The Flash Fiction story I wrote for this week involved a girl rediscovering old treasured photographs her mother had stored away. The nostalgia I felt when writing that story inspired me to go through treasures I, too, have stored away. Instead of photographs, though, I’ve held on to student essays.
The student who wrote this essay holds a special place in my heart; all the kids I taught who were particularly talented do. They were Stephen Kings waiting to happen, they just needed to figure out how to get through academic writing with all of its formulas and restrictions so they could get back to writing what they wanted to write, rules be damned.
As flawed as this essay is, I still consider it one of the best I’ve received. Gerard, the student who wrote it, excelled at the narrative and descriptive essays I assigned in our Composition I class. Research papers were more difficult for him and he sent this essay to me after he was assigned it by his Composition II professor. Others who didn’t teach him will not understand, but every time I read it I see the hours he struggled to write this paper.
The errors Gerard made in this paper are the errors most often made by his peers and highlighting them here will hopefully provide others with guidance they can apply to their own papers. More than that, Gerard’s essay is an example of how anyone, if they are willing to work hard, can succeed in subject areas they thought hopeless.
In this first post, I will post Gerard’s essay in its entirety. It was submitted to TurnItIn’s database when it was first assigned by Gerard'’s Comp II professor. As a precaution I have submitted it to several other plagiarism detection databases. Any teacher worth his or her salt will be able to locate this paper online if s/he suspects plagiarism. I routinely Googled random sentences from every essay I received to see if they could be found online and I know other teachers do the same.
In the second part of this blog post I will provide feedback about the essay. It should help students in college or those planning on going to college see what kind of expectations their English professors will have of them. The hardest part of writing papers is not knowing what your teacher expects from you.
On to the paper!
The Word Saggin’ Spelled Backwards
The word saggin’ is street vernacular (slang). The proper terminology is “sagging”. When spelled backwards saggin’ becomes the “N” word (which is properly spelled ending with the syllable ERS). The “N” word has nothing to do with being a dark skinned person. In other words it means low class. Ignorance in the black and Hispanic community has left many to believe that it means friend, or dude. Ironically, the definition of the “N” word is ignorant, and stupid. And we all know that ignorant people come in assorted colors.
The origin of the “N” word accounts for much of the ignorance we see today in society. Kennedy, a leading scholar, targets the slur’s origins when he writes “The linguist Robin Lakoff speculates that nigger became a slur when users of the term became aware that it was a mispronunciation of Negro and decided to continue using the mispronunciation as a signal of contempt – much as individuals sometimes choose to insult others by deliberately mispronouncing their names” (86). In much the same way the “N” word is a misrepresentation of the “proper” way of saying the word “Negro,” so is the way adolescent males are currently choosing to wear their pants. Instead of wearing pants at the waist in the socially acceptable (and arguably “correct” way to wear pants in order to gain a full range of motion from them), teens are wearing them below the waist and purposefully exposing their undergarments. This trend is common amongst inner city teenagers living in ghettos. From what I have grown up with in Southwest Houston; black, white, brown, and yellow people who sag their pants display ignorant behavior. These are the people who are always getting into trouble in school, and with police. They are always fighting, talking unnecessarily loud, getting involved in other people’s business, jealous of someone else who accomplishes something, having babies with random men and women, stealing, joining gangs, sailing drugs, abusing drugs, drinking, abusing their loved ones, and standing on the street corner all day and all night with nothing else to do other than beg for money. This careless trend is notorious in the black and Hispanic community. Although, I have noticed a decline in the number of blacks and Hispanics who wear their pants below their waists’, this style of stupidity is still going strong.
Although, this trend is thought to only be inner city culture, it has spread to the suburbs pretty fast. Not only are suburban children of all colors mimicking this trend that they believe to be cool, they are picking up a more hardcore version of rebellious behavior that comes with it. They find this way of life to be an okay thing. It’s too bad that they do not realize that they are sending a bad message to the people who have made this trend what it is. These softies from the suburbs do not realize that they are being laughed at by real thugs. This just proves that they have gotten caught up in that low class lifestyle.
Thugs only have one thing on their minds; being cool. Since these people are seriously stupid they fail to realize the important things in life such as going to college and getting ahead in life. The only thing that these people want to do is party. They miss out on so many opportunities that so many people give their lives for in order for them to get ahead in life. They take for granted their right to vote, obtain an education, and everything that the United States Constitution says that they have the right to do. This one set back in life causes most of these people to remain in the ghetto, or get trapped in the ghetto because they act like gangsters. A few thugs at a time will gain some intelligence, and wisdom in life, and understand the mistakes that they made by fallowing the wrong crowd (usually after a life altering situation). The thugs who do manage to make this kind of transition are very scarce in the urban ghettos. The average thug cannot figure out why he or she has such a hard time getting anywhere in life. In order for them to earn enough money whether if it is just to get by, or if it is for them to buy a fancy car, and a house in the suburbs (which they obviously do not fit the description of the type of person who typically possesses such property) they’ll do anything from hustling, and pimping women, to sailing drugs, and having sex for money. This lifestyle leads to nothing but constant warrants, searches and seizures by the police, and constant repossession of property that they struggled so hard in the streets to buy, and absolutely no peace of mind. You would expect these people to get tired of living that way, but the fact remains that they are ignorant people. A majority of them know nothing of other than that trifling lifestyle. They see the material things in life, but they do not know the value of it.
Sagging was discovered by homosexuals in prison (Glanton). Shortly after, it became a black thing. Soon after that the Hispanics caught on to it, emulating the rap-star role models who publicized the new style. “Rappers such as Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur promoted the style in videos and on CD covers” (Glanton). As rap music has become popular among more than just the black and Hispanic communities, whites also began to sag their pants. I’ve seen a few Asians sag their pants, but I do not have any idea why they do it. But the few that I have seen sagging live in rough areas of Houston. But nowadays there are kids in the suburbs who sag their pants. Mostly whites followed by a few blacks, but they’re from the suburbs of all places. I figure that this trend reached the suburbs through the hardened inner city children who moved from the ghettos, therefore spreading their rough style of living which is fantasized by suburban children. When it comes down to kids in the suburbs trying to fit in to that so-called cool lifestyle that is glorified in certain genres of rap music, and is influenced through peer pressure; I worry simply because these kids have no streets smarts, often resulting in inner city kids taking advantage of them. They attract the wrong kind of attention when they wear their pants below their waist. Martin, a councilman and African-American activist, states it best when he says “When the police pull you over, you can't say they are profiling you. You've already profiled yourself” (qtd. in Glanton). This ghetto style of dress may also be adolescents’ way of rebelling against their over-protective parents, but for these soft-core teenagers their lives are easily thrown off track. This is the same way that inner city youth get introduced to the thug life, but they grow up knowing almost nothing but trifling ways of living because almost nobody has any faith in them. As a result they are so much tougher than suburban children, and are able to take care of themselves around a rougher crowd of people.
For the suburban teenagers their lives start going downhill when they find acceptance from the wrong crowd. Since they do not have any streets smarts, and they feel acceptance from kids who they view as cool, people take advantage of them. Before long they start ditching school to hang out with the “cool kids.” As a result their grades decline. If they’re lucky they will finish high school. But by this time, unless they come to their senses, and realize that they can still make a change for the better; they pass up those opportunities to go to college and get ahead in life so that they can legally own a flashy sports car, and CONTINUE to live in a nice neighborhood, and have a piece of mind, therefore, actually being cool. By this time it is too late. That low class lifestyle is what they become accustom to.
Since the world is set up the way it is, some people have to be ignorant and low class. I’m just glad that people around the world do not just see black people in that sense. I’m relieved that they see people of all colors that way.
Dahleen Glanton. "Hackles Rise As Jeans Droop." Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL) Sept. 6 2007: n.p. SIRS Researcher. Web. 31 October 2009.
Kennedy, Randall L. “Who can say ‘Nigger’?...And Other Considerations.” The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 26 (2000): 86-96. JSTOR. Web. 31 October 2009.
Stay tuned for Part II where I provide feedback on this very deserving essay.
Photo credit: Tobyotter