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A persuasive argument about Baldwins claims relating it to a specific aspect of private or public identity

For this essay, construct a persuasive argument about Baldwins claims relating it to a specific aspect of private or public identity that we’ve encountered in the reading for example, immigrants, masculinity, non standard English speaking, labels, names, or stereotype.

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This essay examines the non-standard English speaker’s identity and whether or not non-standard English serves a purpose in modern day language. The paper uses specific rhetorical strategies within ethos, pathos, and logos to show how Baldwin construes the role of language and how non-standard English is used to control reality. Baldwin connects with the readers and makes valid claims throughout his essay using personal experience to validate his position. His description is clear, candid and emotional as expressed through his personality as well as his harsh alienating tone and culturally opinionated perspective.

Through James Baldwin essay “If Black English Isn’t a Language, then tell Me, What Is?”  One is able to understand and respects the cultural significance of non-standard English speakers.  Baldwin’s statement  “Language…is the most vivid and crucial key to identity, it reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity” (Baldwin 89) shows how culture affects how non-standard English is applied as  it allows one to identify with or dissociate the language styles from different cultures. Baldwin exposes his culture through writing and his knowledge of non-standard English comes from an African American background. He finds his identity in defending his native language and culture through Black English characters.

Baldwin’s essay claims that non-standard English is incredibly important in maintaining identity and exhibits enough credibility and effectiveness when it comes to persuading the reader. Baldwin experienced firsthand the pressures of understanding and using Standard English and the nature of disrespect and ignorance towards Black English. Baldwin mentions an event where his family was in danger and in need of quick, non-English English and explains further into the consequences and emotions of the story.

One of Baldwin’s purpose in his essay is to establish the importance of non-standard English. Baldwin main argument relates to the pathos expressed throughout the text mostly via impersonal assertions that show how the society disregards non-standard English speakers. It is important to understand the claims and emotions of the author’s side of the argument in this case, the significance of non-standard English. It is equally important to logically consider the opposition. He especially persuades those who are not in favor of respecting Black English by giving credit to the necessity of Standard English. Baldwin emphasizes the value of equality and the need to accept non-standard English. He specifically writes about African American discrimination, concentrating the bulk of the essay on that topic and the importance of identity and culture through language. This comes out strongly as the main theme is the harsh criticism of American’s discrimination of Black English.

For non-standard English speakers, learning and speaking Standard English is perceived with both negative and positive bias of what and how a Standard English speaker is or should speak Standard English. In many cultures within the non-standard English speaker’s communities, speaking standard English may be is likened to being White or trying to be like native White English speakers. This creates a conflict for non-standard English speakers especially Black English speakers who are viewed as having chosen not to be Black. They are faced with a choice of community over speaking only Standard English. Baldwin’s essay depicts this powerfully with a harsh tone and supported by bold statements like “the brutal truth is that the bulk of white people in America never had any interest in educating black people, except as this could serve white purposes” (Baldwin 352).  This compels the reader emotionally towards the direct impact of discrimination against non-standard English speakers.

Language barrier creates inequality and has a stigma that assumes ignorance and lack of valuable ideas on the side of the person who speaks non-standard English. The reader feels the emotion of the embarrassment, understands the logic behind how easy it is to underestimate non-standard English speaking people, and find credibility in his statement “The argument has nothing to do with the language itself but with the role of language” (Baldwin 352).

Baldwin’s essay is clearly convincing due to his ability to relate to the reader’s emotional conscience. From the essay the reader learns that language and identity are two parts of the same whole that make up culture. Whether it is right or wrong to speak a certain way, it is part of who the person is and who they always will be. To non-standard English speakers, language is of utmost importance especially in identifying who someone is—their history and their personality.

Works Cited

Baldwin, James. “If Black English Isn’t a Language, then tell Me, What Is?” Acts of Inquiry. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011.

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