Wednesday, October 31, 2007


All Hallow's Eve

Happy Ancestor Day everyone! It was a busy morning and afternoon. In the morning class we began a discussion on censorship as pertained to the essays by Michael Gartner and Nathan McCall. The afternoon class divided into a couple of camps, some who'd read the essay and others who had not. Debbie, Qwen, Jonathan, Chesi and I had a instructive discussion on the questions of form, questions of content. Students, who hadn't already done so then went to post their responses to an essay question on the blog. (Remember to preview your essay before posting so you can edit it. Once you post it, only I can remove it.)

The lecture today was types of arguments, both Gartner and McCall's essays were examples of claims of policy. Other types of essays are claims of fact (not absolute facts) and claims of value. I mentioned deductive and inductive reasoning, but we didn't go into details about it.

In the small group in the section on Questions of Form, we looked for multiple examples of "concessions," words or phrases that an author uses to acknowledge agreement with his audience, especially a potentially antagonistic one. For those who hadn't read the essay in advance and missed this discussion we will return to it in another assignment. You could also answer the questions at the site where you posted your essay response.

Some of you are behind. Catch up. We will be writing the research essay during the month of November. Each week a key element is due. We will also be reading a book, which we have already started: Evolution of a Revolutionary. We will also be doing reading and writing responses in class. We will meet in the smaller lab on Monday, November 5.

The first phases of the research essay is due. You should also be up to chapter 3 in the Guy book. There are no more copies in the bookstore. Purchase it elsewhere. You can order it from an independent book seller like the one on Park Street in Alameda. Ask if she could rush it for you.

I gave students lots of handouts, one is a library worksheet which we will complete in class. I advised students to stop at the reference librarian's desk at COA to get the password to access the library databases while off campus. The library is open until 7 p.m. and on Saturday. You can also use the libraries and writing centers at other Peralta colleges. Public libraries have free Internet access. When off the COA campus you need the password to get into the databases.

The librarians here and at other sites can help you with your searches. I can help you also. Come by my office hours. I am giving your papers to my reader tomorrow. You will get you papers back Monday. Revisions will be necessary only for those students who have not written passing essays. We'll have mini conferences Monday while other's work on independent assignments.

Old assignments
Students are responsible for all the assignments given, here in cyberspace on the blog and elsewhere. After she reads the midterms, I will have my reader look at all the assignments and make a list of postings. You can still complete cyber-assignments. You can catch up on the weekends or something. I'll give you until November 13. There's no class November 12, Monday.

Don't forget to view minimally 3 Focus World videos and answer the questions I asked for each one. This needs to be completed before Monday, November 5.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Homework Essay Assignment

I gave students in English 201, 1-3 p.m., a great article by Nathan McCall, "My Rap Against Rap." The morning class will receive it tomorrow.

McCall presents a very compelling argument against gangster rap. This essay appeared as a part of a section section in my book on censorship. Some people
think that placing guidelines on what artists can and cannot say in their music
is censorship. There are 4 choices for essay responses. Choose one of the four and write a 3-4 paragraph essay. Post if here.

If you have not submitted your midterm yet, post it where I assigned it last week. Include the planning sheet, the outline and the essay. Don't forget to include a works cited page.

The priority for those who are behind is the midterm. We are meeting Wednesday in the classroom. We'll come over the the Writing Center for the last hour. Bring in Evolution of a Revolutionary Wednesday also. We'll read aloud and discuss the selection.


Social Entrepreneur con't.

Research Tools

Visit for the assignment: Evaluating a web page.

Other resources,1

The Assignment
Social Entrepreneur Essay Assignment

Handout: The Social Entrepreneur Essay research worksheet is a way to define what a social entrepreneur is compared to a philanthropist.

See a librarian at the reference desk to help you define your search and identify the SE you'd like to profile in your 3-5 page.

I created this assignment after seeing the program New Heroes on I wanted students to realize the power they possess to be the change in their communities they want to see, that one person can make a difference.

Use the library worksheet to define the terms: social, society, entrepreneur, "social entrepreneur", philanthropist and philanthropy. Be clear about the difference between a philanthropist and a social entrepreneur. Also define: hero, local, selfless, selfish, community, help, support, supporter. care, independence, money, wealth.

The question you want to ask after you have identified a person or two:
What motivated this person to want to change something in society? How did this person get the community's support for the project? What did the community gain? What did the social entrepreneur gain?

The person has to be alive. Try to find someone local, that is living in the San Francisco Bay Area or in California. The person has to have been doing this work for 10-20 years. You need to locate 6-10 sources on your subject to form a bibliography; you don't have to cite 10 sources. The sources can be published or broadcast interviews, books, articles, and films or you can interview them yourself. The person cannot be a relative. You can work in groups and share data. In fact, I encourage it.

Due dates
The planning sheet and 5-10 sources are due Wednesday, November 7 or Thursday, November 8 to share.

An introduction and conclusion to the essay are due: Monday, November 12.

The first draft of the essay is due: Wednesday, November 19 or Thursday, November 20.

The final draft is due Tuesday, November 27 or Wednesday, November 28. Put the essay, the planning sheet, and all the works cited and bibliography pages on a disk. You can use the same disk the midterm was on.


Social Entreprenuers and other assignments

On "Frontline: World," I saw a program about a micro-lending organization called KIVA where lenders who want to help small businesses in Uganda. Now KIVA is all over the world. All loans have been paid back 100 percent. Visit to see the video.

Here is a link from this site to other entrepreneurs. Choose ones that interest you:

The organization is in San Francisco. There is a link to other Frontline programs about Social Entrepreneurs. Watch this program and over the week, watch two others. Respond to the following questions: What is a social entrepreneur? What problem did the person profiled identify? What is the name of the organization they started? Describe their relationship to the community they serve. Why did they decide to address this issue? What is the local component? How does the community own the process?

Define "social," "entrepreneur," and "philanthropy." This should be a part of your introduction. A philanthropist gives money to worthy causes. A entrepreneur is a business person. A social entrepreneur is a business person whose business creates social good and economic development in a community where poverty was a barrier to its financial growth.I will give you a handout to begin your research process tomorrow. If you want to stop by my office the handouts will be in a folder in the bin by Tuesday, October 30.

Visit 3 websites this week -- Monday-Wednesday, October 29-31, and respond to the questions listed above for each social entrepreneur. Post here.

For your research project, I want you to find someone, if possible who uses his or her art for social change. This Thursday, November 1, poet, activist, Amiri Baraka is at UC Berkeley at a reading. Friday, November 2, he is at EastSide Arts Cultural Center. He would be a great topic for your research. He doesn't live here, so this
is an opportunity to talk to him about art, activism and social change.


Midterm submission

Today students submitted their essays to me in the Writing Center (L-234). Your logs and class notes on Dyson are due tomorrow. We will meet in the classroom. Late papers can be posted at the midterm site. Each day the paper is turned in late, is a day the grade drops one whole grade point. All essays need to be in no later than Wednesday 12 noon.

Students read and worked on exercises in Bedford Handbook (Grammar). Other databases are: Grammar 3-D, Skills Bank, and for reading, vocabulary and spelling--Skills Bank, Townsend Press, Reading Road Trip, and Missing Links. For typing there is Marvis Teaches Typing.

These databases are only available in the Writing Center (L-234). Bedford is Rules for Writers. The exercises have answers, and since students are not reading or doing the exercises I thought this would be good practice.

Homework is to read chapter 1 in Evolution of a Revolutionary. Don't forget to keep logs. Cyber homework is listed above. Check here for the weekly question each Thursday; it will be related to the reading. Please respond to the question and to another student's response to the question.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Midterms Hurray!

Today is a day you have been anticipating with bated breath. Your assignment is to write a 3 (three) page essay on 1 (one) of the many essays questions I gave you earlier this week.

Please include an introductory paragraph where you tell your audience what you plan to talk about. State your thesis. Make sure that this sentence is clear, specific, and unified. Remember a good thesis is not a title, an absolute fact, an announcement or the entire essay (Writing with a Thesis handout). Please include a works cited section of your paper (see Diana Hacker's Rules for Writers).

Your primary source is Michael Eric Dyson's book, Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac. Use evidence from this book to support your claims. Use three citations, one per paragraph: 1 block quote, one paraphrase, and one other citation. I also want students to cite Tupac's work--his poetry or lyrics to a song. Minimally you will have 4 paragraphs with 4 citations, 1 per paragraph.

This essay is similar to the practices we did last week, the only difference is that you are writing the entire essay.

You will begin your essay here and finish it over the weekend. We will meet in the lab Monday, October 29 so that you can give me the essay, your essay planning sheet, and your outline, electronically along with all your chapter notes. These notes do not have to be typed.

Homework is to finish the essay. Bring your book on Afeni Shakur to class on Monday, October 29.

Sabir Essay Questions for Midterm 2007
Choose one

1. Was Tupac really the thug he personified himself to be or did he get stuck playing a character in the longest role of his short lived life?

2. Do you think Tupac was capable of truly loving a women knowing that at times, he found it difficult to love himself?

3. Was Tupac happy with the notoriety he received from his Hip-Hop career or do you think he would have rather gone through life unnoticed?

4. Do you think that Tupac’s reference to God in his music was a cry for help or salvation?

5. Do you think that Tupac over-exaggerated his misogynistic lyrics to mask the sensitivity that he actually had for women?

6. Talk about Tupac’s success after death. What does Dyson attribute this to?

7. Tupac grew up fatherless. And even though he had many role models—good and bad, his bitterness is evident in some of his songs. Do you think Tupac was able to fill this void in his life? How did he reconcile this, if at all?
8. Would you say that Tupac had lived the American dream? What is the American dream?

9. How does Tupac's mother influence his life as he was growing-up? How does she influence him about people of all races?

10. Why did you think Tupac was transformed into a different Tupac after he was arrested and sentenced to jail? How does that change his hip-hop career?

11. Who were some of the important adults in Tupac’s life that both boosted and helped him develop his hip-hop career?

12. Do you think Tupac has two-faces? If so, what are they?
13. Was Tupac a "real n***a", and if so why did he feel he was one of the realest in the rap game?

14. Did Tupac really feel he was true to being a "Thug" or was he putting on another act?

15. If Tupac were alive today would he be trying to make a change in hip-hop, and urban America or would he be following mainstream rap, and send disses to other rappers like everyone else?

16. Why did Tupac set himself up to be a scapegoat for black youth?

17. Why did Tupac feel he needed to pursue and continue the gangsta lifestyle/image?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Black Panther Panel Thursday, October 25

Thursday, October 25, at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 9th Street, Oakland, there will be a panel about the Black Panther Party from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Visit There might be other programs your like to attend, such as the workshop on Stanley "Tookie" Williams on Saturday, October 27.

I encourage you to attend. I plan on attending it. If you want to attend a plenary or any other session at the Oral History Conference, the workshops are free. Mention Dr. Curtis Austin if you have any trouble; he said the community could attend the workshops without cost.

Here is a link to the "Legacy of Torture" video we didn't finish in the afternoon class. The film is about a case where the FBI and New Orleans police department used torture to extract testimony from BPP members, then used this information to charge them. The case was thrown out. Now since Bush passed the USA Patriot Act I and II, torture is legal and so is the evidence, or so they think. The men are out on bail. Their next court date is in December. Perhaps we can take a field trip to Superior Court at the San Francisco County Jail on Bryant.

Go to Click on the link to the video. You can also visit

Monday, October 22, 2007


Morning Class

This morning in class I gave out a list of assignments so far. I forgot to list the letter you wrote to me in response to my letter. If I forgot anything else, please let me know. I gave students an essay about Tupac, written by Ernest Hardy, a writer who is a critic whose critique of hip hop culture is filtered through the lens of black masculine identity and power. Who has it?

1. Post your summaries of the article by Ernest Hardy about Tupac. 2. Post your freewrite response to the question about the role of police. 3. Post your paraphrase of a section or a sentence. Write the original sentence and your paraphrase.

Christina paraphrased a sentence that referenced James Baldwin. She didn't know who he was, nor did anyone else in the class. If anything, looking at Baldwin's photo would have added a lot to one's understanding of Dyson's reference to Tupac. Baldwin was a literary scholar who was a brilliant African American writer. He wrote his school's song which they still sing today. He was a major force in the Civil Rights Movement. He was gay and didn't hide the fact. A great essayist, playwright and novelist, he is certainly one of the most influential men of the 20th century. Take a moment and look at his picture and think about what Dyson means when he lets Karen Lee, a black militant, reflect on Tupac. She said: "He was a little baby with big eyes. They were the first things you could see" (48).

The assignment was to paraphrase the following: "Those big eyes and the world they envisioned made Tupac the hip-hop James Baldwin: an excruciatingly conscientious scribe whose narrative flamed with moral outrage at black suffering" (48).

I also found out that some students never looked up Black Panther Party to see what the organization stood for. The BPP was essential to Tupac's development. Remember he said when he grew up he wanted to be a revolutionary.

The freewrite was to think about the role of the police in (American) society. Why does this nation think they are necessary? What did the BPP think about the police's role in poor and black communities?

Today is a national mobilization to look at police brutality in America. People wear all black and there are actions throughout the country every Sept. 22.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Charles Foster and other assignments

Students are not reading the blog and responding to assignments. There is homework from yesterday, and today's assignment, posted October 10, to develop a few questions for our guest this morning, was not done by most of the students. Look at the assignment, read Charles Foster's bio and write a three paragraph essay recap of his visit to our class this morning. Describe his looks, his mannerisms, how he spoke, his attitude about his subject, and what you learned. Incorporate parts of his bio where such inclusion would support your claims. The profile is to be posted here by Monday, October 22, 8 a.m. His business is "Now or Never Records" and the website address is:

I was serious when I suggested Mr. Foster as a possible candidate for the social entrepreneur essay due later this semester.

Midterm Questions
Check back for the questions. You only have to respond to one.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Visit tomorrow morning

Everyone is invited to the talk tomorrow morning, 8-9 a.m., C-213, with Elesha's husband Charles Foster. His talk last week was moved to this Thursday, October 18. Read his bio posted last Thursday.


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

Okay folks, here it is. Sorry early class, I have been swamped today with meetings and such. I am so happy two students came to see me this afternoon. It was 12 noon and well my office hours are from 9-11 a.m. give or take travel time, but Haile and I, then Robert and I had really fruitful sessions. Haile, said the visit where we pulled his essay up and revised it while he sat here and explained his intention when the writing wasn't clear was useful.

Today in both classes I mentioned that I have drafted a assignment sheet which lists all of the assignments so far and the ones to come. Students can then put all of their work together and see where they are. I don't want to have students email me the midterms. It was too hard to figure out which essays belonged to whom. I think the blogger works better for this, since it is divided by classes.

So next week, the week of the midterms expect this assignment sheet. For my 8-9 a.m. class you will get this tomorrow. I might even post it here. The midterm will be started in class and finished at home, put on a disk and given to me with the reading logs for Dyson's book either as a hard copy or on the disk, plus the planning sheet and outline on the disk or as a hard copy. The portfolio will also be put on this disk at the end of the class.

English 201 afternoon class
Today we watched the film: Tupac and Biggie. It was 101 minutes long, so it took up all of the class time. You homework is to think about the following quote from Dyson in your discussion of the film which looks at the murder of these two bright stars. One student said, Tupac was driven, whereas Biggie was passionate but not so passionate that he'd walk through fire.

Here's the quote I want you to think about. If you haven't already done so, read or reread "For All the Real Niggas Out There" (141-171). It describes the fatalistic attitude Tupac exemplified, but then again if what Jada says is true, that Tupac was an addict, always high, never sober, then one could argue that it was what he put into his body that made him act the way he did. It was the alcohol talking. It was the marijuana speaking. I wonder what or who was doing the writing?

"In falling prey to the temptations to be a gangster, Tupac lost his hold on the frustrating but powerful moral ambiguity that makes the rhetoric and representations of gangsta rappers effective" (170).

The morning class is to look at the following quotes from Dyson and paraphrase them. Post the paraphrases here. Copy the list and then put your paraphase under it.
Clue, if you don't understand the sentence, read the sentences that proceed and follow it.

1. "A lesson, to be sure, crassly overlooked by many a would-be guru who tutors remedies for spiritual malaise that discount the circumstances and experiences of the oppressed.(206)"

A spiritual counselor who lacks an undestanding of disenfranchised people's reality, easily misguides them.

2. "The sharp juxtaposition of material acknowledgement and disparagement is a characteristic symptom of rap music's artists.(23)"

3. "In falling prey to the temptation to be a gangster, Tupac lost his hold on the frustrating but powerful moral ambriguity that makes the rhetoric and represntations of gangster rappers effective" (170).

4. "The readiness to die is characteristic of thug theology, as much because of teh intensity of the suffering they observe and endure--and quite often cause--as the belief that they ahve squared themselves with God" (212).

5. "The bottle, however, and the joint, too, were never to be slighted in Tupac's taxonomy of addictive escapes" (238).

6. "In historian Robin D.G. Kelley's view, 'both the movement that produced [Tupac], and the movement he wss projecting' are 'reflective of the era. Tupac is such a 1980s product, where even black nationalism takes on a new twist" (66).

If there are any sentences you'd like to share or don't understand, please feel free to post them here. Students read each other's responses and comment. I am really happy one of your classmates asked this question this morning. Many of you had the same question, so now we can practice paraphrasing together. When you can put something into your own words (see Hacker), you truly understand its meaning.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Writing Topic on pp. 32-33 (Reading to Write handout) is homework. Students hadn't read the assignment. Don't get tired now, we're half way to the prize. Take your vitamins and get back in gear! Respond to one WT in a three paragraph essay. Utilize the text as evidence.

We previewed Chapter 7 using strategies listed on page 4 (Reading to Write).

Students are not reading Hacker. You are held responsible for the information there. Read the first two chapters, The Writing Process and Document Design, The Basics, Grammar, Clarity, Punctuation, Mechanics.

Homework is to read Chapter 7 and preview the prior chapters if you haven't read them yet. We are having our midterm next Thursday. The 500 word essay will be written in class. You will not be able to revise it for a higher grade. You will have to incorporate sources from Dyson. It will be open book and open notes. You will have to submit a planning sheet and an outline. We'll do this Wednesday and write the essay the following day. You'll give it to me as a hard copy. The emailing hasn't worked :-)

Monday, October 15, 2007


Outlining and Clustering English 201 1-3 p.m.

We had a productive class today, not that other meetings haven't been productive but a lot was accomplished and it felt as though concepts previously addressed clicked. We read the essay from Reading to Write on literacy. It was a homework assignment only three students completed. Many students shared their early life experiences learning to read. We then used the previewing and pre-reading strategies on Chapter 7 in Holler If You Hear Me. Homework is to read the chapter, then outline it using the outlining and clustering models in Reading to Write. Other homework is to finish the second chapter (pp. 17-32), and answer or respond to all the prompts. The freewrite will be answering one of the questions at the end of the selection. There are extra copies of the handout in the bin outside my office.

Students were also instructed to pre-view any chapters they haven't read up to Chapter 7. Those students are still responsible for the content.

Note: Tomorrow at 4 p.m. in the Laney College Forum, Minister Farakhan will be speaking in a braodcast hosted by Mosque 26B, on the anniversary of the Day of Attonement. Tickets are $15.


Monday, October 15, 2007 8-9

Today in class we reviewed the Reading to Write assignment. Not many students had read it. We reviewed the key ideas and now it is homework. Please post your responses to either question 1 or 2 here (page 15). For homework, read the rest of the package. We'll talk about it tomorrow in class. Bring Holler If You Hear Me. We will apply our critical reading strategies to the book and complete it.

Later this week, students will develop essay questions related to specific chapters. We will swap questions and students will respond to another student's question for a pre-midterm. The author of the questions will have to evaluate their peer's response in a narrative.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Early Morning Class 8-9

Today's guest visit was cancelled. We will meet him next Thursday, October 18. I don't know yet where we will be. I'll let you know if we will meet in the classroom or Writing Center. We'll see how the week goes.

Presently, for our freewrite we are watching the So Many Tears video.
Read the lyrics first. Afterwards find a poem in The Rose That Grew From Concrete, the reflects thematically the mood and lyrical message in the song. (The poems on pp. 27-33 work.) Reflect on both in a short three paragraph freewrite: opening paragraph, 1 body paragraph and a conclusion. Incorporate an example in each paragraph.

Respond to one classmate's' freewrite. Identify yourself in the response.

Homework: Keep reading. In the handout from Reading to Write, read and answer all questions up to pp. 15. We will meet in the classroom Monday, October 15. Have a great weekend. In Dyson we are up to Chapter 7. We will finish the book by Thursday, so pace yourself. Out midterm question essay will be a response to a question developed from themes from the text.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Guest Speaker Thursday morning

Tomorrow morning the early class, 8-9 a.m. will have a guest. Read the bio and bring in a few (3) questions you might want to ask our guest. We will meet in the library.

Charles Foster started playing drums in church at age 9. He moved piano and singing at age 10. He wrote his first rap song for younger cousin Agerman (3X Krazy) at age 12. He wrote his first song, "You Are My heart," for his mother and grandmother with older cousin at age 14. By 18 he'd written over 20 songs. He formed his own singing group, "Soul Mentality," at 19 and began recording. Soul Mentality had some local success, two songs in rotation on radio (KSOL).

Then Foster disbanded the group (when?) and began to focus heavily on producing (why?). From 1995 to 1998 he worked with a number of local artists including Too $hort, Ant Banks, Ho Frat Ho, Hammer, Ray Luv, Toni Tony Tone, and 3X Crazy, which he helped get signed to a major deal.

In 1998 disgusted with "the industry," Foster decided to get out of music for a while and built a studio. 2002 he had his own label, Now or Never Records.

In 2004 he left his job of six years after signing and dropping three artists in a two year span. Things looked promising when he began to get into music production for advertising agencies and websites. For the past three years this has been his career. His primary marketing avenue is, but also word of mouth referrels. He currently has over 90 clients from myspace that record in his studio. He's also produced a number of tracks for websites and we might have heard some of his music in commercials for Suave, Trident, Hyphy Juice, Plastikon, and others.

Music producer Charles "Middle C" Foster is married with four children and lives in Oakland, California.

"One of my most memorable experience was being able to witness the creativity of Tupac Shakur first hand." He said. "Though I have never produced a tack for him, I was able to watch Mr. Shakur in action in the studio and he was truly born to rap! He was a different person than what he showed in public. In the three and a half years that I have been in the business full time, I have experienced extreme highs and some lows, but I wouldn't change anything. I am looking forward to interacting with the class and answering as many questions about music, hip hop and Mr. Shakur as I can."


English 201 1-3 October 10

Hummmmm. This afternoon was pleasant after the noisy neighbors moved away from our doorway, though not before about 10 students left. It was as if someone yelled fire, yet no one ran. The men, calmly put on their backpacks and departed. Should I read anything into this? All the students shared certain ethnic and gender characteristics which shall remain unnamed. Perhaps all had an emergency that happened to fall on this date. Only one student, told me he wouldn't be present today and he came in to grab the handouts and went to his dental appointment. All the students who left have unexcused absences.

We read the Laney College Tower articles about Senator Clinton's visit to Laney. We also read the op ed, and discussed what the thesis was. I hope to see student letters published next week in The Tower newspaper in response to Reggie James' column.

Students were divided into groups based on their reading. Only one group was up to chapter 7, a larger group was up to 6 and a few students were at chapter 3, others at chapter 4. Keep reading. We will be finishing the book in the coming week. An essay will be due based on a question related to the text.

We will continue the collaborative essay outline consisting of the introduction and conclusion on Monday. Students are also supposed to read the handout from Reading to Write pages 2-15. I will put extra copies in the bin on the wall outside my office (L-236) for students who were absent.

Several students choose the topics education, others chose knowledge, and one group looked at the word: "nigger" and its derivations.

I told students about The Living Word Festivalwhich began last week and continues through November 3. Visit There is an event this Saturday, October 13 at the Black New World, 836 Pine Street, Oakland. Tickets are $10 general and $5 for youth 18 and under. I wanted students to note Saturday, October 27, 9 p.m. DJ Kool Herc and James Brown's drummer Clyde Stubblefield perform together. DJ Funklor will join them. It's at the Bruno's, 2389 Mission Street, in San Francisco. It's a 21+ event plus ID. Tickets are $15, free with/Scourge Benefit Ticket. There is a lot more. Visit the website. If you want credit for attending anything, you have to write a review (250 words min.)

Monday, October 08, 2007


English 201 1-3 p.m.

Today in class we read a few poems from A Rose Grew from Concrete, then discussed themes and shared a few thesis sentences students developed from the themes. We also completed the handout from Writing with a Thesis. The assignment was evaluating two student essays on the short story The Lottery. One essay was a plot summary, the other was an essay. We also talked about transitional words and phrases. (We looked it up in Diana Hacker's Rules for Writers.)

A lot of students left early when we got into small groups to discuss the Dyson. Students received a few handouts, one was on "Literature Circles," where students each take a role in the discussion of a text. In this case the book was Holler If You Hear Me. We had two groups: two were up to chapter 5, one was up to chapter 4. Other students read, one wrote.

After our discussions, we reassembled, to talk about writing introductions, today's homework (see the blog entry below this one). There was another handout (pink sheet), plus one on revisions copied from Hacker (green sheet).

The thesis we developed looked at the theme "achievement." When I went back to the classroom to jot down my notes from the whiteboard, I revised the paragraph and changed the thesis. So for students who were there, what I am about to share differs from the introductory essay you copied from the board, the one we developed together. I even changed the theme. It's entirely different now. Can you guess the theme? I have made references to songs but haven't nailed down the specifics. This is a draft so there is time :-)

Oh, students who want to go to see The Color Purple musical on Tuesday, November 6, 8 p.m. at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, bring your money in Wednesday, October 10. The tickets are $25 each. the service charge for the order is $13. Students can split this between them Wednesday. It will probably come to just a few dollars or less.

Sample Introduction to essay (note it is 3 paragraphs long)
Where is the thesis?

Tupac Shakur's life exemplified that of a person driven to achieve greatest. It's as if he knew his time here was short. In fact, his poetry and music hinted at the temporalness of life often and his work was frequented with references to the afterlife, hell, God and one's destiny.

In the poem, "What Is It that I Search 4," Tupac Shakur knows he's here for a reason, that his life has purpose even if the aim eludes him, thus his mistakes. This uncertainly, despite his quick rise to celebrity status, precipitates his equally rapid decline if one looks at imprisonment as a set back, rather than as Tupac obviously did-- just another one of life's lessons.

For some the road isn't easy. Tupac emerges more determined not to fail from prison. His weakness or trust in the wrong people speaks to his isolation and fear or perhaps just to his youth. He wasn't paranoid and he knew he didn't have many friends, yet he let these people use him anyway. I wonder why? Was this another case of his duality in soul and spirit, that two-ness he seemed unable to escape?


Reflections, Themes, and Other Afternoon Assignments

1. Various themes run through Dyson's book, Holler If You Hear Me. Some resonate for certain readers more than others. Let's look at education. In a freewrite think about the significance of education in Tupac's life. Think about the importance of education in your life.

2. Now, use evidence from chapters 3-5 to talk about education or miseducation according to Tupac. Discuss how Tupac's belief that knowledge is power is developed in these chapters. Write this as an introductory paragraph on the theme "education." Post here (min. 10 sentences.

3. For homework, you will develop an outline and write a conclusion. For examples of introductions, see English 201, 8-9 entries below.


Assignment for Monday Morning English 201 8-9

Develop a 10-sentence introductory paragraph from a theme taken from the first four chapters of Holler If You Hear Me. Post it here and comment on some else's introductory paragraph. Cite two references with page numbers that support your peer's thesis.

Thursday, October 4, some of the themes discussed were: family, revolution, friendship, thug life, sexism, racism, poverty, education, Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Include references from text, at least one in the introduction. Also introduce the book, Holler If You Hear Me with a brief summery, then tell us what you plan to tell us about it.

Homework tonight:

Develop an outline for the rest of the essay and write a conclusion to this essay. Meet here again in the lab to post it. Email it to yourself so you don't have to type it first.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


English 201 1-3 October 3

The afternoon was warm, the bungalow hot and for some students a bit too fragrant. A student opened the door, while the class sent up a pray for AC, which kicked in just before we passed out--just kidding.

The topic of discussion this afternoon was the Jena 6. Students were given four essays and the lyrics to a song to read. Afterwards, students discussed posted questions. A recorder reported back to the entire class after the small group discussions.

There were great responses from students on the freewrite. The freewrite was a word association: police, court, justice system, prison, jury, Statue of Liberty. Students were to take each word and list whatever came to mind first. Students had the option of writing a poem in the style of Tupac's "Only 4 the Righteous" (The Rose the Grew from Concrete, 21). (Note: Faith Ringgold, artist and the Statue of Liberty.)

A. Please paste your responses to the freewrite here.

B. Choose one question, and in a four paragraph essay, include one citation in each paragraph. This can be direct quote or paraphrase. Before you begin the essay, summarize briefly the case. Your position is your thesis.

C. If you'd like to incorporate your freewrite into your essay response , fell free to do so. For the PLIES song, you can paraphrase. Some of the language might be offensive to an academic audience. So if you use direct quotes remember your audience.


1. After reading all the articles, what conclusions do you reach regarding the Jena 6, and the criminal justice system?

2. Do you agree with Maulana Karnega's analysis of the situation, especially his views on the Civil Rights Movement, which conflict with the views expressed on the same, in Rev. Jessie Jackson's Rainbow Coalition piece?

3. How does PLIES' song: "Real Testament," address the inconsistency sentencing if a person is young and male and black? How does this argument support the view that the Jena 6 were victims of a judicial system that mets out convictions based on one's race, sometimes gender and class?

If you want to watch the rest of the film, Legacy of Torture: The War Against The Black Liberation Movement it's on-line at the Freedom Archives. I'll post a link a little later.

4. A fourth question about the American justice system could look at the Black Panther Party and other revolutionary groups, something Maulana Karenga speaks about in his article. Tupac, his sister and his mother, were casualties of a war this government waged legally against black movements. It's documented. This is one of the themes Tupac wrote about often. He never forgot the brothers locked up for their political beliefs. He never forgot the consequences for speaking up for oneself was often prison or death if what you said was against the government and for the people.
Look at his murder, still unsolved.

So what's the question?

Look at Tupac's work, especially the song, "Words of Wisdom" (in the package). You can also reference Dyson. Here are some terms to free associate re: Jena 6, SF8, Rodney King, Emmett Till, Chauncey Bailey, Khatari Gant. What do all these cases have in common?

5. What issues do these cases: Till, SF8, Jena 6, Khatari Gant, the young man killed last week in North Oakland by police...reference? What is the solution? Karenga offers one, Tupac offers another, Jesse Jackson offers a third. PLIES offers a fourth. Pick one and argue its efficacy: pro or con.

Reading Homework is to continue in the book. We are at Chapter 4-5. I am going to get to that quiz Monday. I guess no one wants to go to see The Color Purple with the class Nov. 6 and no one mentioned the film Friday, October 5, so I guess I won't see you at the Oakland Museum Friday? (See below).


English 1A 8-9 October 3

Today in class we discussed the Anucha Browne Sanders' legal case against NY Kicks' coach Isiah Thomas. She sued the Madison Square Garden franchise for $10 million dollars, and won just days ago $11.6 million. Students were instructed in a free to look at Byron Hurt's cinematic journey to discover some of the reasons why in Hip Hop culture black masculinity is tied to disrespect and hatred of black women. By the way, I don't think I failed to mention that both parties in the suit are black.

A few students shared their thesis sentences, then we composed one together. If you'd like to share yours (and some of them were great, especially Elesha's, Tamika's, Cristina's, Hillary's, Antoinette's and Maricruz's) please post it in the comments for extra credit.

The thesis
The Anucha Browne Sanders' victory in the sexual harassment suit against Madison Square Gardens (NY Knicks Franchise owners)is a coup for women everywhere. This victory was a message to men everywhere that misogyny in the workplace will not be tolerated.

In Keep Ya Head Up Tupac Shakur states: "I wonder why we (black men)take from our women, why we rape our women, why we hate our women" (first stanza).
He was speaking to directly to Isiah Thomas, a black man first, NY Knicks Basketball coach second.

I have pasted an article from the San Jose Mercury News about the case. If you'd like to join the discussion on the permission men in power seem to have with regards to sexual impropriety with women in the workplace, in society and even in domestic setting, please post them here. Students, feel free to respond to each other's comments.

Homework for English 201 8-9

Homework is the read Chapter 4 and bring in your reading logs for the entire book. You should be up to Chapter 5. There will be a short test on the book up to Chapter 4.

$11.6M to Anucha Browne Sanders? Compared to other Isiah $$ blunders, that’s nothing
By Tim Kawakami

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007 at 11:41 am in NBA.
Update: I missed one! Thanks to Sac Bee NBA maven SH-C for reminding me about Quentin Richardson, yet another one of Isiah’s endlessly bad contract pick-ups.

(I’ve just added Q to the list.)
News note: Anucha Browne Sanders, the former Madison Square Garden employee, just won an $11.6M civil-suit verdict in her sexual harassment suit against MSG and Knicks Coach Isiah Thomas.

(Isiah was found guilty of the harassment, but not personally liable. MSG, pending appeals, etc., is the entity that must pay the $11.6M.)
Cavaet: Sexual harassment is horrifying behavior, and if a New York jury says Thomas committed it, I’m agreeing with the jury. Totally. MSG should pay. Especially MSG honcho James Dolan, who is, almost by legal definition, a total, enabling dunderhead. Probably.

My unique view: At $11.6M, Browne Sanders (who starred as a Northwestern hoopster at the same time I attended that school) becomes only the Knicks’ eighth-ninth-largest money commitment on the books.

She’s barely in the top 10! And that’s not counting the salary due to Isiah and the $25M they just paid Larry Brown a year ago for one year’s work…

Here’s my Genius Knicks/Isiah Payment List:
1. Zach Randolph, owed $51M guaranteed, starting with $13.3M this season.
2. Stephon Marbury, owed $42M guaranteed, starting with $20.1M this season.
3. Eddy Curry, owed $40.3M guaranteed, starting with $8.9M this season.
4. Quentin Richardson, owed $26.2M guaranteed, starting with $8.1M this year.
5. Jerome James, owed $18.6M guaranteed, starting with $5.8M this season.
(Any list where Jerome James is only the fifth-fattiest deal is a very bad/fat list.)
6. Jared Jeffries, owed $25M guaranteed, starting with $5.6M this season.
7. Jamal Crawford, owed $16.5M guaranteed, starting with $7.9M this season.
8. Malik Rose, owed $14.6M guaranteed, starting with $7.1M this season.
9. Anucha Browne Sanders, owed $11.6M, pending appeal.

The top 8 guys haven’t done much for the Knicks and almost certainly won’t do much for the Knicks in the future.

Browne Sanders’ $11.6M, however, might get Isiah booted from the premises. Might–because Dolan is so dumb, who knows, this verdict might give Isiah Lifetime Tenure just because Dolan can’t admit how dumb he was for hiring Isiah in the first place.
But if Anucha’s $11.6M is the price MSG has to pay to figure out it’s time to dump Isiah… well, that’s the best $11.6M Isiah ever wasted for them.
And I hope Ms. Browne Sanders gets every penny, and has a tremendous life with her family. I really do.

Monday, October 01, 2007


Oakland Museum free film Tuesday, 10/2 and Friday 10/5

Free film: Miss Navajo at the Oakland Museum of California, at the James Moore Theatre, 1000 Oak Street, at 6:30, October 2, 2007. There is free parking in the museum garage on Oak Street.

First Friday Events
Public Japanese Gardens in the USA: Present and PastAuthor Reading and Book Signing, 5:30

For more than 35 years, David Newcomer has been searching out Japanese gardens in the U.S. His new book is a guide to gardens in Northern California. Included with museum admission.

Dude, Where's My Black Studies Department?
Author Reading and Book Signing, 6:30

Dude, Where's My Black Studies Department? The Disappearance of Black Americans from U.S. Universities. African American author Cecil Brown will be signing copies of his new book. Brown writes that Blacks have been vanishing from college campuses in the United States and “reappearing in prisons, videos, and movies.” He tackles this unwitting “disappearing act” head-on, with special attention to the University of California system and UC Berkeley, where Brown received his PhD in African-American Literature, Folklore, and Theory of Narrative. Included with museum admission.

Feria UrbanaFair/Sale 5–9 p.m.

Courtesy Feria Urbana
An urban fair of local artists and designers. One-of-a kind crafts, jewelry, clothing, fashion accessories, baby items, and more. Included with museum admission.

Ric Alexander, 5–9 p.m.
The first Friday of every month takes on a whole new groove at the Oakland Museum of California! Hear live performances by leading Bay Area artists (tonight features the fusion jazz of Ric Alexander), enjoy the full cash bar and light dining in our café. Take a break from the music to hear insider secret stories about our galleries, practice yoga, catch a flick, meet an author, check out new merchandise at the Museum Store, and support local artists and designers at Feria Urbana and Oaklandish. Visit for additional information. Included with museum admission.

Simmin Joy, 5:30 & 7:15
Simmin Joy practices Anusara-style yoga in a class for adults that is deep and lighthearted, focused and fun. Bring your mat, sit down, relax—and breathe. Included with museum admission.

Sunset Cinema: Piece By PieceFilm. Screens 6:30-8:30 p.m.

KQED's Truly CA film series returns to the museum gardens. Nic Hill's film documents 20 years of San Francisco's controversial and often misunderstood graffiti art movement-a candid look at the story behind the writing on the wall. Bring a picnic basket and blanket and enjoy the film and complimentary beverages, dessert, and one glass of wine (with ID). Q & A after the film. Sunset Cinema is co-sponsored by the museum, the KQED Education Network, and the Oakland Film Office. Download the outdoor screening guide (PDF) Free.

Thursday Club 1967 Riot Photo. The Thursday Club © 2005. 8 p.m.

Filmmaker George Paul Csicsery was beaten at an antiwar demonstration in Oakland in 1967. Thirty years later he set out to find the police officers who were present at that event— and his best clue, a newspaper photograph of himself getting clubbed. The film looks at the now retired officers and reveals their thoughts on the protests of the ’60s. Included with museum admission.

Gallery Secrets RevealedCurator's Tour at 6 p.m.

Inez Brooks-Myers, curator of costumes and textiles, is a great story-teller. Hear some insider secrets in the Art and History Galleries. Included with museum admission.

Oh I just remembered other homework for English 201 1-3. Be certain to read Chapter 5 in Holler, we will be outlining the chapter in groups. If you haven't read the chapter, you can't participate. There might be a quiz on the book up to Chapter 5. I might not be kidding :-)


October 1

Today in the early English 201 class only a few students completed the assignment given last week, so in class they responded to a prompt: the assignment was to answer one of the questions posed last week and use support from Dyson's book. The question was: 2. What influences did Leila Steinberg have on the beginning of Tupac's career? (Chapter 3).

We also listened to Brenda's Got a Baby (1991) and Keep Ya Head Up (1993). The homework assignment was to discuss how the second song was a letter of hope for Brenda. Students were to use use: 1 quote, 1 block quote and 1 paraphrase.

We spoke of prototypes and characters, how Brenda was a type...not necessarily unique. She was not an isolated incidence of a child faced with choices such as the one Tupac describes. I walked around and gave students sticky notes sheets to mark the pages in Hacker that have to do with citations pp. 406-423.

Homework for English 201 1-3
Watch the 60 Minutes episode on Vince Young. He reminds me of Brenda. You might also look at Clarence Thomas' interview. He reminds me of Tupac, especially Tupac's relationship with his grandfather. Thomas' and Afeni were hard on their sons. They were exacting and almost brutally honest. Thomas didn't appreciate this until recently when he began to write his memoir, named after his grandfather. He said he wanted to get back to what was important in his life. Tupac, from early on reflects the values his mother instilled in him. He to strayed and unlike Thomas, was killed before he could turn back to the kid who said, "When I grow up I want to be a revolutionary!"

Choose one of the interviews and explore the similarities and differences in the characters profiles: Brenda and Vince Young, or Tupac Shaku and chief justice, Clarence Thomas.

In a short expository essay, discuss the analogy I point out. The essay should be minimally 250 words. Use Dyson, the interview and the lyrics from the song about Brenda to support your claims. Post here by 1 p.m. Wednesday, October 3.

Don't forget to include a works cited at the end of your essay. We practiced citing from Hacker's Basic Format for a Book, a musical composition, and we got stuck when citing a TV show, so we went with the broadcast interview. Ask a librarian if you get stuck here.

Students had great feedback on the "Hip Hop Against America" (BET).

Field Trip Friday, October 5
We spoke about going on a field trip Friday to the Oakland Museum to see a film on Graffiti writing. I can get tickets. Let me know if you want to go and if you want to bring a guest.

The Color Purple
I am getting tickets for the Color Purple for the Tuesday, Nov. 6, 8 p.m. performance. Tickets are $25 each. If you want to go I am collecting money orders Thursday. My Wednesday class I need the money Wednesday. I am getting the tickets Friday. They will mail them to us.

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