Common App Draft

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Before applying to my middle and high school, a single-sex public school that houses grades 6-12, as a mere fifth grader, my world was small. I went to school, saw people that came from families with the same socioeconomic status as mine, went home, did my homework, and went to bed. I was hardly involved in any activities, so I didn’t meet new people often. I was comfortable in my bubble. I didn’t understand how great of an impact the acceptance into my new school would soon have on my life. Shortly after the new school year started, I began meeting people from all over my hometown whose lives were completely different from mine. I soon realized that not everyone had grown up the same way I had. One of my classmates in particular has impacted my life the most. Her effect on my life was most noticeable when she moved in with my family during my sophomore year of high school.

Ebheni moved in with my family in October 2015 when she needed help getting to school and volleyball practices because her family lived across town. Directly after she moved in, I began learning from her. The first thing I learned was that Ebheni’s background is very different than mine. We come from different parts of the state, from different families, and from different cultures. She often has a different point of view about social topics or events that happen at school. Because of this, I often find myself turning to Ebheni to ask her opinion about topics ranging from global issues to whether or not she liked the lunch she ate that day. I have noticed that since she moved in with us, I search for new perspectives everywhere, not just when I’m with her. I enjoy hearing my classmates’ opinions on different social issues because their perspectives open my eyes to new ways of thinking. I actively research biased and unbiased news articles so I am not stuck in a bubble of my own partiality. I have discovered a new interest in learning why others think the way they do and how their backgrounds have shaped them.

My school teaches leadership as an important life skill. For a long time, I thought I didn’t possess the qualities to be a leader. I thought there was a cookie cutter definition of how one is supposed to lead; they must be outgoing, loud, and extroverted. In fact, I was wrong. The second lesson I learned from Ebheni is a leadership quality my school allowed us to learn on our own: people lead in different ways. Ebheni is one of the most outgoing people I know, qualifying her, by my original definition, to be a great leader. I, however, am not quite as extroverted as her, nor as extroverted as the stereotypical leader. From viewing mine and Ebheni’s leadership roles on our volleyball team and at school, I’ve realized that I can be quiet and a leader the same way others can be loud and leaders. These leadership qualities balance each other out in the long term.

The experience of having Ebheni become apart of my family is one I will remember for the rest of my life. Not only have I learned more about someone I only knew as a classmate and teammate for most of my middle and high school career, but I have also learned a lot about myself. From Ebheni, I have learned the importance of diversity of thought and background, and how to keep an open mind. I have turned disagreements into learning experiences, and I don’t immediately shut out those who are expressing beliefs I disagree with. Also from Ebheni, I have learned the importance of variety in leadership. My quieter form of leadership is just as important as a louder, more outgoing form of leadership.

Jazzing it up in the 1920s

Toni Morrison’s Jazz takes place during what is known as the Jazz Age, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Great Migration of the 1920s and ‘30s. The hopeful idea of starting new was a prominent feature that came with this time period. The main characters Violet and Joe, a fifty-year-old couple, suffer major strains on their relationship when Joe has an affair with an eighteen-year-old girl named Dorcas, and then proceeds to kill her. Even so, Violet and Joe push to continue their relationship, though both aren’t particularly happy–just hopeful. The story leaves behind a tone of love and longing that is representative of the 1920s. Jazz is an important book because it represents the black experience during this time of hope and hopelessness. Toni Morrison makes a point of “…writing for black people in the same way that Tolstoy was not writing for me, a 14-year-old coloured girl from Lorain, Ohio,” (Hoby) which shows that the injustices African-Americans have overcome throughout history are an important aspect to Morrison’s writing, specifically during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s in her book Jazz. Throughout the book, the dynamic of the relationships portrayed and the extreme racial tensions that took place during the Jazz Age show that Jazz could not have taken place during any other time period.

The manner in which relationships are depicted in Jazz is evidence of the time period. After Violet learns of the affair between Joe and Dorcas, after Dorcas’ death, Violet is angered at a dead girl–a girl who was murdered by her husband–and all Violet wants is to mend her relationship with Joe. At one point, Violet converses with Dorcas’ aunt Alice explaining her perspective on her and Joe’s relationship. Alice tries defending Dorcas by saying, “‘She wasn’t the enemy,’” and Violet responds with, “‘Oh, yes she is. Then, when I didn’t know it, and now too… Wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t fight for your man?’” (Morrison 85) Violet’s response to Joe’s affair showcases a strange dynamic within the relationship. The couple’s pairing may have been out of the norm for today’s standards, but it represents the time period when it comes to marriage in the ‘20s and ‘30s. In the 1920s, data taken from the National Vital Statistics System shows that the divorce rate in the United States was only 8 out of every 1000 couples much unlike today’s divorce rate of roughly 24 out of 1000 for those aged 25-39. Even though divorce rates skyrocketed in the 1920s compared to 1890, when only 3 of every 1000 couples divorced, there was still a large disapproval of couples that got divorced. The only option in Joe and Violet’s case is to attempt to mend their relationship and live unhappily together while Joe tries to recover from his mistakes.

Within the first few days after Joe kills Dorcas, everyone in town knows who killed her, though it wasn’t apparent at the scene of the crime. Joe is a complete wreck, so when, “…anybody pass[ed] through the alley next to a certain apartment house on Lenox might have looked up and seen, not a child, but a grown man’s face crying along with the glass pane… Strange as it was, people finally got used to him… while he sat month after month by the window…” (Morrison 118) And yet, Joe is not prosecuted, nor does he go to jail. In fact, at no point does a police officer question anyone about Dorcas’ death. From the time when Dorcas’ best friend, Felice, calls an ambulance to when the ambulance arrives the next morning, Dorcas had died. The lack of urgency that any person of authority had when receiving a call from an African-American at the time was disgraceful. The medics blamed it on, “The ice, they said, but really it was because it was colored people calling.” (Morrison 210) As of 2014, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times, ambulances are required to reach their destination within 8 minutes and 59 seconds of being dispatched, no matter who calls, much unlike the racist occurrences of the 1920s. Jazz could not have taken place in another time period, since first responders must now follow a certain protocol, which wasn’t fully developed until the 1960s. The racist idea during the 1920s were not particularly subtle, costing lives and relationships as told by the tale of Golden Gray.

In the book Jazz, a story emerges about a young man named Golden Gray who was born a child of a white woman and black man. The woman, Vera Louise, is disowned by her family and Golden Gray grows up believing he is only white and superior to other races. His world changes drastically when he is told the truth after he turns eighteen. Golden Gray is rightly surprised in learning that he is of another ethnicity–it probably felt like a complete change in identity–but the way he handles this new information represents the beliefs of the time period. His whole life, Golden Gray had looked down upon African-Americans, so when he learns he is half black, he feels angry and dirty. Golden Gray had the mindset of hatred, as if it was his father’s fault he was born a race he didn’t want to be. He had so much spite and repulsion towards his father and new identity, he even, “… went to find, then kill, if he was lucky, his father.” (Morrison 143) Though racism still occurs today, certain beliefs cannot be reciprocated from the 1920s to now, like the immense hatred and sense of superiority Golden Gray had towards his father because his father was black. This ties into Toni Morrison’s objective to be a voice for the African-American experience in the 1920s. Beliefs that seem outrageous to most now were a commonplace during the Jazz Age. It is important to recognize the changes American society has made within the past 100 years as well as the oppressive culture many people lived through less than 100 years ago. The intention of Jazz is to show this change and acknowledge how African-Americans lived during the 1920s. Without this setting, Jazz would be a completely different book.

Toni Morrison’s intent when writing Jazz was to, “recreate a migratory experience, an immigrant’s experience of movement to cities, when they were the places to go, when there were, as you say, infinite possibilities.” (Denard 54) The book shows the struggles of life for African-Americans post-slavery, the time directly between the Civil War and the Civil Rights movements when unfair sharecropping, racial prejudice, and Jim Crow laws were rampant throughout the United States. When reading about the Jazz Age, it’s easy to think life went on the same way it does in The Great Gatsby, or almost any other classic novel set in the 1920s. Jazz tells the story of the black experience in the ‘20s that allows readers to acquire a deeper understanding of the struggles of African-Americans instead of only reading stories about flapper girls and Gatsby-style parties. Overall, there is no way the book Jazz could have taken place in another time period. The African-American experience portrayed in this book, including how racism and discrimination are handled and the dynamic of every relationship, is specific to the 1920s. The intent of the book is to show what life was like then, not now, therefore Jazz fits directly into the time period of the Jazz Age.

Click here for works cited

To Carry or Not To Carry

Dear Mr. Dennis McCuistion,

In June 2015, Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 11, effective in August 2016, allowing those with Concealed Handgun Licenses (CHLs) to openly carry guns onto all public university campuses in Texas. You contributed to a pro-con article in the Dallas Morning News stating that CHL holders should be able to carry their weapons onto university campuses in order to prevent mass shootings. However, you fail to explain how guns will keep students safe in the event of a mass shooting–other than hoping more guns will scare the shooter away. This fear factor won’t do its job; it won’t save human lives. The only way to eradicate this problem is to destroy the source: guns on campus.

In your article, you say that shooters won’t come on campus because of the fear that others will be carrying guns. In a study done by David Lester in 2010, Lester stated that 34.7% of mass murders end in suicide. Using the data from 2016, when there were 385 mass shootings, theoretically 134 shootings would’ve ended in suicide. That is 134 shooters that wouldn’t care if others are carrying guns, which wouldn’t keep them off campus. A fear factor still isn’t enough to keep the rest of the 251 shooters off campus. A person who plans to mass murder many people understands that death is a risk–whether civilians have guns or not.

A gun is also one of the easiest ways to kill someone both mentally and physically. An article in the Huffington Post rightly states, “‘Guns don’t kill people, they enable people to kill people,’” meaning someone is more likely to kill a person when they have a gun because it’s easy–it takes much less physical and mental energy and is much less intimate than most other ways people are killed. And it takes less than a full second. The fact that anyone is able to carry a gun on university campuses, a horror movie come-to-life that is unbelievably occurring in the state of Texas, is not only frightening but ridiculous as well. According to the anti-campus carry segment of the article you contributed to, the probability that a civilian would be able to stop an angry shooter is slim. And that was coming from a former soldier.

Mass shootings aren’t the only way guns kill people, though that seems to be the only topic we’re worried about at the moment. In your article, you wrote a paragraph dedicated to statistics about deaths from firearms. 33,878 people had died from firearms in 2013 and 505 of them were accidents. Based on the 2015 fall enrollment of the University of Texas, roughly 4,000 people of the 50,000 people attending are above 21 and are legally able to carry a gun; 24,000 if you include graduate students and faculty. Can you imagine 4,000 21-year-olds running around the University of Texas with guns? If 505 people died due to accidents in 2013, imagine how many more have and will die since college students have been allowed weapons.

As someone who will soon venture off to college, I would be nervous–no, terrified–if I noticed someone was carrying a gun on my school campus. Instead of being relieved that this stranger might come to my rescue if a shooter decides to attack my school, I would feel completely unsafe. An automatic warning light would go off in my head and the numbers 9-1-1 would crawl into my brain. How am I supposed to tell the difference between someone with a CHL and someone who is about to shoot up my school? How are the police supposed to tell the difference when two people have guns pointed at each other? I have tried, but still don’t understand how anyone who has only taken a mere 75 dollar, 4-hour CHL class is legally qualified to carry a weapon onto a school campus.

To conclude, from what I have learned from statistics and articles about mass shootings, having the ability to carry guns onto college campuses isn’t helping the cause, it’s only hurting it. Guns are extremely dangerous and much too accessible. We have to remember that we are all fighting for the same cause, but we must come to the agreement that with fewer guns, the less likely an innocent human being is going to get injured or killed.

Thank you for your time.
Sincerely,
Claire L.

Works Cited

“Facts & Figures.” The University of Texas at Austin, 4 Apr. 2016, http://www.utexas.edu/about/facts-and-figures. Accessed 28 Mar. 2017.

“FAQs.” Texas Concealed Handgun License Training, http://www.chlcourse.com/software/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=69&Itemid=64. Accessed 28 Mar. 2017.

Henigan, Dennis. “Guns Make Killing Easy.” The Huffington Post, 2 June 2016. The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-a-henigan/guns-make-killing-easy_b_10267512.html. Accessed 28 Mar. 2017.

Lester, David. Suicide in Mass Murderers and Serial Killers. SOL, 3 Mar. 2010. Suicidology Online, http://www.suicidology-online.com/pdf/SOL-2010-1-19-27.pdf. Accessed 28 Mar. 2017.

McCuistion, Dennis, and Edwin Dorn. “Pro-con: Should College Campuses Restrict Concealed Weapons?” Dallas Morning News, 23 Oct. 2015. Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2015/10/23/pro-con-should-college-campuses-restrict-concealed-weapons. Accessed 28 Mar. 2017.

“Past Summary Ledgers.” Gun Violence Archive, http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/past-tolls. Accessed 28 Mar. 2017.

Texas, Legislature, Senate. A Bill to Be Entitled: An Act. 2015. Texas Legislature Online, http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/84R/billtext/pdf/SB00011I.pdf. Accessed 28 Mar. 2017. 11th Legislature.

Rhetorical Analysis of George C. Wallace’s Inaugural Address

In 1963, George C. Wallace gave his gubernatorial inaugural address in Montgomery, Alabama. Gov. Wallace had many strong beliefs that he proudly expressed in his address. For example, he spoke heavily on the topic of his support for segregation as well as his belief in a less powerful federal government. Wallace claimed that a strong state government is necessary for the United States to function as a country. The governor presented this speech in hopes of appealing to his conservative, white supporters from Alabama by using religious diction, historical references, and a sarcastic tone.

When George C. Wallace gave his inaugural address, he was speaking to a very limited audience: his white supporters in Alabama. When Wallace enforced his faith in God and Christianity, his audience was able to relate to him. This allowed Wallace to incorporate his beliefs of stronger state governments in a way that was understandable to those listening. According to the Pew Research Center, Alabama is currently the most religious state in the United States, with 82% of the population that are absolutely certain God exists. Wallace says that the United States was never meant to be united as one, but “a united of the many… In united effort we were meant to live under this government… whether Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Church of Christ, or whatever one’s denomination or religious belief…” (pg. 8) By incorporating many different denominations of Christianity, Wallace was inclusive towards most of his Alabama-native audience members. When Wallace tied religion into his argument, he created a religious relationship with his audience increased the audience’s trust in Wallace and his views.

Throughout his speech, Gov. George C. Wallace used historical references to argue his belief in stronger state governments. Many times, Wallace turns to the original ideas of the founding fathers to explain why we should lessen the power of the central government. Wallace believed that all forms of government are unable “to give freedom… or deny freedom. As Thomas Jefferson has said, ‘The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time; no King holds the right of liberty in his hands.’ Nor doe any ruler in American government.” (pg. 7) Wallace explains to his audience that America hasn’t followed the decentralized path set by the founding fathers. Gov. Wallace wants to recreate an America where the nation isn’t, “…a unit of one… but a unit of many… that is the exact reason our forefathers established the states, so as to divide the rights and powers among the many states, insuring that no central power could gain mast government control.” (pg. 8)

Finally, throughout Gov. George C. Wallace’s speech, Wallace carefully chose his wording to create a sarcastic tone. In doing so, Wallace degraded progressives and pushed his conservative views onto his audience, leading Alabama to become one of six red-states in the 1964 presidential election. Gov. Wallace mentions how faith and reasoning have “long since been forgotten as the so-called ‘progressives’ tell us that our constitution was written for ‘horse and buggy’ days… so were the Ten Commandments.” (pg. 6) Using the words “so-called” and placing the word “progressives” in quotations, Gov. Wallace nearly seems disgusted at the idea of progressive motives; motives that he doesn’t believe are progressive at all.

According to Governor George C. Wallace’s inaugural speech, he deeply believed that the decentralized plan of the founding fathers is the way the United States should continue to run the government. Wallace interpreted quotes of the founding fathers throughout his speech to show that a strong state government is what the founders of the United States wanted. Wallace also used God and Christianity to relate to his audience. When Gov. Wallace used God as a reason for the need of strong state governments, more people were able to understand his argument due to the high number of those that believe in God in Alabama. Lastly, Wallace used a sarcastic tone to degrade progressives for their belief in a constantly changing interpretation of the constitution. Wallace makes it obvious he disagreed with the progressives through his word choice and tone. By the end of his speech, Gov. George C. Wallace made sure his motives were clear: to lessen the power of the federal government and to strengthen the power of the state governments.

Works Cited

“Electoral College Votes.” 270toWin. Accessed 8 Mar. 2017. Chart.

Lipka, Michael, and Benjamin Wormald. “How Religious Is Your State?” Pew Research Center, 29 Feb. 2016. Accessed 7 Mar. 2017.

Wallace, George C. “Inaugural Address.” 14 Jan. 1963, Montgomery, Alabama. Speech transcript.

The American Dream as Told by “The Great Gatsby”

The American Dream is illustrated in the Declaration of Independence as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” along with “all men are created equal.” In The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which takes place in the 1920s, the American Dream is portrayed as a rags-to-riches story about Jay Gatsby. Gatsby was born James Gatz, a lower-class man who escaped his rags of unsuccessful farmer-hood and soon became rich off of inheritance. Over time the basic American Dream has stayed constant–equality, life, and liberty–but this raises the question: has this “Dream” improved since the Gatsby Era? To put it simply: no, the dream has not improved. As the United States has grown, the American Dream has become more humble, yet much more fundamental. With new immigration laws and bans, the American Dream can now be defined as becoming equal in today’s society and the (not-so-simple) goal of starting a life in the United States.

According to The Great Gatsby, America has come from a dream of wealth to the modern dream equivalent to basic human rights: equality and life. In the book, those who were not wealthy lived in the “valley of ashes.” The valley of ashes was a sad, barren, gray place where those who couldn’t quite accomplish the rags-to-riches dream lived. “This is a valley of ashes – a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of ash-grey men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.” (pg. 28) At the time, those living in the valley of ashes aspired to be wealthy because that was the dream. Though living in the valley of ashes probably wasn’t ideal, it was something. Many people today are looking for something, for anything to live in. Today, the valley of ashes has become the dream for many Americans or those who have immigrated to the United States.

Gatsby and his friends lived lavish lives. They owned fancy cars, lived in ornate houses, and spent their time partying. Gatsby hosted extravagant parties in hopes of seeing his wealthy former lover, Daisy. “‘It was a strange coincidence,’ I said. ‘But it wasn’t a coincidence at all.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay.’” (pg. 77) The parties Gatsby held at his mansion were over the top–enough to draw anyone’s attention. He would spend extraordinary amounts of money for each party, just to be noticed by his former girlfriend. “The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun and now the orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music and the opera of voices pitches a key higher. Laughter is easier, minute by minute, spilled with prodigality, tipped out at a cheerful word.” (pg. 43) Gatsby had no worries about the consequences and the amount of money he spent because, hey, he was living the American Dream. More recently, for many, affording an apartment can be tough from month to month.

Not only do some fear that they won’t be able to pay for their homes, but they fear that they may be deported from their homes and families; people that have worked hard to immigrate to the United States and who have worked even harder to maintain jobs and build families here. The fear is incredibly real, as described by an article in the Washington Post. The article tells the story of a mother who was deported without warning, leaving her children and husband. The article exudes the fear and loneliness that comes from deportation by writing, “Her kids returned to their Phoenix home, but it suddenly felt different, empty… Their father — who allowed himself to be photographed but asked not to be identified by name because he, too, fears being deported — looked to his right at the dinner table, where his wife, ‘Lupita,’ would usually sit…” In the book, Gatsby seemed to have had it all– wealth, extravagant parties, a mansion– but more recently “having it all” for many means the reassurance that there will be a house and a family to come home to at night.

The Great Gatsby represents how many viewed the American Dream during the early 1920s. However, due to the rise of the Great Depression in the early 1930s, The Great Gatsby did not sell many copies when it was first published in 1925. The book didn’t become popular until mid-World War II, 20 years after the book was first printed. At the time of publication, many people were not interested in reading about the upper class while they were struggling. This shows how quickly the idea of the American Dream can change. When the book was published, the idea of the “dream” was nearly outdated. The ever-changing American Dream makes me wonder how it may change in the near and distant future. Though I know the dream will fluctuate over time, I am hoping for improvement sooner rather than later.

 

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Analysis of “Michelle Obama’s Speech on Donald Trump’s Alleged Treatment of Women”

Michelle Obama recently gave a speech in New Hampshire, a swing state, after Donald Trump made obscene comments about women and had multiple sexual assault cases filed against him. Michelle Obama articulates her main goal of persuading people, especially women, to vote throughout the speech. Michelle repeats certain words and phrases to add emphasis to the argument she composes. She uses pronouns to identify groups of people and unnamed people during the speech to allow the listener to infer who she is talking about, but also to help clarify her main goal. Michelle Obama utilizes short sentences to back up her objective as well.

From the start, Michelle Obama begins her speech with repeatedly thanking the audience for being there to let them know she appreciates their presence. As the speech proceeds, she uses repetition strategically when emphasizing a point. Michelle Obama takes advantage of mild repetition towards the beginning when she wants the listener to understand and possibly relate to the everyday struggles women deal with. She says, “The shameful comments about our bodies. The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect… And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts.” She emphasizes “it hurts” to allow the listener to soak in what is being said, and to fully recognize that “it hurts” is the simplest way to put what many women feel everyday.

Throughout the last few paragraphs of her speech, Michelle Obama mentions the date of election day, “November 8th,” as well as the words “Election Day” multiple times to enforce her main idea of voting. Towards the end, Michelle is less than subtle about her repetition. At this point, she outwardly suggests that the listener vote because that vote “could determine whether we have a President who treats people with respect–or not. A President who will fight for kids… for our families–or not. A President who thinks women deserve the right to make our own choices about our bodies and our health–or not.” Michelle uses this form of repetition to give her audience a choice between the two presidential candidates and allow them to evaluate what each one will do for them without mentioning the candidates names.

Michelle Obama uses pronouns throughout her speech to suggest and imply the different arguments she composes. The pronouns “we” and “us” evolve during the speech. “We” and “us” begin by meaning women as a whole, “…trying to pretend like this doesn’t really bother us maybe because we think that admitting how much it hurts makes us as women look weak.” After a while, Michelle brings men and boys into the speech, which broadens the “we” and the “us.” Michelle Obama starts off by saying, “Strong men–men who are truly role models–don’t need to put women down to make themselves feel powerful.” Then she broadens her audience to people in general, “People who are truly strong lift others up.” Towards the end of this paragraph, she uses the “we” as in women and men, “And that is what we need in our next President.” After this moment, the “we” and “us” means the country, both men and women, as a whole that need to work together. By doing this, the listener feels included in the speech and is able to recognize what they can do for the country. Using these pronouns reaches out to the listener to make the speech more personal.

Michelle Obama doesn’t only use “we” and “us,” she also uses “he” and “candidate for President of the Unites States” in reference to Donald Trump without mentioning Trump’s name. She mentions that Trump’s inappropriate comments about women were not “an isolated incident. It’s one of the countless examples of how he has treated women his whole life.” Without ever mentioning his name, Michelle Obama is able to identify Trump and his many actions. This forced the listener to identify and think about who Michelle is speaking of. From there, with an image of Donald Trump in their minds, those listening can form their own opinion on the topics Michelle covers.

The last form of rhetoric Michelle Obama aids her argument by is using short and direct sentences. These sentences emphasize exactly what she is trying to say. Nearing the end of her speech when she began to push for the audience to vote, she said, “We have knowledge. We have a voice. We have a vote.” These three, short sentences jump straight to the point: we’re smart, so vote. Michelle Obama usually used these sentences when she was close to wrapping up an argument so the audience, if they had not been listening or were tuning in on the T.V. at that time, would be able to hear a direct, short-and-sweet summary of what she had been saying. Michelle Obama also used short sentences when describing Trump’s degrading words about women, saying, “This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. It is intolerable.” These are clarifying sentences that say a lot in a few words.

Michelle Obama incorporated many uses of rhetoric in her speech through short sentences, her use of pronouns, and repetition. These characteristics of her speech were used to have an effect on her projected audience–women, men, parents, and all of the United States. By the end of the speech, her goal was clear: to convince people to vote and to vote for Hillary Clinton. Michelle’s speech was a great example of use of rhetoric to gently persuade her audience in one direction. The audience was energized due to Michelle’s use of different rhetorical devices. For instance when Michelle said, “Because remember this: When they go low, we go…” and the audience responded with, “High!”

Trend of Violence in the United States

I created this video to compile the never-ending news reports about shootings and violence in the United States. History continues to repeat itself. Schools, places that are supposed to feel extremely safe, continue to have shots fired within them. Why didn’t we change anything after 20 first graders were shot? Why do school shootings continue to happen? Why do we have to prepare and practice lockdown for such horrors? And a simple speeding ticket should not end in the death of a black man or woman. A trigger-happy cop should not end an innocent black person’s life. And yet, this continues to happen on the daily. We have too many hashtags. There are hashtags for names of those who have innocently been shot by the police, of places that we need to #PrayFor because they have suffered gun violence. A hashtag isn’t enough. And we, as a country, need to do something, anything about it. What will convince us to change our laws? Why have we let so many people die because of our stubborn ways? When will we say enough is enough?

Girl Writes Satirical Paragraph; Teacher is Shocked

On September 1, 2016, Claire L astounded all by writing a satirical paragraph for her English class. “I am shocked,” Ms. Langley, Claire’s English teacher, commented. Because the paragraph was assigned, L challenged herself to write a satire. The 16-year-old wrote tirelessly before finishing her final product. The astonishment of her classmates only lasted a brief moment, and soon everyone began ogling over other students’ work. Meanwhile L sat back, looking at her work and saying, “This paragraph is my love; my life.”

Creative Response Proposal

As a response to Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, I plan on creating a video compilation of news reports, viral videos, and video that I take to demonstrate the need for violence in America to be controlled and, eventually, stopped. Whether the clips are about the black lives matter movement or gun control, for example, the video will portray the message that there is too much violence in the United States. My video will also portray the message that we, as a nation, need to step back and see that there are ways to stop the brutality and the only thing standing in our way is our stubbornness. My audience will be anyone who is willing to watch my video, though I will most likely post it to my WordPress. My hope is for those that are not supportive of the message my video is trying to convey will have a new perspective on the problems in America.

“This is Water” Assertion

“But most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-lady who just screamed at her little child in the checkout line – maybe she’s not usually like this; maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of her husband who’s dying of bone cancer…” David Foster Wallace writes this sentence into a commencement speech he performs called This is Water. Wallace’s goal is to tell the reader, or listener, that life is all about how you perceive it. You have a choice whether or not to perceive things with or without understanding. This small change can improve the way everyday life is viewed. The perspective changes from “what am I going to do next” to “what is happening now,” and “why are people in my way? I want to go home, I’m tired,” to “it’s not all about me, maybe they have somewhere more important to be and I’m in their way.” This small, unnatural switch, Wallace mentions, can change anyone’s mood.

Some days are just bad days, that’s agreeable. And some days you’re going to be the one where everyone is in your way because you have an ailing family member or someone you know is going into labor. But the point Wallace is trying to make in this quote is that every other day, when you aren’t that person, look on the brighter side of things. Make an excuse for bad drivers and mean people because you don’t know the full story. They might have something more important happening that is causing them to act the way they are.