only partially to blame, she looks entirely in the wrong.
7 I recently sat in on a meeting at an insurance company where the sole woman, Helen, said “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” repeatedly. At one point she said, “I’m thinking out loud. I apologize.” Yet the meeting was intended to be an informal brainstorming session, and everyone was thinking out loud.
8 The reason Helen’s apologies stood out was that she was the only person in the room making so many. And the reason I was concerned was that Helen felt the annual bonus she had received was unfair. When I interviewed her colleagues, they said that Helen was one of the best and most productive workers — yet she got one of the smallest bonuses. Although the problem might have been outright sexism, I suspect her speech style, which differs from that of her male colleagues, masks her competence.
9 Unfortunately, not apologizing can have its price too. Since so many women use ritual apologies, those who don’t may be seen as hard-edged. What’s important is to be aware of how often you say you’re sorry (and why), and to monitor your speech based on the reaction you get.
10 A woman who cowrote a report with a male colleague was hurt when she read a rough draft to him and he leapt into a critical response — “Oh, that’s too dry! You have to make it snappier!” She herself would have been more likely to say, “That’s a really good start. Of course, you’ll want to make it a little snappier when you revise.”
11 Whether criticism is given straight or softened is often a matter of convention. In general, women use more softeners. I noticed this difference when talking to an editor about an essay I’d written. While going over changes she wanted to make, she said, “There’s one more thing. I know you may not agree with me. The reason I noticed the problem is that your other points are so lucid and elegant.” She went on hedging for several more sentences until I put her out of her misery: “Do you want to cut that part?” I asked — and of course she did. But I appreciated her tentativeness. In contrast, another editor (a man) I once called summarily rejected my idea for an article by barking, “Call me when you have something new to say.”
12 Those who are used to ways of talking that soften the impact of criticism may find it hard to deal with the right-between-the-eyes style. It has its own logic, however, and neither style is intrinsically better. People who prefer criticism given straight are operating on an assumption that feelings aren’t involved: “Here’s the dope. I know you’re good; you can take it.”
13 A woman manager I know starts meetings by thanking everyone for coming, even though it’s clearly their job to do so. Her “thank-you” is simply a ritual.
14 A novelist received a fax from an assistant in her publisher’s office; it contained suggested catalog copy for her book. She immediately faxed him her suggested changes and said, “Thanks for running this by me,” even though her contract gave her the right to approve all copy. When she thanked the assistant, she fully expected him to reciprocate: “Thanks for giving me such a quick response.” Instead, he said, “You’re welcome.” Suddenly, rather than an equal exchange of pleasantries, she found herself positioned as the recipient of a favor. This made her feel like responding, “Thanks for nothing!”
15 Many women use “thanks” as an automatic conversation starter and closer; there’s nothing literally to say thank you for. Like many rituals typical of women’s conversation, it depends on the goodwill of the other to restore the balance. When the other speaker doesn’t reciprocate, a woman may feel like someone on a seesaw whose partner abandoned his end. Instead of balancing in the air, she has plopped to the ground, wondering how she got there.
16 Many men expect the discussion of ideas to be a ritual fight — explored through verbal opposition. They state their ideas in the strongest possible terms, thinking that if there are weaknesses someone will point them out, and by trying to argue against those objections, they will see how well their ideas hold up.
17 Those who expect their own ideas to be challenged will respond to another’s ideas by trying to poke holes and find weak links — as a way of helping. The logic is that when you are challenged you will rise to the occasion: Adrenaline makes your mind sharper; you get ideas and insights you would not have thought of without the spur of battle.
18 But many women take this approach as a personal attack. Worse, they find it impossible to do their best work in such a contentious environment. If you’re not used to ritual fighting, you begin to hear criticism of your ideas as soon as they are formed. Rather than making you think more clearly, it makes you doubt what you know. When you state your ideas, you hedge in order to fend off potential attacks. Ironically, this is more likely to invite attack because it makes you look weak.
19 Although you may never enjoy verbal sparring, some women find it helpful to learn how to do it. An engineer who was the only woman among four men in a small company found that as soon as she learned to argue she was accepted and taken seriously. A doctor attending a hospital staff meeting made a similar discovery. She was becoming more and more angry with a male colleague who’d loudly disagreed with a point she’d made. Her better judgment told her to hold her tongue, to avoid making an enemy of this powerful senior colleague. But finally she couldn’t hold it in any longer, and she rose to her feet and delivered an impassioned attack on his position. She sat down in a panic, certain she had permanently damaged her relationship with him. To her amazement, he came up to her afterward and said, “That was a great rebuttal. I’m really impressed. Let’s go out for a beer after work and hash out our approaches to this problem.”
20 A manager I’ll call Lester had been on his new job six months when he heard that the women reporting to him were deeply dissatisfied. When he talked to them about it, their feelings erupted; two said they were on the verge of quitting because he didn’t appreciate their work, and they didn’t want to wait to be fired. Lester was dumbfounded: He believed they were doing a fine job. Surely, he thought, he had said nothing to give them the impression he didn’t like their work. And indeed he hadn’t. That was the problem. He had said nothing — and the women assumed he was following the adage “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.” He thought he was showing confidence in them by leaving them alone.
21 Men and women have different habits in regard to giving praise. For example, Deirdre and her colleague William both gave presentations at a conference. Afterward, Deirdre told William, “That was a great talk!” He thanked her. Then she asked, “What did you think of mine?” and he gave her a lengthy and detailed critique. She found it uncomfortable to listen to his comments. But she assured herself that he meant well, and that his honesty was a signal that she, too, should be honest when he asked for a critique of his performance. As a matter of fact, she had noticed quite a few ways in which he could have improved his presentation. But she never got a chance to tell him because he never asked — and she felt put down. The worst part was that it seemed she had only herself to blame, since she had asked what he thought of her talk.
22 But had she really asked for his critique? The truth is, when she asked for his opinion, she was expecting a compliment, which she felt was more or less required following anyone’s talk. When he responded with criticism, she figured, “Oh, he’s playing ‘Let’s critique each other’?” — not a game she’d initiated, but one which she was willing to play. Had she realized he was going to criticize her and not ask her to reciprocate, she would never have asked in the first place.
23 It would be easy to assume that Deirdre was insecure, whether she was fishing for a compliment or soliciting a critique. But she was simply talking automatically, performing one of the many conversational rituals that allow us to get through the day. William may have sincerely misunderstood Deirdre’s intention — or may have been unable to pass up a chance to one-up her when given the opportunity.
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