Racism PS - critiques greatly appreciated!

(BLS, URM status, non-traditional, GLBT)
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sf88
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Racism PS - critiques greatly appreciated!

Postby sf88 » Thu Dec 22, 2011 1:58 am

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Last edited by sf88 on Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Blessedassurance
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Re: Racism PS - critiques greatly appreciated!

Postby Blessedassurance » Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:56 am

The narrative of the attack needs to be better. You make it sound like the whole school/student body was in collusion but the narrative sounds like it was an isolated incidence. I didn't get the idea that your attackers were representative of the students you "wished to represent". If that was the case, the narrative failed to show it.

Additionally, perhaps you could put your experience(s) in the context of the stereotype of [certain groups of Asians] as "model citizens" or their characterization as "unfair competitors" and or whatever stereotypes exist.

The part about your subscription to cultural hegemony could be explained better as well as other parts of the narrative. You want to talk about your personal experiences without sounding like you read the concepts from a book. It's easy for the reader to reach that conclusion considering you've already alerted him/her of your immersion in literature of that sort.

lats19nys
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Re: Racism PS - critiques greatly appreciated!

Postby lats19nys » Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:25 am

Look, i've been there but your ps comes off as a little dramatic. Idk, i've experienced everything you have and more. I mean...I grew up getting into a lot of fights because of things like this. I feel like there are better ways to address the issue of persistent racism in not only your life but in society. I feel like this one event, a shove, doesn't convey enough nuance or a compelling story. The end also makes it seem like your this great guy for still doing what you do. I think that reflects a lack of actual growth from the incident. It would be prudent for you to stress real growth or change in perspective. idk...i know this incident might mean a lot to you, but it's not showing you off in the best light possible.

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hyakku
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Re: Racism PS - critiques greatly appreciated!

Postby hyakku » Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:52 am

I thought the same thing until I realized it was a girl. Reread her post.

I'm actually kind of fucking flabbergasted. As a black guy I've gotten shit, and it's definitely not true that Asians don't get stereotypes sometimes just as hard (one of my closest friends is taiwanese and he's gotta deal with almost as much BS as I do at times), but this is actually pretty insane. I'm still not sure whether I'm the best to ask whether this is good ps material as I'm still trying to decide whether I think the story can be powerful or if those dicks were just powerfully stupid. More importantly, how the fuck does a bus full of people let a girl get pushed around and racially taunted by three guys?

Where the hell do you live?

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sf88
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Re: Racism PS - critiques greatly appreciated!

Postby sf88 » Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:36 am

Thank you all for reading! I actually go to school in a college town, and what happened was an isolated incident. I've heard of worse things happening (I believe some men threw bricks at several black people a while back, and a Jewish fraternity found a Nazi flag on their lawn this semester) but my campus is relatively very safe. I spent a summer interning in Philly and lived in the Temple area, so I have a little experience with unsafe neighborhoods. As for the rest of the people on the bus, I think they were as stunned as I was - it was also about 1 or 2 AM so most of them were probably drunk.

I wanted to focus more on how the incident affected my shift in academic and personal focus. I know I titled the thread "Racism PS" but I don't necessarily want to emphasize the actual event. I try to make it clear within the PS that I know people have experienced much worse, but this specific event was pretty influential in my college career. I plan to condense the narrative to divert attention to my new focus.

lats19nys - with all due respect and gratitude for your feedback, I don't think what happened to me could be classified as a "shove." I didn't end up injured or anything, but I've been shoved before for various reasons and it wasn't quite the same. It was pretty threatening, although my writing might fail to make that impression. Also, I hoped the change in perspective would be clear from the redirection of my academic studies (from English Renaissance lit to ethnic/postcolonial lit) and my new focus on social justice issues (interning at a nonprofit and writing an honors thesis on human rights).

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hyakku
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Re: Racism PS - critiques greatly appreciated!

Postby hyakku » Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:27 pm

Ok, now that I've thought about it, I think you could use this as a strong Personal statement with some editing.

I would first try to start maybe at the beginning of the incident. If you are a really strong writer you can try implementing a bit of the Chris Nolan writing style and start in the middle, but lemme see:

Applying to become a [leadership role] - promoters of school pride and protectors of tradition – was an obvious step in my college career. I chose [school] for the school’s famous pride and heritage. I never thought that my belief in these ideals would be shaken by the students I hoped to represent, and I never guessed that experiencing racism would help me find an academic and personal passion.

After a long and exhausting process, I found myself a newly initiated [leadership role]. I caught a bus on my way home from initiation. Always wary when going home during the later hours of the night,


I noticed several male students periodically glance over at me. They turned away whenever I made eye contact. I felt uncomfortable and decided to get off at the next stop, even though my dorm was more than a few stops away. As soon as I got up from my bus seat, the men walked towards me. I turned away from them, and I heard one of them say, “Look at that chink.” I tried to ignore them, but they threatened me and muttered racial slurs. They blocked my way when I tried to walk past them. They shoved me and grabbed me, and in my state of shock I did not fight back. I looked around and the other passengers just sat there staring, so I screamed, ‘Stop the bus!” The bus driver thankfully heard, and I pushed the men aside and stumbled off the bus. I sprinted in the direction of my dorm, not looking back for fear that the men were following me.

I kept running until I got back to my room. Luckily, my roommate was already in a deep sleep.My face was streaked with tears, and my feet were bloodied and dirty - I lost my heels as soon as I started running. After cleaning gravel and dirt off my cuts, I quietly cried myself to sleep. I woke up the next morning feeling pathetic,dirty, I was and still in shock. I chose [school] for the school’s famous pride and heritage; I never thought that my belief in these ideals would be shaken by the students I hoped to represent. I have experienced discrimination before – dirty looks, jokes that go a bit too far, even verbal attacks – but the physical attack affected me on many different levels. I dimly remembered my RA describing how to report incidents of hate. I completed an incident report form, but could not bring myself to call the police. I assumed that with the rampant underage drinking of a college campus, no police officer would address my complaint.

My excitement to represent the school and students that I thought I loved turned to resentment. I felt betrayed by my fellow students. My incident report went nowhere. I became paranoid and defensive, and viewed every strange look as a possible threat. I did not confide in anyone. I was angry. I was embarrassed. More than anything, I was ashamed at my inaction. Countless people overcome hatred and discrimination on a daily basis, but I did nothing.

For several weeks, I coped with my insecurity by reading. I revisited revisiting materials from a course on human rights and world literature. The incident gave me a new perspective on reading about discrimination, oppression, and human rights violations. While I recognize thatWhat happened to me cannot compare with any kind of systemic oppression. But, it did allow me to experience view human rights literature with greater urgency.

I became fascinated by the rhetoric of discrimination, as well as the reassertion of agency in the face of oppression. Postcolonial theory grew into my academic focus. I looked into my own past to examine the legacy of colonialism and subjugation. Despite spending a large portion of my life in both colonial and postcolonial Hong Kong, I never gave much critical thought to my heritage. My father’s British accent and love of the Arsenal Football Club took on a new meaning. I used to be proud that my father lacked a stereotypical Chinese accent – it provided less ammo for the more politically incorrect of my friends. Now I recognize my own subscription to a cultural hegemony.

Before that night, I was an English major in love with the literature of the English Renaissance. After that night, I shifted my focus to a theoretical and empirical examination of oppressive rhetoric. I took courses in ethnic literature and wrote on the postcolonial condition. My new dedication to social justice led to my work with [nonprofit org] as a summer intern, and my firsthand experience with racism informed my leadership as a resident assistant. I am currently completing an honors thesis on the rhetoric of memoirs written by Guantanamo Bay detainees. I plan to pursue my passion for social justice and human rights as a law student and as a practicing attorney. The lowest point in my college career turned out to be one of the most formative events of my life.

As for my role as a [leadership role]? I give tours, meet with benefactors and alumni, and work on projects to benefit the school. There are times when I question my dedication to students that include my attackers and the bystanders on the bus. But I know I am doing the right thing. There may always be bigots and racists in any setting and any society. My representation shows those few students that they might have won a temporary victory that night, but that experience made me a stronger, more committed person. I cannot say that I am thankful for what happened – instead, I acknowledge the events of that night as integral to my development into the person I am today.



I've gotta run for now, but while I was editing some of it I realized that the first leadership role sounds kind of redundant here. In addition, I don't want your statement to come off still bitter at innocent Whites, or blacks or whatever race this may have been. I tried to strike everything that may have struck me that way, let me know what you think. I also tried to reorder to start with the action, but you're on your own if you want to attempt to pursue the Chris Nolan, retroactive type of story telling that would probably work well if you could pull it off. Ill try to leave some more feed back, comment on the grammar (I tried to focus on structure), and tidy up my edits later. Good luck regardless of what you decide.

Edit: I'd also focus more on the NGO you work with after the incident to really drive home the point that it was a transformative experience rather than what you were "coming from".

lats19nys
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Re: Racism PS - critiques greatly appreciated!

Postby lats19nys » Fri Dec 23, 2011 1:21 pm

sf88 wrote:Thank you all for reading! I actually go to school in a college town, and what happened was an isolated incident. I've heard of worse things happening (I believe some men threw bricks at several black people a while back, and a Jewish fraternity found a Nazi flag on their lawn this semester) but my campus is relatively very safe. I spent a summer interning in Philly and lived in the Temple area, so I have a little experience with unsafe neighborhoods. As for the rest of the people on the bus, I think they were as stunned as I was - it was also about 1 or 2 AM so most of them were probably drunk.

I wanted to focus more on how the incident affected my shift in academic and personal focus. I know I titled the thread "Racism PS" but I don't necessarily want to emphasize the actual event. I try to make it clear within the PS that I know people have experienced much worse, but this specific event was pretty influential in my college career. I plan to condense the narrative to divert attention to my new focus.

lats19nys - with all due respect and gratitude for your feedback, I don't think what happened to me could be classified as a "shove." I didn't end up injured or anything, but I've been shoved before for various reasons and it wasn't quite the same. It was pretty threatening, although my writing might fail to make that impression. Also, I hoped the change in perspective would be clear from the redirection of my academic studies (from English Renaissance lit to ethnic/postcolonial lit) and my new focus on social justice issues (interning at a nonprofit and writing an honors thesis on human rights).

Well, like you mentioned as a possibility, it doesn't come off the way you intended. Clearly, from your response, you found my thoughts offensive. Take my advice for what it is. But I have been admitted to elite institutions this cycle and have edited many of my friends essays over the years. (Including for a girl who was admitted to Yale/Harvard last year.) I mean, my whole job this year is to basically read over essays for admission. So...take it for what it is. Look, honestly, you talked about how the essay is geared towards you wanting to be more involved in social justice. Your academic interests by themselves are not enough if you want to demonstrate your interest in any meaningful way. No matter what new direction you take it, the tone needs a lot of work and so does the reflection.

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sf88
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Re: Racism PS - critiques greatly appreciated!

Postby sf88 » Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:27 am

I've been on vacation, so sorry if my replies are a bit late.

hyakku - thanks for your comments. In my revisions since the first draft, I decided to leave out the "frame" of the leadership role and the bitter sounding stuff. I decided to focus on the positive outcomes (internship and other involvements) instead, and incorporate that particular leadership role into the overall picture. Your advice was really helpful!


lats19nys - please don't think I was dismissing your input. I was just trying to clarify what I wanted to say through the PS.

Thanks everyone, and I would love any additional advice!




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