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ESSAY PROMPT:

The readings we have done during this progression share in common an exploration of how the body is read and/or misread based on perceptions of racial categories. We have seen how racial identities are more than simple denotations of color; a person’s race carries connotations about culture, values, loyalties, aspirations, etc. that go far beyond mere color. In other words, race impacts how our bodies are “read” by other people. 

Write an essay that explores the way in which bodies are read and/or misread due to racial categories in our readings and/or the images we have looked at in class. That is, your essay should explore the way in which perceptions and interpretations of racial identities do not coincide with reality in those texts and/or images. For example, consider the gap between reality and “reading” for Brent Staples, Clare Kendry, Ashley Benn, or the Asian male based on the texts/images we have read during this progression.

Your essay should speak to the significance of these misreadings – in other words, what are the societal consequences of such misreadings? 

Your argument must be supported with the following:
1. 1-2 examples from Passing
2. 1-2 example from one of the other texts we have read

  • “Black Men and Public Space” by Brent Staples
  • “Should I Act More Black” by Ashley Benn
  • “When Is a Caucasian Not a Caucasian” by Anonymous
  • From White Negroes” by Juanita Ellsworth
  • excerpt from The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois

3. 1 example from images about one of the following:

  • the Asian male in WWII-era anti-Japanese propaganda and/or the movie clips from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Sixteen Candles, or Bruce Lee
  • Norman Rockwell’s paintings

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