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Response to Baldwin’s “If black language isn’t a language, then tell me what is?”

James Baldwins essay If Black English Isnt a Language, Then Tell Me What Is? begins to chip away at the relationship between language and power. He writes: [Language] reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity. There have been, and are, times, and places, when to speak a certain language could be dangerous, even fatal (Baldwin para 4).

For your second paper, Id like you to address Baldwins statement. You may agree or disagree with the statement, but whatever you do, you must explain WHY. Additionally, provide examples from your own personal experience that either highlights Baldwins statement or disparages it. Remember that part of the skill that were building is the skill of illustrating our ideas. It is not enough to simply make a statement, but to prove your statement with specific examples.

This paper is asking you to think beyond a basic I agree or I disagree statement, and instead, really invest in what Baldwin is saying. A successful paper should analyze Baldwins statement, which means you will need to invest some time telling your reader what Baldwin is trying to say. You will also explore the ways in which you either agree or disagree, using the Baldwins article as support.


This paper should be at least 3 pages, but no more than 4 pages.

You must use a template from chapter one of TS/IS, an appropriate verb from chapter two of TS/IS, and a template for introducing and then explaining a quote from chapter three of TS/IS. Each time you take something from TS/IS, you must put it bold so I can identify it easily.

Your paper must NOT be a standard 5 paragraph essay that you learned to write in High School. Your papers in this course should be complex and if you need more than three main ideas to argue your point, you better give yourself space to have them. (It is also perfectly fine to have LESS than three main ideas, as long as your paper is fully thought through and focused!)

Your paper must be free of spelling and grammar errors. Run your paper through Microsoft Words spelling and grammar check before turning it in the word program is usually correct!


Broadly, you will be graded on your ability to

Respond to the prompt for the paper
Summarize the ideas presented in Baldwins article as pertains to the topic of your paper
Examine and evaluate the contextual information youve selected as a way to support your answer to the paper prompt
Meet the requirements listed above
Write a paper that is free of spelling and grammatical errors