healthcare services remain unfair towards African Americans

Paper 4: Argumentative Essay/Proposal

Assignment Purpose: To propose one or more solutions to a problem stemming from one of the readings, and persuade your readers that they should agree that your solution(s) to the problem should be enacted.

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Assignment Audience: Other than me (of course – your “real life” audience), you should assume an audience of general readers (perhaps someone not unlike yourself before the start of this semester). This means considering carefully what your readers might know and will need to know about your topic, as well as how a group of diverse readers may feel about the problem you’re addressing and the solution(s) you are proposing.

For this final paper, you’ll need to do the following:
Choose and focus on a problem that any article, video, or podcast for our class addresses (you may use both assigned material and/or any sources linked to in this Google Doc). You’ve probably noticed that I’ve organized assigned material into various issues already: policing/police brutality, mass incarceration, the racial wealth gap/economic inequality, and problems surrounding health care. The links in the Google Doc are also clearly organized around various issues. I encourage you to choose whichever of these issues/problems you find yourself most drawn to.
Write a convincing argument that proposes a solution to that problem, attempting to persuade your reader to agree that the solution (or solutions) you propose is/are good – or at least plausible – solution(s). If you’d like, you may conduct some research (using only highly credible sources, of course) on how the problem manifests itself at the local (Detroit area) level, and offer solutions tailored to your community. (This would likely include conducting some research about the problem itself in your community, and over organizations that exist to address the problem.)

Some problems, such as police brutality or mass incarceration, are probably narrow enough to be able to research and argue effectively for one or more solutions to the problem (for instance, “defunding” police departments – though you’d need to be highly specific as to just what that would entail, or abolishing for-profit prisons). Other problems are so broad that they would likely benefit by being narrowed down some before you’d argue for one or more solutions. For instance, if you were interested in pursuing the racial wealth gap, that problem is so broad and encompasses so many aspects of people’s lives that it would be a good idea to narrow it down some. To do so, begin by asking yourself, “What more specific problems are directly associated with the racial wealth gap?”, and then brainstorm in response to that question. Such brainstorming may lead to more focused problems such as housing, job opportunities, schooling/education, etc. It would then be a lot simpler and more effective to write an essay arguing for one or more solutions to, for instance, the problem of unequal funding for public schools – which itself contributes to the racial wealth gap – than it would be to argue for one or more solutions to the racial wealth gap itself.

In your argument for your solution(s), you should show your reader both how and why the solution would work in the real world. For example, in keeping with our example above, one solution to inequitable schooling might be alternative funding methods for public schools. Through research, you may discover a number of proposals out there that may appeal to you, and you’d want to focus on one or more that you could demonstrate to your reader just how they would work and why they would work.

Of course, even with a problem that’s already fairly focused, such as mass incarceration, you might be interested in pursuing a much more specific aspect of the problem, such as the effective (or actually, currently highly ineffective) reintegration of ex-convicts into society. You might start with simply googling something like, “reintegration of offenders into the community” and go from there.

Additionally, your solution(s) must be arguable; that is, a reasonable reader must be able to disagree with it/them. Therefore, it will be your job to convince your readers that yours is a good solution to the problem you’ve chosen to address. In order to come up with an arguable solution for your thesis statement, then, once you have a working thesis, ask yourself: Could a reasonable reader disagree with this statement? If the answer is no, then your solution is probably more common sense than it is something someone might disagree with. If your answer is yes, the next step is to ask this: Why might someone disagree with this solution? Then it will be your job to address one or more reasons why some readers might have a problem with your solution and persuade those skeptical readers that your solution will address their concerns. For instance, with school funding, who might object to the proposal to fund public schools differently than they are currently funded? Why, those who currently benefit from the system that’s in place, of course! You’d then want to ask yourself why they may disagree, and at some point in your essay directly address their disagreement with you. (This would be the “counterargument” portion of your essay; see below.)

You must use at least three different credible sources to help you develop/support your argument. At least one of those sources must be a strong, credible source you find on your own. For additional sources, you may use sources provided by this class (as described above) or found on your own. I strongly encourage you to read the titles of all the articles linked to in my Google Doc, as you may well find much of what you need there. And be aware that any source linked to by a New York Times article would be considered a credible source for this essay.

Make sure you’ve read, annotated, and taken notes over the following required sources over writing an argument before you start:
Lecture – The Persuasive Thesis: I originally wrote this lecture when this assignment was not to write a proposal but instead to take a position on an issue and argue for the reader to adopt that position, so bear that in mind as you read it. Even still, this lecture provides important ideas and information that will apply to any kind of argument (including proposing one or more solutions to a problem).
The Norton Field Guide to Writing
Chapter 20 (“Proposals”), pp.246-253 (stop at “Topic Proposals”)—Since you’ll be proposing one or more solutions to a problem, you’ll be writing a type of proposal, so this chapter is critical!
Chapter 38 (“Arguing”)—You’ll need to persuade your reader that your proposed solution is a good one, so you’ll find the information in this chapter invaluable.
Chapter 48 (“Finding Sources”)—Since you’ll be doing at least a little research for this essay, this chapter will help you learn how to find strong, credible sources, no matter your topic.
Your essay will be graded in part on both how much evidence you provide in support of your proposal and how strong that evidence is. Toward that end, here’s a strong suggestion for beginning your research to find strong, credible sources:
go to
click on Research Databases
click on Gale Virtual Reference Library
in the Search field near the top of the page, enter keywords to search for, such as police brutality, mass incarceration, or what have you. If you want to combine two terms such as income inequality and race, click first on Advanced, and then enter your terms as keywords.
You can find lots of strong, credible sources other ways through the Research Databases link. Try exploring, Opposing Viewpoints in the Research Databases. Note that to access the Research Databases from off-campus, you’ll need a library card or library access code sticker on the back of your student ID.

Counterargument/reader questions/reader concerns: Note that strong arguments require the writer to acknowledge and respond to at least one counterargument, while good proposals require the writer to acknowledge and address one or more important questions or concerns the reader might have about the proposed solution (see the NFG Chapters 20 and 36). These two acts are essentially the same. So for this essay, you may consider the portion of your essay that addresses the questions or concerns readers might have with your proposed solution as the “counterargument” portion of your argument.

Formatting requirements—your essay must:
be double-spaced
have an underlined thesis statement
have an underlined topic sentence in each body paragraph
use standard, 12-point font

In order to be eligible to pass, your essay must meet the following requirements (any essay that does not meet all of the following requirements will not receive a passing grade; all Group 1 submissions must meet these requirements for my feedback).
Your essay must:
quote, paraphrase, and/or summarize from 3 or more different strong, credible sources
be at least 1,200 words long (prior to your Works Cited list)
cite your source(s) using current (2016) Modern Language Association (MLA) conventions for in-text citations (see NFG Chapter 54).
cite your sources using current (2016) MLA conventions for a separate Works Cited page (see NFG Chapter 54).
Remember that you may submit your Writing Process materials for up to two percentage points extra credit each as separate documents in your Paper 4 sub-folder (which will be located in your Google Drive ENG 131 Course Folder):
Paper 4, Group [1 or 2] Prewriting (2 points)
Paper 4, Group [1 or 2] Rough Draft (2 points)

IMPORTANT NOTE: For Paper 4, an outline submission will be a separate, required assignment for all students.

Important reminder: For the Group 1 deadline, remember that you must submit both a rough draft and a “final” draft; the rough draft submission is not optional. If you want my feedback for revision, you must demonstrate that you have already worked hard to revise and edit your essay. This means that the required rough draft that you submit should show clear differences from the final draft. If it is obvious to me that you have submitted a rough draft that has not been carefully revised and edited instead of a final draft that has, I will return your essay to you without feedback, and it will then be your responsibility to revise it without my feedback.

Don’t forget that a well-written argument will have the following:
An introductory paragraph that:
connects with and/or “hooks” your reader
builds a “foundation” for your reader to understand the significance/importance of your topic
states an arguable thesis that has both a “topic” and a “So what?” to it, or makes clear the issue you’ll be pursuing in your essay
A body of the essay that:
states clear reasons that support the thesis as topic sentences either at the beginning or at the end of each paragraph; remember, like a thesis, each topic sentence should have both a “topic” and a “So what?”. Your topic sentences should serve to unify your body paragraphs.
develops/supports your ideas by showing, and not just telling, your reader, with plenty of specific details, examples, explanations, descriptions, active verbs, comparisons, etc.
acknowledges and responds convincingly to at least one counterargument/anticipated question(s) from your reader
A concluding paragraph that:
wraps up/rounds off your essay
states an arguable thesis that has both a “topic” and a “So what?” to it (if you did not do so in your introduction)

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