Music of my Community

The music of my community is rap and hip-hop. Each element of my community including my friends, the school I attend, and the city that I reside in is permeated by the sounds, beats, and lyrics of hip-hop music culture.

I know countless rappers and producers, who make beats and mixtapes and are constantly developing their own identity through their music. To them it becomes more of a lifestyle and less of a hobby or musical endeavor. This is the same for me, as it has taken over my life. I read about it, research it and most importantly experience it. It is not something that I simply put on and listen to, I analyze it and soak in every note and lyric. This is why it hurts me so much to see other musicians and patrons of music criticize and stereotype it. The critics say that it degrades women, and that it negatively affects todays youth by promoting violence and other negative habits. It is a blatantly unfair stereotype that comes from a lack of perception as well as  lack of understanding.

Hip-hop music is inspiring, unique, and uplifting. Unfortunately due to a lack of creativity as well as greed by record labels the songs that reflect this rarely receive air time on the radio or popular TV channels like MTV. The further you dig into the music the more you break the stereotype and the more you understand the true purpose and affect of hip-hop music.

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Second Essay (Rough Draft)

Tucker Brookshire

9/28/11

English 101

This is Definitely a Shitty First Draft on Police Brutality

Freedom of speech. It is stated in our bill of rights and given to every citizen of our country. Although such a basic principle seems to be available to everyone that does not mean that it is not without it’s “grey” areas. One of the ideas that we are often not allowed to speak about is the police, it is one of the few ideas that can be found with restrictions and is often met with hostility if ever criticized. For this reason, is why I chose to analyze two speeches that do just that, criticize the police and even greet them with threats.

The first is a speech delivered by a newscaster name Lawrence O’Donnell who has his own show on MSNBC news network entitled “Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell”. During a segment on his show on September 26th, 2011 he lashed out in a nearly nine minute tirade regarding the NYPD’s unfair and improper use of force during a protest on Wall Street. The message he delivered was clearly directed at the audience who watched his show but unmistakably was also directed at not only the police located at the the protest in New York City, but as well as police all across America.

The second speech is a poetry reading done on the once popular television program “Def Poetry Jam”. The poem is both read and written by Grammy winning rap artist Common. Common also lashes out against police authority in this piece which he calls “Letter to the Law”.

His audience is the audience attending that particular taping of Def Poetry Jam, as well anyone who watches the taping later. However it is clear that his words have intent much further than that of just a stage or television audience, his words are also directed at the police, as well as anyone who has ideas of rebelling against police authority.

The first thing I notice in the speeches is the way in which they have been arranged. The arrangement of the speech is incredibly important due to the fact that it allows the reader or listener to understand what exactly is being presented to them as well as what problems are being addressed.

In the speech delivered by Lawrence O’Donnell he immediately jumps right into to addressing his audience by teasing the audience with the topic of which he was about to deliver his discourse upon. O’Donnell then immediately cuts to an intense video clip filled with yelling and screaming surrounded by fervent moments of chaos. After reaching a climatic point in the video it once again cuts back away to Mr. O’Donnell. He again lashes out at the target of his protest which at this point has been identified as the police force trying to control a crowd of people who have erupted into a near riot. Lawrence O’Donnell continues in this fashion of presenting his audience with a clip filled with chaos, then cutting back to him analyzing the footage and calling out the attacker for nearly the entire remainder of his nine minute speech. It is only for the last few minutes when he lashes out in a final tirade that wraps up his overall view and message. I believe Mr. O’Donnell adopts this strategy in order to provide a very shocking amount of evidence that captivates his audience, upon capturing their attention he then delivers a precise and electrifying argument that capitalizes off his previously shared evidence. This is a very effective form of speech arrangement that Mr. O’Donnell profits off of very well.

Common’s speech is arranged in a completely different form as compared to the speech given by Mr. O’Donnell. Instead, Common delivers his speech in one slowly paced two minute piece of spoken word poetry. His poetry is arranged in a very simple, yet effective, a-b rhyme scheme. Common relies more on short yet intense and forceful vocabulary which leads to his speech being arranged in such a simple manner. This arrangement causes a majority of his sentences to carry a heavy impact while still maintaining the powerful message he is trying to deliver. Common arranges his speech in this manner in order to allow each of his words to carry the respective punch he feels they deserve, yet at the same time allows the audience to focus on what is being said without being too distracted by complicated rhyme patterns.

Secondly, the speeches of both men include very distinct style. The style of each gentleman’s speech is fierce yet strict with its intention toward not only their audience but as well toward the implied audience of police and their abuse of power.

Lawrence O’Donnell starts off by referring to the policemen involved in the scandal as “troublemakers”, a word seemingly reserved for young children who are too immature to handle any serious responsibility. He then continues his strong use of vocabulary by plainly describing the action of one policeman as “police brutality”. This is key due to the fact that it is such a serious accusation that O’Donnell delivers with complete confidence in what it means, as well as confidence that he can back up his accusation. Throughout the rest of his speech Lawrence O’Donnell consistently emphasizes words like “anyone”, “anything”, and “everyday”. This is done in order to drive home the point that the same treatment that this mob of people faced can happen to any regular citizen. Not only is this an attempt by O’Donnell to connect with his audience but it is also an effective use of reiterating a point that he later mentions when he says that the problem of abuse of police power is a reoccurring problem that must be fixed. O’Donnell’s use of strong and intimidating vernacular allows him to convince the audience that he should be taken seriously and has a valid point to make.

Common’s style is distinct and very demanding. He is clear with his choice of vocabulary that proves his demanding style. Common’s posture is very confident, as he stands tall, yet leans into each of his words. His posture lends to his believability as each word is delivered with the waving and pointing of his hands that draws the audiences attention to him. The vernacular of Common is fierce and intense, calling for violence as well as threatening the very police that he speaks out against. He calls himself a “warrior” as well as saying he carries an “uzi that weighs a ton”. Both statements seem to indicate that Common is prepared to bring violence to the door of the police, as well leads to the fact that he is prepared to defend himself in a violent manner. Common also speaks on “popping a gun”, once again supporting the idea that he is expecting violence at any time. Common uses this style in his speech to set the tone of what he is saying. He wants his audience to be aware that his message is not that of peace, but one of conflict and protest. This is clearly established through his strong and agitated vernacular and vocabulary.

One of the most glaring differences in both speeches is the delivery used by both men. Although the same point is being argued, it is presented by each speaker in completely diverse and clashing styles of delivery.

Lawrence O’Donnell delivers his speech in a stern and rigid manner. His tone carries an almost demeaning message. It is comparable to that of a parent scolding a child, or a teacher disciplining a student. This delivery however is not meant to be directed at the audience watching the television program, instead it seems his delivery is directed more toward the police officers themselves. As well as using a stern and demeaning delivery O’Donnell also manages to maintain a delivery that draws the attention of the audience toward his words. His speech is calm, yet still maintains the necessary candor that allows each of his words to be heard and felt with the emotional impact he intended them to have. This style of delivery is very successful as it both captivates the audience as well as maintains the idea that his speech is being given to criticize not just to inform.

Common’s delivery although very stern carries much more of an agitated and fiery tone. He does not yell, he does not scream, nor does he raise his voice beyond that of a conversational volume. Instead he makes a stern delivery obvious through the timbre and emphasis of his words as well as through the use of excited and flamboyant hand motions. Upon stating how he watches the government just as much as they watch him, he vehemently points his finger at the crowd. Motions like these display the passion that Common has for his topic, as well as display the intensity and emotion involved in his delivery.

The invention of each speaker is very clear, as both speeches address the idea of police and their abuse of power as well as unfair treatment of civillians. It is important to realize the invention of each author in order to understand what perspective they have on the topic they are delivering a discourse on.

Lawrence O’Donnell clues the audience into his perspective on police brutality in the first few seconds of his speech when he refers to the police as “troublemakers”. Although this is not a clearly stated view it is very clear that O’Donnell seems to be speaking against the police force. He continues to develop the invention of his speech through the use of accusations upon the officers when he accuses them of unlawfully assaulting bystanders, as well as pointing out specific video evidence showing what crimes had been committed. It is not until nearly the seven minute mark when he finally states that “…everyday in America police are too tough…”. It seems O’Donnell waited till this point to give a sure statement on his perspective in order to present a large amount of supporting evidence before making a final judgement. This strategy boosts the logos of Mr. O’Donnell as it showed he has come equipped with facts to support such a bold claim.

Common develops the invention of his speech very slowly. He doesn’t directly address who is the subject of his discourse within the first few seconds. Instead he makes broad generalizations that could be connected with any particular audience. It is not until he delivers the line “tell the law my uzi weighs a ton” when the audience becomes aware of who exactly Common is addressing. However even after making this statement he still doesn’t make it completely clear, only addressing the law a few more times throughout the rest of the speech. Common adopts this strategy of keeping his target audience concealed and mysterious in order to allow his message to be applied universally to other ideas such as government abuse of power. He does not want his message to be seen as only directed at one specific event or group, instead he wants it to be seen as a speech that can be applied to numerous issues.

The final part of the speech is the memory used by each speaker. Memory helps to develop the opinions and perspective that is utilized in the speeches. Each speaker relied on different life experiences and historical knowledge to develop their rhetorical appeal.

O’Donnell utilizes a particular example of memory when he references the infamous incident of Rodney King. He uses this example right after he accuses police officers of being too tough. He even goes as far as saying that “…everyday there is a Rodney King…”. He also uses the not guilty verdict of the Rodney King case to point to the fact that the same officers who abused their power against the crowd will not face any charges. This is a valid point as it turns out that only 33% of police that are charged with misconduct end up with a conviction according to www.copblock.org. O’Donnell uses such historical moments to back up his previously made accusations against the officers. Mr. O’Donnell is somewhat successful in his use of memory, however his speech would have been more effective had he included even more.

Common relies heavily on memory in his speech citing numerous examples to support his reasons for anger towards authority. He makes a reference to the infamous lynchings of African-Americans when he says “In Cincinnati, another brother hung”. Such a statement immediately brings up previous events that are universally seen as despicable. This connection to his audience is very useful as it is a statement that evokes passion as well as draws the attention of the audience to his side. Common continues this connection between the audience and the historical violence against african americans when he says “….from project building seen a fiend being hung…”. This statement once again reminds the audience of the dark history of America while placing it in modern times allowing the audience to visualize previous events occurring in the modern era. Common uses memory in a very effective manner drawing connections from the past as well as the present.

In conclusion, both speakers argue the same idea of fighting back against police abuse of power. However they use completely different techniques in how they argue it. Each speaker takes advantage of the rhetorical canons of invention, arrangement, style, delivery, and memory. While Mr. Lawrence O’Donnell takes the calm yet stern route in his criticism, Common takes the fierce yet angry and violent side of the argument. Both serve their purpose and both make their mark on the argument of police brutality.

Works Cited

(done with ww.easybib.com)

Dantes, Edmond. “Police Brutality Statistics | Cop Block.” Cop Block | Reporting Police Abuse, Brutality, and Corruption. 13 Apr. 2011. Web. 02 Oct. 2011. <http://www.copblock.org/2841/police-brutality-statistics/>.

“Def Poetry – Common – A Letter To The Law – YouTube.” YouTube – Broadcast Yourself. 27 Jan. 2007. Web. 03 Oct. 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LssFolrpiD4>.

“MSNBC on NYPD Police Brutality during Occupy Wall Street Law – YouTube.” YouTube – Broadcast Yourself. 27 Sept. 2011. Web. 03 Oct. 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3O2z_2mryE>.

“Ain’t So/Is Not” and “I.M.’s of Romeo and Juliet”

I.) “Ain’t So/Is Not”

As has been evidenced by my writing thus far I am still stuck to some of my old ways of high school writing. Particularly the idea of a five paragraph essay. I consistently find myself planning my essays in a very simple beginning, middle, end fashion. This is a technique that has always been taught to me by my high school teachers, even required at times. It is a tough process to break considering how long I have practiced it.

This difference is especially evident in how my professors judge my diction and tone. In previous high school essays I could get away with simple paragraphs, easy vocabulary, and poor sentence structure. Often times seeming as if the only real grading principle was whether or not I fulfilled the required amount of pages. Now my professors pay careful attention to my choice of words as well as how the paper flows. Gone are the days of simple assignments where I simply fill a page with the given requirements. Now I must fulfill both criteria of having a strong paper including vocabulary, diction, tone, flow, etc., as well as completing the given number of pages.

As well as the length of my papers, I was also never required to maintain a blog for any of my classes, an assignment which so far has been an interesting process. It feels much more open and easier to write in instead of being forced to write numerous essays. I am more inclined to put my own opinions and values into my blog entries than I am in my essays. It is also a much more comfortable process. One where I do not feel like I am completely confined by an assignments rules or guidelines. While I may still have guidelines they are much easier to write about and allow for some of my own flare in my writing.

II.) “I.M.’s of Romeo and Juliet”

I feel that Chast is responding to the idea that today’s youth is slowly losing intelligence, specifically vocabulary, due to their lack of human contact and reliance upon social media devices such as twitter, facebook, texting. He is specifically stating that it is a negative effect . I do agree with Chast in the sense that my generation has focused to much on talking to people without actually seeing them. We have drifted away from human contact and have started to rely on texting or sending them a twitter message instead. Although it may be quicker and easier it detracts from the person’s ability to develop a solid and growing relationship.

III.) Dialogue

Juliet: Hello Romeo! Are you availible?

Romeo: Hello Juliet! Indeed I am, how are you?

J: I am fine, how are you doing?

R: Well I am not that great, school did not go so well today.

J: Oh yes, I heard Mr. Wylander was not pleased with your actions today.

R:  Yes, I used purple ink on my science test, and he got incredibly upset. When he’s angry he bears a strong resemblance to Jimminy Cricket.

J: That is humorous, I do indeed see the resemblance.

R: Oh well, will you be attending the gathering at Nicholas’s house?

J: I cannot my parents will not allow it.

R: Why is that?

J: Mrs. Cordoza called home and informed them of my struggles in spanish class. Also that informed me that they do not like you very much.

R: Well mine dislike you so the feeling is mutual.

J: Speaking of parents, my father seems to be on his way up the stairs, I do indeed need to depart.

R: Alright, I will talk to you later then!

J: Definitely my love, see you tomorrow.

124187-2402p066-1b.jpg

I used this picture in order to demonstrate just how odd the idea of how they are communicating really is. Often times those who partake in social media and instant messaging do not realize how uncomfortable and out of place they really are. In fact it is a very awkward and seemingly wrong process of communicating as depicted in the picture above.

(Edit: If the picture does not appear due to lack of software then click the question mark box.)

Analysis of Videos

Video 1: How Bad Do You Want It? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jal4OkZtz8g)

Video 2: I Am a Champion (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yX39J_YyKbs)

The genre of the speeches that I chose was that of inspiration, both speeches have a direct purpose in trying to motivate the listener.

The speaker of the first video is Eric Thomas, a man who does professional motivational speaking for a living. His purpose is to motivate a group of Michigan State University students through a speech regarding success. His audience is a group of young college students mostly ages 18-21, who attended one of his lectures. His direct message to the students is to motivate themselves to a point where they can change their lives and become more successful in their everyday activities. Upon further review it could be seen that his implied message is that todays generation is lacking in personal responsibility as well as the necessary skills it takes to become successful. He relies heavily on the use of  pathos to appeal to his audiences emotions through his use of vernacular as well as the passion displayed in his voice.

The speaker for the second video was the coach of a young youth football team named Coach Flowers. His purpose is also to motivate his audience through an intense and almost angry speech. His audience is his team that he coaches which seems to consist mostly of high school athletes. His direct message is that they must defeat the opposing team. The implied message could be that  his team needs to find inspiration in his words and use it to not only defeat the team that they are playing but to develop as men as well. For the most part Coach Flowers relies on pathos to reach his audience using intense vocabulary as well as increasing the volume of his voice to get a rise out of the emotions of his team.

Rhetorical Analysis of Colleague’s Essay: Matt Sands

The author of the paper was my peer and colleague Matt Sands, who wrote his paper on the ineffectiveness of school uniforms. He develops his credibility mostly from his first-hand experience of attending a school that also required a uniform. Such knowledge can be very influential, and provided him with plenty of in-depth information for his paper. His audience seems to be school administrators, parents with children in school, teachers, or even school children. The direct message of this paper is evident, as it is stated in his thesis statement, which is that school uniforms produce little if no benefit toward a children’s education or the school atmosphere. Upon further analysis it could be seen that his implied message is that schools often times may over step there boundaries in how far they should impede on the natural born rights of every student. The writer structures his essay in a very unique way, by first presenting the positives of  school uniforms in the first few pages. He includes statistics stating the benefits as well as anecdotes reflecting the safety that school uniforms may provide. After providing the positive side of the view, he begins to support his original thesis through personal anecdotes as well as the view that school uniforms are an unconstitutionally sound and inhibit a students individuality. Both, valid points that I also used in my argument against school uniforms. I do not necessarily find this style of organization very successful. It seems that too much time is spent focusing on the opposite of what is stated in the thesis statement. There are nearly two pages written on the support of the opposing view before the authors true argument is presented. Although it allows both sides of the argument to be presented in the end it does more to counteract against the original argument being presented. Throughout the paper it seems the author is trying to make you see both sides, but instead make you realize one that one is argument is better than the other. In the first half of the paper the author heavily relies on the use of logos in his arguments. There are numerous facts presented such as “..the crime rate had dropped by 91%, school suspensions by 90%, sexual offenses by 96%, and incidents of vandalism had dropped by 69%….”. This leads to the author backing up the point opposite of his thesis which in the end takes away some of his credibility as it relates to his thesis. Towards the end of the paper the author relies more on ethos by countering with the point that uniforms are constitutionally unfair as well as restricting to a students individuality. The most successful part of the writers paper was his use of personal experience. These anecdotes from his true life stories in school build up his credibility as a writer and bring more evidence to support is thesis. The part that confuses me the most is when he jumps right from his thesis into an argument supporting the opposite view, it confuses the writer into being unsure of what point is actually being presented. My best advice for a final draft in the portfolio is to present the argument with less points supporting the other side and more evidence supporting the original thesis.

Are School Uniforms the Right Fit?

Tucker Brookshire

English 101

9/9/11

Are School Uniforms the Right Fit?

The idea of forcing someone to wear a mandatory uniform seems to be very authoritarian, and is normally a practice only used by things like the military or in your job. However the last place you would expect to find such autocratic and seemingly tyrannical ideas is in the schools of young children. Such an idea is rapidly gaining support all across the world. Nevertheless, my own view is that although in principle uniforms may seem like a good idea, they ultimately lead to an increase in bullying, take away one of the most interesting and exciting aspects of school; individuality and take an unnecessary path to an easy solution.

First, uniforms will lead to an increase in bullying. This thought is often seen in the complete opposite by proponents of school uniforms, stating that school uniforms would stop students from making fun of another student for what they wear, since everyone is wearing the same thing. However while you may do away with one negative aspect of bullying one more arises; now students will be made fun of for how they fill out the uniforms. Students who are overweight or have other deformities such as acne, or shortened height will now stand out in the crowd and be seen as easy targets. “While uniforms do assuage the best-clothes competition, they create a new and more painful contest: the best-body competition” says Alicia Thomas a writer for http://www.pennlive.com. I can speak to this fact through personal experience as I have a brother who is very obese. Although he has since graduated high school, I saw him go through years and years of torment from his fellow classmates due to his weight issues. My brother attended a public school without a uniform requirement. If he had attended a school where uniforms are required I have no doubt that the bullying would have been much worse. The focus of a bully is more concentrated when there is a uniform policy. Instead of being able to pick on a person for multiple things his focus is now shifted to their most obvious traits. As well as being picked on for their physical disparages, school uniforms also lead to more bullying based on where they got their clothes. Some students may purchase their clothes from higher end retailers, and may be able to purchase “name-brand” labels, while other students may be forced to purchase their clothes from less recognizable labels such as Wal-Mart or Target. This once again allows a bully to target yet another facet of a students uniform. Bullying is nearly impossible to do away with all together, and school uniforms do little to change that, although they may decrease one aspect of the bully’s arsenal, it still opens up other avenues to aggravate.

Secondly, mandatory school uniforms take away one of the most exciting and interesting aspects of school; individuality. In a society where most schools are built in a insignificant and boring fashion, with plain white walls and drab floors, the vibrance and excitement of the students is the last line of defense to what seems to be an attack on the freedom of expression of schoolchildren all across the world. School is a time where we both gain an education, as well as develop our own unique personality. What you wear and how you dress is a key element in the development of your identity. It is easy to say that your outfit should not determined by how you dress, which is partially true, however to state that it plays no role is completely ignorant. In a time where students barely know themselves it is imperative that they have all the necessary tools at hand to help them grow and develop their inner as well as their outer personality. Uniforms not only take away your individuality as a student but your rights as a citizen as well. Upon entering a school campus you are immediately stripped of a majority of your god-given rights, now administrators want to take away one of the few rights that we have left, it hardly seems fair. This practice of stripping entire communities of simple rights and values is most commonly seen and practiced in corrupt, and malevolent dictatorships as well as in communist countries such as South Korea or even modern day China. To see the same principle being used on school campuses seems not only absurd but completely against what we pride ourselves on as Americans; our freedom of speech. As stated in the United States constitution, our first amendment confirms that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This amendment proves that taking away the students freedom of choice directly contradicts what is being taught to them in school. How can we tell students one thing, then demand an entirely different and conflicting set of rules? It is an unfair and seemingly illegal process. In an article on Cornell University Law School’s website they describe the role of this amendment as “the most basic component of freedom of expression is the right of freedom of speech. The right to freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government.” In this case it is the school government that is interfering with, and constraining the students freedom. Evidently it is decidedly clear that even the idea of school designated attire is a blatant violation of a students first amendment right. School uniforms take away a students natural born rights, as well as taking away one of the most necessary and important traits to growth and development; a students individuality.

Finally, school uniforms take an unnecessary path to an easy solution. Proponents of a school uniform argue that they will cut down on gang activity by preventing them from displaying their gang colors, prevent students from wearing scandalous outfits to school, and even cut down on the amount of clothing that includes politically offensive, racially sensitive, or just outright insulting slogans or phrases. However what these uniform advocates fail to realize is the fact all of the problems mentioned above can just as easily be solved with a simple, yet strict school dress code. Dress codes attack all these problems, yet still allow students to maintain their individuality as well as their freedom of speech. At some schools they even “require students to have the belt line exposed at all times for fear of guns concealed under clothing” says Larry Wilder in his letter written for www.fresno.edu.com. Even such simple changes as raising the belt line can lead to safer schools, as well as making the job of the administrators much easier without asking too much of students and parents. It is the best of both worlds, giving students not only their god-given rights, but also maintaining a professional yet safe and educational environment. “Ruby Luke, the extracurricular secretary-treasurer at Lincoln (Middle School in Indianapolis), said the looser policy had resulted in fewer interruptions during class, because teachers rarely have to eject students from class to change into regulation clothing. “The kids are much happier, and there are not nearly as many dress code violations.” ” writes blogger Stephanie Clifford in an article she researched for the New York Times. This proves that not only does a dress code keep the children happy but can also lend a significant hand in cutting down on bad behavior. After all, a happy student is a well behaved student. The use of a school dress code can satisfy both sides by providing safety and professionalism as well as allowing students to keep their rights and individuality.

In conclusion, it is clear that school uniforms do little to positively affect the school atmosphere as well as the feelings and motivation of students. It is an over thought and overdone idea that in the end leads to more loose ends than it does actual solutions. At a time where we are fighting for freedom and democracy across the world the best we can do is continue to represent it here at home. Louis D. Brandeis a former Associate Justice to the Supreme Court once said “America has believed that in differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress. It acted on this belief, it has advanced human happiness, and it has prospered.” Let us continue to prosper, and never rely upon uniformity to shape who we are today.