Issue Essay

Issue Essay
Often our beliefs are based on our own experiences or on the beliefs of the people
closest to us. With controversial issues, though, it’s important to acknowledge all sides.
Choose a topic related to racism or race relations. Possible topics include, but are not
limited to, the following:
Racial profiling
Affirmative action
Slavery reparations
White privilege
Racism in our legal system
Discrimination in Law
Police Brutality
Death Penalty
Hate Crimes
Race Discrimination in
Race Discrimination in
o Race Discrimination in Military
o Race Discrimination in Sports
o African Americans - economic
o Poverty
o Segregation
o School Integration
o Voting Rights
o Black Power Movement
o Rosewood
o Tuskegee
o Scottsboro
o Housing Rights
o Civil Rights Movement
o Prison System
Whatever issue you choose will have multiple arguments. Through careful research, find
at least two main arguments related to your issue. Your arguments should represent
diverse viewpoints; in other words, the authors of your articles probably would not agree
with one another. Start by exploring the following databases from the RHS Library
homepage: Issues & Controversies, SIRS Researcher, Opposing Viewpoints. To tie your
topic back to Richard Wright’s autobiography, Black Boy, go to Literature
Resource Center from the Library's Home Page
Print sources:
Novels for Students;
Literature and its Times
Twentieth Century American Literature
Modern American Literature
You should also search for newspaper and magazine articles about your issue.
Use the following format to craft an essay that explores your issue:
Paragraph 1: Introduction
Paragraph 2: Argument #1
Paragraph 3: Argument #2
Paragraph 4: Richard Wright’s views on this issue (based on what you know
from reading Black Boy)
Paragraph 5: Your own views on this issue
Paragraph 6: Conclusion
Your two argument paragraphs should thoroughly and fairly explore these two sides of
your issue. When reading these two paragraphs, nobody should be able to tell what
your opinion is. Use examples and analysis to support each argument.
Whenever writing about a controversial issue, your readers will be skeptical and perhaps
passionately opposed to certain viewpoints. Therefore, your writing should always be
logical, reasonable, and respectful. Craft each argument so that a skeptical reader will
consider that point of view rather than be offended. Writing that is emotional, biased, or
offensive will not accomplish your purpose.
o Direct quotations in each of the two argument paragraphs (at least two
o Direct quotations in the Richard Wright paragraph
o Prewriting – Brainstorming for each of your issue’s arguments
o Introduction (AG, Thesis Statement, Blueprint)
o Central Paragraphs (7-10 sentences: TS, Support Sentences, CS)
o Concluding Paragraph (Restated Thesis, Main Ideas Summary, Clincher)
o Rough draft: DUE Monday, 2/26
o Final draft: DUE Thursday, 3/1
- Double spaced
- 12-point font
- Works Cited page that uses MLA style