In his book’s prologue, “Prelude: The Barbershop,” Vershawn Ashanti Young describes his ambivalence about trying (and failing) to fit in as a “homeboy” and discusses the academic and economic success he eventually chose to pursue. Because of his choices, he reflects, “I didn’t have to fight to get out of the ghetto. I was kicked out.”
And finally, Audre Lorde suggests that people may try at all costs to accommodate socially imposed constraints, writing, “What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence?”
Lorde, however, also suggests an alternative to either suffering silently to fit in or rebelling—she encourages listeners and readers to speak out and use language and action to change the social conditions of our lives.
After you have considered Lorde’s question above and the alternative she subsequently proposes, write a speech, a letter (to an individual or organization privately or openly—that is, addressed to an individual but public), or a public service announcement that proposes meaningful change in your community related to the issues raised in these readings.
Decide on an audience to address— your classmates; parents; younger (or older) students; coaches; administrators; teachers; church, city, or community officials—and compose an argument both describing a particular “tyrann[y]” or challenge and proposing changes that may improve the lives of those who endure it.
Like Tannen, Brooks, Young, and Lorde, you may use your own or others’ personal experiences (including those of the four authors in this module), hypothetical situations, and reflections to make your case.
You can make a video, a power point presentation, or simply write. The choice is yours!