"Write a reflection on the process of writing the essay below, following the specific instructions given after the essay. Essay you wrote: Typography and Identity John Eligon's New York Times article, “A Debate Over Identity and Race Asks, Are African-Americans ‘Black’ or ‘black’?” outlines the ongoing conversation among journalists and academics regarding conventions for writing about race—specifically, whether or not to capitalize the “b” in “black” when referring to African-Americans (itself a term that is going out of style). Eligon argues that, while it might seem like a minor typographical issue, this small difference speaks to the question of how we think about race in the United States. Are words like “black” or “white” mere adjectives, descriptors of skin color? Or are they proper nouns, indicative of group or ethnic identity? Eligon observes that until recently, with the prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement, many journalistic and scholarly publications tended to use a lowercase “black,” while Black media outlets typically capitalized “Black.” He suggests that the balance is now tipping in favor of ""Black,"" but given past changes, usage will probably change again as the rich discussion about naming, identity, and power continues. Eligon points to a range of evidence that ""Black"" is becoming the norm, including a recent change by ""hundreds of news organizations"" including the Associated Press. This comes in the wake of the George Floyd killing, but it also follows a longtime Black press tradition exemplified by newspapers like The New York Amsterdam News. Eligon cites several prominent academics who are also starting to capitalize Black. However, he also quotes prominent naysayers and describes a variety of counterarguments, like the idea that capitalization gives too much dignity to a category that was made up to oppress people. Capitalizing Black raises another tricky question: Shouldn't White be likewise capitalized? Eligon points out that the groups most enthusiastic to capitalize White seem to be white supremacists, and news organizations want to avoid this association. Eligon's brief history of the debate over racial labels, from “Negro” and “colored” to “African-American” and “person of color,” gives the question of to-capitalize-or-not-to-capitalize a broader context, investing what might seem like a minor quibble for editors with the greater weight of racial identity and its evolution over time. He outlines similar disagreements over word-choice and racial labels by scholars and activists like Fannie Barrier Williams and W.E.B. Du Bois surrounding now-antiquated terms like “Negro” and “colored.” These leaders debated whether labels with negative connotations should be replaced, or embraced and given a new, positive connotation. Eligon observes that today's ""black"" was once used as a pejorative but was promoted by the Black Power movement starting in the late sixties, much as the word ""Negro"" was reclaimed as a positive word. However, the Reverend Jesse Jackson also had some success in calling for a more neutral term, ""African American,"" in the late eighties. He thought it more appropriate to emphasize a shared ethnic heritage over color. Eligon suggests that this argument continues to appeal to some today, but that such terms have been found to be inadequate given the diversity of ethnic heritage. “African-American” and the more generalized “people/person of color” do not give accurate or specific enough information. Ultimately, Eligon points to personal intuition as an aid to individuals in the Black community grappling with these questions. He describes the experience of sociologist Crystal M. Fleming, whose use of lowercase “black” transformed to capitalized “Black” over the course of her career and years of research. Her transition from black to Black is, she says, as much a matter of personal choice as a reasoned conclusion—suggesting that it will be up to Black journalists and academics to determine the conventions of the future. Eligon's statistical and anecdotal survey of current usage of Black and black covers enough ground to convince us of the trend in favor of capitalization. But the value of Eligon's article lies in the attention it brings both to the convention and the discussion as a way for the Black community to wrestle with history and define itself. By presenting a variety of past and present opinions from Black leaders, Eligon gives a sense of the richness and relevance of this ongoing debate. His focus at the end on the opinion of one Black scholar, Crystal Fleming, offers an appealing intuitive approach to these decisions about naming. This idea is more hinted at than developed, leaving us to wonder how many other leaders share Fleming's approach and whether this approach might lead to chaos, as each writer might choose a different way to refer to racial identity. Still, Eligon's ending leaves us hopeful about the positive outcome of continuing the discussion: perhaps decisions about naming can help the Black community find self-definition in the face of historical injustice. Reflection Assignment: Choose from the options below and write at least two paragraphs of reflection on either the process, product, or big picture of your learning as you wrote this essay. PROCESS Options What aspect of this work proved most challenging? What specific strategies did you utilize to work through and overcome the challenge? What part of the work was most enjoyable to you? What specific tasks or steps were enjoyable and what might that tell you about your own learning skills and preferences? PRODUCT Options What do you feel is the strongest component of your submitted work? What connection can you make between your effort and the strength(s) you identified? Given additional time, what would you enhance in your work? Describe the aspects that you would want to improve or add to and the steps you would follow to achieve those enhancement goals? BIG PICTURE Options How did this new learning impact your growth as student and/or person? What challenged a belief, opinion, or perspective? How are your choosing to process and work through that challenge? What strategies, skills, and/or knowledge will it be necessary to develop going forward? How will you know if you’re making progress? Reflection:"
PRODUCT Option: What do you feel is the strongest component of your submitted work? What connection can you make between your effort and the strength(s) you identified?
I feel that the strongest component of my submitted essay is the thorough analysis of the debate surrounding the capitalization of the term "Black" and its implications on identity, history, and self-definition within the Black community. I put in a considerable amount of effort to research and understand the various perspectives presented in John Eligon's New York Times article, and my essay reflects a balanced approach, giving readers a sense of the complexity of the issue and the ongoing conversation among journalists and academics.
One strength I identified in my essay is the ability to contextualize the current debate within a broader historical perspective, drawing connections between past and present discussions about racial labels and their significance. By citing examples from the past, such as Fannie Barrier Williams and W.E.B. Du Bois, I was able to demonstrate how the conversation about naming, identity, and power has evolved over time. This historical context enriches the essay and provides the reader with a deeper understanding of why these typographical decisions matter.
Given additional time, what would you enhance in your work? Describe the aspects that you would want to improve or add to and the steps you would follow to achieve those enhancement goals?
If I were given additional time, I would further explore the role of personal intuition in shaping the conventions of writing about race and identity, as touched upon in the experience of sociologist Crystal M. Fleming. I would conduct more research on the perspectives of various Black journalists, academics, and activists to understand their decision-making processes regarding the capitalization of "Black" and how their individual choices contribute to the ongoing debate.
Additionally, I would investigate the implications of capitalizing "White" when referring to white people, as this aspect was briefly mentioned in Eligon's article in relation to white supremacists. I would delve deeper into the motivations behind capitalizing "White," the potential consequences of doing so, and the opinions of various stakeholders in order to present a more comprehensive analysis of the issue.
To achieve these enhancement goals, I would consult additional scholarly articles, news articles, and historical texts to gather more information and viewpoints on the topic. I would also seek out interviews, podcasts, or panel discussions where experts share their thoughts on the subject, allowing me to further enrich my understanding and presentation of the issue.