Odessa College Royal Society National Academy of Sciences Forum Short Essay
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Odessa College Royal Society National Academy of Sciences Forum Short Essay
USE this link carefully to write the essay of at least 1200 to 1300 words.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6-D4Gep1D8
Sample essay Student name
17 Nov. 2020
Well-Intentioned Laws Turned Bad
Analysis of “The Drug War is the New Jim Crow”
Many people like to believe that racism is dead and that people of color have the same opportunities and advantages as anyone else. And while it’s true that separate water fountains and midnight hangings no longer exist, African Americans still experience different, harsher treatment than white people do. “The Drug War is the New Jim Crow,” by Graham Boyd, argues that the drug war of the late 20th and early 21st centuries eroded Constitutional rights and caused harm to minority communities. Boyd, an attorney who works to reform drug laws and reduce mass incarceration, published on The American Civil Liberties Union web page. He’s a knowledgeable author with a definite bias towards protecting the rights of the underserved, and the ACLU shares the same mission, to fight for marginalized people. My research topic is institutional racism, and I want to know whether drug laws in this country are racist. This article helps answer my search question by explaining how laws and practices that harm only certain people become institutionalized and are thus applied unfairly.This article begins by establishing the disproportionate number of African Americans imprisoned as a result of drug-related crimes and then argues that the war on drugs has eroded Constitutional rights and caused harm to minority communities.
Boyd establishes in the introduction that African Americans have been more harshly punished for drug offenses than white people. Early in the article, Boyd compares the number of Black Americans in the prison system to historical atrocities and explains the logic that justifies this kind of incarceration. First Boyd establishes the scope of the problem. He points out that although the United States has only 5% of the world’s population, it has 25% of the prisoners, “Winning it the dubious title of the world’s leading jailer” (Boyd). So, in general, the United States has a higher rate of imprisonment than most countries. He narrows the focus to African Americans in prison. Boyd compares the number of Black men in prison, 792,000, to the number of black men who were slaves in 1820 and says that one-third of Black men in their 20s are in prison (Boyd). His point is to establish the significant numbers of Black men impacted by the judicial system. In the introduction, he also explains the logic that justifies imprisoning people at such a high rate. He says that calling it a “war” on drugs justifies throwing out “normal rules of conduct under the imperative of a higher goal” (Boyd), meaning that because we are at war, it’s good to suspend individual protections in order to protect society. This information will help me establish a basis for explaining systemic racism. By definition, systemic racism is unacknowledged racism, where the system has adjusted itself to privilege one group and disadvantage other groups without necessarily realizing that anyone has been disadvantaged since the system is supposed to work for the greater good. Boyd cites other times in history where this has happened. He talks about Lincoln’s suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus during the Civil War to justify jailing possible enemies, the same rationale that the U.S. used during World War II when it incarcerated Japanese Americans (Boyd). When society believes that national security is at risk, it’s willing to suspend individual rights in order to protect society as a whole. Thus, Boyd spends the first part of his article establishing the significance of the problem.
Boyd makes two main arguments to show that the drug laws of that time were discriminatory in the same way that the Jim Crow laws of the first half of the twentieth century were discriminatory.He argues that the drug laws in general erode Constitutional rights.He explains how drug laws have infringed on the free practice of religion, the power of law enforcement to search and arrest, property rights, freedom of speech, and disenfranchisement of former felons.In each instance, the infringement of rights affected a small minority of people.For example, Boyd cites the 1988 Supreme Court case of Smith v. Oregon, which ruled that Native Americans can no longer use peyote for religious purposes.He points out that drug offenses “do not typically have complaining witnesses,” so the only way to collect evidence is surreptitiously through things like wiretapping, surveillance, and intrusive drug tests (Boyd). In these examples as well as the other examples cited by Boyd, the common denominator is that the people whose rights are compromised are outside the mainstream of society, small groups of people engaged in behavior that the broader elements of society have deemed undesirable. This point is important in understanding institutionalized oppression because the purpose of these actions is to protect everyone from drug crimes.In that effort to do something perceived as positive for all of society, certain groups are treated unfairly.Boyd points out, for example, that in Florida in 2000, 31% of African American men, approximately 200,000 people, were not allowed to vote in the presidential election between Bush and Gore (Boyd).Because the difference between the two candidates was less than 600 votes, these disenfranchised voters would have probably made a difference. When one group of people loses their Constitutional rights, it affects us all.
In his discussion of the way drug laws have eroded Constitutional rights, Boyd speaks in general terms, but when he speaks of the resulting harms, he describes how African Americans specifically have been targeted and harmed by drug laws. African Americans use drugs at a lower rate but are incarcerated more often than white Americans; African American parents have lost children to the foster care system, convicted drug felons, which are disproportionately African American, lose federal education assistance after serving their time. Boyd says, “The drug war claims morality and protection of children as its goals, while turning a blind eye to the racial injustice it promotes” (Boyd). It isn’t that these laws don’t punish other groups of people, but because these laws are applied disproportionately and more stringently to African Americans, the harms caused by the laws fall onto this group of people more than others. This point is important it provides statistics and facts to back up the claim that drug laws have harmed African Americans in far-reaching and indirect ways. The harms fall on this group more heavily because this group is targeted more heavily.Boyd says that in some states, “blacks make up 90% of drug prisoners and are up to 57 times more likely than whites to be incarcerated for drug crimes” (Boyd). A functioning society has to have laws, but there should not be this much disparity in the way the laws are enforced.The harms caused by this unequal treatment are just as great if not greater than the harms these laws are designed to protect against.
This deep dive into drug laws and their impact on the African American community helps make the point that even the best-intentioned laws can contribute to institutional racism in the way they are interpreted and applied.If drug use is deemed a crime, then punishment should be distributed equally, without regard for a person’s skin color.If the crime seems more serious when committed by a black or brown person than when committed by a white person, we should take that as a signal to reassess whether the law is truly meant to protect us from a legitimate danger or just a way of imposing control over certain groups of people who lack the power and influence to protect themselves.
Boyd, Graham. “Drug Laws are the New Jim Crow.” ACLU, July/Aug. 2000, https://www.aclu.org/other/drug-war-new-jim-crow.
Instructions for Writing the Reader Response Essay
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Second Major Writing Assignment:
Choose a Key Source and Write a Reader-Response Essay about That Source
Overview of the Assignment:
The main purpose of this assignment is to teach you two research skills: to understand a source well enough to communicate its meaning to a reader AND to cite a source in your own writing correctly, either through direct quotation or paraphrase.
Your reader-response essay should be about 1000 1200 words, double-spaced, typed in 11- or 12-point font, plus a one-item Works Cited page (which I will explain).
For this Reader-Response essay, you must locate one particular article or some equivalent work (a serious website link, etc.). Though you could later decide not to use this source in your research paper, ideally your choice now will become a major source for that paper, later. NOTE: Encyclopedias, including Wikipedia, are not regarded as acceptable scholarly sources for college work. They are considered to be study guides. So you may not choose Wikipedia or any other encyclopedia for this assignment. Also, while videos are valid sources, they are hard to work with in any extended manner (it is hard to track the quotes), so it is usually best to also avoid that type of source for this project.
So your first step will be to choose some potentially important source on your research topic, of article length (probably five pages or more).
Once you locate your article, you will write an essay that basically covers the following:
- What it says, in and of itself; and
- How this may be helpful to your further research and ultimately, in the writing of your later research paper.
There are three requirements which make this a research project, in itself:
- You must choose, read, and understand the article for yourself (though I am happy to answer questions).
- And to pass this essay, you must present at least one direct quote or paraphrase in each of your three body paragraphs, each quote to be followed by an MLA-style parenthetical citation, which I will teach (and my strong preference is for two citations from the article per paragraph, which can be a combination of short direct quotes and paraphrases of longer source material in each body paragraph);
- You must also formally cite your source in what is called a Works Cited page. We will study how to include quotes according to a five-step process, and how to build Works Cited entries for their sources. While I will be happy to answer questions, I expect you to use this knowledge. (Your Works Cited will have only one entry.)
The Assignment Outline
Your introductory paragraph should include these things
- Background info on the source: tell its title, its author, establish its credibility and briefly explain what it is about. Do this in a sentence or two, NOT in an MLA-style entry at this point.
- State your research topic and include your search question. Remember, you have included both these things already in your research proposal.
- Your thesis sentence: This should tell how you think this source will be helpful to you. What do you learn from it? State this in no more than two sentences, preferably one. Note that this will spin off your declaration of research topic and presentation of your search question. That is, the usual thesis sentence will say something about how this source will help you answer your search question.
- A preview of your body paragraphs (probably three, no more than four): The trick here is that your paragraphs should focus on the article’s main supporting points. This will take some careful reading and analysis, because you have to spot the article’s main subdivisions—its supporting points. So in essence, your preview will list the article’s three or four main supporting points or subdivisions. These will be easier to spot in articles which are themselves clearly organized, so it is wise to bear this in mind when choosing your source. Also, your source may have MORE than three or four main points or subdivisions. If so, then you must eliminate the less useful one; I want no more than four body paragraphs in your paper, each of which will discuss one of your source’s main points or subdivisions.
Main body, to consist of three or four separate paragraphs. These must match the three or four main supporting points listed in your preview!
- First body paragraph: This will discuss only the first of the three or four points you previewed (the subdivisions of the article), and should include the following four elements:
- Topic Sentence: This should name the supporting point you’re about to discuss. Remember, this is the first supporting point or subdivision of the article. It is the first thing listed in your preview at the end of the intro paragraph.
- General Explanation: You must make clear to your reader what that subdivision of the article says. Do this by summing it up in a sentence or two. Note that you are not including quotes yet.
- Specific Example: This centers around a quote or a paraphrase. (A paraphrase means putting a small piece of the author’s words into your own words) Quote and/or paraphrase directly from the article. Choose a quote or paraphrase which clearly illustrates the subdivision you have named and explained. Be sure to include a lead-in to introduce the quote or paraphrase and a parenthetical citation to end it. Then WARRANT this quote or paraphrase by telling how, specifically, it gives you useful information. The better essays will include more than one quote about this subdivision— preferably two or three quotes or paraphrases.
- Concluding Sentence (warrant): Do two things. First, explain what you just cited–what does it mean? Then you should also comment on how you think this point will help you when, at the end of the course, you write the Research Paper. In other words, what did you learn, and how is it helpful? If you use more than one quote or paraphrase, you just repeat the pattern for the next citation.
- End the paragraph by restating the topic sentence in different words.
- Second body paragraph: Do the same five things as above, but now, do them in regards to the second supporting point you listed in the preview.
- Third body paragraph: Do the same five things again.
- Fourth body paragraph: This one is optional. If you previewed a fourth subdivision, then follow suit and do the same four things yet again.
- Summary of subdivisions of the article: Here you will list all three or four subdivisions again.
- Restatement of thesis: Here you will repeat how you think all this will ultimately help your research paper
Then at the end of the document, you must include a correct, MLA-style Work Cited entry for your source, placed on a page by itself by inserting a page break.
Summary of What This Accomplishes:
So to repeat the purpose of this assignment, you will write an essay on ONE article, leading up to your research paper itself later on in the course. This is a “reader-response” essay in the sense that you are the reader, and you are responding to the article in two ways: You are summing up what the article says, and you are telling how it will be useful to you. CAUTION: You may NOT include more than one source in this paper, because that changes the entire nature of the paper. So be aware: If you include more than one source, your grade for this reader-response essay will be an F.
In doing these two main things, you are helping your later efforts in two ways also: You are becoming very familiar with a key source (and you may very well use these same quotes again!). And at the same time, you are practicing the basic format in which you will do your ultimate research paper.