ENGL 141 – Writing About: Race
Reading Accountability Journal Guidelines
Reading Accountability Journals are designed to help you engage with our course readings on a
deeper level. They are exercises in close reading, rhetorical analysis, synthesis, and evaluation—
skills that are essential toward fully understanding a text and writing about it thoughtfully.
Some points to pay attention to as you read and analyze the text include:
–the thesis (What’s the main argument?)
–outline of the argument (What’s the structure of the piece, and what does each paragraph
–the author’s rhetorical strategy (How do they go about making an impactful argument for
their perceived audience?)
–key concepts (Define, identify, or articulate terms, theories, ideas, etc.)
–connections to other course readings or materials (Does the piece at hand share any features,
arguments, ideas, and concepts with another reading from our class?)
–the goal of the essay as described by the author (What does the author set out to accomplish
through writing this piece?)
–your understanding of the argument’s main points (What are the layers of the argument?)
Your double-spaced response (1.5-2 pages; 1.5 page minimum, and you may exceed 2 pages if
needed) should include the author’s thesis, or main argument, supporting points, and key
Some points to pay attention to as you write include:
–making sure that you stick to the overall point (both the author’s and your own) without
–do not quote excessively from the text—only use source material to support your
claims/illustrate a point you are trying to make. Remember, you should not be using source
material to speak for you. Avoid using block quotations (4+ lines in MLA, 40+ words in APA) in
short assignments like this one.
–making use of effective paragraph breaks and transitional phrasing between paragraphs and
–going back through the structure and guidelines, using them as a check-list to make sure
you’ve attended to all expectations for the task.
Follow the structure & guidelines outlined below:
n Begin your first paragraph by explaining in your own words what you perceive to be the
author’s thesis in a sentence or two. What is their larger argument; what would they
have you believe; what are they trying to communicate to you as a reader? And where
in the text is this argument located (include an in-text citation)?
n Then describe how—rhetorically—the author argues her/his point—not what s/he says,
but the rhetorical strategy. In other words, what does s/he do in the text to create
meaning for their intended audience? What specific choices do they make in their
writing in terms of style, rhetorical appeals, content, support, etc. to persuade the
reader to some way of thought, provoke an emotional response, or commit to a course
of action? Point to 1-2 specific examples from the text (include in-text citations).
n Next, outline in your own words the author’s main points that support the larger
argument. What claims do they make to support their argument? And where are these
claims located in the text (include in-text citations).
n Next, show connections between the reading at hand and another reading from our
course. Draw parallels, point to overlaps, consider how one reading might inform the
other, etc. When you do this, be sure to include specific examples from both the text
at hand and the text used for comparison (include in-text citations)
n Finally, write a paragraph of response. Would you recommend the text to another
person? Why or why not? You might focus on its usefulness in understanding a
particular thing, or its contradiction with another piece in the class, or its omissions,
provocative questions, implications, or whatever else you want to say.
n End the journal entry like a movie review—with * to **** stars.
n Type the journal entry as a Microsoft Word Document, following MLA or APA style
formatting: A heading/title (MLA) or title page (APA), running head (APA), doublespaced (both), Times New Roman – 12-point font (both), page numbers (both), properly
formatted in-text citations (both).
n Include a separate, MLA or APA style Works Cited/References page as the last page,
with full citation entries for all sources used in the response, including the piece at hand.
The Works Cited/References page is not part of the 1.5-2 double-spaced
page requirement for content.
3 = Met:
The journal entry demonstrates meaningful engagement with the text; the responses feature
sufficient depth, evidence of thought, and attention to detail—fully attending to each criterion
outlined in the structure & guidelines above. It is a minimum of 1.5 double-spaced pages in length,
excluding the Works Cited/References page. It also demonstrates that the writer has taken the
points to pay attention to into consideration.
2 = Partially Met:
The journal entry is mostly complete; however, one-to-three criteria in the structure &
guidelines have been left unmet.
1 = Not Met:
The journal entry was not turned in or was submitted incorrectly, or four or more criteria in
the structure & guidelines have been left unmet, and/or it becomes clear that the writer did not
read the text, and/or the journal entry is entirely off task, and/or violates the expectations of
our class culture statement, and/or violates the expectations of the university’s honor pledge.
ED 362 865
CS 214 051
Villanueva, Victor, Jr.
Bootstraps: From an American Academic of Color.
National Council of Teachers of English, Urbana,
AVAILABLE FROM National Council of Teachers of English, 1111 W.
Kenyon Rd., Urbana, IL 61801-1096 (Stock No.
03774-1288; $12.95 members, $16.95 nonmembers).
Reports – Descriptive (141) — Viewpoints
(Opinion/Position Papers, Essays, etc.) (120) -Books (010)
MF01/PC07 Plus Postage.
*Acculturation; Elementary Secondary Education;
*Higher Education; Hispanic Americans; *Intellectual
Development; *Language Role; *Personal Narratives;
Puerto Rican Culture; *Racial Bias; Rhetoric; Social
English Only Movement; Latinos; *Literacy as a Social
Presenting a look at how racism works to inhibit
academic achievement by limiting academic opportunities, this
personal narrative weaves stories from an individual’s life with an
examination of research and popular thought on language use,
literacy, and intelligence among people of color. The narrative
considers the personal experiences of an academic of color (in this
specific case, an American of Puerto Rican heritage) in the light of
the histor7 of rhetoric, the English Only movement, current socioand psycho-linguistic theory, and the writings of Antonio Gramsci and
Paulo Freire, among others, as well as the phenomenor. of
assimilation. Chapters are: (1) The Block; (2) An American of Color;
(3) “Spic in English!”; (4) Coming to a Critical Consciousness; (5)
“Ingles” in the Colleges; (6) Of Color, Classes, and Classrooms; and
(7) Intellectuals and Hegemony. A “Post(modern)script” is* attached.
(Contains 164 references.) (RS)
Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be made
from the original document.
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DEPARTMENT Of EDUCATION
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EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATION
)(This document has been reproduced
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TO THE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES
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POIMIS Of view or opinions stated In this docu
Tent do not TecesSanly represent official
OEM Pantion of policy
From an American Academic
Victor Villanueva, Jr.
Northern Arizona University
National Council of Teachers of English
1111 W. Kenyon Road, Urbana, Illinois 61801-1096
NCTE Editorial Board: Keith Gilyard, Ronald Jobe, Joyce Kinkead, Louise W.
Phelps, Gladys Veidemanis, Charles Suhor, chair, ex officio; Michael Spooner,
Project Editor: William Tucker
Interior Design: Tom Kovacs for TGK Design
Cover Design: Doug Burnett
NCTE Stock Number 03774-1288
© 1993 by the National Council of Teachers of English. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
It is the policy of NCTE in its journals and other publications to provide a
forum for the open discussion of ideas concerning the content and the teaching
of English and the language arts.
Publicity afforded to any particular point of view does not imply endorsement
by the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, or the membership at
large, except in announcements of policy, where such endorsement is clearly
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Villanueva, Victor, 1948Bootstraps : from an American academic of color / Victor
Includes bibliographical references
ISBN 0-8141-0377-4 : $16.95
1. Villanueva, Victor, 1948- 2. English languageStudy and
teachingUnited States. 3. Hispanic American college teachers
Biography. 4. English teachersUnited StatesBiography.
Good Debts: Words of Indebtedness
An American of Color
“Spic in English!”
IV Coming to a Critical Consciousness
V Ingles in the Colleges
VI Of Color, Classes, and Classrooms
VII Intellectuals and Hegemony
Good Debts: Words of Indebtedness
I think of how it would be if the numbers of academics of color actually
reflected the demographics of the country
Once a year I meet with others who are of color and are involved
in language teaching. I tend to be the only one who teaches rhetoric:
some do English education; some bilingual education; some teach
literature, ethnic and traditional; there is usually a poet or two among
us. Our teaching spans all grade levels. We are brown and black and
yellow and red. At those meetings, we are the guests of NCTE. But
our main host is Dr. Sandra Gibbs, the director of special programs
for NCTE. She has no idea what those days mean to me. I don’t think
I know her politics, really. But I know she has a quick ear for the latent
and a quick tongue for making the latent explicit. I’m glad she’s there.
A special thank you.
I am glad to be among other professionals of color for those few
days. In those few days, we !augh, and we swap stories which tell of
our ways, ways which tell of our particular cultures, ways we have in
common as people of color. And we work. And our work reflects the
things we have in common with many of our fellow professionals, and
our work reflects the things we see and hear and feel, aggravating things
sometimes, painful things.
So it is that somewhere along the way I had thought it would be a
good idea to have a collection of essays that would depict how the
struggles of people of color continue after goals are reached, after
“making it:’ I still think it’s a good idea. Rumor about the idea reached
Michael Spooner, the person in charge of publications for NCTE. He
asked if I had a book in the works. Only an idea.
Meanwhile, Bryan Short, a co-worker at Northern Arizona, had read
a mixed-genre piece I had written for a collection on critical theory;
he had also read a more straight-academic piece I intended to submit
to a journal. He preferred the mixed genre, said the writing was more
effective, the message worth saying, the time right. “Write a book:’ He
is more than well-versed in the ins and outs of the academy, scholarship
to institutional politics. I trust his judgment.
Before that, Anne Ruggles Gere responded to a mixed-genre essay
I had written for the English Journal. She said there was a book there.
I didn’t see how at the time. But I had long ago learned that she knew
things about this business that I would never understand (though she
wasn’t always aware that I didn’t understand them). And she knew
things about my potentials that I didn’t always know. She never did
let me get away with anything in graduate school, wouldn’t let me lie
down when I grew tired of poverty, indignity, insecurity, when I knew
I didn’t belong and couldn’t do it. Anne and Bryan and Michael are
the folks immediately responsible for my pursuing this book. Thanks.
To these, I must add William Irmscher, my first boss when I was a
Teaching Assistant (short for teaching-on-assistant-pay). Along with
Anne, Irmscher kept me in the act when I felt like the Judy to the
institution’s Punch. He worked behind the curtain, my knowing of his
help only through rumor: Irmscher, the Indonesian puppetmaster.
Indonesian puppetmasters are believed lo shape destinies.
There is Sharon Crowley. There is her company: co-worker, critic,
call one day, after my wife and I
and friend. Hers was the
decided that we would leave the loneliness of the academic profession;
Sharon’s the call that allowed me to give academics another chance, a
decision I have not yet come to regret. We’re in the same business,
Professor Crowley and I, rhetoric and composition, attending the same
meetings, knowing some of the same people, reading the same journals
and books, having similar ideas. We have fun together. And even a
two-minute talk in the halls is often the seed for hours of fruitful
thought. Yet she is less a mentor than my academic Papo. Papo was
something of my protector on the block back in Bed-Stuy, the bad-ass
that no one messed with. Sharon protects me from institutional politics,
a discourse I will likely never break into.
Special others. There is Bill Grabe, who casualty tosses into my box
linguistic things I would want to read. And my bosses at Northern
Arizona (named after furniture: chairs; Freire goes on about dehumanization), Paul Ferlazzo and Sharon and Susan Foster-Cohen. I could
get on in Bed-Stuy. I’m not sure I could in the academy, the day-to-
day, without these chairs. Breaking into the professional academic
community is tricky business for most, I’m sure. Harder still for the
person of color still weighted down by a GED, my personal psychological
baggage of failure. Thanks to those who believe in me.
Since I am mixing genres even here, a mix of dedication and
acknowledgment. I think it important to acknowledge those editors
and publishers who accepted essays I have written in the past which
appear here in larger chunks. I’ve been going on about the same stuff
for some time now, so I bypass the fragments and I bypass things
written for NCTE. What remains includes a chapter in Writing With:
New Directions in Collaborative Teaching, Learning, and Research,
edited by Sally Reagan, Thomas Fox, and David Bleich, to be published
by State University of New York Press (1993); an article which appears
in PRE/TEXT (1993); and a chapter which appeared in Politics of
Writing Instruction: Postsecondary, edited by Richard Bullock and John
Trimbur, published by Boynton/Cook in 1990. My thanks to the
editors, especially John Trimbur, for having encouraged me to write.
Thanks to the publishers for allowing what I had written to appear in
print. Thanks, also, to the NCTE Editorial Board for taking the risk
of accepting this somewhat idiosyncratic book. And thanks to Bill
Tucker, the copy editor, for laboring ever so sensitively over my every
Then again, I wouldn’t have written, and wouldn’t be writing now,
if Mami hadn’t pushed for linguistic assimilation and if Dad hadn’t
remained grateful for being an American while being audibly critical
of America. I wouldn’t be writing if the local parochial school hadn’t
had its doors open to the poor. I wouldn’t bother if students, many of
them teachers themselves, hadn’t, in various ways, let me know that I
am in the right job.
And there is Carol and the babies: the preschoolers, the schoolers,
the grown up, my babies all. My babies give my life its greatest meaning.
Perhaps my greatest struggles have been in trying to meet the institution’s
demands while remaining a parent in very traditional ways, not just
leaving the raising to Carol or part-time parents-for-hire. None of it
gets done as well as I’d like, but all of it does get done. And the
semblance of balance comes in my never not being a father (which I
hope makes for paternity more than paternalism in classrooms).
From Carol I continue to learn how to think in large, global, systemic
terms, in terms of politics and political economies. She helps me put
our lives in contexta global, economic contextwhich saves me
from the self-fulfilling prophecy that dooms the many labelled “at risk.”
Much of the final chapter to this book, the post(modern)script, is
tantamount to plagiarism.
From Carol I learn that to be critical does not have to mean to be
cynical. From Carol I know of magic, of loving. And knowing love
opens up possibilities, allows one to be utopian in the midst of all that
sometimes seems hopeless. Ché Guevara believed revolutions begin
with love. Maybe loving a country and its peoples can provide for
revolutionary changemore than mere reforms: true equity. Maybe.
And loving brings me full circle. A Mami and Dad: que Dios te
“It’s nobody’s business,” Mami would say. But I can’t just say nothing
about how it is I cone to know some things, come to regard some
theories on literacy and writing and rhetoric as more tenable than
others, and how I come to think the ways I do about racism and
ethnocentricity and the class system, and why I can believe in the
chances for revolutionary changes in attitudes about racism and ethnocentricity and class through language and the classroom. I can’t just
say nothing. But there’s Mami and the Latino ways: private things
should remain private. So, play out the tension.
Thoughts. The I speaking to its me.
The portorican boy (that’s how they say itportorican) looks at the
experiences of the African American and says, “That’s racism. They
can’t escape their skin. No one will let them.” Mami always did carry
on about his good haircurl, but no kinkhis nariz fino, a Roman
nose, she used to say. Blancito on the block. Steven Figueroa looked
Asian somehow. Enchi (enchilada) looked more Mexican. The others
Icoked mulatto or black. He’s the white kid among the browns and
blacks of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Long later, a beard, long hair. The hair is not intended as a political
statement, only a response to too many years of “get a haircut” and
“shave again”: dress codes in school, seven years in the army. Standing
by a hamburger stand in the American midwest. someone speaks to
him in a decidedly foreign tongue. Turns out to be Farsi. He must
look Iranian. Trying to enter the All-American Crafts Fair in the Heart
of America, the man behind the ticket counter asks if he is Indian,
from India. He must look Indian. Sitting in a bus in Seattle, a Japaneselooking fellow handing out fliers for a Christian radio station says,
“Jesus loves you, my little Jewish friend.” He must look Jewish. The
white kid in Brooklyn ain’t just white elsewhere. He’s some sort of
Shakespeare saw Othello as black. Othello the Moor, el inorm.
There’s a U.S. army base in Puerto Rico called El Morro. El Blancito,
the white one in Brooklyn, not white elsewhere, is more the Moor
than the Puerto Rican Boricua Indian or the West African black
apparently, a hint of some ancient Isl …
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