Schafer 1 Alex Schafer Mrs. Field LNG 406 16 March 2011 “Being a Chink” Questions Questions on Meaning: 1.

In paragraph 9 Leong says that she and her friends “know what the word chink truly means.” Where in her essay does she explain the “true” meaning? Leong gives the closest thing to a definition of the word “chink” in paragraph nine by describing it as a word that is used to negatively describe Asians. She then goes on to say in paragraph ten that it is based upon what they look like rather than who they are on the inside. 2. What has the word chink come to mean when Leong and her friends use it? Where in the essay does Leong explain this? Leong explains the meaning of the word “chink” when used among her friends in paragraph 10. They use the word as a way of identifying themselves. It is used to go against the stereotypes that are pushed upon them by society. By using the word among themselves they are showing that they do not care what society thinks. They know that they can not all be defined by one word of which is based solely upon general physical appearance. Leong and her friends know how diverse they are and that it is what is on the inside that matters. 3. One might argue that the thesis of Leong’s essay is that language is not absolute. Is her purpose, then, to propose a new definition for a word, to teach the reader something about how labels work, or to explain how adapting a racist term can be a form of gaining power? How do you know? Leong openly states in her essay that the accepted meaning of a word is not going to be changed simply by one group of people using it in a different way. She does not appear to be trying to teach the reader anything about how labels work either. She seems to be explaining how she and her friends have adapted a racist term to decrease the negative connotation that goes along with it. By doing this they are in a way gaining power. The decreasing in negative connotation also decreases the power of discrimination through language. This lack of discrimination allows them to be accepted more.

Schafer 2 Questions on Writing Strategies: 1. Look carefully at Gloria Naylor’s essay “The Meaning of a Word” (p. 468). What structural similarities do you notice between it and Leong’s? Why do you think Leong adapts these features of Naylor’s essay? Both Leong and Naylor devote a large amount of their essays to describing the positive use of the words rather than the uses that have negative connotations. Also, the use of the words in a positive manner comes after the explanation of the negative use. This means that the idea that the word can be used positively is the last thought that the reader is left with. This can help to further push the authors’ ideas. 3. What is the main purpose of the extended example from Naylor’s essay in paragraph 7? The extended example gives further support for Leong’s idea that a word that is generally seen as negative can be used in a positive manner among the group that it is used against. The situation in Naylor’s essay is very similar to that of Leong’s. By citing Naylor’s essay Leong gives an example of an essay that can be compared to hers. Also, Leong is giving further textual evidence that supports her ideas that changing the use of a word can be empowering. Questions on Language: 1. In paragraph 10 Leong explains that she and her friends are “dealing with a label that can never be removed.” What other words does she use in this paragraph to suggest the potential helplessness of being permanently labeled? Leong furthers the idea of being permanently labeled when she says “[The label] is not determined by who we are on the inside, or what we are capable of accomplishing, but instead by what we look like…” She goes on to describe some stereotypical physical characteristics of Asians. In this quote Leong describes how racism can be used against her. It provides for the possibility of being profile by others before they even know her. Leong also says that “…others have tried to make us feel small, weak, and insignificant…” This gives another example of how she may be treated a certain way simply because of her race and not because of who she really is.

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