The Case for Reparations- Coates

For much of the semester the class has been practicing “reading with the grain,” which involves taking the author’s argument and agreeing, expanding and working with it. We have also been practicing “reading against the grain,” which could be characterized as not just disagreeing with an author but actively working against an author by trying to find weaknesses in an argument or by providing alternative or even exaggerated readings. In some ways both of these activities are forms of rhetorical analysis in which you look at how an author has put together an argument in order to engage you.

The most recent essay that class has read is Coates’ “The Case for Reparations,” which some could say reads against the grain of a particular American history.

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Question 6 from the reader asks:

Coates’s language can appear extreme. He describes the “tyranny” of “the acquisitive warlords of the South” (para 13), condemns America’s 250-year “war upon black families and black people” (para. 71), and refers to the “plunder” of black bodies and labor over a dozen times. He also draws extensively on scholarship, quoting historians, sociologists, and law professors throughout the essay. Write a paper analyzing Coates’s style: Do you find his language engaging or off-putting? How does he deploy evidence? Is it convincing? How might opponents of reparations object to his arguments, and how might he respond?

Please respond to each aspect of the above prompt questions in your essay and create a thesis driven response by asking “why” and then presenting an argument (though don’t literally ask “why”).

Remember you are being asked to critique how an author makes an argument. You are not being asked to write an essay in which you explain if the author is right or wrong or if you agree with reparations. Although, you may consider offering an opinion of that in the essay’s conclusion.

As an additional challenge, I would also like to characterize this argument essay as an academic essay, which means the structure of the essay should mirror that of the more familiar college level essays (analysis, expository, etc.) and incorporate an introduction and thesis and body paragraphs for support.

This essay should have:

An introduction that provides context, background and the importance of the issue
A clear multi-point thesis
Topic sentences that relate to the thesis
Body paragraphs which explore your point of view on the issue
At least two quotes from separate sources that are properly embedded and cited and provide meaningful engagement with the issue
References to one scholarly text and one essay from the course text book (Rereading America 11th Edition) for a total of two works cited
Awareness of counter claims and arguments or concerns
Provide a conclusion which restates the thesis and explores on-going concerns
Be substantially free of spelling and grammatical error
A work cited page
Additional Guidelines:

MLA formatting
Create an original title
Effectively quote, paraphrase, and summarize sources using MLA 8th
If applicable a works cited page and in-text citations using MLA 8th
Revise, edit, and proofread for the conventions of college level standard

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