Essay #1: Reclaiming a Mistaken Identity
Background: After analyzing and discussing the role of self-representation in our media in the form of the â€œselfieâ€ and exploring the way â€œframes trump factsâ€ (Harris and Carbado 47), we have a better understanding of the way the â€œmedia [are] both author and reader of events in ways that both challeng[e] and underwr[i]teâ€ misconceptions about race, gender, culture, religion, disability, socio-economic status, and identity (Harris and Carbado 51). By also drawing connections to the UDHR, we are beginning to see that the way we depict ourselves and the way others interpret our identity can diminish our dignity and, in fact, our rights in society due to the assumptions made and the stereotypes created. After reading the informative narrative essays about the writersâ€™ diverse experiences and considering Adichieâ€™s warnings about â€œThe Danger of a Single Story,â€ you are now prepared to consider the question: What story is being told about you? This assignment asks you to think about an aspect of your identity that is often misrepresented in the media. Your goal is to inform readers about the way media representations can create and perpetuate stereotypesâ€”stereotypes that can make it more difficult to see the inherent dignity and humanity of individualsâ€”and to re-educate them to correct your mistaken identity. Of course, if you rarely see yourself depicted in a positive light, and find an accurate or dignified representation of yourself, this may also be something you wish to share to highlight a positive media portrayal.
TASK: In 3-5 pages, using MLA format, analyze the way a specific media or type of media you have chosen (song, film, TV show, character, blog, meme, news, etc.) misrepresents (or accurately represents) an aspect of your identity, and educate your readers about the reality of your experience.
Hints: Consider the following questions as you brainstorm and write:
â€¢ What are some of the misconceptions that people have?
â€¢ Why do you feel that this representation is undignified/inaccurate (or dignified/accurate)?
â€¢ What do you wish that people really knew about your identity?
â€¢ Why is it important for readers to get a different perspective on this issue?
â€¢ How can you use language, structure, and style to persuade your readers?
Requirements: A strong essay will . . .
â€¢ Open with an introduction paragraph that engages and clearly connects with your chosen audience,
introduces the media you have chosen to write about, and leads toward your thesis.
â€¢ Provide a thesis statement at the end of the introduction paragraph that directly responds to the task above.
â€¢ In the introduction or first body paragraph, clearly explain the way that media can influence our
perceptions. You must introduce, quote and/or paraphrase at least one of our class texts as an authoritative source: Harris and Carbado, Adichie, UDHR, Cofer, etc.
â€¢ Consider the arguments presented by the authors of our readings and those of the videos, as well as our discussion about the UDHR and â€œdignityâ€ to inspire your own topics and main points.
â€¢ Use the Media Study to argue numerous ways your chosen media frames your identity
â€¢ Make only one main point per paragraph (aim for specific instead of general), and include multiple
paragraphs to both analyze the media and re-educate your audience.
â€¢ Include support for your points in the form of detailed description and examples from your chosen media, classwork, texts and your own experience
â€¢ Address your essay to a specific audience: the creators of that image, OR your classmates, OR another group that you feel needs to be informed, corrected, or perhaps applauded.
â€¢ End with a thoughtful conclusion paragraph that directly connects with your audience and demands some form of action, re-evaluation of the media presented, or a way to promote the positive image offered, etc.
Optional Activity: Survey your peers or community members to find out what they think about your chosen identity or â€œpeople.â€
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