Brent Staples’ “Black Men and Public Space”

TASK: What are the implications of the experiences Brent Staples relates in his article for us as
individuals and for us as a society? As we have already talked about in class, Staples’ article is
about much more than his own individual experiences as a black man in our society. In addition,
the implications are not simply confined to just one group of people in this country, something
that “The Culture Inside” and Jennifer Eberhardt both ask us to think about. The research that
has been done on implicit bias suggests that we all have biases not only about those of different
races than our own, but also about some who are members of our own race as well. The work
we have done thus far in this class asks us to “dive deeper” beyond what we think we already
know about the issues Staples raises in his article. How then can the knowledge we have gained
from contemplating this material help us both as individuals and as a society to grow in our
understanding of ourselves and one another? How will this make us better people (after all, the
work we do in higher education is for the collective good of us all). Therefore, in making your
case, it is not enough to merely “point out the obvious” that one group is more negatively
impacted than another. If we really want people to change their way of thinking on specific
issues, then we have to provide them with answers to the “Why should I care about this?” and
“What’s in it for me?” questions.
BACKGROUND AND SOURCES FOR THIS ESSAY: The following items are included in the text set for our
first unit and are required sources for this first paper: Brent Staples’ article “Black Men and
Public Space,” the first three chapters of Jennifer L. Eberhardt’s Biased, excerpts from Melba
Pattillo Beals’ March Forward, Girl, M. Carl Holman’s poem “Mr. Z,” Jason Johnson’s opinion
piece “From Starbucks to Hashtags,” and the Invisibilia podcast episode “The Culture Inside.”
MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS: Write a formal and structured minimum five-page essay with a clearly
identified thesis statement (underline it!) in your introductory paragraph. Your introduction
must introduce the reader to the topic, theme, problem at hand, main source—in this case,
Brent Staples—(along with the necessary context and background to understand the gravity
and importance of the situation), and the thesis statement which addresses the “Why should
we care?” question J! Your introduction should “lay out” the case you will make in your paper.
The remainder of your essay should consist of four or five supporting body paragraphs and a
concluding paragraph that leaves your reader your final thoughts and speculations on the topic,
a sense of “where do we go from here,” and something that you want your reader to carry
away and ponder. Avoid merely “dropping in” quotes without context. Each time you quote a
source, you need to properly introduce that quote and the necessary context so that your
reader understands the point you are trying to make in the context of your discussion. Choose
meaningful source quotes that make the most argumentative (rather than dramatic) impact for
the point you are making. The title of your essay should reflect your thesis statement.
Continued on the next page J!
ENGL 100: American Un-Justice: Mass Incarceration & The War on Drugs Anderson
ü Your essay should be a minimum of five-pages (not including the Works Cited page).
ü You should have an introduction (properly introduce the main source in that introduction),
a minimum of four to five or more body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Each body paragraph
should have a proper topic sentence to introduce the topic of your paragraph. (Do not use
source quotes as either topic or wrap-up sentences; this is cheating K! Come up with your
own “original” topic and wrap-up transition sentences). You should then adequately
develop your paragraphs with evidence and analysis as part of your discussion (Think TEA:
Topic Sentence-Evidence-Analysis J!).
ü Your discussion should integrate and synthesize the unit readings into a clearly focused,
fully developed, and logically organized essay with sentence structure that reflects
syntactical maturity and meaning that is not impaired by excessive grammar, usage, and
proofreading errors. Revise, proofread, and edit accordingly (I don’t have much patience for
sloppy work K!).
ü You are expected to write clearly focused, complex sentences using coordinating and
subordinating conjunctions, concession, noun phrase appositives, verbal phrase modifiers,
and correct parallel structure—see the third SLO (student learning outcome) on the course
ü Despite what you may have been taught in high school, a good conclusion is not simply a
formulaic restatement of your thesis statement and then a summary of everything you have
already said in the previous paragraphs (Who would want to read it if it were K?). Instead,
your conclusion should answer the “So What?”

Sample Solution