Thursday, September 27, 2007


English 201 1-3

I'm still thinking about a writing assignment for you. Respond to one of the questions listed in the post below. You can post your response here. Use evidence from Dyson to support your claims. We'll look at Hacker on Monday. Don't worry about the works cited page yet. We are up to Chapter 4 or 5. I think 5 presently. We will be on Chapter 6 Wednesday, so read ahead.

There is a film screening at East Side Arts Alliance on hip hop dance Saturday at 6 p.m. The cost is $10. ESAA is on International at about 23rd Avenue.


Cyber Essay 2 for English 201 8-9

In English 201, 8-9 a.m. today, we looked at citing sources, in particular, the signal phrase. See Hacker pp. 403-414. We also looked at transitional words and phrases. Once again we looked at the student essay response to The Lottery to see how the writer maintained coherence in her essay without an overuse of transitional words. Essays have coherence, paragraphs have unity. (Again see Hacker.)

When students write papers they are to include a works cited page and a bibliography if there were no direct citations. All academic or scholarly writing uses research. I always suggest a minimum of two sources. In the case of the last essay on hip hop and masculinity, one source everyone could cite was Hurt's film. We practiced writing the citation together. I don't think we practiced citing a book, magazine article (Jay-Z), or newspaper article (Too Short, plus a website). We could have cited a song too, but we'll get to that Monday.

Homework is to keep reading and doing the logs. We're up to chapter 5 people, but only two students were prepared.

We developed questions to explore in Holla If Ya Hear Me. Students were to take a question and use Dyson's book to find evidence to support their claims. I wanted students to use: 1 direct quote; 1 block quote; and 1 paraphrase.Don't forget that the quote is not the claim, it agrees with the writer, similar to the way a congregation agrees with the preacher. A citation is Amen!

Imagine Dyson, saying Amen!to your analysis. The Amen! follows the claim. It is proof that someone who is an expert, a famous expert (you could be an expert too), agrees with you. This ashay or let the words have power, gives your discourse credibility. It makes your audience sit up and take notice.

In this artificial setting, you will use more citations than you would in a natural writing setting, but the goal here is to practice locating support material in a text and then incorporating it into the text smoothly, thus the signal phrase.

Your citation doesn't have to come from one chapter. Use the evidence you need wherever it is in Dyson's book. End the essay with a wroks cited. I might add more questions later. For now, go with these.

Post your essays here. Minimally, it should be three-four paragraphs. Remember, you have to write first then look for evidence. An outline will probably help you here.

Questions, choose 1:

1. What are Tupac's thoughts on American educational system? (Chapter 3)

2. What influences did Leila Steinberg have on the beginning of Tupac's career? (Chapter 3)

3. Was Tupac's mother, Afeni Shakur, a good role model for her son? (Chapter 2)

4. How did Tupac's mother's life as a revolutionary affect his development as a young man and as an American citizen?

5. How is black motherhood second to God?

6. Why did Tupac resent the fact that his mother was betrayed by the Black Panther Party?

7. How did Afeni Shakur, regardless of her foibles, live up to her title: Black Queen?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007



Today in class English 201 students listened to Brenda's Got a Baby and Keep Ya Head Up. The question I asked students to respond to was: Discuss how Keep Ya Head Up is a letter of hope to Brenda.

I asked students to compose at least 10 sentences incorporating lyrics from the song where these lines from the lyrics help explain or illustrate what the writer is stating.

Note: An easy way to find evidence is to look at your statements and see where Tupac agrees with you in his writing. Use some direct quotes, at least 2 of the four. The other citations can be phrases and paraphrases.

Post your responses here. Don't forget to look for the writing assignment due next week. Reading assignments are to read: The Writing Process, Document Design and The Basics over the next week or two. Do the exercises and go on-line where indicated for additional assistance. When in the lab you can use Bedford Handbook to help you with your writing. The Bedford Handbook is also by Hacker.

For Monday, also read Chapter 5 in Holler. You should have a log prepared. Think about what role you'd like to assume in the Literature Circles we will establish Monday afternoon.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Boxes often hold profound spirit.

Thursday in the English 201 class we shared essays, and discussed their thesis, topics sentences and conclusions. What we were looking for was coherence. Was the essay about one topic or did it stray off course. Were there enough examples or did the author make statements not supported by evidence. All students didn't have their assignments so I went around and just grabbed a couple and one student, who'd written his in longhand shared.

Our freewrite was a poem, "Untitled" (15). We didn't take attendance so the students who didn't share their thoughts were not marked present. The heading is a revision of a student's thesis based on themes from this poem.

The day before, the English 201 class, 1-3 had a library orientation with Jane. They had to complete an exercise after which we went on a tour of the library. The library just purchased some great books on hip hop culture: biographies, historic links to African spoken traditions--marvelous resources. Look for them on the cart where the new books are shelved.

I plan to host study sessions on Monday mornings, 9:10-10:50 in L-235, beginning, Sept. 24. It will be a combination office hour and instructional opportunity for students to get immediate feedback on their writing. I hope to recruit a few graduate students who can act as tutors. In the meantime come prepared with specific questions, so that I can help as many of you as possible in the two hour session each week. It will be a time you can work on grammar, develop ideas to write about, whatever you need to succeed academically in this course.

The show at Slims was cancelled, so there goes our fieldtrip. Remember I asked about the group, "Dead Presidents"(sp)? Well, on Hard Knock Radio, I heard yesterday that they will be performing on Sept. 30 at the Mezzanine in San Francisco. No, this is not a recommendation or a new fieldtrip notice, although I do like the group's writing. (I don't like the venue.)

The essay on masculinity as reflected in hip hop culture through the lens of misogyny, homophobia, violence, or media, is due by Sunday, Sept. 23, 12 noon. Send it to me at Please include your Initial Planning Sheet. Paste and attach it. Include the course title and meeting time.

There is a program on HBO early next week, Sept. 24-25, on the history of hip hop a student said. If anyone watches it and writes about it, you can get extra credit. Also, if you can tape it for the class, please do so and I can reimburse you the tape or DVD or CD.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, con't.

Today in class English 201 8-9 we continued watching the film and then we discussed the director's purpose or why he made the film. We also looked at how he told the story, noticing his use of statistics, interviews with fans, producers, scholars like Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, performers and wannabee artists.

We discussed the presence of hidden arguments in a beverage names like Nelley's "Pimp Juice." What is the emotional meaning or connotation verses its dictionary meaning or denotation.

Other words used were incongruities versus consistency when one says "pimp" has a positive meaning when it's connotation is not. We didn't reach agreement, which was okay. One student gave the definition of "pimp" as a 21st century slave- master. Another student said no one expects to get $1000 when said person drinks "100 Racks." But one can't be so certain.

Look at advertisers. Their job is to create hunger in the public for their product. They appeal to our emotions not our intelligence to make the consumer feel that they have to have whatever it is they are selling, whether that is an idea or a product. Men buy the car because they want the woman; the same goes with alcohol. Women buy cosmetics often because subliminally they wish their skin or nails or hair looked like that advertised. I had a student once wrote an essay about a product she kept trying because on TV it was said the product would make her hair look like the model's hair.

She tried the shampoo three times before giving up. We call this kind of argument fallacious. It's an intentional lie. Advertisers like politicians, know how to manipulate their audiences. In an essay entitled: Propaganda Techniques, Barbara McCintock says, "Propaganda capitalizes on our prejudices and biases."

She says further that "clear thinking requires hard work: analysing claims, researching the facts, examining both sides of an issue, using logic to find the flaws in an argument. Most people would rather just hand over their brains and let the propagandists do their thinking for them." I hope this isn't you. The beauty of Hurt's film is the question Hurt raises which sprang from his questioning himself and the values he was about to coach or counsel the kids on.

He wanted to be clear about where he stood.

Students spoke of a new usages of the word "pimp." My two cents was that no matter the usage, the word could not be separated or disconnected from sexual exploitation. It is a loaded word, similar to the n-word.

When a kid drinks "Pimp Juice," he might think he could turn into a pimp, just the way I used to think spinach built strong muscle and carrots made you smart because Popeye and Bugs Bunny ate these vegetables. Unlike the implied lesson, vegetables make children strong, what is the message of pimp juice?

We spoke of audience as one's public. When you want a job who are you dressing for? When you have a hot date or when you come to school? There's always an audience, even an unstated one.

I thought it was funny that Terrence Howard is the host for Independent Lens and the film he introduces is Hip Hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes, when the film he starred in got the Oscar for best song, a song about how hard it is for pimps to do their jobs. What irony!


Field Trip No. 1

Field Trip No. 1 for Sabir’s classes Fall 2007
Friday, Sept. 28, 2007 @Slim's 333 11th St, San Francisco, CA, 94103-4313, (415) 255-0333,

For our first trip of the semester we will attend a concert with Supernatural, who is a master at freestyling. The concert details follow. I am going to see if I can get a discount on the price, so don’t get your tickets yet. I’ll let you know Wednesday or Thursday. What I need you to do is let me know if you can attend.
You are encouraged, but not required to attend; however, seeing the artists perform will certainly inform our comments about artists whose work is this genre. Email me at

The assignment will be to write a short essay, 250-500 about freestyle, the art of rap using the concert as an example to illustrate your points. This will be a descriptive essay. In preparation we will look at freestyling and also at the biographies of the artists on the bill. If anyone has any prior knowledge of the artists, please bring in material to share. Let me know in advance if you need technology. We will do this next week beginning Monday. I am not on campus on Fridays.

The Magnificents featuring Rahzel, MC Supernatural and DJ JS1
Showtime: 9:00 PM (Doors: 8:00 p.m.). Ticket price: $16/$18

Tickets available on-line at:,
All Ages 6 and Over

The undisputed “Godfather of Noyze” has re-defined the beat box. A self-defined “vocal percussionist,” Rahzel has perfectly mastered this quintessential hip hop art form and has emerged as a true virtuoso. To hear him is to be converted.

Supernatural has been on the scene for more than 15 years, earning worldwide props for his high profile battles and freestyle showmanship. Constantly blowing audiences away with his on-stage magnetism, he was featured on the Word of Mouth tour alongside Dilated Peoples, Jurassic 5, & the Beat Junkies, and also toured with Linkin Park on the Projekt Revolution Tour. Respected as one of the most gifted emcees in the game, Supernatural has etched a special place in hip-hip history for his undeniable freestyle skills. He tackles a number of topics with an electrifying delivery and deft wordplay; from battle narratives, social commentaries, to industry issues, Supernatural shines from start to finish


Monday, Sept. 17 Assignment

We watched Byron's Hurt's film: "Hip Hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes in both classes yesterday. We finished the film in the 1-3 p.m. class. Before watching the film we read a poem from a Rose Grew from Concrete: "And Still I Love," and discussed the themes expressed in the thesis sentences students developed.

Before watching the film students were asked to identify the introduction, the director's purpose, his key arguments, and his conclusion. After the film,students filled out an Initial Planning Sheet (handout) as if we were Byron Hurt. Students were reminded that they only had to respond to one angle: masculinity in hip hop, homophobia in hip hop, misogny in hip hop, or media literacy in hip hop.

We also reviewed the field trip announcement on the reverse of the paper. The English 201 class meets in A-200 Wednesday, and at 1:30 we will go over to the L-building for a library orientation.

The assignment follows. Final draft due dates vary.

Hip Hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes
Directed by Byron Hurt


Filmmaker Byron Hurt, a life-long hip-hop fan, was watching rap music videos on BET when he realized that each video was nearly identical. Guys in fancy cars threw money at the camera while scantily clad women danced in the background. As he discovered how stereotypical rap videos had become, Hurt, a former college quarterback turned activist, decided to make a film about the gender politics of hip-hop, the music and the culture that he grew up with. “The more I grew and the more I learned about sexism and violence and homophobia, the more those lyrics became unacceptable to me,” he says. “And I began to become more conflicted about the music that I loved.” The result is HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, a riveting documentary that tackles issues of masculinity, sexism, violence and homophobia in today’s hip-hop culture.

Sparking dialogue on hip-hop and its declarations on gender, HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes provides thoughtful insight from intelligent, divergent voices including rap artists, industry executives, rap fans and social critics from inside and outside the hip-hop generation. The film includes interviews with famous rappers such as Mos Def, Fat Joe, Chuck D and Jadakiss and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons; along with commentary from Michael Eric Dyson, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Kevin Powell and Sarah Jones and interviews with young women at Spelman College, a historically black school and one of the nation’s leading liberal arts institutions.

The film also explores such pressing issues as women and violence in rap music, representations of manhood in hip-hop culture, what today’s rap lyrics reveal to their listeners and homoeroticism in hip-hop. A “loving critique” from a self-proclaimed “hip-hop head,” HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes discloses the complex intersection of culture, commerce and gender through on-the-street interviews with aspiring rappers and fans at hip-hop events throughout the country.

Hip-hop has been accused of glorifying violence, misogyny and homophobia, and at the same time has been lauded for its ability to simply “tell it like it is.” Such controversial debates over forms of expression can rarely be boiled down to a simple case of wrong versus right. Instead, they are complex and multi-layered and must take into account the larger cultural context.

HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes goes beyond polarizing arguments to explore hip-hop’s most contested issues. How do limited perceptions of masculinity play into a culture of violence? What roles do misogyny and homophobia have in hip-hop culture—as well as in wider mainstream cultures? And are the media and music industries really to blame?

At this link, in 250-500 words, explore one of the issues raised: masculinity, misogyny, homophobia, or media literacy.

The first draft of this typed essay is due at the next class meeting for a peer review. The final draft is due for English 201 that meets from 8-9 on Thursday, Sept. 20. For English 201 which meets from 1-3, the essay is due on Monday, Sept. 24.

Bring in Diana Hacker's Rules for Writers so we can talk about peer reviews. Each essay should be minimally 4 paragraphs. Use examples from the film and other sources, such as music lyrics and artists to support your claims. Use standard English as the primary language. When necessary to use the vernacular or specialized language, quote someone. Writers can also clarify any terms which might not be readily understood. This essay audience is a scholarly one, not your peers.

After the peer reviews, students will post their essays on the blog also for further comments.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


September 13, 2007: All Eyez on Me

Today is the 11th anniversary of Tupac's murder. Tonight at Suite 181, 181 Eddy Street in San Francisco. There is a great speech by Tupac to the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. This is a really powerful speech. fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=15116190&blogID=309550976.

Visit for information about what's planned.

Also this weekend, Too Short is performing in West Oakland at the deFremery Park, 18th and Adeline Streets, in Oakland. It's mentioned in the Too Short article I gave you. If you missed it, visit

In the 8-9 a.m. class we listened to Words of Wisdom and had a really enlightened conversation about the themes elucidated in the work. One student in my English 1A class later on that morning spoke of another poem in A Rose Grew from Concrete about Liberty Needs Glasses (135), a poem that shares similar themes as Wisdom.

Shanella and Elesha shared essays which had opposing viewpoints. I will ask them to post them here so you can read them for yourself.

What else? Oh, homework is to read the rest of chapter 2. Some of your classmates have already read chapter three which we will read for Tuesday-Wednesday next week.
Students were to continue their logs and identify arguments and supporting evidence (5 minimally). Label the claims and support in the book. In the handout from Writing with a Thesis, complete the exercises up to page 21. Write on the paper.

If you have any questions about anything, you can always call me. If you go to the Block Party with Too Short and write something about the event (250 words, typed). You can have extra credit.

English 201 1-3

English 201 1-3 p.m. class your homework is to read Chapter 2, pp. 47-57. Continue the log. We had a great discussion yesterday about Dear Mama and the East Bay Express article, "Too Short, Career Counselor." I enjoyed the linguistic movement, the fluidity students exercised as they defined slang terms in Standard English for a audience unfamiliar with the colloquial terms.

We also shared our arguments, many greeted with applause. I'd like those students to post those essays here.

You can always read further in the book, continue to log you comments, and vocabulary. We will look at reoccurring themes or topics, characters, and shape tentative questions we might want to explore in an essay. I was going to have students respond to the book as a whole, but I have changed my mind. We'll write several short essays as we make our ways through the text beginning next week. We'll come up with essays questions together.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


English 201 Today and Yesterday

Today we read from Rose. Ironically, the poem was on page 11. No one shared. We then reviewed the terms discussed yesterday: thesis, declarative sentence, etc.

Students answered aloud the questions on pages 9 and 10 in the handout from Writing with a Thesis.

A thesis is restricted, unified, and specific. A thesis is not: the title of an article, an announcement, or the entire essay. A thesis is the controlling idea of the essay. It is the stand you take on a topic. It is the claim the essay seeks to prove.

Wednesday, English 201, 8-9 a.m., is meeting in the library for an orientation. All 8-9 class assignments are due Thursday, Sept. 13. The homework is to develop five thesis sentences on themes from Dear Mama. The topic is parenting or Tupac and his mother, Afeni Shakur. I also want students to read Chapter 2 (Dyson), pages 47-57.

Students are still finishing up the Too Short assignment, which was to answer the question: Does Too Short make an appropriate role model for youth? You do not have to agree with Eric Arnold's premise. I asked that the response be minimally 250 words. This is an essay response, so there needs to be a introductory paragraph, a body paragraph where the topic is explored and a conclusion where the writer draws the discussion to a close and perhaps sheds new light on the topic.

If you are confused or unclear about anything ask me the question.

Continue with your logs, which are short entries for each chapter which look at key themes, especially the reoccurring ones. In the logs students can also pose any questions they might have about the text which can be brought out in class discussion. List vocabulary words here, plus their definitions.

You can also ask me questions in the comment section of the blog and I will respond to you.

There is a great article in the Oakland Tribune about Kanye West and 50 Cent by Jim Harrington. Check it out, the writing is excellent. The writer models his research skills well. Note where he sites his sources and the smooth way he incorporates them into the material.


English 201 A/B 8-9 M-Th, and 1-3 MW

Greetings students!

We've been meeting now for over a month and it's about time I got this conversation blog going so we can be in touch with one another in ways the classroom setting doesn't allow. Here, I will recap assignments given in class, as well as, post assignments exclusive to the Internet, which you will post then respond to each other by certain due dates. You can also ask questions about assignments here. I will be reading the blog comments at least once, maybe twice a day, so it is a good place to contact me along with the email address:

Why don't you send me an email now and say hi, so I can create a group for English 201 A/B so I can do an email blast when necessary. If you don't have an email account, is a great place to sign on or or These servers are all free and you can retrieve your mail while at the college or any public library. I would suggest using your name as your address so friends and I know who you are more readily.

I will also post announcements for weekend activities, just in case you have a little time, plus other campus activities.

We have finished our American Culture archives. I plan to post photos here of the presenters for that session and for the one on Hip Hop culture.

Homework for this week was to read the East Bay Express Article, Too Short, Career Counselor. Visit Students were to respond to the argument posed here: Will Too Short make a good career counselor, in a 250 word essay.

Students were also to identify 5 arguments and their support from the Holler. I believe I told students they could write in the book.

I gave an example. Dyson's style of writing is pretty easy to scan. He puts his argument at the top the paragraph, most often as the topic sentence then uses the supporting sentences to flush out the claim.

We had fun listing all the slang terms students had identified for homework last week in the 1-3 p.m. class. We also had a pretty involved discussion in the 1-3 p.m. class about Chapter 1 and inferences students drew from Dyson's earlier comments about male sensitivity evidence which appeared in the references to tears.

Both classes are not doing exactly the same work at the same time, but by week's end we're in the same place.

Lecture topics this week:

Sabir: Talking Points Sept. 10-15

1. What is a thesis? It’s role in the essay drama. How to develop a thesis or invention strategies: topical invention, three-part thesis statement, other ideas (Hacker, Skwire and other sources)

Review sentence types (Hacker)

2. What is an essay? (Hacker and other sources)

Review types of essays. The role of planning. Why is documentation important. (Handout)

3. What is the difference between grammar and mechanics. Why is grammar important?

4. Audience. The role of peer support.

5. The writer’s voice is a blueprint.

6. Tools for the writer. (Skwire)

7. Summary, annotation, and other ways to engage the text, like highlighting or tabs, in other words: Digestion, discourse and other culinary forms (Handouts: How to Mark a Book)

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